Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The past is never dead.

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On page 21 of Fourth Down and Inches, author Carla Killough McClafferty quotes an entry from the private diary of the coach of the Harvard University football team. In that entry, the coach, who was the highest second-highest paid employee of the university, recounts minimizing a player's concussion to avoid a PR disaster: "Since football is being severely criticized just at present, a case of concussion on the brain would be very serious.” The year? 1905.

Nothing has changed.

“The normally well-oiled public relations machine at the University of Michigan has been clanking badly in the past four days as the Ann Arbor school deals with the fallout from football coach Brady Hoke's decision to play a concussed player.”

Well, not exactly nothing. Now the coaches are apparently worse at handling the PR and they get paid more than anyone at the university. (Brady Hoke gets $4.6 million.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our American Symbols

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Oh, say have you seen Lerner’s newest Cloverleaf subset titled Our American Symbols? As the designer for this series, I had the wonderful opportunity to work on these fun, fact filled books.Written by Martha E. H. Rustad and illustrated by Holli Conger and Kyle Poling, these books are an informative lesson for young children on how our great country was shaped on freedom and what the word freedom stands for today. This was a fun book building experience and served as a welcome reminder of what The American Flag stands for and why the Star Spangled Banner was written and is still proudly sung in America today. These books are a great introduction to Our American symbols. Here’s a sneak peek.

Why Are There Stripes on the American Flag? The United States of America became a country in 1776. We learn that Old Glory is red, white and blue. Do you know what the colors represent? Red stands for courage, white stands for being pure and good, and blue stands for fairness. The thirteen red and white stripes stand for the first thirteen states. Find out what the stars represent and learn how Old Glory came to be.

Can You Sing the Star Spangled Banner? Our National Anthem is sung to show respect for our country. It was written during a battle at Fort HcHenry in 1814, by Frances Scott Key. When he saw the American flag gallantly streaming o’er the ramparts, he knew the United States had won the battle against Great Britain.

Can We Ring the Liberty Bell?  Liberty is another word for freedom. The bell arrived in Pennsylvania in 1752. It cracked the first time it was rung! So how can we make the Liberty bell ring? Find out by reading this book!

Why Is the Statue of Liberty Green? Lady Liberty was a gift from France in 1885 as a symbol of friendship. The green layer is called a patina. Made of copper like a penny, rain, wind, and the sun slowly changed the color to green. The Statue of Liberty stands tall in New York City and it’s flame can be seen from up to twelve miles away. Find out who she welcomed to their new home.

What Is Inside the Lincoln Memorial? President Lincoln helped end slavery in 1865. The Lincoln Memorial was finished in 1922. What does the memorial stand for? In 1963, Martin Luther King recited his famous speech there. He talked about his dreams for fairness for everyone. Find out what is inside the Lincoln Memorial.

Is a Bald Eagle Really Bald? An American symbol since 1782, the American Eagle came to represent peace, strength and unity. The bald part of its name comes from the word piebald, which means having white marks. An interesting fact is that Bald eagles live only in North America. Find out how big an eagles nest can be.

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave, Our American symbols is an enjoyable way to learn all this and more!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Free Book Friday: Science Gets It Wrong

Congratulations to Betsy Brown (@phlockteacher)! You've won Bug on a BikePlease send us a DM on Twitter or an email to with the subject line "Free Book Friday" and your mailing address so we can get your book in the mail.

This week, enter to win Science Gets It Wrong, a four-book high-interest series that examines scientific missteps—some humorous, some bizarre, and some very recent...

Check out some of science's biggest mistakes and most glaringly incorrect assumptions. With spreads devoted to the most surprising stories, these books reveal how scientific thought has changed over time. Even reluctant science students will be drawn into these strange—and often funny—tales throughout science history. Readers will learn how new forms of technology and bold thinkers changed the ways we see the world around us—and the ways we study it.

If you'd like to win Science Gets It Wrong, please leave a comment on this post (including your first and last name), or tweet this line: "Free Book Friday! RT to win SCIENCE GETS IT WRONG from @LernerBooks."

We'll announce the winner on Friday, October 3, so check the blog then to see if you've won!

Good luck!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Book Crush

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15894 It happens at least once every season. There's a particular Lerner series that I fall head-over-heels in love with. This season, that series is Name That Text Type! (cover pictured). Just why do I adore it? Let me count the ways.

1. It’s all about a topic near and dear to my heart: language, literature, and their power to add meaning to our lives.

2. It shows readers that each text type is all around us—an integral part of our everyday experience. For instance, the first example of a poem in the What Is Poetry? book is the “Happy Birthday” song.

3. It reveals the inherent appeal of every genre. To quote from the series: “Fiction takes you into other worlds. It lets you meet other people.”   Plays “are exciting to watch. The theater lights dim. Music fills your ears. Then actors come onto the stage.”

4. The design is absolutely lovely. Each page is simple, elegant, and beautiful—never visually "talking down" to young readers.

5. School Library Journal loves it too! From their August issue: “Definitions and explanations are brief but informative, with illustrated examples along the way…. [A] colorful but pared down layout adds to the charm.” Name That Text Type! offers “concise works ideal for units on introducing the concept of genres or types of literature.”

Check it out and see if you don’t develop a book crush of your own!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Learning how to PAAAAAR-TAY!

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 “Kids today.”  Those two words, when uttered, can make me feel firmly planted in middle age. There’s a lot of talk about “kids today” and what they do or don’t do, what they say, and what they like. In my job as Associate Art Director for Lerner Publishing Group I need to know about “kids today,” and one thing we can all agree on is that computers, social media, virtual friendships, and online gaming are here to stay. But where does that leave the fine art of how to throw a party? Enter the new series from Lerner Publications: Party Time! (September 2014)

Designing this series for tweens and early teens was so much fun for me because I got to break all the design rules and use lots of fun fonts, colorful dingbats and doodles and pictures to make an energetic backdrop for all the great information about hosting a party.

What is the most important element for having a party? The food? The games? The music? I think (and maybe it’s just the designer in me) it’s the invitation. It sets the tone of the party to come, creates a feeling of anticipation, and most importantly it also tells your friends when, where, and why (and what to bring!).

As I put it this series together I recalled the thrill of having my own holiday parties and the time and energy spent putting together fun invitations with my husband. We own a small printing press (called a Print Gocco) so we came up some elaborate schemes!

One year, inspired by nostalgic matchbook art we created our own “club” matches. These oversize matchbooks had a secret message inside for the recipient. No detail was spared: gritty paint was used to make the “match” heads and a strip of sandpaper for the striking pad.

Another year we decided to pay homage to Santa through a Bazooka Joe comic parody. My husband created the joke and I executed the art down to the ubiquitous rough and slightly off-register printing in primary colors. A waxy “gum wrapper” feel was created by rubbing a block of clear wax over the printed piece.

The parties themselves were raucous good time (albeit a blurred memory!) but the saved invitation is a tangible reminder of the love that we have for the friends and family that we hosted. And isn’t that what we should strive to teach “kids today” —that face-to-face connections are where memories are born and bonded?

I haven’t had a party in years, but designing these books to help future generations learn how to host an awesome party is making me seriously consider dusting off the printing press and getting the friends together for a holiday soiree. Check it out this fun series and let Party Time! inspire you to throw your own bash!