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1. A Step Back, A Leap Forward

Sometimes the most effective way to help writers leap ahead, is to slow things down and take a step back.

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2. Video didn’t kill the radio star – she’s hosting a podcast

Podcasters P.J. Vogt, host of Reply All, and Starlee Kine, host of Mystery Show, addressed sold-out sessions at the Sydney Writers' Festival last month, riding the wave of popularity engendered by Serial, the 2014 US true crime podcast series whose 100 million downloads galvanised the audio storytelling world.

The post Video didn’t kill the radio star – she’s hosting a podcast appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Three Tips for Summer Storytelling Practice

Whether you tell stories with the children in your life, or share stories with other adults, these tips will get you started and keep you going all summer long.

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4. Beijing Here I Come!!!!


Ages and ages ago, I was chatting via email with author Julia Jarman. We talked about this and that, then she mentioned that she had been invited to Beijing, to visit an International School, but she wasn't very keen to go. She thought it might be a little scary in China on her own, so she was thinking of turning them down. Purely as a joke, I quipped that she should ask the school if they wanted an illustrator too, then we could go together. Which is how it began.


Over a year later, Julia and I have visits booked at 4 different Beijing schools - 7 day's work - and we will be there for just over two weeks. Quite an adventure. I imagine that it will be very hard work, a bit like World Book Day week with knobs on, but I do like new and interesting experiences, plus we will get a few days at the end to explore. Of course, I'm hoping I'll have enough energy left over to sketch a bit too.

I have been to China before, but a very long time ago. In 1988, I back-packed around the north of China for 6 weeks, with a friend. It is probably the single most challenging, but also exciting thing I have ever done. That's when these sketches were done.


Apart from sights like The Forbidden City, I can't imagine that there will be much that is recognisable about Beijing now. Things were still very traditional at that time and there were certainly no gleaming, glass structures. It will certainly be fascinating to see the changes for myself.

We are due to fly out mid September, which I fully expect to be here before I know it. Yeehah!



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5. What Comes Before Part Three: A Whole Lotta Character

Hello again, lovely Pubcrawlers!

Hopefully by now you’ve spent some time considering your premise, story world, your character’s basic actions and, most importantly, their weakness and moral choice. Because now we’ll define some of the last few steps to fleshing out your character’s emotional and physical story arc. Settle in: this one is a bit longer than the last two.

Just a reminder: This series is not an Outline How-to; this is more appropriately looked at as a version of the Character Q&A. Some writers like to ask their characters twenty questions. Some like to jump right in to the story. This series is just one method of character and premise development.

So, with that in mind, let’s jump into the last section of this series!

Now, I’ve saved this chunk for last because structurally, your book should answer these “questions”, as I’ll call them, in a linear fashion.

To recap a bit, you’ve already determined your character’s weakness, what they look like as a changed person, and the moral choice they must make at the end. Now we must determine just how the character gets to that moral choice.

It begins with a desire. What your character wants, what propels the plot and provides a catalyst for the entire story. Maybe your character wants to save a friend/a lover/a parent from an evil dictator. Maybe your character wants a degree in Astronomy from a prestigious university. Maybe your character wants to confess his love for the girl of his dreams.

Note: This is called a desire because it’s not necessarily the same as what your character need. The desire is the superficial goal. It’s what your character thinks he or she needs more than anything else, what will ultimately make them happy. It’s often the clash between desire and need that makes for interesting internal conflict.

Your character’s need should be reflective of your character’s weakness. If, as I proposed last time, your character’s weakness is a fear of doing anything risky due to a loved one’s death, but her desire is to visit a friend who lives halfway across the world in a strange country, then your character needs to overcome her fear of doing anything that might be considered a risk to get there. This is, hopefully, much easier said than done.

So to fulfill her desire, your character now needs a plan. Maybe getting across the world is easy, but finding her friend once she’s landed in the foreign country is where things get tricky, and she must hire a guide, or negotiate a method of transportation that could go horribly wrong. Her plan is the catalyst – employing it is where things will ultimately test your character’s weakness, and force her to confront it.

And plans often go wrong because of the opponents that stand in your character’s way. Determine your character’s opponent by asking: who are the people who are making your characters’ life difficult? Who is testing your character’s weakness and emotional limits? How do they make the plan next to impossible to follow through?

Note: I’m intentionally not using the word antagonist here because, while antagonists are always opponents (when they’re human), opponents are not always antagonists. An Antogonist could be considered an active opponent – someone who actively opposes your character and sabotages the plan intentionally, whereas some opponents don’t even realize they’re in the way. They just exist. For example: your Main Character wants to date Person A, but Person A is dating Person B. Person B is an opponent. Even if he or she never does more than act as a really great romantic partner to Person A – even if he or she never actively opposes the MC, they are in the way of the MC’s goal, and therefore an opponent. The Antagonist in that scenario is actually Person A – because she actively wants the opposite thing to the MC, and rebuffs the MC’s advances because of that opposing desire.

Whew. Still with me? Okay, let’s move on.

Your character is enacting her plan. She’s facing her opponent(s). Now comes the battle: the moment when her desire and her weakness come head to head and she is forced to overcome her weakness or fail at everything she’s overcome to get this far. Yes, this is the climax. But it’s also an internal battle for your character where she’s forced to face these things about her that have been holding her back, emotionally and physically.

This should spark an internal revelation: things are not how they’ve always seemed to your character. Now that she has finally reached her friend on the other side of the world, your character realizes the world is, in fact, beautiful. That she is, in fact, capable of taking and overcoming risks. Your character gains an understanding of herself and her surroundings due to overcoming her weakness – she has found a new balance to her previously unbalanced life.

