J.L. Meyer: Durian King

From: Illustrations and Comic art
October 20, 2012 at 04:53PM

I am happy to share the card I did for Duel Masters.

It is based on the Durian Tree.

The set is released in Japan!

Theresa Milstein: Lessons from Lenny Lee

From: Theresa’s Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts
October 20, 2012 at 07:16AM


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“It is less painful to learn in youth
than to be ignorant in age”

As a children’s writer, I believe youth have more to
teach me than I could ever hope to teach them. While I pull from past
experiences and feelings in my writing, my everyday life is consumed by adult
worries, joys, and obligations.
Most of my on-line writer friends are adults.  Lenny Lee was the first child to follow
my blog.  I’ve learned much from
the few years I’ve known him.

Lessons from Lenny Lee
1.    Don’t let age stop you.
I think back to my youth. It never would’ve occurred to me
to contact an author I admired, let alone start collaborations with other
writers.  And since the Internet
didn’t exist when I was his age (man, I’m old), writers weren’t as accessible
as we are now.  Lenny Lee not only
writes, but critiques other writers’ manuscripts. He’s part of the writing
2.    If you want to do it well, learn it.
While I breathed books and liked to write, when I was his
age, it also never occurred to me I could be a writer.  I thought people were just brilliant at
it. If not, then I had no right to pursue it.  Didn’t know there was a whole craft to learn for everyone.  See, he’s smarter than me.  He actually finds out how this whole
writing thing works. And does it!
3.    Use your knowledge to give advice to other
Clearly, I didn’t have a blog when I was his age (since the
Internet hadn’t even been invented). When I started a blog 3 years ago, I
didn’t think I had much writing advice to offer the world. Lenny not only
learns about the craft of writing, but also shares his wisdom with others. He
has written excellent posts on writing. I’ve learned from reading his
4.    Be positive.
I don’t want to admit how often I feel sorry for myself.
Actually, read the archives, and you can find out.  I’m sure Lenny Lee has down days too, but his blog is all
advice and encouragement. 
5.    Have your own unique voice.
It took me YEARS to figure out how to find my voice as a
writer.  Read Lenny Lee’s blog and
it’s all VOICE.  His personality
shines on his blog.  I bet it’s the
same for his fiction.
I can no longer call Lenny Lee a child.  
He’s turning 13 TODAY!  
Please visit this teen’s  BLOG


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 and wish
him a very  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


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Happy Birthday, Lenny Lee!

May you have many, many more.
It’s great seeing you grow.
Miss Theresa
“Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts
were touched with fire.  It was
given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Caroline Gray: Video Tutorials: How to Make a Magnetic Puppet Theater

From: Caroline Gray Illustration
October 19, 2012 at 02:46PM

I have completed two new video tutorials this week!

The first, How to Make a Magnetic Puppet Theater, is craft project designed for children (approx. age 8 and up) or adults to complete using basic household items.

The second is a needle felting instructional video for creating magnetic puppets to go with the aforementioned puppet theater. Coming soon: how to create more basic magnetic puppets from corks and spools.



Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
October 19, 2012 at 11:36AM

I’ve been watching the presidential and vice presidential debates with interest.  Granted, I’m not an expert on many of the topics they discussed, but I do know quite a bit about science and climate change.  The focus seems to be on the cost of energy when, by far, the more important issue is what are we going to do about carbon dioxide levels that impact atmospheric temperature and the health of our oceans.  This has yet to be discussed.

Here is a link to a description of a couple of kid’s classes I’ll be running in early November.  There will be plenty of interacting and I have lots of fun activities planned.  I hope to see you there!

Speaking of classes, I took one myself.  It was fascinating stuff that I stumbled upon while doing research for one project I’m working on.  The professor and grad students used shrinky dinks (how fun!) to explain how they are doing their work.  We poured goop called PVMS (I think that stands for polyvinylmethylsiloxane) on our designs.  After shrinking, the design was raised slightly because the ink gets denser when it shrinks.   When the plastic hardened, they cut out plastic cubes.  (top photo: butterfly shrinky dink covered in hardened plastic with a square cut out of it) After drilling holes they injected dye into the tiny channels of these reverse images.  (bottom photo: reverse image glued to glass slide with dye injected into holes)   It was a really interesting way to understand the work they are doing.     

Gail Gauthier: The Kennedys As Historical Details

From: Original Content
October 19, 2012 at 12:47PM

Just yesterday I was writing about The FitzOsbornes in Exhile‘s similarity to various series on Masterpiece and its use of Kathleen and Joseph Kennedy, Jr. as historical details. Well, I just saw last Sunday’s episode of Upstairs Downstairs and who should appear at 165 Eaton Place but Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the missus, and one of the boys. I missed which one it was–he was skinny like Joe, Jr., but it could have been Jack. He didn’t have much of an impact on the story because it does look as if he was just there because, well, the Kennedys were in London in the 1930s.

