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901. The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story. Robert Sabuda. 2016. Candlewick. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Long ago, in the town of Nazareth, there lived a young woman named Mary. She was soon to marry a carpenter named Joseph. God sent an angel to her with a message: "Hail, Mary! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid. Soon you will have a baby, named Jesus, who will be the Son of God." "Let it be as you have told me," Mary said. "I am the servant of the Lord."

Premise/plot: The Christmas Story is Robert Sabuda's newest pop-up book. The story may be familiar, even too familiar, to some. But it's a story that is timeless. The pop-ups are quite detailed and though done simply--only in white and gold--they are indeed 'exquisite.'

My thoughts: I liked it. I do think Robert Sabuda's pop up books are more for older readers--like adults--than younger readers. But I think if young readers are careful, they can get a lot from this story as well.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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902. यकीन है

मेरे रास्तें, मेरी मज़िले, सब इश्क़ के अधीन है,
जो रहता है, मेरी रूह में,वो अक्स ही हसीन है,

ना आसमान है मेरा, ना है कोई समाज़ अब,
बस इश्क़ का, एहसास है, एहसास की ज़मीन है,

खबर नही, है आज की, ना अब कोई है वास्ता, 
यह रोम रोम है मेरा, तेरे ध्यान मे ही लीन है,

मेरी इश्क़ की ज़ुबान को ,वो कह रहे है बावरा
यूँ सो रहा हूँ बेहिचक, हवा की बस ढकीन है,

हुआ तेरा यूँ 'साथी' अब, जो आँखो से यूँ छू लिया, 
          खबर तुझे है इश्क़ की, बस यह मुझे यकीन है || Dr. DV ||

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903. छोटी बातें बड़े काम की

छोटी बातें बड़े काम की – कई बातें बहुत छोटी लगती हैं पर असल में वो होती बहुत काम की हैं इसलिए छोटी छोटी बात पर भी ध्यान देना चाहिए. छोटी छोटी बातें – कुछ काम की बातें-काम करने के तरीके, छोटी बातें, काम की जानकारी,छोटी बातें बड़े काम की… छोटी बातें बड़े काम की कल […]

The post छोटी बातें बड़े काम की appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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904. My Favorite Things in Sydney by Margot Justes

 There are many things to do in Sydney, and what to do depends on individual preferences, and time available.  I listed my favorite museums in a separate blog, but there are obviously many other things to see and do.

My daughter went to the top of the Harbor Bridge, the climb was rigorous and that bridge is mighty high, 440 ft from top to water level. I viewed it as a three and a half hour tour of terror.

I went to the Westfield Tower instead, took the elevator all the way up, and got my glimpse of Sydney from above, the easy way. I also took the off/on bus tour. It’s a good way to get a look at the whole city, you can get off and on at will, and visit museums, malls, whatever you like at your leisure.

The walking tours are always a delight. You get to see all the nooks and crannies, that you might miss if on your own. The Rocks walking tour was a perfect example. The area became my favorite part of Sydney, steeped in history with many wonderful old buildings and intricate stone passage ways in the oldest part of Sydney.

The Royal Botanic Gardens are a must. The gardens border Sydney Harbor and are next to the Opera House, Art Gallery NSW, and the Government House. It’s as if all points lead to the gardens. The grounds are vast and stunning, occasionally you’ll see posted signs ‘please walk on grass’. If you walk along the coast path, you’ll reach Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, where the view of the Opera House is absolutely stunning.

Of course there is shopping, from many art galleries that promote works of local artists, to souvenir shops that sell Crocodile Dundee hats, the usual touristy kitsch, to jewelry stores selling all kinds of opals, and high end jewelry, and everything in between.

The architecture is magnificent, let’s not forget the iconic Opera House, the Harbor Bridge, Westfield Tower, and of course the QVB-the Queen Victoria Building-a magnificent structure with colorful glass windows, beautiful inside and out, and it’s a shopping mall.

