Thursday, October 16, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: ARMY CAMELS by Doris Fisher (SCBWI Texas: Houston)

This week's spotlight is on the 2014 Crystal Kite Award-winning ARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT by Doris Fisher!

Doris is from SCBWI Texas: Houston, and ARMY CAMELS won for the Texas and Oklahoma Division.

Award-winning Author Doris Fisher with her 2014 Crystal Kite-Winning picture book, ARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT

I contacted Doris to find out more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Doris: Army Camels, Texas Ships of the Desert tells the amazing true Wild West tale of camels sailing to Texas to open up the west. They arrived right before the Civil War and were really wanted by then Senator Jefferson Davis! They sailed three months before walking down a gangplank when they landed in Indianola, Tx, now a ghost town!

Lee: What a cool piece of history! How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Doris: I have been a member since I started writing 15 years ago. I kept a list of conferences and workshops by SCBWI I've attended. So far I've gone to 45 venues to learn the craft of writing and of picture books.

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Doris: Keep writing and believing in your book manuscript. Go to critiques, conferences, dinners, and don't be shy about asking questions. My first book was rejected 25 times before finding it's permanent home! And I have all the rejection letters from the early 2000's. SCBWI folks are super nice! And remember, everyone was a beginner, once upon a time!

Thanks, Doris!

I also reached out to Vicky Sansum, Regional Advisor of SCBWI Texas: Houston, to learn more about their region and Doris' win. Here's what Vicky wrote:

We were thrilled when Doris won this year. She is in a critique group with Lynne Kelly who won the Crystal Kite last year for her book CHAINED. What a great example of why all writers need to be in a good critique group. Doris has been a long-time volunteer with our chapter. For ten years she was our "Door Prize Queen" for our conferences. She was great at securing all kinds of wonderful books for us to give away as door prizes at our events. Doris strongly believes in attending conferences and workshops where she keeps honing her craft and also networks like a pro. It's been through some of these networking opportunities that she has had publishing deals. Doris is generous with her time, knowledge and experience. We're lucky to have her in our chapter and are thrilled that she won the Crystal Kite this year, she certainly deserved it.

There are over 300 members in the Houston chapter. We have monthly meetings with a speaker; topics include writing all types of genres, illustration, how to market a book, social media, etc. We're lucky to have a lot of wonderful volunteers who help organize our events such as our annual conference which has 200 attendees. We also host smaller workshops and webinars that focus on a particular genre, market or skill. Our members range from those who are just starting their writing/illustrating careers to those who are multi-published. Those with years of experience are generous with sharing their knowledge by speaking at our meetings, workshops and through critique groups. We're fortunate to have a vibrant group of talented folks that make up our fabulous chapter. 

Thanks to both Doris and Vicky, and cheers to Vicky for ARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

You can learn more at Doris' website here.

And to find out more about SCBWI Texas: Houson, check out their regional site here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mac Barnett: Why a good book is a secret door

Award-winning children's book author Mac Barnett  gave an amazing keynote back at the 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference. Last week, Mac's TED talk was released online ...and it's both fascinating and inspirational:

So much of this resonated for me:

The liminal space of art on that Venn diagram.

"We know these characters aren't real but we have real feelings about them."


"It's this little bit of fiction that's colonized the real world."

What resonates for you?

Thanks to agent Danielle Smith for the heads-up on this!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: THE FLAME IN THE MIST by Kit Grindstaff (SCBWI Eastern Pennsylvania)

This week's spotlight is on THE FLAME IN THE MIST by Kit Grindstaff, winner of SCBWI's 2014 Crystal Kite Award.

Kit is a member of SCBWI Eastern Pennsylvania, and Kit's book won for the Pennyslvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland Division.

The 2014 Crystal Kite-winning book

Award-winning Author Kit Grindstaff

I reached out to Kit to find out more...

Lee: Congratulations on winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award for THE FLAME IN THE MIST!

Kit: Thanks so much, Lee! It’s a total thrill to have won. I’m still pinching myself.

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Kit:  Sure! The Flame in the Mist is a spooky, magical middle grade fantasy set in a parallel version of medieval England. It features fiery-haired, 13-year-old Jemma, raised in gloomy, mist-shrouded Agromond Castle, who finds out that she was abducted as a baby and that her entire life has been a lie. Along with her trusted friend, Digby, and two telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, Jemma has to fight the evil family who stole her in order to fulfill a prophecy saying she is the one who will end centuries of their reign – as well as the Mist they create.

