Stephen McCranie gives us a comics lesson


A little slow getting this up. Sorry, guys!

We had a great time Skyping with Stephen McCranie during our Graphic Novelember meeting. Talking with authors is always wonderful, but Stephen added a whole new element by pretty much turning us into comics experts! Do you remember the big ideas?

I really liked how he showed that so many common cartoon characters are really just basic shapes, with features added. You guys are good at identifying cartoons, by the way! I knew Mickey Mouse and Spongebob, but I could never guess Phinneas. Or was it Ferb? Aw, see? I’m not as hip as I look.

Anyway. Stephen sent us some goodies to print out and enjoy. Stop by Room 3 and say the magic word “mustache” and I’ll give them to you!

I might try to track down his new book, Belly Flop, over Winter Break.

Keep reading!

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Middle grade authors in Bellingham this weekend!

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know about a trio of  fantasy authors coming to Village Books in Bellingham this Sunday.

Marissa Burt is the author of the new middle grade fantasy Storybound.

Anne Nesbet is the author of the middle grade fantasy The Cabinet of Earths, which I just started last night.

J. Anderson Coats is the author of the new young adult fantasy The Wicked and the Just.

We don’t get to have children’s authors in Bellingham as often as I’d like, so I’ll definitely be trying to get down there for this. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 15 – 4:00 pm

Village Books in Fairhaven (map)

The aftermath of our Patrick Carman intro

Well, guys, you done did good. Rico, Abbas, and Leo were pretty famous this weekend. You would not believe how many people came up to me to compliment them and our Patrick Carman intro video. Including the children’s librarians for the Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom County Library System!

It was a little rough for me at first. I do not like talking in front of large groups of adults. Ten year-olds, maybe. I was sooooo nervous introducing our video. I could hardly eat breakfast that morning! I talked to a few friends later who said I was fine up there, but I sure didn’t feel fine! Whew. I’m glad it’s over. But one of the authors said something during the conference that was just right. I think it was Gary Schmidt who said, if you don’t do something hard, you can’t have the pleasure that comes when it’s done and appreciated. He was right on. That was definitely the biggest group of people I’ve ever spoken in front of, but it was worth it; for our video makers, for me, and for TMC Guys Read. We are all famous!

Patrick Carman’s first words after he walked on stage after our intro? “Well, it can only go downhill from here. That was awesome. Really, really great.” He was really impressed. He’s asked for the link to our video. Maybe our fame will extend even farther!

I always like going to this conference. It’s a good pick-me-up in the middle of a long school year, and it’s great fun to see real, live, famous authors. In addition to Patrick Carman, the conference featured author and illustrator Laura Kvasnosky and author Gary D. Schmidt. I haven’t read Mrs. Kvasnosky’s books, but the primary school library has them. She’ll be at the Young Authors Conference, if you’re one of the students headed there in late March. I read two of Mr. Schmidt’s books this year, Okay for Now and The Wednesday Wars. They were both great. Okay for Now was my favorite book I read last year.

At the end of the conference, Abbas and Leo were able to stop in and meet Patrick Carman and get some autographs. They were pretty excited, and so was Mr. Carman. He really did love the video, and was looking forward to telling the guys in person. Rico couldn’t come, but I got his book autographed for him. Plus, I got our club copies of Skeleton Creek and Trackers signed, too.

It was a great day! I felt very honored that we were invited to be a part of it, and Rico, Abbas, and Leo did an outstanding, wonderful job with the video. Who knows when an opportunity like this will come along again? I’m so glad we had the chance and ran with it. Ran with it all the way down the hall of the library.

Good work, guys! Keep reading!

[Movie] Review: Hugo

Poster © Paramount Pictures

Yahoo! That was a good time, huh? We had a great crowd at our first Guys Read movie outing. Abbas, Leo, Dusty, Spencer, Savikar, Manraj, Robert, and even former/lifetime member Riley. It was great to see so many guys able to make it.

It was great, also, to not have any ridiculous coughing fits during the movie. I was sucking on cough drops the entire time. I stayed home from school Friday, and I’m still pretty sick. Classic adult move, eh? Stay home from school but still go to the movie. Would your parents let you do that?

So what did you think? It seemed like a pretty solid version of the story to me. Movies always change books, and it can be hard to watch movies of books we love. At least it’s hard for me. I have a hard time with the Harry Potter movies. I love the books too much! Maybe it’s not the same for kids. Kids just like movies, right?

Anyway, as I was saying. I was pretty pleased with the movie. It had a great feel to it, very like the book. The train station was very cool–it was interesting to get a sense of the people and the place.

We watched the movie in 2D. I was very surprised that the guys voted for that over the 3D. I was certainly OK with it–3D makes my head hurt. I noticed a few spots in the film where 3D might have been cool, but the 2D was fine. Supposedly a lot of that train station dust was supposed to be 3Dified? I don’t know…

We definitely got to learn a lot about Georges Méliès. Did you feel like an expert since we watched A Trip to the Moon last year? I kind of thought the movie was not just a version of Brian Selznick’s book, but also a tribute to Méliès. We learned a lot more about him than we did in the book.

Was there anything you didn’t like? It seemed to me that the biggest change was taking out the character of Etienne. Do you remember him? The boy with the eye patch who loved movies? His role kind of got spread around between Isabelle, Professor Tabard, and the bookseller. It worked out fine. Why do you think they took him out?

I was also really wondering how they would deal with the whole “invention.” Remember that Hugo built an automaton that supposedly wrote and illustrated the whole book? How would they do that in the movie? They took that part out of the title. Well, they took out the “invention,” but the telling of Hugo’s story was still given importance. I thought it was nice that Isabelle was the one who ended up writing the book.

OK. One last thing. Remember when the box fell and all the papers came out? I was searching and searching to see if any of Brian Selznick’s drawings were in there. I couldn’t find any. Don’t you think that would have been a nice touch?

Brian Selznick wrote a “making of” companion book for the movie. I can’t wait to read it and learn more about how it all came together.

I really liked the movie. I can’t wait until they make a movie out of another Guys Read book! What books would you really like to see a movie version of?

TMCE Guys Read invades the movies

We are going to see

at 4:20 pm at Sunset Square

(maybe get there a bit early?)


If you want to go crazy on Thursday…

You could see author D.J. MacHale at Village Books at 5 pm, and then come to Guys Read at 6:30 to video chat with Mac Barnett!

Have any of you read the Pendragon books? They look good. I’ll have to try one this summer.