The hotel was walking distance to Circular Quay, the transportation hub that offers ferry rides across Sydney Harbor. It was an easy ferry ride to Darling Harbor, and Manly Beach. We asked the locals which beach we should visit-Bondi or Manly-since there was no time to do both, and the majority said Manly. So Manly it was. Many locals sat on the concrete walkway and enjoyed the sun. A perfect moment to relax and take a deep breath, and watch as the birds zoomed-in, hoping to get fed.

I would recommend a travel book, I usually tend to stick with Frommer’s; the layout is easy to read, and I just tag what interests me. If you don’t want to tour the city independently, there are many tours available.
I research the hotels on line, and usually pick them based on location, and easy access to sites, or public transportation. Sometimes I book through the hotel directly, on line, or I use a travel agent; in some cases travel agents have a better deal than you can find yourself. I check all options. 

These are the places that I most wanted to see, others I missed simply because there wasn’t enough time. Do I want to go back and see more of Australia. Yes, absolutely.

I hope you enjoyed the blogs on Sydney and Cairns as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
Blood Art

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905. VIDEO: How Wolves Changed Rivers

"How Wolves Changed Rivers" is an amazing accounting of how the reintroduction of wolves can positively affect their ecosystem in ways one might never have considered. Fascinating and beautiful. Click the image to watch the video on Youtube.

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906. Video Sunday: Yesss! Boyz II Men Inclusion Accomplished!

Morning folks. I’ll start today with a video that contains some classy tunes. It’s my recent interview with Eric Rohmann about his new book GIANT SQUID. Delicious delicious giant squids. Sorry. This interview occurred on a day when I was half hoping the staff recording the interview would have a big steaming plate of calamari waiting for me. Twas not to be.

Britain’s doing that thing again. That thing where they throw a bunch of celebrities into a video for charity. I could recognize about 5.5 of them. You may have better luck in the end. How did Brittany get in there, by the way?

Hmmm. Boyz II Men plus The Snowy Day? Sure! What the heck. I’ll bite. This is for the new Amazon Prime Video holiday special. Oddly, it was the only clip from the special I was able to find online.


Oops!  Did I not post KidLit TV’s live presentation of School Library Journal’s Best of 2016 list!  Where are my manners?

And finally for the off-topic videos, Matt (the resident husband) had two more new one about the process of writing.  First up, finding that odd moment of humanity in your characters . . .

Second up, fun with exposition!


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907. बातें

सिखाना केवल काम है,
परमेश्वर अब आराम है

सब कुछ जानते है वो,
पर करने को नाकाम है,

दर्द का एहसास है उनको,
हँसी का ना कोई नाम है,

दुनिया बदलने की है आशा,
संग चलना परंतु हराम है,

पूछे जो उनसे हम रास्ता,
कहते है हम तो 'आम' है,
अमीर ही करेंगे सब 'साथी'
कुछ ऐसा तकिया कलाम है || Dr. DV ||

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908. On Blogger And Comments

Hi, would-be commenters!

Google in its wisdom has rejigged Blogger's layout. I can no longer open my dashboard, scroll down from my list of blogs(I have two of my own and another one I set up for the purpose of using a no-longer-available free ebook service to ebook my students' posts. But it gets hits, so I've left it up.) and read the blogs I follow. It's all separate now, no more dashboard at all.

I don't know how it's affected comments, because they used to be there on the dashboard next to the blog concerned. You have to click into the "comments" link now. I did do a fiddle yesterday, changing my readers thing from "Google accounts" to "Registered users" in case people without a Google profile had been trying to comment, but that may have nothing to do with the fact that one regular commenter has not turned up this weekend. Or it may, so for now I've put it back to "Google accounts".

If you wish to be helpful, I'd appreciate a comment on this post, so I can see if I'm doing something wrong, or if I just haven't had comments. For now, Google profiles only, then I'll try "Registered users" again.


