Saturday, January 13, 2018

Creativebug class


So I'm taking a class over at Creativebug, and I've been posting some of my work on my instagram. My friend Erin just saw my work and was like "hey, send me the link on that class!" So this one's for you, Erin.

I'm taking Daily Painting Challenge: 31 Patterns to Paint taught by Lisa Congdon.

Here's the day we painted a scallop pattern.
Two years ago I took the daily drawing challenge with her.

This was the day we drew spice jars.

And I've taken a bunch of other cool classes on Creativebug, too. I've watched classes on how to make my own envelopes, how to make gem paperweights, how to use resist with watercolor, basic watercoloring and sketchbook and crochet classes, a class on creating color palettes (one of my favorites!) and a class on screen printing (which made me realize I do not actually want to do screen printing). Jubilee and I watched the daily class last month about gift wrapping and had a great time. Those four minutes in the morning kept her interest while I styled her hair and gave us both good ideas for Christmas wrapping.

These are meant to be gift toppers, but I couldn't resist making a forest scene out of them.

Creativebug is kind of like the Netflix of arts and crafts tutorials...but better. Here are my 3 reasons:

1. At $5/month it's cheaper than Netflix.

2. You get to keep some of the videos. Each month you subscribe you get to save one class in your library. You then still have access to that class if you ever stop subscribing to Creativebug.

3. You're gaining practical knowledge. Though I suppose Once Upon A Time gave me the practical knowledge that I would need in order to use a magic tree to get to Storybrook.

So I've been an off-and-on subscriber for a couple of years. I became an affiliate for them a while back, too, so if you subscribe through one of my links I'll get credit for it.

They're always running some kind of promotion or sale for signing up. Right now it's one month free and a free 30% off coupon at JoAnn's.

If you end up taking classes, I would LOVE to hear about it. And if someone made me one of the gorgeous quilts they teach, I would die of the love.

Here are a couple other blog posts I've written about Creativebug.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Cybils shortlists are announced!

Here's all the categories!

Here are the finalists for Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

Here are the finalists for Young Adult Graphic Novels

I'm totally patting myself on the back. This was my first year as the category chair for Graphic Novels, and though it was dicey at times, I think I did everything I was supposed to do! Even though my baby was born on the morning that I was supposed to confirm my judges! Haha.

I ended up needing to be a judge on Round 1, so that there would be an odd number of judges, to prevent ties in voting. I was worried about whether or not I'd be able to read enough nominees, but I read a respectable 72 of the 153 nominated titles.

Can I just say that again? I read 72 books in the last 3 months, which were also the first 3 months of my son's life! Oh yeah, oh yeah!

AND I love the lists my panel agreed on this year. All the books that made the cut are top-notch. Check them out!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Little Iffy: Giveaway and Review


Today I have something special for you. It's not my typical review. This review is a tributean homage to one of my all-time favorite book review blogs: Bookie Woogie. Like many tributes, it only holds a candle to the original.

Aaron Zenz and his kids created Bookie Woogie, and now Aaron has come out with a new book himself, and Everead is stop #4 on the blog tour. More about that later.

Mom: Ok, so today we are reading and talking about Little Iffy Learns To Fly by Aaron Zenz. Do you know who Aaron Zenz is?
Benjamin (age 9): . . .The author of Little Iffy.
Mom: Ha. Yes. What else has he done that we know about?
Jubilee (age 4): Make books!
Mom: Haha! Yes! He did Nugget on the Flight Deck, and The Spaghetti Slurping Sewer Serpent. He illustrated those, but he has written and illustrated other books, too.
[reading of Little Iffy Learns to Fly begins]
Benjamin: Backup backup backup plan!
Jubilee: (lots of giggling)
Benjamin: That's why they call her Eggs. Because she's always hatching a plan.
[reading ends]
Mom: Ok so what do you think?
Jubilee: Good.
Mom: What do you think of the story?
Jubilee: Good.
Mom: Tell me what happens.
Jubilee: They make Iffy fly.
Levi (age 7): No, they don't they don't make him.
Mom: What happens?
Jubilee: Somebody sprangs him up!
Mom: But it's by accident, right?
Jubilee: Yeah.
Mom: What do you think of the pictures?
Jubilee: Cool.
Mom: Now, the people who will be reading this won't be able to see the pictures. So, tell us about the pictures. (This is me, fishing for the sort of interesting illustration analysis that comes from the children of Bookie Woogie ...and...not getting it. Jubilee begins to describe each picture one by one.)
Jubilee: Um. Well. Little Iffy, in this picture you see his mom and him and his balloon. In this picture, his friends are near and he is happy.
Mom: Ok. Well, don't tell me about all the pictures. Just talk to me a little bit more aboutWhat if you were Little Iffy?
Jubilee: I would say "Don't worry, I'm going to learn it sometime. I'm going to do it, when I'm like, as big as you guys."
Mom: Is there anything you are scared to do? That people want you to try but you've never tried it and it's too scary?
Jubilee: Umm, sometimes at movies.
Mom: So if this book was written about you it would be called Jubilee Learns to Watch Movies?
Jubilee: YEAH!
Mom: Or Jubilee Learns to what?
Jubilee: Crochet.
Mom: Jubilee Learns to Crochet. You're scared of crocheting?
Jubilee: No.
Mom: That's just something you want to learn, huh.
Mom: What if this book was written about you, Levi?
Levi: I don't know!
Mom:Well what's something you want to learn? Little Levi Learns to . . . Leap.
Levi: Go down the fire pole.
Mom: Little Levi learns to Go Down the Fire Pole. Nice.
Mom: Hey Benjamin, if this book was written about you, what would the title be?
Jubilee: Little Benjamin Learns to...
Levi: BIG Benjamin Learns to.
Mom: Big Benjamin Learns to ...what. Learns to skate.
Levi: yeah
Mom: How about Big Benjamin Learns to Skate?
Benjamin: Maybe.
Mom: Ok what's one thing you would say to somebody who's a little scared? Like Little Iffy is?
Jubilee: I would say...
Benjamin: Climb on a seesaw then have an elephant jump on it!
Jubilee: I would say "Don't be worried, you can do it anytime. I have some plans to help you learn it. 
Mom: Haha! Nice!
Benjamin: What if it's about crocheting?!
Jubilee: Oooh.
Mom: hahaha!
Mom: What would you say to someone who is scared?
Benjamin: Jump off a cliff.