The book has a strong supernatural and mystical element, with a cast of characters including ghosts, monsters, and otherworldly beings. As well as coming-of-age issues relevant to tweens and teens, it also contains broader themes that are important to me, the main ones being learning to trust oneself, letting go of prejudice, and transformation and healing. The Mist symbolizes ignorance, illusion, and the dark forces in life (inner or outer); and the sun represents the power within each of us to overcome those forces. The driving force of the evil faction is revenge, so acceptance and forgiveness are big factors too.

Lee: Sounds very cool - and I love how you're able to articulate the themes and even what The Mist represents! How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Kit: I became a member of the SCBWI in 2008. I’d heard about it for a while, but until I joined I couldn’t have conceived of all that its fabulous workshops and conferences have to offer. I met astute critique partners, and absorbed a ton about how the business works – things I couldn’t possibly have learned just from web research. And where else do aspiring kidlit authors have the opportunity to have critique sessions with a wide selection of agents and editors, with the possibility of submitting to them afterwards? That’s what led to my contract with Delacorte: I met my editor at the NJ SCBWI conference. Based on my first 15 pages, she invited me to submit the whole manuscript. From that came months of revision with a view to that magic word, “acquisition”. And acquire she did!

The icing on all this are several friendships that I know will be lifelong. So what have I gained? In a nutshell: a support network, great friends, and a book deal! I literally owe The Flame in the Mist’s book’s existence in the world to the SCBWI. That’s one helluva cake. Which makes it extra special to me to have won the Crystal Kite. Icing on the icing! (Icing always was my favorite bit…)

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Kit: Number one: persistence. After every agent rejection, I kept polishing the first chapters, tightening, figuring there was something they weren’t getting. I’d moved on to another manuscript and pretty much put Flame on the back burner – though not abandoned. So when I saw the opportunity for crit sessions at the NJ SCBWI conference, I pulled it off, tightened again…et voila!

Other than that: Write (or draw) what you love, and love what – and whom – you write; you’ll need that love to keep you going through tougher times. Don’t chase trends. Keep reading. Keep tightening, honing your craft. Remember you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs – which in literary terms means, killing some darlings. (Yes, ouch.) Don’t compare yourself to others: their journey is theirs; you, and yours, are unique. Get there your way. And while it’s essential to listen to advice and be open to trying suggested changes, always listen to your heart. It’s your ultimate compass.

Lee: Wise words! Thanks, Kit!

I also contacted Kim Briggs, who along with Donna Boock is the Regional Advisor of Eastern PA, to find out more about Kit's win and their region:

Kit and I met at the Eastern PA SCBWI Pocono Retreat in May 2013. We were in the whole novel workshop with Kathryn Erskine and let me tell you, the moment I heard Kit share her story–I was hooked! I couldn’t wait to read her Crystal Kite winning The Flame in the Mist. I encourage everyone to read it—you will not be disappointed.

Kit Grindstaff attributes much of her writing success to SCBWI. While here in Eastern PA, we can’t take credit for her raw talent and storytelling gift, but we do consider Kit a beloved member of the Eastern PA SCBWI chapter and one of our many success stories. Even after her publishing success with The Flame in the Mist, Kit continues to attend local conferences and workshops. She recognizes the importance of craft development, industry insight, and networking that can only be achieved by attending SCBWI events.

On November 8th, Kit will be presented with her Crystal Kite award at our Fall Philly conference. (There are still spots available: We can’t wait to give Kit her award and HAPPY DANCE for her and with her, because here in Eastern PA we celebrate the success of ALL our writers and illustrators, one happy dance at a time.

Kim Briggs and Donna Boock, Regional Advisors of Eastern PA SCBWI

Thanks to Kit and Kim, and cheers to (and a happy dance for) Kit on THE FLAME IN THE MIST winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

 You can find out more at Kit's website here.

 And for more info on SCBWI Eastern Pennsylvania, check out their regional site.

Illustrate and Write On, 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Second Novels Get Some Love (And Attention!)

When novelist Porochista Khakpour tweeted, back in June, "Can someone please create some prizes and lists for SECOND novels?! Trust me when I say we sophomores need more help than the freshman." it turned out people were listening.

Specifically, Slate and the Whiting Foundation are joining forces to battle second novel syndrome with the We Second That, the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List.