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909. Visiting a Writer's House

I’ve visited some writers’ homes
And what I love the best
Is not the room where they relaxed
Or ate or slept or dressed…

But rather where they sat and wrote –
Their typewriter and desk
And what their window framed,
Often a view most picturesque.

Today it was Pearl Buck’s estate
And staring at the keys
Of the Royal perched upon her desk
(She’d brought from overseas)…

I realized it won’t be the same
For authors of today.
To gawk at someone’s iPad
Will the fans come out and pay?

Perhaps I do romanticize
But there’s a certain charm
To a writer’s clacking which, alas,
A P.C. does disarm.

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910. Robin Hood - Music and Lyrics

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911. Slush Grumbles...From My Newest Slushpile

I dropped out of the ASIM cohort about a year ago, but I'm still reading slush. I've been very strict on what I send through to the next round. Even a story I think is almost publishable doesn't go through. Almost publishable still isn't publishable. And the rules have become stricter since my time. The score, I am told, has to be around 3, which doesn't make sense to me, since the very best stories we've had in the past received a score of 4. It means all three readers have to give it 1, something I rarely do - very rarely. If you're going to give it a 2, which is a very good score, you might as well reject it outright and let the author find another market without waiting. But I give most of my passes 2 anyway, in hopes that what I was told was not the case or it has changed again.

But this isn't often an issue for me. Most of the slush I receive has been unpublishable, no ifs, no buts. And this morning I received a story that was not only unpublishable in general, it was not even speculative fiction. I had to read all 7208 words to discover this. I wish teachers of creative writing would explain more often to their students that they need to check their markets, instead of simply throwing their seeds to the wind and hoping that one of the markets on the long list given them will buy their magnum opus. I have the sinking feeling that the teachers actually advise them to submit widely, and let the market decide. Hey, I do this voluntarily. I don't even get a free copy! This is my precious time and I resent getting someone's creative writing exercise.

I also wish that more authors would do their research. I remember a story whose author thought a tsunami was a big wind, perhaps a synonym for "hurricane".

This one had not researched a certain type of animal and got it completely wrong. It wasn't even something obscure, but something pretty well known, which I bet turns up in trivia quizzes.

Look, people can get physics wrong in space stories, but physics is complicated - and one story I had in my issue of ASIM did get a bit of physics wrong; he knew about it, but hoped we wouldn't notice, because he liked it as it was. I made him rewrite, though only a bit, just enough to get it right.

But a basic bit of natural history that could be looked up on line? Come on, now!

And then there was the story that looked as if it was plucked from the middle of a novel and probably was. I had no idea what it was about. Four thousand words later I had finished the story and still didn't know what I'd read. I hated to say no to a local author, but it was just not readable, let alone publishable. The only story I let through  today was American. I thought it just might be publishable, a nice bit of humour to slip between the deadly serious pieces bound to turn up.

It was the first story I have not rejected in about the last twenty-five I have been sent. And no, I'm not over-picky, I just don't want to make the next reader have to read rubbish and then the author gets it thrown back anyway. Better for everyone to have it rejected right away. 

I'm still dreaming, every time I open a file, that this will be next year's Ditmar or Hugo winner. Really!

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912. The Winner of the Journal the Word Bible

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
And I'm happy to announce the winner of the Journal the Word Bible.
Congratulations Jennifer R. of N.C.! Jennifer, I'll contact you about delivery of your Bible.
Thanks to all of you who shared comments on how God's Word has influenced your life.

I am thankful for each of you,


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913. Six Critical Life Messages That Every Child Should Hear, by Barbara Coloroso

“You’re listened to, you’re cared for, and you’re very important to me — children need to hear that in lots of different ways every day.” Barbara Coloroso.


NOTE: I originally posted this about five years ago. Felt it was time to bring it back again. Carry on!


In previous blog entries, I praised this book by Barbara Coloroso . . .

. . . a title that has informed, enlightened, and guided my own work as a writer, coach, and father.

