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1. Debbie--have you seen LITTLE WHALE by Roy A. Peratrovich, Jr.?

This morning as I started to read the Summer 2016 issue of Children & Libraries a book cover caught my eye (that's it, to the right). Inside the front cover is a page of new books for children and young adults. Little Whale is displayed.

Here's the synopsis:
Keet, a ten-year-old Tlingit Indian boy, stows away for a voyage on his father’s canoe . . . and soon finds himself caught in the middle of a wild seastorm. The story carries him far from his home village, and when he makes land, he winds up right in the middle of a dangerous dispute between two Indian clans. The story of how he copes with these surprises and extricates himself from danger is dramatic and unforgettable.
And it’s mostly true. Roy Peratrovich here builds a wonderful children’s tale on the bones of a story his own grandfather passed down. His accompanying illustrations bring the people and landscapes of Alaska—to say nothing of the adventures!—to stunning life, drawing young readers into a long-gone time when the whims of nature and man could suddenly test a boy’s courage.
I'm definitely interested in this one! The author is a member of the Raven Clan of the Tlingit Tribe of Southeast Alaska. Check out his bio. I'll get a copy and be back with a review.

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2. Excerpt from New Short Story Collection for YA Readers, I SEE REALITY




About 18 months ago I was invited to contribute a short story to an “edgy” YA compilation, tentatively titled I See Reality. It would ultimately include twelve short stories by a range of writers. I was interested, but did not exactly have one waiting in my file cabinet. So I said, “Give me a few days and let’s see if anything bubbles to the surface.” After some thought, I knew the story I wanted to tell, and I knew the format in which I wanted to it.

Wallace Stevens wrote a poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” that had always captivated me. I admired its fragmentary nature, the way the text moves from perspective to perspective to create an almost cubist mosaic. Of course my story, “The Mistake,” did not come close to achieving anything of the sort. But that was the starting point, the push. I decided to play around with that idea. The final story included twenty-two brief sections.

What I wanted to say, what I was moved to address: I wanted to write a story that touched upon teenage pregnancy and the important role that Planned Parenthood plays in the lives of so many young women and men. We live in a challenging time when women’s reproductive rights are under almost daily attack. When the very existence of Planned Parenthood is under political and violent assault. This is a health organization that supplies people — often young women from low income groups — with birth control, pap smears, and cancer screening. According to The New England Journal of Medicine: “The contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions.”

Most importantly for this story, Planned Parenthood provides abortions as part of its array of services, a procedure that is legal in the United States of America. Abortion has long been debated, discussed, argued, and decided in the Supreme Court. As divisive as it may be, abortion has been declared a legal right in this country. And it touches young lives in profound ways.

Anyway, yes, I know that I risk offending people. Maybe I should just shut up. But when my thoughts bend this way, when I start to worry what people might think, I remind myself of this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I stand with Planned Parenthood.

Here’s the first two brief sections from my story, plus another quick scene, followed by review quotes about the entire collection from the major journals:




By James Preller





     “What do you think we should we do?” Angela asked.

     “I don’t know.” Malcolm shook his head. “What do you want?”

     It was, he thought, the right thing to ask. A reasonable question. Her choice. Besides, the truth was, he didn’t want to say it out loud.

     So he said the thing he said.

     “What do I want?” Angela said, as if shocked, as if hearing the ridiculous words for the first time. She stared at her skinny, dark-haired boyfriend and spat out words like lightning bolts, like thunder. “What’s that got to do with anything, Mal? What I want? How can you even ask me that?”

     “I’m sorry,” he said.

     “I’m sorry, too,” she replied stiffly, but Angela’s “sorry” seemed different than his. Malcolm was sorry for the mistake they made. Their carelessness. And in all honesty, his “sorry” in this conversation was also a strategy to silence her, a word that acted like a spigot to turn off the anger. Angela’s “sorry” encompassed the whole wide world that now rested on her slender shoulders. Malcolm understood that she was sorry for all of it, all the world’s weary sorrows, and most especially for the baby that was growing inside her belly.




     Angela on her cell, punching keys, scrolling, reading, clicking furiously.

     At Planned Parenthood, there was a number she could text. She sent a question. Then another. And another.