Now that you’ve determined your character’s desire, her plan for achieving it, and everything in between, sit back and admire your handiwork. As a bonus, ask yourself, what does it all mean? I know my premise, I know what my character is trying to achieve. Now what’s the theme of my story? The theme for the story above could be something along the lines of “Taking risks results in a more fulfilled quality of life” or something to that effect.

It’s up to you to take everything I’ve talked about in the last three posts (linked at the top of this post, important concepts in bold) and assemble your own worksheet. You might find some things I’ve talked about particularly enlightening, and some of them not so much. Take what you need! Create a development worksheet that works for you. That’s the beauty of story development and storytelling. There are lots of methods, but only you can determine the right method for you and your writing. This one just happens to be mine.

I hope this has been useful! As always, I love hearing what you guys think and if posts like this are helpful to your process. Now, go forth, and conquer (your story)!

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6. Fusenews: Anagnorisis, Masks of the Oculate Being, and More . . .

  • DearMrPotterMorning, folks. I’ve been looking to expand my knowledge beyond just children’s literature, so I figured a good podcast would be the best way to go.  After reading Bustle’s 11 literary podcasts to get your bookish fix throughout the day I settled on Books on the Nightstand as the closest thing out there to a Pop Culture Happy Hour of books alone.  Yet even at that moment I couldn’t escape the world of kidlit.  The aforementioned Bustle piece also recommended a podcast called Dear Mr. Potter, described as “an extremely close read of J. K. Rowling’s series, starting with book number one. Host Alistair invites comments and thoughts from readers as he dissects each chapter, (there are live YouTube and Twitter chats before the audio is archived for the podcast) and is able to do some bang-up accents of beloved characters like Professor McGonagall and Hagrid.”  Well, shoot.  That sounds good too.
  • Speaking of podcasts, you heard about The Yarn, right?  That would be the podcast started by Travis Jonker and Colby Sharp that follows a single book through its creators and helpers.  Having finished Season One, our intrepid heroes had a Kickstarter, met their goal, and are now soliciting ideas for Season Two.  Might want to toss in your two cents or so.  Such an opportunity may not arise again.
  • So I say “Proust Questionnaire: Kidlit Edition“, and you say, “Come again?” And I repeat, “Proust Questionnaire: Kidlit Edition”, and you say, “I’m sorry, but you’re just putting a bunch of random words and names together higglety-pigglety.” At which point I direct you to Marc Tyler Nobleman and his interview series. The questions are not too dissimilar from the 7-Impossible Things interview questions, which in turn were cribbed from Inside the Actor’s Studio, (though I forget where they got them before that). For my part, I read the ones up so far and I am now entranced by Jonathan Auxier’s use of the word, “anagnorisis”. Proust would approve.
  • The Bloggess likes us, we the librarians.  We could have guessed that but it’s nice to have your suspicions confirmed from time to time.
  • Kidlit TV: It’s not just videos!  Case in point, a recent interview with my beloved co-author Jules Danielson in which she says very kind things about myself and my fellow Niblings.  She is a bit too kind when she says that, “Betsy never whines or feels sorry for herself.”  This is the advantage, dear children, of co-writing a book with someone in another state.  They will not see you whine or kvetch in person, thereby leading them to believe that you are better than you are.  Learn from my example.
  • As ever, Pop Goes the Page takes the concept of activities in a children’s library (or, in some cases, a museum) to an entirely new level.  Good for getting the creative juices flowing.
  • And now it’s time for another edition of Cool Stuff on the Internet You Didn’t Know and Weren’t Likely to Find By Browsing.  Today, the Kerlan Collection!  You may have heard of it.  It’s that enormously cool children’s book collection hosted by the University of Minnesota.  Cool, right?  You may even have known that the doyenne of the collection is Lisa Von Drasek, who cut her teeth at the Bank Street College of Education’s children’s library for years n’ years.  Now she’s given us a pretty dang cool online exhibit series tie-in and if you happen to know a teacher in need of, oh say, primary sources and picture book nonfiction titles, direct them to the Balloons Over Broadway site.  Explore the links on the left-hand side of the page.  You won’t regret the decision.
  • Here in Evanston, October will bring The First Annual Storytelling Festival.  A too little lauded art that can be sublime or painful beyond belief, the festival will be quite a bit of the former, and very little of the latter.  If you’re in the area, come by!
  • We all know from Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle that it’s the daddy seahorses that shoulders the bulk of the parenting responsibilities in the wild.  Now travel with me over to Portland, Oregon where the husband of a buddy of mine just started Seahorses, “Portland’s first dad and baby store.”  I helped them come up with some of the good daddy/kid picture books they’re selling there.  If you’re an author in the area with a daddy/child title to your name, consider contacting them.  They’re good people.
  • Lucky, Baltimorians.  You get to host Kidlitcon this year.  I would go but my October is pure insanity, travel-wise.  You go and write it up for me, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.  I don’t mind.  Really.
  •  Daily Image:

And finally, this is precisely what you think it is.

GoodnightConstructionPJs

Yep. Goodnight Goodnight, Construction Site PJs.  Awesome?  You betcha.

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7. The Books With No Limits: Exploring Child-Centered Storytelling

"...individual readers can make the experience more child-centered by engaging kids in a dialogue."

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8. Boo!

Get a load of these wonderful book-themed costumes over at Seeker of Happiness:  SOOOO CUTE!!

Photo property of Karen Maurer Copyright 2012
Keep in mind that the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild is holding TWO Scary Stories for Halloween events.  Click here for details.

AND I am doing a Halloween Family Storytime at the Allentown Public Library on Wednesday at 6:30 pm (my regular Family Storytime time slot).  I am reading three of my absolute favorite scary-ish Halloween stories.  Room on the Broom,  The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything and  Ghosts in the House.

