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dvandom August 27 2014, 22:25

Comics for August, 2014

August 27, 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy (movie) *, Atomic Robo Role-Playing Game, Batman: Assault on Arkham (DVD), Meteor Men #1-2, The Amazing Adventures of Superman! (four books), Astro City #14, Spider-Man 2099 #2, Transformers: Primacy #1, Transformers: Robots in Disguise #32, Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #32 *, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #22, My Little Pony Friends Forever #8.
domynoe August 27 2014, 16:03

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lillpluta August 27 2014, 13:48

Labor Day Writing Activity

This year Labor Day falls on September 1.


I've written this Labor Day themed writing activity with variations, but there are still many ways you can tweak it to make it work for your students.

1. Make a list of occupations. Include funny or unusual ones. Write each occupation on a slip of paper, index card, or whatever small bit of paper is convenient. Pass these out randomly to your students or have them draw slips out from a jar.

2. Allow 3-5 minutes (or however long you think is age appropriate) for students to quickly jot down what they know or think about the occupation. Note: Students should write on a separate sheet of paper to keep the card clean for future use.

3. Discuss what they wrote down, and then ask the students to research the occupation.

4. Have the student write down a description of the occupation in his/her own words. (Length depends on ability and age appropriateness.) In lieu of the written assignment, students may also give an oral presentation or draw a picture.

5. If you are working with a group of students, have them swap cards after step two and repeat the step. Students can then choose their favorite occupation to write about.

If you need help coming up with occupations, consult this long and thorough list.

For even more fun, pull jobs from this historical list of occupations.

BONUS: Do you know the difference between the words historic and historical?
lillpluta August 27 2014, 13:03

Wednesday's Word #2 -- CYNIC

If you are reading this month's book club selection, Flora & Ulysses, you have probably already come across the word CYNIC.

Cynic is a noun. A noun is a word that names a person, place, or thing. A cynic is a person who thinks other people are selfish and do selfish things. If happy people look through rose colored glasses, then cynics view the world through mud spattered goggles.

Here are some sentences using the word cynic:

Rosalie is such a cynic that she never thought Orville would finish his share of the project.
The cynic assumed his guests would eat all the best pastries and leave him with moldy bread.

Now it's your turn to write a sentence with the word cynic.

Challenge: Look up the word cynical and write a sentence with it.

Super Challenge: Last week's word was winsome. Someone with a winsome smile probably isn't a cynic. Can you write a sentence using both cynic and winsome?

The following sources were consulted in preparing this activity.
slayground August 27 2014, 13:02

Interview: Micol Ostow

micolIn 1974, Ronald DeFeo Junior killed all six members of his family in their home in Amityville, New York. A year later, another family moved into that home only to move out 28 days later, saying they were terrorized by something paranormal in the house. Their story was captured in a book by Jay Anson, then subsequently retold in various films and other adaptations.

In Micol Ostow's new novel Amity, we meet two teenagers who live in Amityville at two different times. This is not time travel; instead, they alternate narrative duties, weaving their stories together chapter by chapter. Inspired by the real story but wholly fictional, this YA book is now available for late night reading. But I promise, this interview is not scary, and neither is Micol.

Do you recall the first time you heard about the Amityville Horror?

The first time I heard about the Amityville Horror was when reading Stephen King's Danse Macabre, where he talks about the components of an effective horror movie. In fact, I didn't realize it was based on a true story (and that there was a bestselling book about the original crime!) until much later. Once I became interested in a riff on Amityville as a possible subject for a novel, I went back and read the original book by Jay Anson, as well as High Hopes, the book written specifically about the DeFeo family (as opposed to the Lutzes, who moved in after the DeFeos' murders and claim to have experienced hauntings within).

When did the seed for your novel Amity firmly plant itself in your brain?