Jeannine Atkins: The Poetry Friday Anthology

From: Jeannine Atkins
October 19, 2012 at 12:10PM

The Poetry Friday Anthology was the dream child of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, who have compiled other great collections. In their introduction, they advocate reading poetry first and foremost for pleasure, but also point out ways that reading poetry fulfills the Common Core standards for kindergarten through grade 5. Each poem is accompanied by five discussion questions, which relate to language arts skills, personal experiences, or comparisons to other poems. I love how easy this makes it for teachers to add poetry the day, providing enough poems for five minutes on each Friday of the school year. These poems are written by dozens of well-known poets, and many are full of humor and enchanting twists, providing ways for students to bond over the language, the topics, and some original silliness. You can see samples on the Poetry Friday Blog.
CC green cover exact

I’m happy to have two poems included. Here’s one followed by a picture of an inspiration (which Peter took when we were walking a few days ago).

Good Dog! Bad Dog!

Good dog never wakes us up.

Yip! Bad dog jumps on the bed.

Good dog shakes for a biscuit.

Bad dog snitches jam and bread.

Good dog chews dog toys.

Bad dog chews the chair.

Good dog comes when called.

Bad dog doesn’t care.

Good dog snuggles by my feet.

Bad dog steals my heart.

No, that’s our good dog!

Some days we can’t tell them apart.

Copyright © 2012 Jeannine Atkins. All rights reserved.


For Poetry Friday links, please visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem, where she’s featuring a collaborative zoo poem (I wrote a goat couplet) to celebrate her new novel. which has a zoo setting: Don’t Feed the Boy.

Michelle Cusolito: Go Mushroom Hunting With Your Kids

From: Polliwog on Safari
October 19, 2012 at 08:33AM

Photo taken in Bartlett, NH 6 Oct 2012

Many people associate autumn with aging and the approach of death. Indeed many poems have been written about being in the “autumn” of one’s life. Sure, annual plants die during the first frost. Deciduous trees lose their leaves and  look dead to some. But around here, mushroom/fungi seem to come to life out of nowhere during September and October.

Have you noticed how many are around? Last year, I took a walk and focused on locating and photographing the variety of mushrooms I saw. Yesterday, I left my camera at home but saw just as many when I was out in our woods.

So here’s a nature adventure for you and your kids this weekend- go out mushroom hunting! Maybe hand your kids a point and shoot camera and see how many they can photograph. (Use the “macro” setting to get good shots. The symbol looks like a flower on most cameras). Later, you can try to identify them using a field guide, if you choose.

CAUTION: Just remember that many mushrooms are poisonous. Only trained experts should pick and eat mushrooms. In fact, I generally encourage my kids not to touch mushrooms because I can’t identify the poisonous ones. If we do touch them, we immediately wash our hands thoroughly.

How many different kinds of mushrooms do you think you can find? Have your kids make a prediction before you go out. Then, I hope you’ll report back to us!

If you don’t live in the northeast or an area with lots of mushrooms right now, what organism can you search out this weekend? I’d love to hear what you find.

Related Posts:
Mushroom Hunting

Stress Therapy: Get Back To Nature

Sarah Albee: Liquid Asset

From: Sarah Albee
October 19, 2012 at 05:30AM

Typewriter correction fluid, known commercially as Liquid Paper, was invented by a divorced mother in 1951 who was trying to earn extra income. In 1979 she sold the product for over $47 million dollars. Her son, Michael Nesmith, was a member of The Monkees.

Sarah Albee: N is for Nylghau

From: Sarah Albee
October 19, 2012 at 04:23AM

I’ve written a lot of alphabet books over the course of my career. (The book pictured above is one example of my alphabet oeuvre, which seemed timely.) Writing alphabet books is kind of an essential skill to acquire if you write for preschoolers, and especially so if you want to work, as I did, at Sesame Street. I was there for nine years.

One thing I learned from bitter experience: alphabet books are hard to write. Because you don’t want to get it wrong. You think, hah, I got this: D is for Dog. And the people down in Research shake their heads and tell you, no, the kid will say “Barkley.” How about D is for Daffodil, then? (Nope. The kid will say flower.) M is for Monster? (They massage their temples with barely-restrained patience and tell you no, the kid won’t say “M is for Monster.” The kid will say ”M is for Elmo.”) You think, hmmm. Here’s a foolproof one: C is for Coat. And Research says “Uh-uh. Jacket.” And you can’t say K is for knife for several obvious reasons, or C is for Chocolate for several other obvious reasons— or G is for Gnu or N is for Nylghau. (I’m becoming facetious, which also tends to happen when you’re writing an alphabet book and you arrive at the letter Q and realize you basically have queen or quilt as your pictureable objects. But you get my point I hope.)