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9. Fall programming for kindergarteners to tweens!

Building a Mystery (not the Sarah McLachlan song)

Have you ever attended one of those murder mystery programs for adults? Now you can make one for your tweens and teens at the library.

To run a good murder mystery program at your library you need to put your creative librarian hat on and let your imagination run wild. It is easy to spend money on a pre made mystery kit, but if you have the time, make your own. Create the mystery setting in your library, have a librarian go missing and set the crime scene. Caution tape and a duct tape outline of the body make for great props. Perhaps the librarian was found under a crack in the floor, or downstairs under a stack of books. Make sure evidence is planted and there is an estimate time of death. Identify what staff member will be the victim and the culprit and then the fun starts. Come up with a motive for each staff member involved. Write a short paragraph for each staff member including where they were the night of the crime and an alibi. Here is an example:

I left work around 2:30pm that day, I had a doctor’s appointment right in town and then I went home to make dinner and go to my kid’s school pageant. I would never do anything like that to Mary; she was one of my favorite people to work with. I really hope you figure out who did this”

 Write alibi’s for as many staff members as you can get to participate. Use these alibis to identify their time and location when the crime happened. These alibis will be recorded on video (use a video camera or your cell phone). Have each staff member read their alibi on camera, have some staff members look right into the camera, others not looking at all, tapping their feet and so on. When you show kids these videos have them look for different behavior that might make them look guilty or innocent.

Matching up with the times noted in each staff members alibi, make a fake schedule for all staff members, this will be used as a piece of evidence. Next write an email that has some back and forth between the victim and a potential suspect. Create fingerprints, using photos from online or dip your fingertips in pencil led and rub it on a piece of paper. Create writing samples of a note that was found with the victim. This is always the last clue, as the older kids will easily identify the matching handwriting.

It is always best to start with examining the crime scene, if you have the money in your budget go to the dollar store and purchase the mini composition notebooks that come in a pack of three. Kids will write their thoughts in here and feel like a real detective. After examining the crime scene, hand out the schedules to each kid, once the kids have those, show the videos and explain what an alibi is and what interrogation tactics are. Pass out the remaining clues one at a time and discuss. It always helps to have a large piece of paper with notes for each suspect hung up on the wall. Take a screenshot of the alibi movies and use that as the mugshot for each suspect. After kids have pieced all the evidence together and agree on a culprit, go ahead and make the arrest!

This program not only raises critical thinking skills, but also increases vocabulary and introduces children to careers.

Have fun!

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 3.39.08 PMMeredith Levine is Head of Youth Services at the Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee. She is a member of the School Age Programs and Services Committee of ALSC. If you have any questions, email her at [email protected] and follow on Twitter @schmoopie517

 

Grossed-out and fractured Halloween

Several years ago, I attended an excellent children’s librarian skill share on using how to add props to story time. One of my colleagues introduced me to Bone Soup by Cambria Evans, a Halloween fractured fairy tale based on the “clever man” fable, Stone Soup.bone soup My colleague poignantly noted that most kids love to be grossed out and recommended Bone Soup as the perfect grossed-out fairy tale.

Finnigin, a wandering ghoul, is shunned by the local townspeople due to his infamous appetite.  Through his wits and a little kindness from a tiny werewolf, he manages to trick the others into contributing their ingredients to soup made from a “magic” bone, as well as gooey eyeballs, leathery bat wings and all. Bone Soup is guaranteed to delight a wide range of children but if you want to gild the lily a tad, the story is even more outrageous and fun when accompanied by a theatrical production of making the bone soup along with the story. I went to my local witches’ supply store, also known as the dollar store, to purchase the ingredients: mouse droppings
(brown rice), spider eggs (cotton balls painted with black dots), fake centipedes, plastic eyeballs, glow-in-the-dark bat wings, fingernails (fake nails), a large cauldron, and of course, a magic (plastic) bone.

I usually make the soup as I tell the story, stirring the mixture along with Finnigin and his reluctant friends; though, if I have a very patient group willing to share duties, I let the children concoct the magic soup themselves. Of course, I pretend to slurp the soup at the very end and the kids always demand to see the final product. Many of the young patrons at my old library branch did not celebrate Halloween officially, but they always demanded Bone Soup when All Hallows Eve rolled around.

witchat“Interactive” Bone Soup is a great and an easy, if not foul, way to add props to your Halloween storytelling! Pairing this version of the story with another version of Stone Soup (I recommend Jon Muth’s retelling) should invoke an interesting comparative folklore discussion!
Kate Eckert is a member of the School Age Programs & Services Committee and is a Children’s Librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She tweets @8bitstate and may also be contacted at [email protected]

The post Fall programming for kindergarteners to tweens! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. …introducing Ruby Gold ~ an incredibly rare, two-toothed, trilby-hatted pigeon ~ more soon probably…

introducing ruby gold - darker


Filed under: flying, pigeons, Ruby Gold

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11. Gifts: Tenderness

Hi folks, I'm starting a new series. I'm sharing creative gifts that I've received from others in my journey. I'm extremely wealthy when it comes to receiving these gifts. This week I'm going to talk about Bonny Becker. I had the opportunity to hear Bonny speak many times when I lived in Washington State. I also took the time to really study her books and think about her writing.

I received a bag of creative gifts from her but one stands out. Bonny taught me the importance of  a light touch--tenderness--in storytelling.  (It works for life too, believe me.)  Tenderness is about making vulnerable characters. They may be armored up top, but turn them over and they are squishy and soft. The story journey really is about turning that prickly character over and letting them get a little sun on his or her belly.