Around Halloween, 2011. My novel Family had come out in April and I was tossing around ideas for the next book under contract. My husband was out of town and I was indulging in my favorite guilty pleasure: horror movies and Red Vines. The Amityville 2005 remake was on, and something clicked. But it wasn't until several months later that I had a pitch to show my agent, and it was a few months after that before we put something together for my editor. I went back and forth a lot trying to decide whether I wanted to tell the Lutz family's story, or the DeFeos' story. Both concepts – the "possessed," murderous son, and the beleaguered, haunted successors to the house – were equally compelling to me. Ultimately that's what led me to tell two alternate narratives, set ten years apart. That way I didn't have to choose!

amityWhen you started writing the book, did you know the ending? (Readers, don't worry - we kept this answer spoiler free!)

I one hundred percent knew the ending, and it didn't change one bit, strangely. Maybe a hint of clarification here and there. Some of the supernatural bits tend to read more straightforward in my brain than on a first-draft page. But it was an interesting process as compared specifically to Family, my first book with Egmont. The ending to Family changed three times, as did my feelings about where the protagonist needed to be, emotionally, by the story's end. This one was much more clear-cut. The two narratives needed to converge and I could only really see one way for that to happen.

Have you ever been to Amityville, New York?

We have family out on Long Island and therefore drive past the Amityville exit on the LIE several times a year, at least. I always point it out, like a huge dork. But I've never visited the house and to be honest, at this point, I probably wouldn't. It's been renovated heavily so specifically, those iconic half-moon “eye” windows are gone. And more to the point, there's also the fact that 1) it's a little icky to make a spectacle of a place where a family was murdered and 2) it's actually a private home, where people live. Personally, I prefer the make-believe versions of the Amityville story and am happier to spend my time there.

You've written for a number of different audiences - kids, teens, adults, fantasy, comedy, mixed media. Do you consciously try to mix it up?

I really don't try to mix it up, believe it or not! It just seems to work out that way! I was fortunate enough to come into publishing through the back door, in that I worked as an editor in the work-for-hire realm. So some of my earlier contracts were the results of editors seeking me out and offering me the chance to work with them. (Note: this is not the typical author's path to publication and I am very, very lucky. Trust me, I know!) The Bradford Novels were the product of an editor's original concept, and Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa came from a publishing friend suggesting I mine some of my own adolescent experiences and pitch her a story. Even So Punk Rock was actually originally conceived of by my brother, David Ostow, who worked with me on the story and illustrated the book.

Family was the first novel I sat down to write, as they say, "on spec." And because it wasn't under contract and was coming purely from me, I was free to experiment. I had no idea when I sat down to my computer that what would come out was going to be such a massive departure from my previous work. But once it was published, it was treated as a sort of literary debut. So for Amity, I was much more conscious of trying to write something that would match Family in tone and audience.

What genre or audiences would you like to write for that you haven't yet?

As far as what's coming down the pike that's different, I have a chapter book series releasing this spring called Louise Trapeze, about a little girl in a circus family who wants to learn to fly on the trapeze but is afraid of heights. Talk about a departure!

Have you always been drawn to the horror genre?

Yes! My mother is a huge horror buff and always had the TV set to old B-movies, and scary-covered novels on her nightstand. They completely terrified me but obviously burrowed into my subconscious.

I've known people who can watch horror movies but can't read horror novels, and I've known people who can read horror but can't watch it. Do you lean more towards one than the other?

Love them both! Although in general, I watch a broader range of horror movies than I read horror novels. The only category of horror I really stay away from is the straight-up torture. The extreme gore really doesn't do it for me. With the books I tend to lean more heavily toward literary horror or dark thrillers as opposed to paranormal... and basically anything in the Stephen King cannon.

QUICK DRAW! Time for simple questions:

First horror story that gave you goosebumps: The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
(Little Willow adds: I liked that book, too!)

First scary film that gave you nightmares: Frankenstein

Horror movie or book that you love but can only watch or read in the daylight: It by Stephen King

Favorite funny spooky story: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Favorite funny spooky movie: Shaun of the Dead

Favorite horror authors: Stephen King, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, Daniel Krause, Sarah Waters for purer horror. Adele Griffin (Tighter), Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Libba Bray (The Diviners), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Mariana Baer (Frost), Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs) for creepy psychological thriller/suspense-y stories. Robert Bloch's original Psycho was great. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg.