     She was trying to be brave.

     Trying so hard.

     It wasn’t working out so well.





     “Angela?” A nurse appeared holding a clipboard, looking expectantly into the waiting room.

     Angela rose too quickly, as if yanked by a puppeteer’s string.

     The nurse offered a tight smile, a nod, gestured with a hand. This way.     

     Her balance regained, Angela stepped forward. As an afterthought, she gave a quick, quizzical look back at Malcolm.

     “Love you,” the words stumbled from his throat. But if she heard, Angela didn’t show it. She was on her own now. And so she walked through the door, down the hallway, and into another room. Simple as that.

     Malcolm sat and stared at the empty space where, only moments before, his Angela had been.



Contributing authors include Jay Clark , Kristin Clark , Heather Demetrios , Stephen Emond , Patrick Flores-Scott , Faith Hicks , Trisha Leaver , Kekla Magoon , Marcella Pixley , James Preller , Jason Schmidt , and Jordan Sonnenblick .


Review by Booklist Review

“The hottest trend in YA literature is the renaissance of realistic fiction. Here, as further evidence, is a collection of 12 stories rooted in realism. Well, one of the stories, Stephen Emond’s illustrated tale The Night of the Living Creeper is narrated by a cat, but, otherwise, here are some examples: Jason Schmidt’s visceral story of a school shooting; Kekla Magoon’s tale of a mixed-race girl trying to find a place she belongs; Marcella Pixley’s operatic entry of a mother’s mental illness; and Patrick Flores-Scott’s haunting take on a brother’s life-changing sacrifice. Happily, not all of the stories portray reality as grim. Some, like Kristin Elizabeth Clark’s gay-themed coming-out story, Jordan Sonnenblick’s older-but-wiser romance, and Faith Erin Hicks’ graphic-novel offering about gay teens, are refreshingly lighthearted and sweet spirited. Many of the authors in this fine collection are emerging talents and their stories are, for the most part, successful. One of their characters laments how some don’t want to know about what goes on in the real world. This collection shows them.”

Review by School Library Journal Review

“Gr 10 Up-Tackling feelings-from grief to joy, from sorrow to hope, and from loss to love-this short story collection portrays real emotions of teenagers in real-life situations. Included in this volume are the conversation a girl has with herself while preparing to break up with an emotionally manipulative boyfriend, the story of a survivor of a high school shooting, an illustrated vignette told from the perspective of a family’s cat about a creeper at a Halloween party, and a short work in comic book format about the surprising secret of a high school’s golden couple. . . . With authors as diverse as Heather Demetrios, Trisha Leaver, Kekla Magoon, and Jordan Sonnenblick, this collection unflinchingly addresses subjects such as sexuality, abortion, addiction, school shootings, and abuse. VERDICT From beginning to end, this is a compelling work that looks at the reality teens are faced with today.”


My thanks to editors Grace Kendall and Joy Peskin of Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan for inviting me to take part in this refreshing collection of stories. My editor at Feiwel & Friends, Liz Szabla, helped make the connection possible.

12728003My two books that might have the most appeal to YA readers would be Before You Go and The Fall.

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3. Words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week I traveled to Washington, DC for a family vacation.  While we were there we visited the Washington DC Martin Luther King National Memorial, which opened since our last trip to DC. … Read More

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4. Free Books That Inspired Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Americans celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we have collected links to free digital editions of the books that inspired the life and writings of Martin Luther King, Jr..

We’ve included some of his favorite books, but King also taught a Seminar In Social Philosophy at Morehouse College in 1961. We found the complete outline of his syllabus at The King Center’s massive archive.

Follow these links to explore more free eBooks at Project Gutenberg: our 50 Free eBooks To Be Thankful For list, our Free Books for Halloween collection, our Free Herman Melville books list, our Free Edgar Allan Poe books collection, our Downton Abbey poetry reading list, our Free Bram Stoker collection and our Free Books That Inspired David Foster Wallace list and Free Books Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Everybody Should Read.


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. How was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day established?

picture of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The strides that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made during the Civil Rights Movement continues to be remembered and honored today, but did you know it actually took 15 years for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to be created?