As a storyteller, I want to pack in stuff, get the plot going. Bonny has shown me it's about not rushing forward, but instead being patient and letting things work out. It's about heart with flaws. It's about tiny and mighty against huge and timid. Tenderness is found in the intersection of these opposites. Bonny has taught me about the absolute power of awareness. Tucking the truth about one character into the pocket of another transforms a flat story into something amazing.

Finally,I learned this from Bonny: how tenderness brings the beauty of the lilies of the field to story. She offers not just vulnerable but fragile characters. Beauty springs up like Texas bluebonnets when you thread in devotion and affection. Tenderness brings gravitas to storytelling. If you write quiet stories, tenderness will infuse them with  the sunrise. It is so quiet before dawn, but the sun rises and glory!  The birds' cacophony amazes. The clouds burn. The sky eats the darkness. This is the power of tenderness. Add it to your work.

Bonny teaches at The Northwest Institute of Literary Arts.  Her newest picture books is just out: Cloud Country. This was done in collaboration with Noah Klocek. It is amazing.  Don't just take my word for it. Give this and all her books a peek. You are welcome.

No doodle this week. Here is the cover of Bonny's new book in collaboration with Noah Klocek:



I will be back next week with more gifts.

A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them. Victor Hugo

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12. Disney Pixar’s Inside Out: The Outside Edition, all the “inside scenes” removed

Here’s a video cut posted by Jordan Hanzon which only shows the outside scenes from Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. Quite a dramatic change in tone!…

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13. Register for Spring 2016 ALSC Online Courses

Spring 2016 ALSC Online Courses

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) encourages participants to sign up for Spring 2016 ALSC online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, April 4, 2016.

Two of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: www.ala.org/alsced

The Caldecott Medal: Understanding Distinguished Art in Picture Books
6 weeks, April 4 – May 13, 2016
Instructor: KT Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison

It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, April 4 – May 13, 2016
Instructor: Rachel Reinwald, School Liaison and Youth Services Librarian, Lake Villa District Library

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, April 4 – 29, 2016, CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs
Instructor: Angela Young, Head of Children’s Department, Reed Memorial Library

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, September 14 – October 9, 2015, CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs
Instructor: Steven Engelfried, Youth Services Librarian, Wilsonville Public Library

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Figliulo or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

Images are courtesy of ALSC. 

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14. Singing, Dancing, Drawing, Biscuits!


Last Sunday afternoon, I took the train to Cambridge. Actually, 3 trains - bit of a long haul. I nearly got stranded part way there too: overhead cables were down in Retford, all trains going south were suspended and, when I did get going, we spent so long sitting in the middle of nowhere that I had time to do this painting of the view:



It was worth the pain though, for several reasons:

1: I arrived to a home-cooked, Thai, veggie meal and a glass (actually 2 glasses) of wine with my hosts Mr and Mrs Clarke.
2: I was soon to sign squillions of books - hurrah!
3: Best of all, was the fantastic time I had in store next day, with the kids at St John's College School...


Yes, it's the Spring school-visits season and, as well as dancing the cancan with Y1, singing about dragons with Reception, rapping, burping and creating monsters with Y2 (plus of course, reading stories galore and drawing loads on the flip chart)...


... I was also called upon to judge 2 competitions. 

The first was the 'Extreme Reading' photo prize. It's something lots of schools do for book week: kids have to bring in pictures of themselves reading in weird and wonderful places. There were so many really imaginative ones, we gave a prize to each year group. My favourites were a girl and her book inserted into the shell of a giant tortoise (how?), a small boy atop a princess-and-the-pea style tower of cushions, pretty much to the ceiling, and a brilliant action-shot of someone reading while turning a cartwheel!

I was also the judge of a Class Two at the Zoo illustration competition. All the children took part. This was the display of some of the hot favourites. Mrs Clarke did a great job - notice how the letters of my name are cut out of sections of Class Two at the Zoo illustrations:


I couldn't possibly choose one winner, so again, we awarded a separate prize for each year. All the winners got a signed copy of the book (with a drawing of the anaconda inside, of course).

Throughout the day, every Rec - KS1 child in the school bought a book, so I worked my socks off, signing in every spare minute. 


I didn't mind at all though: it's great to sell so many, as it really helps to keep them in print. Plus, I was fed plenty of biscuits to keep my strength up. Posh ones too. I am a sucker for shortbread:



We finished the day with a PowerPoint talk to Y3 and Y4. 

Everyone was so appreciative, I felt very loved. Mrs Clarke, who booked me, said it was the best author visit they had ever had, and they have had a few big names,  so I came away glowing like the kid in the Readybrek commercial (remember that?). Here is Mrs Clarke in the library:


Fortunately my train journey home was a lot easier than the trip down. Plus, this time I had a stash of shortbread to keep me going!



A huge thank you to Mr and Mrs Clarke for their hospitality and to everyone at school, for making it such a fun day. 

Don't forget kids: keep practising your drawing, because it's like magic - the more you do it, the better you get, until eventually you get so brilliant that you explode (that last bit is a fib, but the rest is true).

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15. House of Pestilence!


Gosh, it's been a hectic Book Week. Up early and off to different schools up and down the country every day. Lots and lots of excited little faces!

Unfortunately, that cold I was struggling against on Saturday, as I was battling to finish my artwork, didn't go away, but stuck fast all week. Plus, because I was working such long days and pushing things so relentlessly, I got worse. Yesterday, at Broadoak Primary School, I tipped things too far. I had very little voice when I arrived, but by the time I had done 4 storytellings, plus a long book signing, then (rather stupidly) finished it all off with a bonus, after-school drawing workshop for 30 kids and their parents, in a hall loud with excited little people, it was no surprise that I had no voice at all. 