And, last but not least, here is some tribute art that Jubilee made of Little Iffy and his red balloon.

Well, that was fun!

If you would like to win a signed copy of Little Iffy Learns to Fly, you're in luck! I have one to give away.

If you would like to shop for a copy of the book, you can click the cover, below.

If you would like to read more about the book (and maybe even find some more giveaways to enter) check out the other stops on the book tour:

Mon Dec 4  :  An interview with Aaron Zenz at Mile High Reading  
Tue Dec 5  :  Nitty Gritty Details on Illustration at Seven Impossible Things 
Wed Dec 6  :  A Flash Giveaway at 100 Scope Notes  
Thu Dec 7  :  A Tribute to Bookie Woogie at Everead 
Fri Dec 8  :  Librarian’s Quest  :  http://librariansquest.blogspot.com
Sat Dec 9  :  Amanda’s Pile of Books  :  http://amandaspileofbooks.blogspot.com
Sun Dec 10 :  Kids Talk Kid Lit  :  https://strohreads.blogspot.com
Tue Dec 19  :  Nerdy Book Club  :  https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com
Mon Jan 1  :  Picturebooking Podcast  :  http://www.allthewonders.com/podcasts/picturebooking

Monday, November 27, 2017

Handy Tip:how to to get pen off a book cover


Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving. I did!

But on Sunday night my four-year-old decided to scribble all over the cover of a new hard-back graphic novel I had just read for the Cybils.

I was kinda grouchy about it and told her she was going to have to pay to replace the book (Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten). But then I thought to myself "I wonder if magic eraser would take this off..." The cover was fairly glossy. So, with nothing to lose, I gave it a go.

I just use generic brand magic erasers. This is the thing I'm talking about. I buy them at the grocery store. I got the eraser a little bit wet and went to town scrubbing.

The results pleased me. I thought of taking a "before picture" but I didn't do it because I thought working fast might help. In hindsight that doesn't make a lot of sense, because ballpoint pen ink dries pretty much instantly, but that's my excuse. Here's the after picture. You can see in the pen isn't completely gone, especially in the crevice next to the spine.

Some marks still visible by his hand, on the cushion, on his face, but SO much better. 

If you're curious about Lint Boy, it's a cute book. My seven-year-old really liked it (probably because he really loves stuffed animals and has never seen Toy Story). It's about a little stuffed animal that is formed of lint in the dryer, and his friend. They get separated by the villain, an old hag who hates and tortures stuffed animals in an effort to get them to talk. As a child she thought they were alive, so she's got something to prove. As you can imagine, it all works out pretty well for the dolls and stuffies in the end. The illustrations are intricate and the muted color palette works nicely in the book. Here's another amazon link, if you want to check it out.

Have you ever had success repairing or rehabilitating a book? I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Joke time!

Every Monday night we have family night at our house. And, as part of our family night we have a couple of minutes called Joke Time. We take turns being in charge of Joke Time each week and, let me tell you, it's a fun thing to have in your life.

Well, a few weeks back I got an email asking if I'd like to review a new joke book put out by National Geographic. Yes I would! Levi, my second grader, is big into jokes. Plus we've got Joke Time to think of every week. Sometimes I would try to quickly look up a new joke on the internet, but honestly having a book handy is a little safer, if you're looking for something the whole family can enjoy. (That said, I do have a favorite spot for corny jokes on the internet: Rinkworks.)

So. This new book is called Just Joking Jumbo. It pairs pictures of animals with jokes, funny dialogue and a few facts. The book has 10 chapters with titles like "Far-out Space Silliness," "Hilarious History," and "Nutty Nature."