Favorite season of American Horror Story: Season One, Murder House, was amazing for just flinging all the fundamental tropes at the wall, and doing something different – and genuinely scary! – on TV. And I absolutely loved that finale.

Favorite Halloween costume you've worn: I'm super boring on Halloween! I love celebrating and decorating and eating treats and watching movies, but I rarely dress up. I'm kind of a party pooper that way. Last year I wore my “Overlook Hotel” tee-shirt and called it a day. But my daughter usually cycles through at least three costumes over the course of the festivities so I think that evens us out.

Ouija board: Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole or bring it on?
I'm a little superstitious. I'd rather not tempt fate.

Ghosts and/or haunted houses: Believe, don't believe, or open-minded?
I have not had any paranormal experiences myself, but as per the above and being slightly superstitious – I do believe, actually. Kind of. Let's call it open-minded. That works.

Amity Giveaway!

What's your favorite ghost story? EGMONT USA is giving away a signed copy of the finished book to one lucky USA/Canada resident. Leave a comment below with the title of a book, movie, or play that chills you -- or even a personal story! -- along with your email address. You may mask the address, like myname (at) eeemail (dot) com - but we must be able to reach you to get your mailing information. The first comment with the proper info will get the signed book!

Follow the blog tour!

Micol is also visiting the readergirlz blog today. Check out the full schedule at the Egmont USA website.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Micol Ostow (2006)
Interview: Micol Ostow (2007)
Book Review: Popular Vote by Micol Ostow
Book Review: So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow with art by David Ostow

lillpluta August 27 2014, 02:00

Back To School Writing

I'm a homeschooling mom to a fifteen year old boy on the Autistic Spectrum. As we step off into a new school year, we face one of our most fearsome fire-breathing dragons --- the writing process. I know we aren't alone in this struggle because many of our friends wrestle with the same beast.

I've been researching and picking brains over the last several days, so many of my upcoming writing posts will center on the reluctant writer. Every student is different. What works for one, may not work for another. I'm stepping up the writing instruction game with my son this year, and I'll share with you what works and doesn't work for us. I hope many of you will share your ideas and experience as well.

This Austism Asperger's Digest article PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME WRITE lists several ideas to address a variety of concerns.

Today, I'd like to focus on writing prompts. Many of us can remember having to write What I Did Over Summer Vacation essays. As Kathy Oehler's article states, open-ended writing topics can be overwhelming for students on the spectrum and other reluctant writers. Since getting back in the groove can be difficult for all students, why not try some of these suggestions with the whole class.

Using pictures as prompts helps a lot of kids who struggle coming up with ideas on an abstract topic. They can write about what they see, or the picture might jog their memories about a personal experience. Comic strips also make good writing prompts. Students can either expand on the words in the comic strip or come up with another story based on the drawings in each frame.

A lot of standard writing prompts are about social situations or emotions. Tell about a time you had fun with your friends. Describe an embarrassing situation. Write about a difficult decision you had to make. For many on the Autistic Spectrum, identifying and talking about emotions or personal situations is difficult. Add in the frustration that comes with fine motor difficulties and organizing thoughts, and writing is a nightmare. It's too much to process all at one time.

Try another approach by distributing pictures of different summer scenes and have students list the sights, sounds, and smells they might encounter in each one. List or show pictures of favorite summer foods, and ask students to either write a recipe or describe the food. Show a photo of summer and another season. Direct the students to make a list of differences and similarities between the two seasons.

Make research more relevant by tying it into seasonal topics. Have students research which flowers or vegetables grow best in fall and summer. Ask them to describe how leaves turn color. Individual or small group projects could center around how summer is different in other states or countries.

Think outside the box when it comes to writing assignments, and your children will be more excited about exploring new possibilities as well.