Luckily the kids still seemed to have a great time. Thursday was World Book Day itself, with them all dressed up as characters from books. Very cute. I coughed and spluttered and did my bit as a character from The Black Death. All I needed was a few nice boils.

So, finally silenced and therefore grounded, today was spent at home, cradling my box of tissues. Even worse - John has it too, so I didn't even have my handy serf to wait on me and stroke my fevered brow. 

Feeling sorry for me yet? Please send grapes and chocolates!

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16.


Look what I was sent this week:



The lovely Missus B emailed to ask permission from myself and Damian Harvey. I'm not sure that she actually needed it, but it was lovely to be asked and even lovelier to listen to her reading our book. 

If you have children of the right age (or just like to have a story read to you - I know I do...) then take a look.

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17. Conferring Toolkits: Class Stories, Shared Writing and Interactive Writing

Whether it's storytelling, or shared writing, or interactive writing, any piece of writing that your whole class created together is going to be extremely helpful to have at your fingertips while you are moving about the classroom conferring.

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18. Mollie Whuppie, Unexpected Hero!

When I was a youngster, I remember reading Mollie Whuppie in one of the many fairytale collections at the public library.  I am a fairytale kind of person.  Mollie Whuppie is a little short on sparkles and ball gowns and a little long on violence and greed.

I don't know why I like the story so much.  It may be the archaic dialog between Mollie and the giant she torments.  It might be that Mollie is an unexpected hero - the runt of the family, and a girl to boot.
When I figure it out, I'll let you know.  I have to admit, I did not tell the original ending.  That ending is a bit too gruesome for my tastes.

Today, I decided to share Mollie Whuppie with the sixth graders at Nazareth Intermediate School.  My version has some (ahem) blood in it and there's lots of action.  I guessed, correctly, that the guys would like it.  What I didn't expect was all the questions the kids had during and after the story.  One question that cropped up in three of the four classes was this.  "How did the King know what the Giant had and where he kept it?"

Yeah!  How did he know that?  And why did he keep sending this tiny girl out to steal from the Giant?  And why did the parents abandon the three youngest children and not the three oldest children - who might have a better chance of surviving?

And why did Mollie carry the treasures back to the King?  Why not keep them for herself?

And why didn't those old time storytellers ask these questions themselves and answer them in the story? (My question.)

Perhaps Kings were such powerful people that listeners at the time thought Kings knew what everyone had and where they kept it.  I bet that they felt that way at tax time.

And powerless people always like stories about small powerless people who prevail.

Now, about keeping the loot for herself, Mollie had to protect her sisters who might suffer at the hands of the King if Mollie "cheated" him.

As to abandoning the youngest rather than the oldest, I invite you to offer reasons for that.

In the meantime, these questions make great writing prompts and I imagine a comic book series about The Adventures of Mollie Whuppie.  Although there are picture books out there starring Ms. Whuppie, she could be a superhero.

Mollie Whuppie, Unexpected Hero!!!


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19. ALSC Online Courses for Summer 2015

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

Summer has a way of sneaking up on you, doesn’t it? ALSC is giving you a little extra time to get ready for our new semester of online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, July 13, 2015.

Two of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs) by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsced

NEW! It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, July 13 – August 21, 2015

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC Online Learning website. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland, 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

The post ALSC Online Courses for Summer 2015 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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20. GoFundMe

This graphic is the property of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling guild and was designed by Kutztown University students.
The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild does a lot with kids.  We have a Children's Series of performances.  This past year one of our members planned a Teen Story Jam.  And we host the Pennsylvania Youth Storytelling Showcase.  What we don't have yet is a group of young members.

So, some other storytellers and I are starting the Young Tellers Guild of the Lehigh Valley.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  We need meeting places.  And resources.  And time and travel.  And coaching supplies.  And most of all, we need kids.

I have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to provide resources, to find meeting spaces, to encourage libraries and schools to hosts meetings and to pay travel expenses for storytellers who work with these groups.

Please support these efforts to share the oldest form of entertainment, education and enrichment with the newest tellers.

www.gofundme.com/ytglv

Thanks.

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21. The Red Case

Wow what a ridiculously long time between blogs. Possibly the longest yet. I don't know what to do to fix it; this (non) blogging issue, that is. I don't know why it seems so hard to do. I'm drawing all the time. And have all sorts of projects on. But just never seem to get around to blogging about them.
 
But, I'm here now, and here's one such project that's been occupying my time and mind. It's a drawing session/class/event that I've been running at a local studios. Once a month I arrange for a great model to pose in various scenarios for a group of sketchers. The difference between this and a (clothed) life drawing session is that there is a story, a narrative, running through the sessions and is passed on from model to model via
A RED CASE.
We started in session, or chapter, one with a show girl...
(drawing by Steve King)
...who held a dark secret...
...no matter what she did...
(drawing by me)
...to try to forget...
...it was always there, so one night...
 Drawing by Kate Yorke
 ...after too much to drink, she wrote a letter...
 ...asking the only person she trusted...
...to pick up the red case...
(drawing by me)
...which she did...
(drawing by Paul Gent)
 ...and now she carried the burden...
...and now, no matter what she did...
 (drawing by me)
...to try to forget...
...or who she talked to...
 (drawing by Kate Yorke)
...she too now held the secret...
 (drawing by me)
...so she decided to dispose of the case...
(drawing by Lynne McPeake)
...but...
(drawing by Karrie Brown)
...she was caught in the act...
(drawing by Kate Yorke)
...and she was marched off to jail...
 ...which all proved too much for her mother...
...but her cousin was there to pick up the pieces, and the inheritance, including the red case.
It would be his undoing.
 