She’s awesome, that’s all there is to it.

I came across this short video this morning. In less than 90 seconds, Barbara delivers a message that every teacher and parent needs to hear and remember — so that the children in our world hear those same things from us.

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914. Facing up with the SCBWI Conference

Last weekend was the annual SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in Winchester, which was as ever educating and inspiring.

Sunrise over Winchester on the first morning of the SCBWI Conference

I've volunteered with SCBWI for very many years now, initially when I was in Japan, and, since my return to the UK, with the British Isles chapter. Apart from supporting Anne-Marie Perks on the illustrator's committee I co-run our network in East Anglia with writer Helen Moss, and edit the Friday (illustration themed) page of our web-journal Words & Pictures. As the Conference is such a key part of the SCBWI calendar I wish I could go every year, but picture book deadlines and other concerns have often intervened. As a volunteer I try to attend once every other year at least, though I'm not directly involved in organising the Conference itself (I may be raising my hand next year though!).

One of the highlights of the weekend - and there were many - was receiving a small prize in recognition for volunteering, I was greatly surprised and absolutely delighted - thank you SCBWI!!

There are full reports of the Conference on Words & Pictures, so these are just my thoughts. This year I was there to help out, but also on a personal level with the hope of reviving interest in my own picture book ideas. All my children's book work over recent years has been commissioned texts for publishers in the US and Japan, written by others. These titles have been sometimes complex projects that completely absorbed my attention, just looking at the past three years -  Stone Giant - Michelangelo's David and How He Came to Be (written by Jane Sutcliffe), Crinkle, Crackle, Crack - It's Spring (written by Marion Dane Bauer) Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk (also by Jane Sutcliffe) Yozora o Miage-yo (written by Yuriko Matsuoka) and,  forthcoming from Holiday House in 2017,  Magic For Sale (written by Carrie Clickard). 

All of these books have been wonderful projects, fine texts by marvelously talented writers, but concentrating on these has meant I've neglected my own stories, which remain as rough idea notes and little more, I've not submitted dummies to publishers for a very long time. However right now I'm working on black and white ink drawings for novels, so taking a break from commissioned picture books, this slight breather is encouraging me to once more look over my story concepts and ideas.

I've lived in the UK for almost nine years now since leaving Japan and returning to these shores after 21 years away. After an initial enthusiasm for UK publishing I focused on my Japanese and American connections, hence most of my work still comes from overseas, it's about time I really tackled British publishing head on and started submitting!

Will's Words on sale through P & G Wells bookshop at the Conference

So, was the Conference as inspiring as I'd hoped? Absolutely! The activities for illustrators were as hoped brilliant, from the fringe event sketchcrawl around Winchester, which really got the creative cells buzzing, to the illustration keynote from Leigh Hodgkinson, and really excellent Pulse events - a hands-on picture book workshop from Viv Schwarz, and thorough session on promotion from Paul Strickland. Plus the sheer energy of seeing all my old friends, new faces, discussion, companionship - it was terrific.

Industry Picture Book Panel talk, with Miranda Baker (Nosy Crow) seen here with the book, David McDougall (Walker), Caroline Walsh (agent) and Polly Whybrow (Bloomsbury)
Some of the costumes at the Mass Book Launch (photo: George Kirk)
Hard at work during Viv Schwarz's workshop
Leigh Hodgkinson artwork
The Marvellous Paul Strickland

But what about my plan to get writing? In addition to the illustrator activities two key-note presentations particularly inspired me, one from author David Almond (who I've known since he spoke to our Tokyo SCBWI group many years ago) and another from Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency. Both these had me squirming in my seat, their passion for the story really shook me up, I've got to write, I've got to write!!!

David Almond (photo: Candy Gourlay)
This isn't the first time I've been to an SCBWI conference and been inspired to write, but with no major picture book projects on now I've no excuse NOT to write now, to actually do something about it.