They're saying it's less of an award and more like "being retweeted by your literary idol" but their goal is to pull together

"a list of the very best under-recognized second novels of the past five years—ones that might not have found the readers they still deserve now." 

The judges are taking suggestions, and you can email yours to

Illustrate and Write On,

Friday, October 3, 2014

#NY15SCBWI - The 2015 SCBWI Winter Conference Registration Opens October 7, 10:00 am PDT

SCBWI's spectacular 16th Annual winter conference, held February 6-8, 2015 in New York has an amazing line up of keynote speakers, panels, breakout sessions and intensive workshops.

Here's the faculty,

And here's the conference schedule.

Note: The Conference promises to sell out as it has in the past several years.

So set your calendars and cell phone alarms to register online at Tuesday October 7 at 10am pacific time!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: ZAC AND MIA by AJ Betts (SCBWI Western Australia)

The next spotlight on the 2014 SCBWI Crystal Kite winners illuminates ZAC AND MIA by AJ Betts.

A member of SCBWI Western Australia, AJ's book won for the Australia/New Zealand Division.

The 2014 Crystal Kite-winning book

Award-winning Author AJ Betts

I connected with AJ to find out more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

AJ: Zac & Mia is my third novel, but the first to be inspired by real life. For the past ten years I've been working as a high school English Teacher in a children's hospital in Perth (Australia), with the past six years dedicated to the oncology ward. The story came together from three things: my interest in how isolation affects a person (especially those in isolation following a bone marrow transplant); my humble admiration for the amazing teenagers who confront their illness (and mortality) with maturity, humour and courage; and the request (by teenaged students) to write a love story. The novel took over four years to write, with huge pauses in between. I wanted to give up many times, but I realised I had to persevere: for my students who now see the world differently, and the students who never got the chance to. The story and characters are fictional, but they are inspired by the incredible teenagers I've had the privilege to know. I continue working at the hospital part time.

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

AJ: I've been a SCBWI member since the start of 2009 (when I started writing Zac & Mia). I'd already had one novel published, and another was in the editing stages. I'm so glad I joined! What a comfort it is to meet like-minded people. The SCBWI community in Western Australia is vibrant and supportive. There are so many talented authors and illustrators, and we often meet to collaborate, workshop, or discuss the industry and each other's successes. I've been fortunate to make friends with some incredibly gifted and generous creators. It makes my solitary lifestyle feel less isolated.

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

AJ: My advice is to link up with other creators. For some, you might want the chance to workshop, but for others (like me), having the emotional and professional support is enough. It's nice to know there are others backing you. Be involved in the wider community - sign up to your regional writing association's newsletters, participate in seminars, and attend launches. Of course, don't forget to hone your craft, through consuming (keep reading! read ten times as much as you write!), experimentation and practice. Never submit work that's not your best. If you're not sure what your best is, it's not ready yet. Being a creator for children is such a privilege, but it's hard work. We have to earn that privilege. We have to take our work seriously because it matters. I regularly receive emails from readers who thank me for Zac & Mia, and it's a powerful reminder of the importance of stories in young people's lives.

Thanks, AJ!

I also contacted Frané Lessac, SCBWI Western Australia's Regional Advisor, to find out more about AJ's win and about their region...

Our chapter began one sunny day in 2002 when a handful of children/book creators gathered for a picnic on the grass at a local arts centre. Today, we have nearly 150 members across Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Our membership is diverse and far-flung, reflecting the geographical area our region covers, which takes in some 4 million km2. We have members in the Northern Territory's "Top End", the goldfields of Kalgoorlie, and the rugged southwest of WA. Some members drive over 400km to attend meetings.

We hold regular gatherings, including our famous annual Rottnest Island Retreat, and our activities offer a balance of the social and the professional, ranging from informal exchanges and networking to formal professional development opportunities with publishers and editors flown in from the eastern states. We're a lively, supportive bunch who enjoys nothing more than seeing members grow and develop their creative and professional practice.

At that first gathering back in 2002, the discussion topic was Transmitting from the New Frontier (besides sending your manuscript on a Voyager Spacecraft). Nearly fifteen years later, the rise of our talented authors and illustrators suggests that we have well and truly learned how to transmit from this western frontier. Our region has now won three Crystal Kite Awards since inception!