Note: It is super easy to leave an anonymous comment on these blog posts if you are not a Live Journal member. It's always helpful and delightful if you tell me a little bit about yourself, a first name, initials, if I know you from somewhere, or your connection to kids and language arts.

Thank you for reading.
domynoe August 26 2014, 16:04

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kellyrfineman August 25 2014, 21:27

Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley

Just released from Creative Editions, this picture book tells the story of African American soldiers who fought in an all-black regiment in World War I, and which included among their ranks Henry Johnson, whom Theodore Roosevelt called "one of the five bravest soldiers" in the war. The Harlem Hellfighters also included Jim Europe, a jazz band leader, and his band members, who played for the weary troops overseas. The book includes the history of the unit during and after the war, as well as giving details about some of the things going on back in the United States, such as the shameful lynchings of black men in the South, which went ignored by President Wilson for far too long.

A mix of free verse and prose poems is paired with illustrations reminiscent of a graphic novel style, evocative as much as descriptive, as in the case of the two spreads on pages 12 and 13, which I photographed to share with you below. The text reads, "SOMEWHERE/in the mid-Atlantic/fog of history, two/dark ships passed/in the night . . ." The illustrations juxtapose the serviceman on the left, sailing toward France to defend his country, with a ghostly slave ship coming west, and it's one of the most haunting series of images in the book, which is saying something.

The actual illustrations in the book are a bluer gray than what is showing here, since the pages insisted on picking up ambient light somehow, but I think you get a good enough idea of the marvelous illustrations anyhow. (That's my carpeting in the background. Sorry.)

The back matter in the book includes an eight-book bibliography, as well as five different artist's notes, in which the artist credits other artists from whom he borrowed an image or idea. The book covers a lot of ground in only 32 pages, and does it in a thoughtful, informative way. A real must for libraries everywhere, people interested in World War I history and/or African American history, and folks who love great poetry and great art. My thanks to Creative Editions for the review copy.

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aprilhenry August 25 2014, 19:49

I just sold a new book! The Girl I Used to Be

Three years ago, I read a news story that I knew immediately would make a great jumping off point for a new book.

The newspaper story said that a bone had been found in the woods in Washington, and that it had been identified as belonging to Mike Riemer.

The thing was that that Mike Riemer had long been thought to be a killer. In 1985, he had taken his girlfriend, Diana Robertson, and their daughter, Crystal, to look for a Christmas tree. Later, Crystal was found wandering around a department store without her parents, but she was too young to say who she was or what had happened. She was later identified after her photo was placed in the newspaper. Mike and Diana had vanished without a trace. Two months later, Diana's body was found deep in the forest. She had been stabbed. There was no sign of Mike. Police believed him to be responsible for her murder.  Now they realized he was probably a victim, too.

I couldn't stop thinking about what might have happened. And what it would be like to grow up thinking your dad probably killed your mom - and then to learn that wasn't true at all. I started working on my version of the story right away, but a few things intervened, like other deadlines, starting a new series, and taking care of my mom while she was dying. I took chapters of it to my critique group, but it didn't meet very frequently, so I made slow progress.

But the story stayed with me.  It's about half-written. I moved the story to Southern Oregon, where I grew up. I put my mom in as the next door neighbor, named her after my mom, and even read it to her while I was with her. I figured out the answer to my imaginary puzzle, and it's surely not going to be the answer that happened in real life. I treat real-life inspiration the way Law & Order did - you might recognize the initial set up, but that's it. This spring, I gave my agent a short description.  What follows is about half of it.

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
I used to be a little girl.

Now I’m 17 and an emancipated minor.

I used to be blonde.

Now my hair is brown.

I used to be named Ariel Benson.

Now all of my ID says Olivia Rinehart, the last remnant of an adoption that didn’t work out.

I used to have a mom and dad. And then I had a long string of adults who wanted me to call them some variant of that.

Now I’ve got no one.

I used to think I was the child of a killer and a murder victim.