You can see where the story goes here;
 
Photography by Rod Walton
Showgirl played by Pinky DeVille
Edith played by Miriam Gent
Hector played by Mike Cross
#TheRedCase
 
Fancy joining my class? Get in touch.
 

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22. Interview with Heather Demetrios: Serialized Novels, Social Media, and The Lexie Project

Hello everyone, Hannah here!

Recently, I have been contemplating what it means to serialize a novel. We wouldn’t have Charles Dickens without serial publishing – nearly all of his novels were serialized back in the day, when magazines published a chapter from stories like A Tale of Two Cities or Bleak House every week or month. Though we moved away from that form of novel publishing, websites like Wattpad have created a resurgence, particularly with YA stories.  Writers are able to publish one chapter or segment at a time and obtain reader input as the story progresses, quite possibly changing what the narrative may have otherwise been in a traditionally published format.

TheLexieProjectI was lucky enough to have Heather Demetrios, author of Something Real and I’ll Meet You There to name a few, answer some of my questions regarding her experiences with this form of publishing, based on her  serialized novel, The Lexie Project. If you’ve read Something Real by Heather then you’ll recognize some of the characters in The Lexie Project. Anyone considering launching a serialized or multi-platform project should take Heather’s answers to heart – she has put a lot of work and thought into the story and the social platform, and is ready and willing to share her lessons and expertise. Check out her interview below!

Me: First, tell us about The Lexie Project!

Heather: The Lexie Project is a young/new adult multi-platform story that is being written in real time with crowd sourcing. It’s a satirical look at reality TV and fame: think The Lizzie Bennet Diaries meets Clueless and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. My readers send me comments about what they hope Lexie will do in the future and I take that into consideration as I write. I also incorporate real life current events into the narrative, which takes it to unexpected and interesting places! I’m posting a chapter a week on Wattpad and on The Lexie Project website in addition to blogging as Lexie, tweeting as Lexie, and engaging with readers on Lexie’s other social media sites. I’ve hired an actress to play Lexie in videos and on Instagram. Lexie’s roommate is a YouTube star and so I’ve also hired another actress to play her and post videos. There’s even a podcast interview series with Lexie and “famed” celeb podcaster T.J. Maxxx. As you can see, the story very much incorporates our real life connection to social media and other forms of online media. All the social media and blogging is extra—the story reads as a complete novel on Wattpad itself, so for readers who don’t want to be online too much, they can still have full access to Lexie’s narrative.

Me: Something Real was traditionally published. The Lexie Project is a serialized web novel. What was it about a serial web platform that allowed you to tell this story in a way you couldn’t with traditional publishing?

Heather: I wanted the narrative to have the feel of reality TV and reflect the real-time life of a young celebrity. A novel takes lots of time to write and at least eighteen months between the time it sells and appears on bookshelves. Lexie is nineteen, very much enmeshed in our world of instant gratification fame. I wanted readers to get a sense of what her life is like, how she responds as things happen, whether that be an angry tweet using a hastag that is trending right now (like #SingleBecause) or selfie posted on Instagram. Lexie isn’t going to wait two or more years to tell you how she feels about something—she isn’t even going to wait an hour. In a way, we’ve all become our own biographers, curating our life story as we live it via our social media. Lexie’s doing the same.

Me: What should writers consider before choosing to serialize their own novels on a forum like Wattpad, versus attempting traditional or even self-publishing?

Heather: The first thing is that you don’t get paid writing a story this way and there’s no guarantee it will get picked up by a publisher down the road. Macmillan (my publisher for Lexie’s companion novel, Something Real) has been super supportive, but this project is not under contract with them—and I don’t know if it ever will be. I’m taking a risk here. Of course, I want the book to be published traditionally after I complete the online aspect of it. I think it has potential to do really well in that arena, as well. Not all readers are going to want to access Lexie’s story online. Plus, there’s the benefit of fun extras and editing and the other important things that go into a traditionally published, vetted book that readers who’ve already accessed Lexie online would like to have, as well. But I also see multi-platform storytelling as a part of publishing’s future and I want to get in on the ground level, be a maven of sorts.

Another major consideration writers should think about is the time a multi-platform project takes. Spoiler alert: it’s taking over my life. I currently have five books under traditional publishing contracts for which I receive advances to live off of. If I didn’t have those, I wouldn’t be doing this right now. Having those and Lexie…well, you can imagine how much sleep and free time I get.

Finally, your story has to work for a multi-platform project. Some stories aren’t best told this way. I mean, would you want to read M.T. Anderson’s Octavian Nothing this way? No. But you might want to read Feed like this. I have plans for a multi-platform sci-fi, but it’s going to look very different from Lexie. And I have plans for other novels—both adult and young adult—that are only going to be found in book form. You’ve got to do right by your story and characters first and foremost. The rest is gravy.

Me:Do you think the fact that you have been traditionally published provided the foundation for this project? Or is this something you could have done without first being traditionally published?

Heather: Frankly, I think starting this way would be a waste of time for any writer who hopes to be traditionally published and make a living off of their words. You do hear stories about publishers picking up books by Wattpad writers with a huge following, but the return on that investment—from what I’ve heard—isn’t always paying off for the publisher. That’s not to say you can’t break into publishing this way—I just wouldn’t bank on it. I think the fact that I’m traditionally published gives me an immediate fan base and readership. But even for me, it’s slow going. That’s part of why you can access the story both on Wattpad and Lexie’s website (which is a Tumblr platform). I knew my adult readers weren’t really on Wattpad and wouldn’t be super keen on learning how to navigate yet another social media site.