My problem is that I regard myself as a professional illustrator, with years of experience and a back catalogue of over 50 published children's books illustrated, and the confidence that brings. I've struggled with creative writing though, it's not my natural form of expression, I don't feel I'm a comfortable picture book writer, my pictures already tell stories, but expanding them to create a binding narrative is a struggle. When I write I'd rather do it without thinking of images, then come back to illustrate it with my 'artist' hat on. I wonder if I'd feel a little more comfortable writing longer fiction than picture books. Because I don't feel my words are as professional as my drawings, I've not much confidence when it comes to submitting to publishers. Also I don't take story rejection well, my one attempt at writing a novel when I was 16 was shelved after two publisher rejections (it really was not very good though!), previous dummies sent to publishers have also been shelved rather than worked on and improved.

Although I've had stories published in Japanese through children's publishers in Tokyo, I've not been published as a writer in the West, only as an illustrator. This really has to change!

Anyway, the Conference really helped me feel a bit more focused on this, I've a lot to thank SCBWI for, not only the award, but the companionship and encouragement. Maybe this time I will get writing again, it really is about time! As a US editor once told me, "if you want to make a mark you have to produce your own stories, it's no good sharing your royalties and glory, your books should all be yours".  Indeed!

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915. Social Media No-Nos

If done well, social media can help your book marketing efforts.


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916. Movie Month, day 26

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions! Feel free to switch "favorite" to "least favorite" if that is more applicable to you!

Today's question: What is your favorite period drama?
Young Victoria
North and South 
Doctor Thorne 
Anne of Green Gables (first two movies only)
Jane Eyre
Scarlet Pimpernel
Pride and Prejudice

If we're including TV shows: Downton Abbey, Lark Rise to Candleford, The Crown, and Call the Midwife.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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917. Child's Geography of the World

A Child's Geography of the World. V.M. Hillyer. 1929/1951. 472 pages.

First sentence: When I was a boy, my nurse used to take me to the railroad station to see the trains.

Premise/plot: A Child's Geography of the World was first published in 1929. The edition I found was revised and published in 1951. The tone is casual conversation. There are a few black and white illustrations throughout the book. The book is full of information, but what kind?

The truth is some information stays the same no matter the decade. (For example the location of the The Great Lakes, the Empire State Building, the Leaning Tower of Pisa). But plenty of things have changed and changed dramatically! Nations have passed away, governments have been toppled, revolutions have taken place. Also the United States has more than 48 states! Mount Everest has been climbed. Man has gone to the moon and back.

The last war mentioned is World War 2. Communists are mentioned, or perhaps I should say warned against!

Race is definitely an issue if you're reading this with children. (God created black men at night and many black people in Africa eat each other. The narrator makes an offhandedly comment that you will likely never see a real live Indian because there are few left. The narrator later makes an aside that the U.S. does it's best to keep out the Chinese.) I would say adults can throw away the bad and keep the good and have the discernment needed to tell the difference between the two. I would not recommend young children read this on their own for several reasons. One being that unless this text has been updated and revised recently, you'd have more misinformation than correct information.

My thoughts: I find vintage books entertaining. I do. Rare, long out-of-print books call to me. It's a way to capture a glimpse of the past, for better or worse. Not a historical writer's idea of the past. Good Morning, Miss Dove is one of my favorite, favorite books--and movies. This book would have been published at exactly the right time for Miss Dove to use!

The information is dated, true, I won't lie, but it is also a strong narrative. If there weren't problematic sections, I could easily call it charming.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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919. Fusenews: Some remedies are worse than the disease itself

Happy day after the day after Thanksgiving.  Today I’m going to start you off on serious news story and that will pretty much set the tone for the day.


hatespeechI live in Evanston, IL.  It’s home to Northwestern University and like a lot of college towns it’s a pretty liberal place.  We sit just north of Chicago.  We’re are ethnically and economically diverse.  We like to think we live apart from the rest of the world in a little bubble.  We don’t and it behooves us to remember that.  Unfortunately, we can be reminded in rather horrible ways sometimes.  Last Monday evening one of my librarians discovered that a number of books on Muslim topics had been defaced with hate speech, swastikas, and offensive comments.  Seven were specific to Islam.  One of them was Glenn Beck’s It Is About Islam.  The community responded swiftly and wonderfully, but it’s become a very big story.  I’m replacing the books now.