Now I know I’m the child of two victims.

I used to hate my dad and pity my mom. Now I only have one desire: to find the person who killed them both.

I was three years old, dirty, covered in scratches, and all alone, when a sales clerk found me curled up in a Wal-Mart, sleeping on a blanket of white cotton “snow” underneath an artificial Christmas tree.

The authorities didn’t figure out who I was until someone recognized me from a photo of a family missing nearly 200 miles away, in Southern Oregon. A mom and a dad and a little girl, who had gone out in the woods to look for Christmas tree. When they asked me where my parents were, all I could tell them was, “Mommy’s dancing.”

Two weeks later hunters found my mom’s body in the forest. She had been stabbed to death. And my dad—who had never been married to my mom and sometimes fought with her—was missing. Later, his truck was found parked at the Portland airport, wiped clean of prints. Everyone figured they knew what had happened: my dad killed my mom, dropped me off, and then ran away.

Today, nearly fourteen years later, the cops came to tell me that they had finally located my dad.

And he wasn’t hiding out under an assumed name. All these years, my dad has just been a body in the woods, like my mom.

Or not exactly a body. Not that they can find, anyway. All they have so far is his jaw bone.

And what everyone knows to be true has changed.

This is the truth. The real truth.

Someone killed both my parents. And whoever did it must have thought I was too young to tell on them. So they dropped me off at the Wal-Mart instead of killing me, too.

I had to have spent several hours with the person who murdered my family. But I don’t remember a thing—not about my parents or what happened that day in the woods.

But I’ve started having these dreams. Dreams filled with blood. What if I remember more than the killer thought? And will the person who murdered my parents kill again to keep their secrets hidden?

My agent showed my editor.  And this was the result:

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dodger_winslow August 25 2014, 19:28

Best ALS Challenge EVA! (But then again, I might be a little biased ...)

Here you go, y'all ... JD's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, courtesy of donatejdm :

Jeffrey Dean Morgan ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Jeffrey D Morgan on Vimeo.

JD was challenged by Zack Snyder
JD challenges Katie Heigl, Anthony Hopkins, and Ray Liotta to follow suit.

For more information on this terrible disease and to donate please visit alsa.org
domynoe August 25 2014, 16:03

My tweets

ypawtows August 25 2014, 03:28

England trip - Day 0

Starting Tuesday (Day -1), got up at 6 am to go to work.
Got back late that night, and packed.
Caught the shuttle to the airport for our 6 am flight... and had to ask Daniel to make an emergency delivery of some items that we forgot, including my traveling G'kar.


SEA to ORD (slept most of the flight) - bit of a layover - ORD to LHR (awake most of the flight watching Appleseed Alpha, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty... I thought I watched a third movie, but I cannot remember what... very tired) - landing at about 6am.

So... 24-8 = 16 hours travel time (and nearly 42 hours mostly awake upon landing in London).
domynoe August 24 2014, 16:04

My tweets

domynoe August 23 2014, 16:03

My tweets

  • Fri, 16:41: I earned a Fitbit Adjustment of 18 calories. #LoseIt
  • Fri, 17:00: My son is soooooo not impressed with doing all the things today. lol
  • Fri, 18:08: The great living room clean up has begun. Two bags of pure paperwork already out to the trash. Going to get rid of nearly everything paper.
  • Fri, 18:09: Most of my bills are paid online with confirms sent via email, so no point in keeping paper. Same for most of this stuff. & bugs LOVE paper.
  • Fri, 18:11: Need to eventually go through the lock-type crates I got for files as well, but since all that is protected, not today.
  • Fri, 18:12: Got enough to deal with in the clean up/nasty department today. :P
  • Fri, 19:38: Finally done as much as we're capable of with the living room for now. Time to shower and make supper. lol
  • Fri, 20:33: Always love to see a previous member return to DII. :)
  • Fri, 20:34: Living room looks nice. A bit weird since we cleared some space taking stuff out, but nice.
  • Fri, 22:24: http://t.co/049l3GEL4I
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slayground August 23 2014, 14:01

Interview: Julie Danielson and Betsy Bird

If you appreciate children's literature and want to know the stories behind your favorite stories, pick up WILD THINGS! written by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and the late Peter D. Sieruta. Packed from cover-to-cover with funny stories and little known facts about famous authors, secret feuds, inspired illustrations, and classic characters, this is a great resource for readers and writers alike. The authors - all three proud bibliophiles and bloggers - clearly had fun putting this book together.