And then there’s the Dreaded X. What do you picture on the X page? If you are writing a Sesame Street book, you put Cookie Monster on the page, standing behind an X-ray machine, showing his tummy with a lot of half-eaten cookies in it.

I turned to historical ABC books as a sort of snapshot of the kinds of pictureable objects that would have been familiar to kids in times past. You have to hope that the author/illustrators were trying their best to picture things familiar to kids of their era, but after you look at some of these, it does make you wonder. Have a look.

Here’s a picture alphabet from the UK national archives collection, 1885.

G is for Geranium. Hear that, Sesame Street Research? O is for Opera Glasses. And for X? X is for X-mas, silly.

We turn now to Dame Wonder’s Picture Alphabet, of anonymous authorship and unknown year of publication, but it’s certainly nineteenth century. I won’t take the time to show every letter–you can click on the link to see the whole thing–but a few entries are worth noting, like I is for Italian:J for Jane? Do you see that, Research?

Here’s U for Uncle (puhleeze). And how do they handle X in this one?X is for the number ten, or “No X” as the artist renders that numeral.

Here’s an entry from an 1850 Alphabet book.


Why, sure. M is for Monkey, drinking a glass of champagne, and N is for Nylghau.

How does this author handle the letter X? He totally wusses out.And finally, we have Little Pets Linen ABC, from the year 1886.

I’d love to show you the whole thing, but here’s G through L.

Note that G is for Gnu, Gun, and Groom. And please also note that the juggler is juggling KNIVES. My former colleagues down in Research have probably fainted dead away by this point, if they’re reading this.

And M through R.

Note that N is once again for Nylghau, and also (cringe) Negro.

And here is S through Z, which is a low quality scan but I had to show you how they dealt with X:

I know it’s hard for you to see it, but X is for Xerxes.

Here’s the cover of this book, by the way. From what I can tell, “Little Pets” was a series brand. And those kids on the cover, trying to tear apart the book? At least one is a boy. (For more about that, click here.)

Halloween ABC by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Julia Woolf, Random House, 2009

Peter Davis: Ad Stalking

From: The Tech Curmudgeon
October 19, 2012 at 01:00AM

Gail Gauthier: Like Reading A “Masterpiece” Series–And There’s Nothing Wrong With That

From: Original Content
October 18, 2012 at 08:13PM

I am enjoying the Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper, which began with A Brief History of Montmaray. In The FitzOsbornes in Exile, the royal family of Montmaray is living the 1930’s London upper class life some of us have come to know and love from various novels and Masterpiece series. Unlike the first Montmaray novel, which I found difficult to categorize, this one is probably a formulaic England-under-the-cloud-of-coming-war story.

I felt A Brief History of Montmaray had an odd plot because the event that changes the world for the characters and sets everything in motion didn’t start until halfway through the book. The Montmaray Journals brings serial novels to historical fiction, something that we usually see with fantasy, and the event that changes the world for these characters this time occurred at the end of book one–the Nazis force the royal family out of their island kingdom. In The FitzOsbornes in Exile they don’t really start dealing with that until, once again, halfway through the book. Initially, they are fish out of water, not fitting in with the shallow London debutantes because they’ve had a much rougher life, despite being royal. Then the rest of the book deals with them trying to get the world to recognize what has become of their country. Like the first book, this one even has a climax filled with physical danger, though I found it more improbable than what happened in book one.

The FitzOsbornes in Exile probably suffers a bit from being the middle book in a trilogy. It’s the book that pretty much acts as filler between the hook that caught readers’ attention in the first place and the big finale, which in this case is going to involve World War II. I, for one, am expecting a big, big finale.

As charming as the FitxOsbornes are, I can imagine them wearing on some readers a bit because they are so beautiful, intelligent, and noble. But I love the period details in these books. I am familiar with the Mitford sisters, who are mentioned a few times here, and Sir Oswald Mosley, who gets even more space. (He’s almost a semi-regular on Masterpiece, turning up in both Upstairs Downstairs and, I believe, Foyle’s War.) I certainly recognize the names Kathleen Kennedy and Joseph Kennedy, Jr., though I’m not sure how their presence adds to the story, unless their fates come into the third book.

At one point, the main character is asked if she’s been reading Machiavelli. “No,” she says, “I’m reading Regency Buck, by Georgette Heyer….and it’s got Beau Brummell in it.” Regency Buck was published in 1935, making it a likely choice of reading material for a young society woman living in the late 1930s. And note that Sophia points out that the book includes Beau Brummell, who might be described as more of a historical celebrity than historical figure. She’s mentioning a book that uses a real person from the past as a character, just as the book she, herself, appears in does. Kind of cool.