In 1968, Congressman John Conyers introduced legislation to make a national holiday in honor of Dr. King, four days after he was assassinated. The bill was initially stalled, but luckily, Conyers and Representative Shirley Chisholm were persistent and they resubmitted the legislation during each legislative session. This, along with mounting pressure during the civil rights marches in Washington DC in 1982 and 1983, got the bill passed. On November 3, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill, establishing the third Monday of every January as Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday, beginning in 1986. The first national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was observed on January 20, 1986.

So today, we honor Dr. King and his message of compassion and equality for all. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Filed under: Holidays Tagged: Civil Rights, Jr., Martin Luther King, MLK, national holidays

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6. #764 – George Ferris’ Grand Idea: The Ferris Wheel by Jenna Glatzer and Stephanie Dominguez

George Ferris’ Grand Idea: The Ferris Wheel Series: The Story Behind the Name Written by Jenna Glatzer Illustrated by Stephanie Dominguez Picture Window Books    8/01/2015 978-1-4795-7161-1 32 pages    Age 7—10 “You’ve heard of a Ferris wheel (you’ve probably even ridden one!), but do you know who designed the first one? Who had the idea? …

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7. Musical Playtimes

Here at Please Touch Museum, we make music in a lot of different ways. One fun way that we explore music is by putting together groups of instruments that are generally found together.

As you may know, February is "Junior Jazz" month at Please Touch Museum, so we will be having a "Jazz Café" in the Program Room made up of instruments that are typically found in jazz combos! There will be a little piano, a trumpet, a flute and, of course, lots of drums. Kids will have the opportunity to listen to some jazz music and play along, and even make up songs of their own! By doing this, they'll learn about the context surrounding different types of music, as well as hearing the differences between musical styles. Kids also be learning about how to produce different sounds and what different instruments look, feel and sound like-- all while having fun. It's the perfect example of how Please Touch Museum's mission of learning through play comes alive!

Besides exposure to different types of instruments and genres, music is important for early childhood education. Children learn by exploring the world around them, so music is a perfect introduction to math with emphasis on numbers and counting musical beats. Language and vocabulary skills are boosted as well when singing songs. In this particular music program, we will tie in geography and history by traveling around the world to explore music from other cultures. Making music is also one of the best ways to build our hand-eye coordination, self-expression, creativity, team work skills and foster self confidence and joy.

A great way that you can hold your own "jam session" at home after visiting the museum is by having a family band. You can use re-purposed objects like pots and pans and play along to different types of music, or just make up your own songs. Everyone can count off together and take turns singing verses, or you can all sing together-- however your band makes music, it's sure to be a harmonious experience for everyone!

On your next visit, be sure to check out all the different instruments and fun in the Program Room. Most Musical Playtimes take place Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m., with the exception of special performance days. For details, check the "Today's Fun" signs on the gallery floor.

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8. Recommended Books & Activities for Black History Month

by Kathy Stemke

black history month

Black History Month is a time to create greater awareness of a strong and powerful culture with a rich history. The following books and activity ideas will keep children engaged as they learn about inspiring black Americans and their culture.

Bestselling and award-winning author, HYPERLINK Nancy I. Sanders has published over 75 books including A Kid’s Guide to African American History and D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet.

Her new book is America’s Black Founders, for ages 9 and up. Through the petitions they wrote, the sermons they preached, the literature they published, the churches they built, and the organizations they formed, African Americans influenced the birth of a new nation in powerful and far-reaching ways. Click here for several activity ideas from Nancy’s websiteClick here for several activity ideas for Black History month from Nancy’s website.

Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa is an excellent example of a quality book that conveys black history in kid-appealing way.  Ella’s story is told through the perspective of a cat, “Skat Cat Monroe,” who pulls in readers in with rhythm and rhyme. 

Use words from this story to practice finding the number of syllables in words. How many syllables are in Skat?  Fitzgerald?  determination?

Have students look up words from the story in the dictionary and share reports either written or verbal. Let students determine alphabetical order of the words. 

We learn in A Note From the Author that Ella was born in 1917.  The story tells us that in 1935 the Harlem Opera House signed Ella as a featured singer.  How old was Ella?