Me: What is the most important thing you have learned from this process? The biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Heather: I’ve actually started a blog series called Lessons From Lexie, because I’m really interested in tracking this experience. It’s, as I often say, both the Wild West of storytelling and YA on crack. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it’s going to take five times as long to do it as you think it would. You have to be on point like nobody’s business. There are so many things outside the story to keep track of, so if you’re not careful, it can be very easy to let the writing get lazy or to just go with the easiest or most sensational plot choices. My biggest challenge, then, has been not losing sight of crafting Lexie with the same care and attention on all story levels as I do with my other books. So far, so good—but it’s a lot of work.

Me: Finally, If you could give a writer planning to serialize his/her novel one piece of advice, what would it be?

Heather: Plan as much as you can and never put any writing out there that isn’t stellar. Usually, my readers don’t get to see my work until it’s been looked at by loads of readers, copy-edited, and vetted by gate keepers and my agent. My books go through a writing and editorial process that takes years. The chapters I post for Lexie—since I’m crowd sourcing and incorporating current events—get less than seven days. When you work this way, you’re putting your first draft out there, no matter how many betas you have or how much you revise your weekly installment. That takes a lot of hubris. You need strong, solid craft and experience. You also need to be deeply grounded in your story and characters. I had a whole novel—Something Real—to get me to where I needed to be with Lexie. So there’s a lot that has to happen behind the scenes before you get online. Multi-platform storytelling is not for the faint of heart or anyone who isn’t a perfectionist—so be warned.

 

All of Heather’s advice and wisdom is spot-on, so I want to thank Heather for taking the time to talk to our readers about serial publishing and The Lexie Project! You can find more information about Heather and her books on her website, listed below, or read The Lexie Project on Wattpad. Let me know your thoughts below!

HeatherDemetriosAbout Heather: When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real. Her other novels include Exquisite Captive, the first in the Dark Caravan Cycle fantasy series, I’ll Meet You There and the multi-platform serial novel, The Lexie Project. She is the founder of Live Your What, a project dedicated to creating writing opportunities for underserved youth. Find out more about Heather and her books at www.heatherdemetrios.com, or come hang out with her on Twitter (@HDemetrios) and any number of social media sites.

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23. The Little Gardener + an interview with Emily Hughes (part i)

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughesby Emily Hughes (Flying Eye Books, 2015)

Friends, I am beyond awe with this conversation with Emily Hughes. If you aren’t familiar with her work yet, I guarantee you will fall in love with it, with her, with a storytelling brilliance that is out of this world. Here, she lets us know both where stories come from and why they do.

And a note, you’ll definitely want to click on all of these images to enjoy them at their full resolution.

Enjoy!

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes The Little Gardener by Emily HughesCan you talk about where this book came from? And what the process was like for its creation?

Lots of things were swimming around in my head when The Little Gardener was being made. 
I was back home rereading a book I love, The Growth of the Soil, about a simple self-sufficient man dealing with societal pressures that seem unnecessary. He was the symbol of The Little Gardener, he’s not the personality powerhouse Wild is, he is really just a symbol for the everyman, the underdog, you, me, (my brother thinks the 3rd world) our place as a human. It’s not about him, it’s about his vision, his hopes.

There are a lot more nuances to that, but that is what it is in a very small nutshell. 
The process for Gardener was an outpouring, I drew and drew and drew. Because the images are so dense it was a meditative book to make- almost like making a mandala. The story process took a while, but with the images I worked on steadily through, and luckily they worked out with little drafting. That isn’t the usual, but this one felt natural to make, intuitive.

brainstorm001 gardeny 1

Why do you think your stories are best suited to the form of the picture book? What can you do in this form that you might not be able to in another?

If you look at my bedroom, my backpack, my email inbox, my general manner, you would be able to figure out a good deal about me. Totally scatter-brained.

It is an affliction that makes it tricky to get work done in general.  What makes children’s books an appealing medium for me is that there is text to dance with. There is the written skeleton to adhere to- oftentimes my stories have layers that I have built up depending on where I am or what I’ve been thinking of while I work. There is not just one story being told in The Little Gardener. Having text keeps my brain focused when there are other ideas floating about. Because I also draw, I am able to tell the other story lines as well- they are quieter, but are still present for others to interpret if they have patience. It is a good compromise for me.

Narrative has always been an interest, I think telling stories is what I like to do- so the things I’d compare it to would be film, theater, animation, etc. I like doing illustrations for picture books because it’s 2D and doesn’t move. However, if you are really invested you can move them within your head and expand it’s boundaries to a world you truly are interacting with.The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

One of my favorite things is the cola can that says MADE IN HILO, HI on it. I know that’s where your roots are, and I wonder how that home has shown up in the work that you do? Or if there are other easter-egg-y things that you stick in your work?

Good spotting! Hawaii is always present in my work. I left home for university in England when I was 17, and at that time I was eager for new experiences. Nevertheless, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I miss the Big Island always. Drawing things from home is indulgent for me- it is time spent reminiscing, it is a means for me to keep connected, grounded.

The cola can was initially modelled after a local company- Hawaiian Sun. The label looks nothing like the original (and I used the non-existent ‘cola’ because I thought it would be easier to translate), but the sun made a symbolic appearance. Those cans are always around- refreshments after soccer games, trips to the beach, the park with cousins. It reminds me of happy outings. I’ll add this bit to my advertising resume…

The house that the humans live in is based on my family home. It’s a plantation-style house that my Grandmother grew up in, as my siblings and I have also done. It’s a special place.

homesweethawaii

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

In the scene where the gardener is chasing away the snails, there’s a ‘rubber slipper’ (you guys would call it ‘flip flop’- Hawaii’s preferred footwear of choice) strewn about. It even has the ‘Locals’ tag on it which is the same kind you get at the grocery store. There’s lots of little things from home hidden. I like having the sentimentality there, even if it’s for my own benefit.