It’s almost here!  New York Public Library’s list of 100 children’s books is about to be officially released.  Recently renamed 100 Best Books for Kids (an unfortunate moniker but NYPL is very keen on the word “Best” these days) it has an interesting selection.  Odd choices too, like the fact that some of the nonfiction picture books in with the picture books section and some are in the nonfiction section.  Some titles I haven’t heard of too, so I’m super excited to look into those.  I did that list for something around 5-6 years, so my love for it is strong.  Additionally, there’s a new list of 50 YA books on there as well.  Win-win!


The Term “Graphic Novel” Has Had a Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore.  I have no horse in this race. Glen fails to mention libraries in the piece, which I don’t think is his fault.  He’s just ill-informed.  Getting comics into the mainstream meant getting libraries on board, and the term “graphic novel” was very useful when it came to justifying such a book on our shelves.  We still use it.  Maybe it’s outdated.  I dunno.  I could go any which way.  Still, until comics are used regularly in schools without massive quantities of eyebrow raising, I’ll not believe that comics have “arrived” quite yet.


The Undies are here!  The Undies are here!  If you haven’t voted over at 100 Scope Notes for the best case cover of a picture book in 2016, now is the time.


691. That’s how many children’s authors and illustrators signed The Brown Bookshelf’s Declaration in Support of Children.  In it, it states, “we will create stories that offer authentic and recognizable reflections of themselves, as well as relatable insight into experiences which on the surface appear markedly different.”  On the librarian side of the equation, bloggers like Roxanne Feldmann have published things like A Commitment to Social Justices and Compassion.  In the comment section Bob Kanegis posted the 1955 dedication written by the United Nations Women’s Guild in their book Ride With the Sun: An Anthology of Folk Tales and Stories from the United Nations.  It read:

The Children’s Charter
“There shall be peace on earth; but not until
Each child shall daily eat his fill;
Go warmly clad against the winter wind
And learn his lessons with a tranquil mind.
And thus released from hunger, fear, and need
Regardless of his color, race or creed,
Look upwards, smiling to the skies, His faith in man reflected in his eyes.”


badlittleRelated.  A not-really-a-children’s-book children’s book is coming out from Abrams called Bad Little Children’s Books by Arthur C. Gackley.  You’ve seen this kind of thing online before.  They take Little Golden Book styled illustrations and covers and then put some snarky comment with them.  This just collects a whole bunch of them.  No doubt some of you will receive it this holiday seasons from relatives who think, “You like children’s books therefore you will find this hilarious.”  And it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning except for one cover in there that sort of moves it from mildly amusing to not amusing at all.  One of the parody covers is called Happy Burkaday, Timmy. Accompanying it is a picture of a little girl in a burka holding a bomb.  So.  That.  Now you know.  Thanks to Sharon Levin for the info.


Let us turn our eyes to happier news.  When the Wichita, Kansas chapter of Black Lives Matter and the Wichita Police Department held a mutual cookout, this captured the attention of the publisher Tanglewood.  So moved, they decided to partner with libraries in some fashion.  They donated 250 copies of The Kissing Hand to libraries that agreed to host an event in a community where gun violence had occurred.  Then library partners were encouraged to work with a local chapter of Black Lives Matter (or similar organization) and the local law enforcement so both groups would have an equal part in delivering the donated books into the community.  “Library partners were encouraged to work with a local chapter of Black Lives Matter (or similar organization) and the local law enforcement so both groups would have an equal part in delivering the donated books into the community.”  Curious?  More information here.