We learn in the story that Ella and Dizzy Gillespie headlined a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in 1947.  If she was born in 1917, how old was Ella in 1947?

We learn in A Note From the Author that Ella died in 1996.  If she was born in 1917, how old was Ella when she died?

“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” was a hit song sung by Ella Fitzgerald that began as a “jump rope jive.”  Jumping rope is an excellent work out and helps children develop timing and balance. Have your students jump rope along to Ella’s music and encourage them to create their own jump rope songs. 

Dizzy by Jonah Winter features the famous Dizzy Gilliespie.

There are many instruments featured in the illustrations of Dizzy.  Passing the book around, make a list of the instruments your group can identify.  There’s a trumpet, sax, French horn, bass, piano and drums.  Now brainstorm to create a list of instruments not featured in this book.

Review the music math words for solo, duet, trio, quartet and quintet.  Call students up with instruments in singles and small groups and let the group name the band with these math music words. 

Painting to the Beat: Provide paper, watercolor paints and space for each child to paint.  Play one of Dizzy Gilliespie’s many CDs that are available at your local library. Encourage children to paint to the beat.  Ask them to consider what “color” a song feels like.  Be sure to have them write the title of the song, along with their name and date on their musical masterpiece. 

A Jazz Parade: Provide children with handmade instruments or objects with which they can create a beat.  Turn on the music and ha

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9. Alex Segura leaving DC Comics

Popular Publicity Manager Alex Segura Jr. has announced today is his last day at DC Comics. Austin Trunick, whose name has been much more visible on The Source blog of late, will be taking over as DCU publicist, working with VP, Publicity David Hyde.

This job, and THE SOURCE in particular, have meant a lot to me over the last few years. It’s impossible to explain how exactly, so I’m not going to try. Suffice to say, the opportunity to be the conduit for so much news, information and excitement to the fans is an opportunity and experience I’m always going to cherish. It’s really been an honor to connect with so many people – in and out of the company and industry – on a regular basis. The chance to say, with little to no irony, that I had a hand in spreading the word about Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and DC’s endless array of wonderful characters is amazing. And I’m certain 12-year-old Alex would be pretty stoked if I could get my DeLorean running long enough to tell him. So, yeah. Thank you for reading. I’m not deluded enough to think anyone came to this piece of Internet real estate because of my ability to turn a phrase, but it was an honor to be a messenger of such great and exciting news each day.

Segura joined DC in 2006, following stints at the Miami Herald, Wizard Magazine, and Archie Comics. As a journalist, he founded The Great Curve blog which eventually created both Blog@ Newsarama and Robot 6. In all those positions he made tons of friends who are flooding Twitter right now with the best wishes for one of the good guys in comics.

Luckily, Segura says he isn’t leaving the comics business in his goodbye post, so keep an eye on where he lands.

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10. Writing 4 children, teens and YA: Chautauqua

“Chautauqua.” I could hear my hubby saying the word in the other room…but couldn’t figure out why.  “What was that?” “Chautauqua…” he repeated. “WHAT ABOUT IT?” I was in the other room trying to tweet, work on some networking and hear … Continue reading

10 Comments on Writing 4 children, teens and YA: Chautauqua, last added: 2/1/2011
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11. Link Dump #8: Principal gets pie in the face . . . Eva Pearlman asks questions . . . gender assumptions that limit boys . . . a man records 1,600 words before losing his voice forever

* Here’s a terrific way for schools to boost reading: the five-million page challenge.

Heritage Elementary School, the largest elementary school in the district, read 635,103 pages. Although the school didn’t set a particular goal, there was some friendly competition between the girls and the boys.

“The girls barely won over the boys,” said library media specialist Michelle Barnes.

“We had an assembly last Friday (March 4) where several girls got to spray shaving cream all over a fourth-grade teacher and other girls got to spray silly string all over the principal.

Photo: Lindsay Keefer.

* An amazing story about a British father with a motor neurone disease who is set to record 1,600 words before losing his voice forever.

Laurence Brewer will record 1,600 sentences for a computer program that will break them up into individual sounds and then piece them back together again to form words under Brewer’s control. Brewer said his inspiration for the project was his 13-month-old son.