It seems like the girl in Wild and this little gardener have some sensibilities in common, like the hope and comfort in this un-tapped-into nature. Are there big-picture-stories you are drawn to creating, both in text and in art?

There are a lot of stories I’d like to tell. I think I start off with a general character and theme and it evolves- the writing is the last part, I think the feeling needs to be understood first. 
In my journal these are a few themes I’d written that I want to explore:

Does ‘evil’ exist? Really?


You can, will, should feel every horrible emotion and that’s fine


Kindness trumps all


Looks vs Expectations


It’s all chance for me I think- I might read something, or watch something, or sit blankly staring at the wall even, and most times it is nothing but a murmur. But once in a good while something speaks up.

As for Wild and Gardener, nature serves as a backdrop because it is an ideal to be in sync within our most natural of habitats. Something we all still strive for- a place where we’re needed.  Wild is about acceptance and tolerance, issues I was trying to practice myself. Gardener was about keeping hope alive when I was faltering with my own.

They are stories coming from a place of trying to understand, rather than a place where it is understood.

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Carter, here.

You guys. I keep reading these answers over and over and feel like it’s such a gift to get this glimpse into a storyteller’s heart. Because Emily is fascinating and brilliant and our conversation gave me so much to wrestle with and enjoy, there’s more! Come back tomorrow for the second part. More pictures, more process, more book love.

Whatever you do, get your hands on this book as soon as you can, for hope and home and heart.

Huge thanks to both Emily and Tucker Stone at Flying Eye Books for the images in this post!

ch

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24. The Little Gardener + an interview with Emily Hughes (part ii)

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

I can’t stop thinking about the line Emily left us with yesterday, this one:

They are stories coming from a place of trying to understand, rather than a place where it is understood.

Right?

Welcome back, Emily! Hope you enjoy the rest of our conversation. (And a reminder, click to enlarge any images.)

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Can you tell us about the design of the art and the text? I love that your pictures don’t have text on them anywhere, and the page turn with the flower is the only time there’s text away from the bottom. What went into those decisions?

There wasn’t much decision making- that was the problem! Often times I like to work with only a bit of text because type is a whole other ball-park in terms of aesthetics. I have a hard time compromising my space for words- text and fonts and size, all that jazz has to mesh in with the artwork, and it’s hard finding the right voice to match the looks.

My work gets pretty dense, so I find it a lot more difficult to find something that is legible, but still yields to the art. In university I preferred to keep my lines simple and punchy and give a whole page of text to one image- it makes you read everything slower, more thoughtfully. However in the world of big print-run publishing, it is a luxury to use up so much paper! I work on the pacing, but the designers at Flying Eye made a lot of the technical decisions and all the book designing- I think they’ve done beautifully.

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

What is your favorite piece of art hanging in your home or studio?

I work at home, and my favourite art piece is this ceramic self-portrait bust my Dad made when he was a kid in school. It’s got hair that looks like it was squeezed through a garlic presser- he forgot a bit of hair on the back though, and he made his nostrils with a pencil eraser. It’s a bit creepy, bit primitive cool. Very seventies. Still trying to find the best place to display it.

What are some of your favorite picture books? Both for writing and text and whatever inspires? What is your favorite picture book from childhood?

My favourite old school book is Munro Leaf’s Ferdinand. It is a beauty in text and image- what a fantastic story about the happily peaceful bull. Didn’t want to fight, didn’t want the fame, just wanted the simple pleasures of everyday life. You come across the message of being unique quite a bit in children’s books. Oftentimes it’s a feeling of ‘you’re different’ therefore special, therefore better. I don’t get that passive aggression or hypocrisy with Ferdinand.

For modern, I love Michael Rosen/Quentin Blake’s Sad Book. It isn’t sappy or over the top, it is perfect. No melodrama or silver-linings, just honest. The book feels like it is quietly listening to it’s readers own blues. It brought me real comfort. It is really a gem.

ferdinand-cover sadbook

In terms of illustration, I love everything that is Blair Lent. Dreamy.

What’s next for you?

Lots of good things in store at the moment! I have finished a bunch of projects recently, and am still catching my breath.

I just finished A Brave Bear with Walker Books, and Brilliant with Abrams, and I’m now moving on to a book series with Chronicle for easy readers called Charlie and Mouse which is written by Laurel Snyder.

Oh, and did I mention the ever lovely Everything you Need for a Treehouse by THE Carter Higgins? 
I am excited about it all, and slowly getting better at juggling everything- at the moment I am trying to doodle personal work (if you don’t maintain this, everything goes bad, you don’t evolve!), little brothers, and treehouses. For boys, I’ve been creeping around my high street and local parks to get inspiration, for tree houses I fondly think of the ones my neighbours and I repeatedly built unsuccessfully. Now I can build one without the necessary requirements of having lumber readily available, knowing how to saw wood, and basic physics!

Exciting, busy, new!

Thanks, Emily! It was such an honor to have you here, and I am so, so excited about our future!

Huge thanks to both Emily and Tucker Stone at Flying Eye Books for the images in this post!

ch

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25. ALSC Online Courses – Fall 2015

Fall 2015 Online Courses

ALSC encourages participants to sign up for Fall 2015 ALSC online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, September 14, 2015.

One of the courses being offered this semester is eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: www.ala.org/alsced

It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, September 14 –October 23, 2015
Instructor: Rachel Reinwald, School Liaison/Youth Services Librarian, Lake Villa District Library

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, September 14 – October 9, 2015, CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs
Instructor: Steven Engelfried, Youth Services Librarian, Wilsonville Public Library

The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future
6 weeks, September 14 – October 23, 2015
Instructor: KT Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website at www.ala.org/alsced. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland at [email protected] or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

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