Tulsa Library Day of YA Coming!

For you YA lovers in the Tulsa area! You know you want to be there.

valerie r lawson

This coming week, the Tulsa Library is hosting a wonderful event called Tulsa Day of YA. This FREE event “celebrates young adult literature and those who love it by bringing together authors, fans, and aspiring writers through workshops, panel sessions, and academic discussion.”

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? I can hardly wait!

The event begins with a special opening keynote on Friday night, February 21, with Justina Ireland, author of DREAD NATION, in conversation with Tulsa Artist Fellow Juliana Goodman.

I just finished reading DREAD NATION and it is so good! I can hardly wait for the sequel coming out soon!

On Saturday, February 22nd, the day begins with a Women in YA panel featuring Cindy Pon, Justina Ireland, Sonia Gensler, M. Molly Backes, and Juliana Goodman with Ally Carter moderating.

How awesome to have two fabulous Oklahoma SCBWI writers on this panel! Am I right?

View original post 110 more words

Book Review – STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO by A.S. King

I just bought King’s Me and Marvin Gardens. You know how much I love middle grade!

valerie r lawson

I am a huge fan of A.S. King and have been ever since I read her novel PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. The voice was so authentic and gut-wrenching. Part of me WAS Vera – at least, my teen-self floating close to the surface could really relate to the heavy shit Vera was going through. (Honestly, you should stop whatever you’re doing and go read this awesome book right now. Seriously. I will NOT be offended.)

Each book of hers that I have read has been just as stellar as the first. And did I mention that she always adds a dash of magical realism just to make things even more interesting?

STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO by A. S. King

Published by: Penguin Young Readers Group

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Contemporary

indieboundbn-24h-80

Plot Summary:

Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she…

View original post 393 more words

What’s the Big Deal about Electricity?

Sometimes, we don’t recognize a gift when we receive it.

My husband has been ill.  It’s canning season.  I’m managing to get the essential things done, but there’s no down time and little writing time. I’m not getting enough sleep.

Today, I received a gift. The electricity went out about 6:00 this morning.  I couldn’t make hot coffee.  But I did scrabble together a pretty good breakfast of cottage cheese and my freshly-canned peaches.  It’s cooler than it has been, so I didn’t miss the air conditioning too much.

Then, the gift! The skylight near my rocking chair lets in enough light for me to sit and read.  No television.  No background music.  Just me and a book.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is a brilliantly-simple graphic novel about young Shannon’s elementary school days and her struggle to fit in and find friends.  Shannon’s story is honest, and the art and color strike just the right tone.

I finished the book about 11:00 with a sense of accomplishment and a satisfied sigh. Still, no electricity.  By this time, my husband had moved a chair beneath the skylight to read.  I interrupted his reading to say, “This book belongs in every school library.”

“Get it there,” he said.

“We all struggle to fit in, to find friends.”

He looks up from his book and nods.  We’re both artists.  We know the struggle.

“I’m taking it to the school library,” I said, “as soon as I write a review.”

Read this book, please. Think about that kid who struggles most to fit in.  Chances are he or she is witty, perceptive, creative, and unsure.  Give them this book.  They deserve real friends.  They are not alone.

The Importance of Author Visits

My blog post at ReadLocalOK:

Read Local OK

I got my real teacher education in an Alt Ed classroom.  The Oklahoma program, before it was watered down by politics, mandated arts education and life skills as part of the core curriculum.

A good grant writer and matching funds helped me bring workshops to my school, including a poet, a cartoonist, and a found-objects sculptor.  Volunteers and friends made other experiences possible.  Dan, who’d served three tours of duty as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, taught my kids to cook.  Mila, who owned a quilt shop, taught them to sew.

How valuable was this hands-on education?  One of my students is a professional chef with his own restaurant.  Another became a math teacher. What I learned was that all students have gifts if we make the effort to uncover them, and that outside experts are invaluable in helping your students develop their gifts.

When a new superintendent farmed the…

View original post 300 more words

A Visit to see THE Artist in Residence

Enjoy a road trip with some friends of mine.

valerie r lawson

A few weeks ago some writer friends and I took a road trip from Tulsa to Oklahoma City for the express purpose of visiting the Artist in Residence at the Skirvin Hotel, our fellow SCBWI OK pal and supremely talented THE Jerry Bennett! He kindly set aside his day just for us.

Found him! It’s THE Jerry!

Always happy to see you!

Jerry gave us a tour of his artist’s space, talked to us about comic design – explaining the difference between a penciler, inker, and colorist among other things. And what each job brings to the story.

And white space. He said that was very important. Who knew?

Gathered around Jerry’s workspace as he shows us some of the projects he’s been working on.

All of the artwork that you see in the background is Jerry’s work. Besides giving him this wonderful space to create in and a…

View original post 200 more words

Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen, like Eve Bunting, does not need my recommendations.  I give them, anyway.  I have never read anything by either of these authors that didn’t set my mind to spinning.

Finding Baba Yaga is pure poetry.  That’s not a metaphor.  It is a novella in verse with lines that soar: “The hallelujah chorus of birds,” and “Living well lasts longer than love.”  As lovely as the writing is, read it for the story. Storytelling is what makes Yolen exceptional.

Finding Baba Yaga  follows a runaway into the woods.  It’s about  questioned beliefs and finding ones own way.  You’ll probably want to read it in one sitting.  I did.  This update of an old Russian fairy tale might also make you want to go back and revisit the original tales.