He said, “He is the key motivation for me to record my voice so that if my voice is lost, he can still hear what his dad sounds like. I might be able to read him bedtime stories; your voice is part of your identity. He can maybe also hear what I sound like when I am no longer here.”

* A University of Washington study shows that second-grade students associate math with boys and reading with girls.

Our results show that cultural stereotypes about math are absorbed strikingly early in development, prior to ages at which there are gender differences in math achievement,” said Andrew Meltzoff, co-author of the study.

* Speaking of stereotypes that limit boys, Eva Pearlman asks questions about why the acceptable range of expression for girls seems to have expanded — tough and athletic is cool — there is no or little leeway for boys.

As a society we seem to be more comfortable with a tree-climbing, ball-playing, T-shirt-and-jeans-wearing girl then a pink-wearing, non-sports-playing boy who prefers quiet arts-and-crafts projects.

Why is that?

* This is just great. Hat tip to my new friend, Deb Hanson, over at Real Men Read with Kids.

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12. Writers Against Racism: The Untold Story – Black Hospitals in America

A few months back, my dear cousin, Dr. Monica Benjamin Hayes,  introduced me to her colleague, Nathaniel Wesley Jr., as she knew his research on black hospitals in Amercia would intrigue me. He agreed to this interview.

A.B. What made you decide to go ahead and write this very important book?

In 1977 I was asked by the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) to create a national directory of “negro” hospitals in the United States.  I   was a member of NAHSE and was encouraged by several of my mentors to conduct research and study of Black hospitals.  When I became a faculty member at Howard University Hospital I published a number of special reports and monograms on the contributions of Black hospitals to our healthcare delivery system.  I decided to write the book after the following realizations in the first decade of the 21st century:

The accumulation of more than 30 years of historic files, records, articles and scholarly documents on Black hospitals of the 20th century.

Nathaniel Wesley Jr.

My first employment in the health field was in a Black hospital.

The only time I was fired as a health professional was by a Black hospital

I had presented hundreds of lectures and presentation on Black hospital History

Given the increased interest in Black history and encourage of my professional colleagues and personal friends, I decided that I should share my knowledge with others.

A.B. How has it been received (reactions)?

The book has been well received as a subject and topic of interest, information and intrigue.

However, it has not produced the sales as desired.   Most individuals are not willing to pay the price of the book as a historic document.  Given that it is a referenced document that is of value to researchers, students, and educators, my target market has become libraries, research centers, historical organizations and museums.

A.B. What were some astounding revelations you found through your research?

This list of responses could go on for pages. However, let me list a few at this time:

A significant number of Black hospitals were founded to provide opportunities for clinical training for Black nursing students.  Segregated White hospitals did not allow Black nursing students to receive clinical training at those hospitals.

In some locations, Black physicians were not given admitting privileges to Black hospitals.  Only White physicians could admit consistent with the policies of the local medical society.  Black physicians could then provide medical care to those patients.

Black hospitals were true “community” hospitals.  Individuals and institutions throughout a community would support the hospital socially, politically, economically and financially.

In many communities, White physicians played a key role in securing critical medical resources from White hospitals for the care of Black patients.  These physicians were also creative enough to provide surgical and medical services when such services were “off limits” at the White hospital.

A.B. Is anyone to blame for the lack of Black hospitals and ultimately, do we need them?  My point is, historically there have been Black hospitals but in today’s world, is that a realistic expectation?

The “ racial desegregation” of America resulted in the transition of my institutions in the Black community.  Who do we “blame” for the loss of drive-in movies? A difficult question to answer.  No single person or circumstance is to be blamed. Do we need Black hospitals?  Probably not.

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13. Anticipating Teen Day in Manayunk with Five Extraordinary Writer Friends

Many months ago, I received an invitation to read from You Are My Only at The Spiral Bookcase, a new independent bookstore in Manayunk, PA. I was, of course, keen to meet the store's very dear owner, Ann.  And I was thrilled to have a chance to support a new independent (how many new independent bookstores do you know?)  But how much more fun would be had, I thought, if I could be joined in the event by some of the best young adult writers around.