Vicky Smith recently alerted us to an interesting topic.  While at the Maine Library Association conference she attended a workshop about the, “critlib movement in Maine. If you’re not familiar with critlib, it’s an attempt to marry critical race theory with librarianship in a pretty fascinating way. It encourages librarians to examine the ways the discipline privileges the dominant culture – for instance, Library of Congress cataloging places queer topics, consensual kink, and child sexual predation in the same conceptual bucket.”  FYI.


Daily Image:

I couldn’t say it better than Cameron Suey did.  “Damn, Aesop is subtweeting America, hard.”



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920. Lifestyle

The new MB Artists catalog is here!  Check out all of our great new artwork, themed "Lifestyle".


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921. November 26: On This Day!

1476: A battle is won by Vlad the Impaler, better known to us as the real Dracula, making him ruler of Wallachia for the third time. 

1789: Thanksgiving becomes a national holiday in the U.S., under George Washington. Apparently, before that there was just a harvest festival at the time.

1922: Howard Carter and his sponsor Lord Carnarvon enter the tomb of King Tut. Imagine, Tutankhamon wasn't even a major Pharaoh and his tomb was crammed with amazing riches. Of course, if he'd been buried in a pyramid, the tomb would have been robbed and cleared out long ago. In any case, it inspired a lot of terrible horror movies and fiction. By the way, some years ago at my school, we had a student whose great grandfather had been with Howard Carter at that tomb, a chemist, I think. He said the family had been trying to get back a photo of great grandad and Carter from the museum in Cairo. Meanwhile, he kept hunting through our books and on line for any possible photos of his ancestor - and found one, at last, in a children's book about the discovery. 

This day has some author birthdays I simply have to celebrate, and here they are: 

1909: Eugene Ionesco, author of some truly over-the-top absurdist  plays. Two of the best-known were Rhinoceros, in which everyone in town is turning into a rhinocerosI believe that was a comment on Nazism - and The Bald Soprano(I had to read that in high school French as La Cantatrice Chauve.

1919: Frederik Pohl. Famous science fiction writer. If you've never heard of him, you just aren't a fan! He lived well into the days of the Internet and I believe he did a fanzine, which made him eligible for the best fan writer category of the Hugos. 

1922: The wonderful cartoonist  Charles Schulz, without whose genius we would never have had Peanuts, no Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder or Snoopy! And the world would be a much poorer place. 

And, for the kids, on this day in 1972 was born James Dashner, author of the Maze Runner series and The Eye Of Minds(forget which series that is, but it was a nice bit of fiction about being in a virtual reality world). Teenagers just love it all. Boys and girls alike borrow his books from my library. 

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922. कड़वी बात – सोच समझ कर बोलें

कड़वी बात – सोच समझ कर बोलें – आमतौर पर किसी को भी अन्धा, बहरा या पागल बोल देते हैं जबकि ऐसे कडवे बोल बोलने से सौ बार सोचना चाहिए क्योकि अपने बोल से लोग या तो दिल में उतर जाते हैं या दिल से उतर जाते हैं … कड़वी बात – सोच समझ कर […]

The post कड़वी बात – सोच समझ कर बोलें appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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923. Theatre Review- Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, performed by Poltergeist Theatre

Title: Much Ado About Nothing 
Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Jack Bradfield 
Performed by: Poltergeist Theatre
Seen at: The Michael Pilch Studio

Review: Shakespeare’s tale of two schemes concerning lovers – one to get a couple together, one to tear another couple apart- could conceivably happen anywhere. Jack Bradfield sets the action in a house party at the turn of the millennium, when anything might happen.

Poltergeist Theatre’s production introduces new perspectives to the characters. I liked how Hero and Claudio, who are traditionally the couple who conform to society’s gendered expectations, are the ones whose genders are played with, keeping the genders and pronouns they have in the text, whilst being played by actors and wearing clothes coded to another gender. The editing of the play blends this all together, as Claudio’s rant at the alter focuses more on the infidelity he believes Hero to be guilty of, and is less directly misogynistic, which might have felt weird coming from someone in a skirt. In addition, I enjoyed the addition of a redemption arc for Margaret when she realises her complicity in the shaming of Hero.