A.J. (Amanda) Betts is one of our fabulous success stories. Her Crystal Kite award-winning book, Zac and Mia, has presently sold into nine countries and is taking the world by storm. Amanda is a selfless dedicated SCBWI Australia West member with a vibrant personality who we all absolutely adore. We’re so proud of her success!

Thanks AJ and Frané, and cheers to AJ on ZAC AND MIA winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

To learn more about AJ and her books, check out her website here.

And to find out more about SCBWI Australia West, visit their homepage here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sneak Peek of #NY15SCBWI - The SCBWI Winter 2015 Conference In New York City

February 6-8, 2015 will be an incredible weekend with the top editors, agents, art directors, authors and illustrators in the children's publishing world!

The Conference will include:


We'll learn from and be inspired by Kwame Alexander, James Dashner, Kami Garcia, Herve Tullet, Laura Vaccaro Seeger and Anthony Horowitz.


Editors reporting from the front lines: Justin Chanda, Laura Godwin, Beverly Horowitz and Stephanie Owens Lurie.

Agents advising us on Charting Your Career Path: Barry Goldblatt, Jennifer Laughran and Tina Wexler.

Breakout Sessions!

Choose two of twenty-two sessions, covering the Seven Essentials You Need to Know about a wide range of topics, including: Thrillers and Mysteries; Writing Literary Fiction; Creating Picture Book Art; Working with an Agent or Artists Rep; Nonfiction; Working with an Editor; Developing Your Brand and Career Path; Cover Art; Writing Picture Books, Leveled Readers, Middle Grade and YA Fiction; and Writing for a Diverse Audience.

Illustrator Portfolio Show!

Illustrators who attend have the opportunity to have their portfolios included in the showcase and seen by a who's who of kid lit art directors and editors!

Saturday Gala Dinner!

With drinks and buffet treats, this Saturday evening party is organized by SCBWI regions to help you find your geographic neighbors and new BFFs!

Autograph Party!
Sunday afternoon's finale to the conference - where you can get your books signed by our amazing conference faculty!

All-Day Friday Intensives!

And for those of us who want to dig even deeper, there will be FOUR intensives: an Illustrator Intensive, the Writer Roundtables, a writer's World-building intensive and an intensive on building your first website.

It promises to be amazing, and we hope to see you there. Registration opens on October 14 at 10am Pacific Time at

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock (SCBWI Florida)

The first of our spotlights on the 2014 Crystal Kite Winners illuminates THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL by Shannon Hitchcock.

A member of SCBWI Florida, Shannon's book won for the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana division.

The 2014 Crystal Kite-Winning Book!

Award-Winning Author Shannon Hitchcock

I contacted Shannon to find out more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Shannon: THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL is based on a family story that my son recorded as part of his eighth grade history project. In 1922, my grandmother’s sister developed tuberculosis. She died and left behind a ten-month-old baby and a letter planning her own funeral. That bit of family history sparked my imagination. I started asking questions like what happened to the baby? It turns out he was raised for two years by my fourteen-year-old grandmother until his father later remarried. I started thinking about this fourteen-year-old girl who suddenly had to grow up and raise a child. How did she cope? What mistakes did she make? How did she feel when she had to give the baby to his new stepmother? That’s how THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL was born. Here’s a brief summary:

It’s 1922 and Jessie has big plans for her future, but that’s before tuberculosis strikes. Though she has no talent for cooking, cleaning, or nursing, Jessie puts her dreams on hold to help her family. She falls in love for the first time ever, and suddenly what she wants is not so simple anymore. THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL wraps you like an old quilt in the traditions, tastes, and dialect of rural North Carolina.

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI and what have you gained by being a member?

Shannon: I don’t remember exactly when I joined SCBWI, but it was over ten years ago. The biggest gift SCBWI has given to me is friendships. Writing is a solitary endeavor and it’s wonderful to connect with others who are as passionate about it as I am. I also gain a wealth of knowledge at the conferences. I met my mentor, Joyce Sweeney, at one of the Miami SCBWI Conferences. Joyce gave me lots of guidance as I learned to craft a novel. And none other than Richard Peck himself had a hand in plotting THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL. He critiqued the first ten pages at an SCBWI conference, and then asked me to walk him through the rest of the plot. I confessed that I didn’t know how it would end yet, and he brainstormed with me. Needless to say I used his ending!

Lee: What a great story about your story! Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?