And so Ann and I talked.  And so one thing led to another.  And so it is with a great sense of anticipation and pleasure that I am sharing news of the inaugural Teen Day in Manayunk, to be held during the afternoon of March 24th.  There will be writing workshops for teen authors.  There will be a writing contest with winning entries (judged by Elizabeth Mosier and yours truly) appearing in the extraordinary teen-lit magazine Philadelphia Stories, Jr. and on The Spiral Bookcase web; I'll also be excerpting winning work here.  There will be marching bands and media coverage and appearances by some very special souls.

I encourage teachers, parents, and young writers in the Philadelphia area to find out more about the writing contest, workshop, and meet-and-greet by contacting Ann at The Spiral Bookcase.  I encourage the rest of you to consider spending time with some truly fine writers along the canal. 

Here we all are.  There we all will be.
Susan Campbell Bartoletti is best known for her nonfiction books, including the Newbery Honor-winning Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow (Scholastic) and the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Honor-winning They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of An American Terrorist Group (Houghton Mifflin). Her most recent titles include the novel The Boy Who Dared (Scholastic) and a picture book Naamah and the Ark at Night (Candlewick 2011), illustrated by the amazing Holly Meade. www.scbartoletti.com <http://www.scbartoletti.com>  <http://www.scbartoletti.com>

Beth Kephart is the National Book Award-nominated author of thirteen books, including the teen novels Undercover, House of Dance, Nothing but Ghosts, The Heart Is Not a Size, Dangerous Neighbors, and You Are My Only; Small Damages is due out from Philomel in July.   Beth, who is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania, blogs at http://beth-kephart.blogspot.com/.

A.S. King is the author of the highly acclaimed Everybody Sees the Ants, a YALSA 2012 Top Ten Fiction for Young Adults book, the 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor book Please Ignore Vera Dietz, ALA Best Book for Young Adults The Dust of 100 Dogs, and the forthcoming Ask the Passengers. Since returning from Ireland where she spent over a decade living off the land, te

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14. Words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week I traveled to Washington, DC for a family vacation.  While we were there we visited the Washington DC Martin Luther King National Memorial, which opened since our last trip to DC. … Read More

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15. Pictures From Our Vacation

by Lynne Rae Perkins
Greenwillow/ HarperCollins 2007

We were going to our family farm. No one lived at the farm anymore, but our grandparents were spending the summer there and we were going to visit them...

It's a two day trip to the family farm and just before they leave mom gives her children instant cameras and a blank notebook to record their vacation. The first shot is an accident, a picture of feet taken while trying to figure out how the camera works.

Heading out of town our narrator, the girl, imagines what their motel will be like that first night, followed by vivid plans for her own dream-style motel. Her dream motel includes a pool, an azure oasis in the heartland. She is naturally disappointed when they arrive at the motel and find the pool has no water in it at all. A photo documents this disappointment.

At the farm they settle in and dig out an old badminton set with warped rackets. They aren't long into the game when they are chased inside by the rain. A photo of a warped racket is taken.

The rain lasts for days on end, forcing games of cards and drawing, silent reading and building towers from playing cards. No pictures are taken.

When the weather clears they take a day trip to a nearby lake. They get lost along the way (trying to find one of dad's childhood shortcuts) and then stop at a large Native American earthwork, a snake mound along the river. A picture is taken next to the mound that looks like nothing more than a grassy knoll in the photo.

They reach the lake finally, just as it starts to rain again. No photo.

They attend a memorial service for a great aunt who was something of a free-spirited adventurer in her day. Afterward many people gather at the old farm house, distant cousins and friends, where they feast and play and spend the night together. "I didn't take any pictures that day," the girl says.

Finally it's time to return home. She takes out her notebook and looks at the pictures. "These don't remind me that much of our vacation," she says. Her father suggests that putting a person in the photos makes them more interesting, gives something to focus on. But mom gets it right when she opines that perhaps they were having too much fun to take better pictures.

As picture books go, it's a wordy one, not the kind a lap-sitter would sit still for. No, this belongs to that special class of picture book that has fallen somewhat out of favor, the long-form picture book intended for older independent readers. This kind of picture book was what I was weened on in the days before beginning readers was a market and snack series filled the gap between Syd Hoff and Dr. Seuss and the books of Roald Dahl and Jerome Beatty.

