Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Befriend a turkey and it’s easy to have a totally different perspective.

This Thanksgiving, open a copy of Shel Silverstein's Where The Sidewalk Ends and flip to one of my favorite poems: Point of View. I read a quick blurb about this poem once…

It helps recharge my patience and prepare myself for the questions my genuinely curious distant friends and family may ask. The answers are usually something like this: “Yes, I have eaten meat before.” “No, I don’t miss it.” “How do I do it? Well, my desire to end animal suffering is much stronger than taste. Befriend a turkey and it’s easy to have a totally different perspective. Here, try this delicious vegan dish that I made — you’ll love it!”. It works every time.

There's always another way to look at things this holiday season.

Point of View
By Shel Silverstein

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless 
Christmas dinner's dark and blue 
When you stop and try to see it
From the dinner's point of view.

Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the view point
of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad,
Pork, lobsters, lamb chops too
'Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

discover, read, write, share

Are you on Wattpad?

Wattpad is a social reading app that lets authors share their stories with a community of readers. It has recently attracted interest from investors and has seen impressive user engagement - the company says that 27 million of its 30 million users are active each month.

How did I learn about Wattpad? One of those 30 million users is my daughter.

Wattpad users are able to share and discuss stories, follow their favorite authors, and comment on specific words sentences and paragraphs of a story. It's like reading along with friends where you can commiserate and react as the story unfolds. Many of the stories my daughter is reading are serialized and the comments can drive the direction of the plot.

In addition to reading, Wattpad allows for easy self publishing. (Many of the authors are teens.)  There's also a "Fan Funding" area for authors to raise capital to fund their work.

What's more, there's a cool Wattpad Cover App for creating your own cover art.

Here's the thing about Wattpad... It's the easy, fun way to read across all your mobile devices. It's social and interactive. It's a great place to discover, share and create unlimited stories. Wattpad is a global sensation; teens love it.

I have fallen for it hard :)

call me Ishmael

Have you heard of Call Me Ishmael? And I'm not talking about the first line of Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Call Me Ishmael is an awesome collection of anonymous voicemails from readers about books they love. The voicemails are cleverly transcribed on an old-fashioned typewriter.

Here are three examples of the many voicemails you might enjoy...

 Will you be the next person to leave Ishmael a message?


Saturday, November 22, 2014

our wordless stories

“A memory is only a Prince Charming 

who stays just long enough to awaken 

the Sleeping Beauties of our wordless stories.” 

― Michel de Certeau

A short story of loneliness, adventure, and self sacrifice.

SOLUS from Identity Visuals on Vimeo.

From the cool cats at the Identity Visuals website:

The most challenging part of the film was the User Interface design. I had two key elements to communicate to the audience: 1) scanning each planet, and 2) a battery/fuel indicator. Each represented something vital to the film, one represents the search for life and a home, while the other is a reminder of our hero’s mortality. I’m always tempted to go way over the top when designing on screen UI elements, but for this short I wanted to communicate each idea as simply as possible. Through the films repetitive nature I hoped to slowly teach the audience the meaning of both UI elements over time. The planet scanning design came together quickly, but the battery life indicator proved to be very difficult. I probably went through a dozen iterations before finding a sweet spot, somewhere between hit-them-over-the-head-obvious and outright confusion.

At Identity Visuals we have a strong desire to tell beautiful, meaningful stories. I hope you enjoy SOLUS, because we had blast creating it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rain Reign

I was at a board (bored) meeting (meting) on Tuesday and my friend, Patti, gave me this great (grate) book recommendation...

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

I loved this book.

From the very first chapter: Who I Am - A Girl Named Rose (Rows), I knew this book would be cleverly amazing.

Rose has an "official diagnosis" of high-functioning autism, Asperger's syndrome. She is obsessed with homophones, prime numbers, and rules.

I don't think there will be a middle grade book list that won't include Rain Reign this year.

The wordplay is unique and would make this book a fun read aloud.

But, be warned: this book will require an accompanying box of tissues!

Get this book for the middle grade readers you know. Get it for the animal lovers in your life. Get this book for anyone who loves to have their spirit soar (sore) as their heart breaks (brakes).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let's Read

You have probably read the amazing book BOMB by Steve Sheinkin. It's that captivating nonfiction book about the race to build - and steal - the world's most dangerous weapon.

Well, Steve Sheinkin and his new book The Port Chicago 50 were at the YALSA Symposium in Austin last weekend, and I was lucky enough to meet Steve and get a copy of his new book.

The Port Chicago 50 is the story of World War II's worst stateside disaster: on July 17th, 1944 ammunition being loaded onto two ships bound for the Pacific exploded in Port Chicago, in Contra Costa County in California. The explosions killed 320 servicemen and injured 390 others. Most of the dead were African-American. The surviving black sailors were ordered to return to the exact same unsafe and unfair working conditions. More than 200 of the men refused, saying they were standing up for justice. The Navy called it mutiny and threatened that anyone not returning to work would face the firing squad. Fifty men did not back down; they became known as The Port Chicago 50.

From the New York Times review:
Young adult readers are likely to be shocked by Sheinkin’s portrayal of institutional racism in 1940s America. So often Americans think of the war years as a time when the nation pulled together in a democratizing common effort. That myth clearly leaves out the African-American experience. Thurgood Marshall, then the chief special counsel for the N.A.A.C.P., went to California to observe the Chicago 50 trial. “This is not an individual case,” he said. “This is not 50 men on trial for mutiny. This is the Navy on trial for its whole vicious policy toward Negroes.”
Marshall’s appeal of the guilty verdict was rejected. The trial, however, succeeded in bringing to light the unfairness of segregation in the military, and in February 1946 the Navy became the first branch to allow African-Americans to participate equally in all assignments and activities. The Chicago 50 were never officially exonerated, but were released from hard labor after 16 months and, with no fanfare, allowed to return to service.
Sheinkin tells this shameful history with the deft, efficient pacing of a novelist. And while photographs, double-spaced type and sunburst graphics at the start of each chapter make the book visually appealing to young readers, “The Port Chicago 50” is just as suitable for adults. The seriousness and breadth of Sheinkin’s research can be seen in his footnotes and lists of sources, which include oral histories, documentaries and Navy documents. It’s an impressive work and an inspiring one. These men stood up for themselves despite great personal risk. As Martin Bordenave, one of the 50, said of the ordeal, “Everything we’ve gotten, we’ve fought and suffered for.” He concluded, “You gotta holler loud, you know.”
Like we did with the book BOMB, I think we should all read The Port Chicago 50  togetherWe'll read a few chapters each week, discuss what we read in 'comments', watch a few cool videos (posted on the blog), learn some new vocabulary, and read some related articles.

If you are interested, read the first four chapters (First Hero, The Policy, Port Chicago, Work and Liberty) over Thanksgiving break, and check back here on December 1st.

If you're game for this, enter your email address in the 'Follow by Email ' box on this blog... this way you'll know what we're up to and you won't miss a thing.

My first thought as I began reading this book: I can't believe that I have never heard the story of The Port Chicago 50!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


"Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering."
— Rachel Naomi Remen

Funny Animated Short Film from Vago Tanulo on Vimeo.