The cast was very strong. Alice Moore’s Beatrice was sharp and had a wide range of comic facial expressions, and Adam Goodbody’s Benedick was the least cocky I have ever seen him, even vulnerable in his love at times, and together, they make a touching couple. Benedick’s other important relationship, his friendship with Claudio. Is also well played, from their camaraderie at the beginning to seeing the conflict of issuing or receiving the challenge to the duel. Georgia Figgis plays Claudio in many states-excited in love, drunk, angry, upset- and the sadness she brings makes you feel sympathy for him, at least until he very convincingly rages again. Another standout for me was Lillian Bornstein’s Don Pedro, who looked utterly heartbroken after Beatrice refuses his marriage proposal.
Design wise, it’s tied together well. Both Georgia Bevan’s costumes and Adam Marshall’s lighting revolve around winter greens and rich purples, set against the white snow and plainer bases to the costumes. The transitions between scenes often resemble fast-forwarding in a video, keeping with the video theme in a stylised and polished way. Many a time a character is seen with drugs, a glass, or a bottle, which seems to motivate some of the more extreme reactions. The music, an original soundtrack by Alice Boyd, is melancholy, and the haunting rendition of Sign No More is particularly beautiful.
One thing emphasised in the marketing was the use of live-streaming and television. The major use of the live feed is when policemen Dogberry and Verges, perform to a handheld video camera, which shows on screen. This is an inventive way of allowing their actors, Imo Allan and Marcus Knight-Adams, to double as villains Conrad and Borachio, but the scene where the constables capture the criminals, repeatedly passing the camera between them, did seem a little clumsy. The television is also used in other parts of the play, to be played with, or for comic effect or for exposition. Its use would be greatly improved by ensuring that the audience could always see what was happening on screen- either by having a second screen that the actors didn’t interact with, and was only there for the audience, or simply by having the actors moving around instead of sitting or standing still in front of it.

The other thing that was conveyed in the marketing was the edgy perspective they would take on the play- the “death” of Hero and Benedick’s challenge to Claudio are emphasised. I was expecting a darker tone than what I normally expect from a Much Ado-but this production went beyond my expectations. Yes, there are moments of pure comedy, such as the scene when Benedick is tricked into believing Beatrice loves him, and the unexpected audience participation, but it’s a lot darker than something often played as a rom-com is. The editing of the script focusses on the sad, angry, and tense moments, and even the very last line -drawing attention to the Prince’s failure to find a wife- leaves you with a sombre mood.

If you’re going hoping for a cheery, fun, or romantic night, this is play not for you. However, if you’re going for Shakespeare performed very differently, or something to play with your mood, or a uniquely brilliant interpretation of a classic, Poltergeist’s Much Ado is one to watch.

Another edition of this review may appear on the website of the Cherwell

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924. The Purple Pussycat

The Purple Pussycat. Margaret Hillert. 1950. 31 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: We can not play now. We have work to do. Can you help me? Now we can go. Come with me. I want you to come.

Premise/plot: A boy's toy--a purple pussycat--has adventures on his own once the boy falls asleep.
The copyright of my copy of the book says 1981. The book was a part of Follett's Just Beginning To Read series. The whole book has just a fifty-eight word vocabulary. And perhaps that simplicity keeps it from being a wow of a plot.

My thoughts: Was it worth the quarter I paid for it? Probably. The series promises COLORFULLY ILLUSTRATED books, and, I won't deny that these illustrations are colorful. I'm not sure you'd see anything like them published today. (The house the boy lives in desperately needs the Property Brothers, in my opinion.) Once the (toy) cat begins his adventures outside, I think the book becomes more interesting.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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925. The Hockey Game

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