Long-form isn't just about more words than what most current picture books contain, but also in pacing, in the leisurely feel of the story getting around to its points. The long-form picture book isn't just a story, it's an illustrated short story, and like its grown-up versions it is about a specific moment of discovery told with a certain amount of economy.

Words and pictures work together to tell two different stories of the same events. Perkins is careful in making sure to alternate between scenes of broad overviews and smaller moments, sometimes illustrating ideas only barely hinted at in the texts (like memories) or not even mentioned in the text at all (the quiet activities during the rain). The insets of the photos the kids take are exactly the sort of snapshots kids would take when their brains are telling them to record a moment for posterity but haven't the experience to know how to capture those moments. It's no surprise that their notebooks are filled with images that don't even hint at the vacation's activities, a gentle lesson in living life as opposed to recording it obsessively.

There are some scrap-bookers out there who might benefit from this message.

Perkins gouache illustrations catch the bright colors of summer, the saturation of our memories of summers past, shimmering luminescent pieces of frozen time. I'm still not quite sure what reader this book is best for, but for the right reader this is a gem.

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16. An Apology to Sophia and WordPlay Saturday

Well, now that Darth Bill has extended his hand in peace to Master Jedi Zack, we'll probably have a little quiet for a while. At least long enough for them (and you!) to read Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and write about it. That gives me time to make an admission--I owe an apology to Sophia, one of the girls at Metrolina Regional Scholars' Academy who have tried the hostile takeover of our blog. I'd written about the mean and sneaky girls who attempted this vicious takeover but I met Spophia last Friday when I happened to be at MRSA and she is very nice. (Her friend Mary wasn't there but I found out that she's nice also) I felt bad for what I'd written, so I apologized to her then and apologize to all the girls at MRSA now. They are all very nice.

So why, then, do they want to attempt a hostile takeover of our blog? They're all so nice--why would they try to invade and conquer our beloved home? This puzzled me for a long time. Then I figured it out--they are so awestruck by the greatness of boys that they want to enter our territory and find out what makes us so great!! Of course!!! They are so amazed at all the books we've read and how good our reviews have been that they want to join us! Why, then, we welcome you!. Send in those reviews. The more you send, the more you'll be like us!! And, please, all you boys at MRSA and everywhere else, send in more reviews so that the girls will see how great and cool we truly are!!!!!

Let me take this opportunity to tell you about something really fun: our WordPlay Saturday here at Imaginon. It will be Saturday, October 11. There will be bands, activities, crafts, and lots of fun stuff. There will also be some authors who'll speak and answer questions and sign books, including Charles Smith, Jr., who writes poems about sports, and graphic novel author Josh Elder (who does Mail Order Ninja and The Batman Strikes). Click here and here to find out more and even see a video about it! The Book Brunch with the authors will be from 9:30 am--11:00 am, WordPlay will be from 11:00 am--4:00 pm, and the authors will sign books from 11:30 am--1:oo pm.
Hope to see you there,

1 Comments on An Apology to Sophia and WordPlay Saturday, last added: 10/7/2008
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17. Superior Persons

Since 3:30 AM this morning (with one bloggable exception), I have been amusing myself with Roy Blount Jr.'s Alphabet Juice, the subtitle for which begins (but does not end) with: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof...

(Other Blount subtitle words include but are not limited to "innards," "pips," "tinctures," and "savory.")

I'm up to the letter "G," and already I have been willingly barraged by a Gertrude Stein quote with actual purchase ("It is not clarity that is desirable but force."), a top Urbandictionary.com definition for book ("an object used as a coaster, increase the height of small children, or increase the stability of poorly built furniture"), and an admonition (well, I took it that way): "Babble is the precursor to speech, babel the collapse of it. Full circle."

In short, I've been delighted.

I love these books-about-words books and the cunning outsized witticisms of their authors. Take Karen Elizabeth Gordon, who parses frequently confused words with fashionable fantasy. Here, for example, we are given the lowdown on unconscious versus unconscionable:

The sandman, sure of Miranda's unconscious condition and his powers of somnolent seduction, was less successful than he assumed as he tiptoed from her bedside: she was merely faking sleep before returning to The Hunted Reticule and its glittering denouement.