Little Willow: This book is filled with anecdotes. Is anyone in your family a master of tall tales?

Betsy: In my family we've all had a predilection towards storytelling, but then I went and married a clear cut storyteller as well. Now I'm so steeped in them that it's only natural that a book like this would be the result. Here in New York City a children's literature gathering often involves members of the old guard (people who've been working in the field for decades) so you get all kinds of fascinating stories. Seems only natural that they should have ended up in a book at some point. As for me, I actually prefer to hear anecdotes to telling them, but some of them are just too good NOT to tell.

Jules: My family isn't necessarily filled with storytellers, but I'm fascinated by storytelling. In fact, I once took a grad course on the very subject, and I loved every second of it. For my final course project, I memorized every word of Rudyard Kipling's "The Elephant's Child." That is a wonderful story to tell. I no longer have it memorized word-for-word, but it'd probably not be that challenging to re-learn, since it's probably still hiding in the cobwebbed corners of my brain. "In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk...." (I love that singular beginning.)

Little Willow: That's impressive. Did any of the real-life stories change how you viewed a particular author or book?

Betsy: Well, I don't think I'll ever look at The Cricket in Times Square the same way again. That's all I'll say.

Jules: There's a very tender story about James Marshall and his mother, a story that didn't make it into our book. We did, however, share it at the site, where we are sharing stories cut from our manuscript. I'm a big Marshall fan, but this made me want to learn even more about him.

Little Willow: How did the three of you come together to write this book? Who had the first inkling that you should and would write a book together?

Betsy: That was me. I had this notion that there were some pretty amazing bloggers out there and that their sites would naturally adapt into a book format pretty well. Ironically, of the three blogs that came together here (A Fuse #8 Production, Collecting Children's Books, and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast) mine is probably the least book-worthy. But I've an eye for talent and these guys were talented. So I reached out to them and asked if they'd be keen to work together on something. As luck would have it, they were!

Little Willow: Describe the writing process. How did you divvy up tasks between the three of you?

Betsy: First we decided which chapters should be in the book. Then we pooled all the stories we wanted to tell. Once each story was slotted into the right chapter we assigned chapters. There was a lot of swapping of stories between chapters and a lot of rewriting and editing of one another. That may account for the single "voice" found in the book.

Jules: Yep, we each worked on assigned chapters and then passed them around. We made suggestions for editing, adding, deleting, you-name-it. At one point, Peter and I were working on the same chapter and didn't even realize it. So, we eventually merged what we'd written. Whew. That worked out well!

Little Willow: What's your favorite part about collaborations? What does working with others bring out of you?

Betsy: For me, it makes me more confident about the final product. When I write something entirely on my own I may love it but there will always be this little voice in the back of my head that says I could have done more. When I work with other people who are as smart as Peter and Jules, that little voice disappears. I can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that no matter how much I screw up, they'll be there to point me in the right direction. It's an enormous relief, I can tell you.

Jules: I learned so much more about writing, I think, just by watching Betsy and Peter do their thing. And when someone edits your work, you learn TONS. I feel like if I'm a better writer at the close of this project, it's thanks to them. I love collaborating. I mean, no one likes, say, those grad school projects where you're stuck with people who don't pull their own weight OR you're assigned to a topic you hate, but if I dig my partners-in-crime and I love the subject, I'd much rather work in a group.

Little Willow: As a kid, did you have any teachers, librarians, or booksellers that you went to regularly to get (and give) book recommendations?