As I said, I love the period detail. I wonder if you have to know the period to recognize the details, though, to play the history game. And if  you can’t play the game, does that lessen your enjoyment of the book?

Since I can play the game, I will be reading the third book in the series, The FitzOsbornes at War.

Loree Griffin Burns: Cool Buzz!

From: A Life in Books
October 18, 2012 at 11:22AM

© Catherine Griffin Burns

“Put on your veil, grab your hive tool, and light up your smoker … we’re going into a beehive.”

When I wrote those words to open THE HIVE DETECTIVES, I never, ever, ever thought I would say them out loud in my own backyard. But on Tuesday, with my daughter and her camera nearby, I did just that. And guess who was there to hear them?

Mary Duane!

Mary is the beekeeper who helped me introduce honey bees and hives and honey-making to readers in THE HIVE DETECTIVES. How fitting that she be the one to help me through my first hive inspection, patiently reminding me how to keep my smoker lit, how to use my hive tool properly, and how to stay calm when a honey bee landed on my veil. (I honestly couldn’t tell if it was on the outside or the inside.)

Oh, the places a book will bring you!

Jennifer Thermes: Sled Ride ~ Giveaway!

From: Art, Words, Life
October 18, 2012 at 10:01AM

The Sled Ride book releases on November 9th! I’m giving away three copies on Goodreads to celebrate. Head on over and enter!

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    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! by Rebecca Rule



          The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever!


          by Rebecca Rule


            Giveaway ends November 17, 2012.

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




      Enter to win

Pixel Shavings: Exploring Memory by Hazel Mitchell

From: Pixel Shavings
October 18, 2012 at 11:25AM

Lately I’ve been actively working on remembering my childhood. My main motivation for this (as my career in children’s illustrations goes along and I find myself illustrating characters in different situations) is I that find myself thinking – ‘what would I have done or felt in that scenario?’

I’ve never been a diarist. And especially not as a child. Life for me was somewhat topsy turvy and I never felt the need to write it down! When I learned to draw and record what I saw … that was a kind of diary. But so few of those drawings remain. The memories, the places, the people, I am sure they were all there in the lines and marks I made. Just as they are now … when I look at a drawing in a sketch pad it brings back  what I was thinking or feeling and hearing and smelling. It’s like a little memory capsule.

Then I read Linda Barry’s books ‘Picture This ‘ and ‘What is it?’. Both a kind of stream of consciousness laid down in what at first seems a random way, and then, you begin to see into Lynda’s mind. In the repetition of the characters, the marks, the train of thought. I was hooked!

Writer’s, of course, often use exercises to jog memories, to reconnect with childhood thoughts and feelings. But, as I rooted around on line to find similar ways of jogging the mind, I found not so much not so much for illustrators.

I began my own experiment and call it ‘Look Back in Candour’. It’s more like a snapshot than a diary … and sometimes the snapshots lead me somewhere I wasn’t expecting. At times the memories are hard to recall, occasionally sad, but often happy. There is so much there in my own story, it’s like dipping into a fathomless reservoir. Already it’s bringing new significance to my other projects. Alongside the drawings I have begun to make some abstract notes.

And the best thing? I am finding there are story ideas in there a-plenty!!

You can find it online at https://lookbackincandour.wordpress.com/.

SCBWI: Registration for #NY13SCBWI Opens Friday Oct 19, 2012!

From: The Official SCBWI Blog
October 18, 2012 at 11:19AM

It’s the biggest event of the winter, in New York City!  (Feb 1-3, 2013)

Check out the faculty and schedule announced so far and more details are rolling out…

There will be a private portfolio showcase for illustrators, a Gala Party on Saturday evening, and a new Elements of the Novel intensive on Friday (as well as the Writers Roundtable where you get to read your work to an acquiring agent or editor and the Illustrators Intensive – Lessons Learned: A Candid Conversation about Arriving, Surviving, and Thriving as a Picture Book Illustrator.)

The roster of faculty and keynote presenters is beyond impressive:  Mo Willems! Shaun Tan! Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton! Margaret Peterson Haddix! Meg Rosoff! Matthew Kirby! Lewin! Krista Marino! Floyd Cooper! Barbara McClintock! David Ezra Stein! Jane Yolen! Linda Sue Park!

Registration opens tomorrow (Friday, October 19, 2012) at 10am pacific standard time at scbwi.org
(There’s even a discount rate on a block of hotel rooms.)

This Winter Conference will be full of amazing opportunities, craft, business, inspiration and community… and we hope to see you there!

Illustrate and Write On,

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