Puns, question and answer jokes, riddles and knock-knock jokes are all mixed together in a hodgepodge that makes it easy to open the book to any page and find something fun. And I think the full color interior and creative layouts make it really fun to browse through.

But Alysa! Aren't joke books just a frivolous waste of time though? Shouldn't my kid be reading a real book?

No. Let me explain.

There are three reasons I like joke books: I like that they promote 1. independent reading, 2. comprehension and 3. fluency. If your 7-year-old wants to tell you a new joke without spoiling it, he has to read it on his own, think it is funny, practice it, and then present it to you. I can't think of any other type of book that is quite as good for that particular set of skills, and offers success and positive feedback so quickly.

The other thing I like about joke books is that then my kids spontaneously tell me jokes! When Jubilee (age 4) saw I was writing a post about this book she told me her favorite joke from it.

Jubilee: What state is aaalways chewing?
Me: What?
Jubilee: Massachusetts!

For your viewing pleasure, I have a video of Levi telling his favorite one, too.

I thought about giving Just Joking Jumbo as a wrapped gift to Levi this Christmas. It's almost too big to fit in a stocking, but I suppose one could . . . Anyway I decided I'd rather let him enjoy it now. But here's the Amazon link if you want to shop for it or for other joke books or whatever.   

Aaaand just in case you haven't seen it yet, here is a hilarious sketch from our favorite sketch comedy group, Studio C. We all watched this together around Halloween, and it came up at the absolute perfect moment during Joke Time last Monday night.

I died laughing.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Cybils Update + 4 Good Graphic Novels for Teens

Hola! Here's the Cybils update

Me + my reading buddy
I'm a category chair... 
That's going pretty well, despite the fact that the baby was born right on the morning of a deadline. Haha! I was supposed to confirm with the judges I had selected that they would accept the position, and remarkably I was still able to do that. Then, when Sam was just a couple of weeks old, I had to wade through all the nominations and check them to see if they were published at the right time and if they were indeed graphic novels and if they were indeed published for teens/elementary. That took some time, because we had 171 books nominated (yay!) 153 of them turned out to be eligible. Since I'm also one of the first round judges (had to be, so that we wouldn't have an even number and get locked in ties when voting on titles), so I've got my reading cut out for me.

I got a book in the mail!
Today I got my first review copy -- so fun!It's a copy of Dog Night at the Story Zoo. I confess the title has me like, "whaaa?" So I'm looking forward to reading it and figuring that out.

I've read a bunch of books I haven't told you about!

So I'm just going to give you quick thoughts about each one. A little mini-review if you will. I'll start with these four ones for teens that I liked. Note that my opinions here don't reflect the opinions of the cybils panel as a whole; I'm speaking for myself.

Covers link to Amazon, if you're interested in full synopsis. If you purchase through my affiliate links, I get a small commission. 

The Adventures of John Blake: The Mystery of the Ghost Ship - This one was so good. I mean, Philip Pullman is a good author, so that's no surprise. He wrote The Golden Compass (fantasy) and The Ruby in the Smoke (historical fiction), both of which I like. He does seem to have something against parents, though. :-) Anyway, this is an awesome adventure about a greedy technology tycoon, a ship that travels through time, and a family on an extended vacation. The art is full color and excellent, and I'll definitely be looking for future installments. The characters seem like they each have their own backstory already, and I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. This one is nominated in the teen category, and has some violence, as you can see from the big explosion on the cover.

Yvain - This one is also really good, but in a totally different way. I confess I'm not a big fan of the cover. I don't think it captures the awesomeness of what's inside. It is a retelling of one of the Arthurian legends, one I had never heard before. Yvain sets off on a quest to avenge a friend and get glory -- he ends up getting a wife, losing her trust, becoming a LOT more noble than he was before, and . . . I won't spoil the ending. But I loved the artist and author commentary at the end of the book.
And the art was really beautiful and full color. It was especially cool how the stories within the story were illustrated as if they were tapestries hanging behind the storyteller.

Ms. Marvel Vol 6: Civil War II - I read this one before I knew it was nominated for the award this year, because I really like the series. This installment tackles some interesting issues: how far can you go in preventing crime before it happens? What should you do when you realize you disagree with the people you admire? I'm very interested to see where the next installment takes us. While I liked Val. 6, I recommend starting with the first one: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal.

Lumberjanes Vol 6.: Sink or Swim - Another awesome adventure at summer camp for the girls in the Roanoke Cabin. This one has them working together as a team to help dissolve a misunderstanding between some selkies and a camp counselor who is more than she seems to be. This one felt like a "middle adventure" to me. I mean, if it was a TV show, it would have been a fun episode where the conflict was introduced and tied up neatly, with little sprinkles to remind us what some of the overarching conflicts in the series are. You could definitely start with this one, but again I recommend starting with the first one: Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy and proceeding in order.

Read anything good lately? Got any Cybils-related questions for me? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It's a baby!

The newest member of our family is here! I've been posting lots of adorable pictures on my Instagram, because not all of his grandparents have met him yet. 

That's changing this weekend though -- my family is coming to town and little Sam will be blessed in church.  
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