Betsy: Nope. And what's more, I couldn't tell you single one of their names. That said, my mom worked in an independent bookstore in Kalamazoo, Michigan and she was always suggesting books or handing books to me. My Aunt Judy was the same, so that's where I found the bulk of my recommended literature.

Jules: I didn't read a TON when I was a kid, which is why I'm trying to get caught up now! I did have a high school English lit and drama teacher who really got me fired up about reading, and I'm still friends with her. She's one of those amazing teachers you'd like to clone.

Little Willow: What aspects of blogging do you find the most enjoyable?

Betsy: I think it's a combination of the pleasure of the regularity (I am required to blog four times a week on my site), the fact that I can highlight books, people, or events that may not be getting a lot of publicity (I always alternate big publishers with little publishers in my reviews), and the different ways in which I can make my opinions known.

Jules: Hands down, I love the community. I love getting to know those folks who are as passionate about children's lit as I am. It's even better when you get to meet them in person.

Little Willow: How has blogging has changed how you read and recommend books, and how you interact with readers and authors?

Betsy: Since I work for New York Public Library and blog for School Library Journal I see a LOT of books in a given year, but there's always this sense that I'm not seeing ALL the books. And boy howdy do I want to see absolutely everything. So blogging, for me, is a way of filling in the gaps. It also allows me to recommend sites to friends who are looking to specialize in certain areas.

Jules: Well, before blogging I rarely interacted with authors and illustrators, but since I do a lot of interviews, I talk to many of them now on a pretty regular basis. As for how blogging has changed my reading habits, I tend to have less time for novels (though I still read them as much as I can), since I'm blogging about picture books and illustration. But it's worth it. I love writing about picture books and art.

Little Willow: What books did you love as a child that you still love just as much today?

Betsy: I was recently weeding my bookshelves, so this question was already in my mind. On my part, I think I'll always love Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep, various Steven Kellogg titles, The Secret Garden, The Girl With the Silver Eyes, and any number of Apple paperbacks found via the Scholastic Book Fairs.

Jules: Shel Silverstein, the Grimm Brothers, Trina Schart Hyman, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Cleary.

Little Willow: Would you rather travel with Max to meet the Wild Things, or go with Harry Potter and attend Hogwarts?

Betsy: Hogwarts. Is there any question? I wonder about folks who would say Wild Things. You'd have to be a very particular kind of person, I suspect. For me, there's no contest.

Jules: The Wild Things, without any doubt. Because maybe perhaps possibly if Sendak is there, too, we can chat.

Little Willow: Would you rather visit Narnia or Never Never Land?

Betsy: That is a very hard question. I go back and forth. Narnia, I guess. Though they both dwell in very distinct metaphors. But I should like to see a faun, so Narnia wins.

Jules: You're going to think I'm just saying the opposite of Betsy now, just to mix things up, but honestly I'd go to Never Never Land. I want to meet Mrs. Darling first, though.

Little Willow: Would you rather have a sip at the tea party in Wonderland or snag a treat from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory?

Betsy: Wonka. Admittedly, you'd never be entirely certain what the Wonka treat would do to you, but I also suspect that the food at that tea party can't be entirely hygienic (there's a dormouse in one of the teapots, for crying out loud!). Plus there's always a chance that Wonka will look like Gene Wilder and I've always had a hardcore crush on that guy.

Jules: Well, given the theme of my blog, I gotta attend the Mad Tea-Party, yes?

Little Willow: Would you rather have the job of The Giver or be the head gamemaker for the Hunger Games?

Betsy: I don't think I'm skilled enough to pass muster as a gamemaker. I suspect I'd construct some little landscape and forget to do something essential like install the video cameras. And I'm always telling and retelling stories of the past ad nauseum anyway, so maybe I'm halfway to Giver-ship already!

Jules: Oh, The Giver! Definitely that. I recently read that book again---this time I read it aloud to my daughters---and it blows my mind how good it is.

WILD THINGS! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta is now available at a bookstore near you.

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