Come on. You needed that. I know you did.

Finally, may I share with you a favorite word from The Superior Person's Book of Words? Which would be "procellous," meaning, "stormy, tempetuous." If you don't like that, I yield to you "quakebuttock," which is, according to author Peter Bowler, "a nicely scornful word for a coward."

Earlier this week, another outsized wit suggested that I could do with a tad more "harsh."

Do you think he was calling me a quakebuttock?

5 Comments on Superior Persons, last added: 12/22/2008
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18. Motorized Cupcakes, His & Hers Aircraft and First Book

Neiman Marcus Algonquin Round Table Dinner I sensed this wouldn’t be just any old press event when three giant cupcake-mobiles came rolling toward us.  Only in Dallas and only at the Neiman Marcus debut of its 2009 Christmas Book would such whimsical, over-the-top motorized confections be the norm.

Known for its fantasy gifts and experiences, this year’s Neiman Marcus Christmas Book offers other remarkable forms of transport: the Icon A5 “His and Hers” amphibious aircraft (flying lessons included, good thing); the Mission One electric motorcycle that not only is environmentally correct but also a thing of beauty to behold; and a limited edition Jaguar XJL.  As for the Custom Cupcake Cars, these ingenious techno-art vehicles that were introduced at Burning Man™   offer almost as smooth a ride at 7 mph.

Why would someone from First Book be at this press event?  First Book is the featured charity in the Christmas Book.  When Neiman Marcus gave us the chance to dream up our own literary fantasy, we were excited to come to the table.

Or more accurately, The Algonquin Round Table.  We have created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a generous person who loves books and wants to ensure that all children have that same opportunity.

The Algonquin Hotel is a literary landmark in Manhattan where ninety years ago, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and other leading writers and theater people began weekly meals at what became known as the Round Table.

We have created a contemporary Round Table with an astounding guest list of the best and wittiest, including:  Christopher Buckley, Roz Chast, Delia Ephron, Nora Ephron, Malcolm Gladwell, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Adam Gopnik, John Lithgow, Anna Deavere Smith, George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth.

The person who takes us up on this offer will enjoy an intimate dinner party with at least eight of these luminaries (though scheduling the actual date may require some changes in the guest list).  We are grateful to our friends at The Algonquin Hotel who will provide accommodations and what promises to be a spectacular meal.

This dinner party will have lasting benefit for children in need because First Book will honor the generous purchaser with a donation of 10,000 books in his or her name.

This priceless evening can be yours for $200,000, with all proceeds supporting First Book’s mission.  Even Dorothy Parker would approve.

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19. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day combines Art, Literacy and History

This upcoming Monday, January 18, we will be celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by involving visitors in the collaborative process of creating a mural! Our visitors will learn how to cooperate and share with others. The day will be a meditation on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and an introduction for our young visitors to a significant historical figure.

Visitors will have a chance to create four different types of murals that honor Dr. King's legacy. The murals will focus on words and phrases that are meaningful to Martin Luther King and our mission here at Please Touch Museum. Painting about these words will promote self-expression and critical thinking skills. These concepts include CARING for others, LEARNING, and COMMUNITY service.
During this activity, we will create linguistic associations between a word and its meaning. When a child thinks of a word, there are certain connections we hope they will make. For example, the word CARING may be defined by a young child as the feeling of love or understanding for others.

The way that we personalize every child's experience and make it a significant one is by asking open-ended questions. Asking open-ended questions allows your child to think for themselves and cultivate a unique response.

For example, we might ask what does the word CARING mean to you? How do you CARE for others? How does CARING for others make you feel? Can you paint what the word CARING means to you? This method of focusing on one word can be used for any word your child is trying to add to their vocabulary and is a way to practice learning comprehension skills early on.

The last mural is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous "I have a dream" speech. We will highlight Dr. King as a man who spoke up for what was just and what he believed in. Our younger generation of leaders can begin to think about what is important to them personally and how they are capable of bringing about change. The children will paint in the clouds with

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