Shannon: Educate yourself by taking classes and attending conferences. If I had started taking classes with Joyce Sweeney earlier, I think my road to publication would have been much shorter. Lots of great classes like Joyce’s are offered on-line. You can even attend in your pajamas!

Thanks Shannon!

I also connected with SCBWI Florida's Regional Advisor, Linda Bernfeld, to find out more about both their region and Shannon's win:

Shannon is a wonderful writer who is well deserving of this award. She works hard on her craft, attending SCBWI events and as well as other workshops. I am impressed by her perseverance, it took her many years to get THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL published but she never gave up. I’m thrilled that Shannon has sold another historical novel to Andrea Pinkney at Scholastic.

As far as their region, Linda writes:

We are a diverse community of hardworking volunteers dedicated to making your dreams of becoming published authors and illustrators for kids and teens a reality. Through our Florida Regional Conference, held every January in Miami, our Mid-Year Workshop, held every June in Orlando, and lots of smaller events throughout the year and state, we put YOU in touch with top agents and editors in the children’s book industry. A wonderful place to share ideas, make new friends, find critique groups near you, and learn more about the market, SCBWI Florida is the only writers/illustrators support system you’ll ever need.

Thanks to Shannon and Linda, and Cheers to Shannon on winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award for THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL!

You can find out more about Shannon at her website here.

And learn more about SCBWI Florida and all their events at their online home.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sensory Fiction - Experiments in the future of publishing

You're reading an exciting scene, you're nervous for the main character, and your chest feels tight... Wait a minute, your chest actually IS tight.

With Sensory Fiction, a new technology conceptualized and prototyped by students at MIT's Media Lab, the vest you're wearing would actually tighten around your chest - so you can feel what the character feels.

An image of a reader experiencing Sensory Fiction

Or... your character enters a volcanic tube, and the heat is intense. You start to sweat. Yup, it's the vest again, heating up and helping you experience what the character experiences.

Good idea, or bad? What do you think?

Check out the details of this possible future for publishing -- and reading -- here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Never Underestimate The Power of...


I do believe this photo of my brother from when he was a toddler is quite the writing prompt, as well... It feels rather Hitchcock, doesn't it?

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 2014 National Book Award For Young People's Literature Longlist

The National Book Foundation announced yesterday it's "longlist" - the ten books it's considering for this year's National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

From the New York Times ArtsBeat Blog post by Alexandra Alter, here's the must-read list:

Laurie Halse Anderson, “The Impossible Knife of Memory,” Viking

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

Gail Giles, “Girls Like Us,” Candlewick Press

Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in the first “real world” apartments it initially seems like an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces something that on one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought--and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward, together.

Carl Hiaasen, “Skink – No Surrender,” Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Classic Malley — to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard — he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink — he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Steve Sheinkin, “The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights,” Roaring Books Press 
A group of young African American sailors – many of them teenagers – are assigned to load ammunition at Port Chicago, a segregated naval base in California. But they are never trained to handle ammunition safely, and are constantly being rushed by their officers. When a terrifying disaster rocks the base, the men face the toughest decision of their lives: do they return to duty as ordered, or do they risk everything to take a stand against segregation in the military?

Andrew Smith, “100 Sideways Miles,” Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved. Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

John Corey Whaley, “Noggin,” Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t. Now he's alive again. Simple as that. The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he's still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she's not his girlfriend anymore? That's a bit fuzzy too. Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars. Oh well, you only live twice.

Deborah Wiles, “Revolution,” Scholastic Press
It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer. Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

Jacqueline Woodson, “Brown Girl Dreaming,” Nancy Paulsen Books
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Eliot Schrefer, “Threatened,” Scholastic Press
Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm's way. When he was a boy, Luc's mother would warn him about the "mock men" living in the trees by their home -- chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night. Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn't mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job. Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family -- and must act when that family comes under attack.

Kate Milford, “Greenglass House,” Clarion Books
A rambling old smuggler's inn, a strange map, an attic packed with treasures, squabbling guests, theft, friendship, and an unusual haunting mark this smart mystery in the tradition of the Mysterious Benedict Society books.

Illustrate, Write, and Read On,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Love and Babies… Inspiration

The LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana, photo from here.

"The main hormone in birth is oxytocin, the love hormone. What makes a baby brings a baby."

-Jordan, a birth Doula, on the birth of her and her husband Jonathon's first child, Maxwell Love.

pretty profound.

Illustrate and Write On,