I’ve always had a penchant for all things autumnal: piping hot spiced tea, pumpkin cookies, acorn squash (okay, okay, a penchant for food…), the crunch of leaves afoot, and the promise of the coming holidays. As winter looms ahead, I return to my bookshelves with renewed interest, preparing my imagination for the Great Minnesota Hibernation. At this time of year, when the wind is howling through the dark streets of Minneapolis, you might find me leafing through well-worn copies of only the most original scary stories: the dark comedies of Ben Jonson, our beloved Macbeth, or even Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, which launched the true Gothic movement in late-eighteenth century England.
More likely, though, and now that I’m free from the bounds of graduate school, you’d find me with haunted tales of the more contemporary variety. Some favorites include: Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves, which had me living in utter fear of endless, twisting, disappearing hallways for a good three weeks; Jonathan Barnes’s The Somnambulist; any of Gillian Flynn’s three very dark novels about twenty-first century women dealing with personal demons and dark pasts; and, of course, credit where it’s due: Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs. Stay alert: read only in the brightest room, back nestled in a corner, safe with cell phone in hand…
This Halloween, though, as a relatively new addition to the myON marketing team, you can count on me catching up on the spookiest myON titles. Boo, Katie Woo!, Zeke Meeks vs. the Horrendous Halloween, and Top 10 Haunted Places are sure to fright between trick-or-treaters this Thursday. Do yourself a favor: when you’re lounging in a candy coma this Halloween, check out the harrowing—and fun!—Halloween titles on myON.com!
Let this list of my favorite seasonal books (and foods!) serve as my introduction as the newest contributor to Capstone Connect. I'm thrilled to have joined the marketing team, and I look forward to writing weekly. All my best for your All Hallows' Eve...
Tomorrow we are sending off the final of three trucks full of Capstone donated books on its way to Africa. It will be the last of over 220,000 books that we're sending off from our home offices in Mankato. Books for Africa’s executives will be present to help in the celebration as they mark over 29 million books they have sent to Africa. I promise to take some photos and post them next week!
Thanks to our warehouse for picking the books, and to all of our employees for supporting this program!
I posted a photo several weeks ago of my daughter, Grace, on her first day of Kindergarten, her bright smiling visage ready to conquer the world of lockers, backpacks, and playground swings. But beneath her smile, a storm was brewing. My husband, Dan, and I had seen it coming for some time, but neither of us were ready to accept it.
Grace has been rambunctious since before birth. My friend Erika vividly remembers watching my pregnant belly morph and swell with Grace’s calisthenics. As a baby, she was a terrible sleeper. As a toddler, a vicious biter and an insatiable climber. She was high energy, strong-willed, and her focus leapt from place to place in record time. Rules were mere suggestions, quickly forgotten.
Her daycare provider and preschool teachers gingerly hinted at the dreaded acronym “ADHD.” We didn’t want to hear it. She was just spirited and perhaps less mature than her contemporaries. We changed her diet. We read books, listened to parenting tapes, gave her rewards and incentives (isn’t that just parent-speak for bribery?) We tried the sensitive approach. Then we tried tough love. Nothing worked. She was defiant. She didn’t follow rules. She refused to stay on task. “Could I be raising a sociopath?” I wondered. But no, she had empathy. She had love. What she didn’t have was impulse control.
Dan and I were nervous about sending her to kindergarten. We joked about getting on the principal’s good side early. It took just two days for the Kindergarten teacher to see the signs. She started an incentive chart for Grace. The teacher would give her a goal for how many “smileys” she needed to earn in a day. Grace rarely met her goal. Dan and I talked to her about listening at school. We got upset with her. We took away privileges. We could tell Grace’s self-esteem was suffering, but we didn’t know what else to do. Our self-esteem was suffering too.
“Why, Grace? Why can’t you just listen to your teacher?”
Her response took me by surprise.
“I want to listen, Mom, but my brain won’t let me.”
Curious, I asked, “What does it feel like when your brain won’t let you listen?”
“It feels like it’s just…spinning.”
By the 3rd week of school Grace’s teacher had scheduled her weekly meetings with the school counselor. She had her join a friendship group to help her with social skills. She wanted us to have Grace evaluated for ADHD. It felt like a punch to the gut. My defenses kicked in. I was irate at the insinuation that I somehow had a defective child. It wasn’t my fault that her teacher couldn’t do her job. (Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt you know.)
Not surprisingly, Grace was diagnosed with ADHD. Then came the difficult decision of what to do about it. Everyone we talked to had an opinion—often strongly against medications. I wasn’t keen on the idea either. I didn’t want medication to turn my spirited child into a zombie. “Is there anything else we can do?” I asked the doctor. She gently told me that we were already doing everything else. If we chose medication, we could start with the smallest dose, and see what happened. If we decided it wasn’t the route for us, we could always take her off it.
After weighing our options, Dan and I decided to give medication a shot. We didn't want Grace's behavior issues to negatively impact her learning potential or her self-esteem. We nervously began her medication about 10 days ago. What initially felt like parental defeat has quickly become a huge thrill. Grace’s behavior turned around almost immediately. Not only was she able to stay on task, she put away her things without being asked. She was happier. She was more thoughtful. She has exceeded her “smiley” goal every day. Her pride in herself is palpable. She has told me that her brain doesn’t spin anymore. And most importantly, she is still her amazing, witty, spunky self.
It brings me to tears to think of how I used to dread picking her up from daycare or preschool for fear of what her antics had been that day. How hard we would come down on her for her transgressions. I fluctuate between feelings of guilt for blaming her for something she couldn't control, and relief that her behavior was a result of ADHD and not my failure as a parent.
Now I'm not advocating a one-size-fits-all approach for treating ADHD. But I wanted to put this out there for anyone who may be going through something similar. I didn't want my kid to have ADHD, and I REALLY didn't want to medicate her for it. I still struggle with it. But right now, it certainly seems worth it when I look at my happy child. After all, nobody wants their kid to have the spins.
Senior Editor, Capstone Nonfiction
Halloween is less than a week away, and I have yet to pick
out a costume. I’ve always thought that book-inspired costumes were the way to
go, so I invited some of my fiction colleagues to share a little Halloween
treat with us: the literature-inspired costumes that they’ve worn over the
years. So without further ado . . .
Art director Bob as both Clark
Kent and our very own the Incredible
Rockhead? Which do you think he does better? I’ve gotta say, both look pretty spot-on to me!
Me as Hermione Granger — I was going for the Hermione that was pre-Emma-Watson’s-ceaseless-good-hair-days. I can’t say Hermione Granger is the book-inspired costume I’m most proud of in my time (the frizzy hair makes it too easy), but it’s the only photo-documented one. I’ve also sported Ms. Frizzle garb, a Laura Ingalls Wilder getup, and the classic Dorothy outfit over the years.
And last but not least, Michael, our editorial director, provided us with a list, but sadly, no photos. He's dressed up as: Superman, Batman, Gandalf, a hobbit, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Chicken Little, The Cowardly Lion, Wonder Woman, and Babar the Elephant.
What are your favorite literature-inspired costumes?
— Eliza Leahy
Editorial Assistant, Capstone Fiction
Any readers out there heading to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference next month? We will have a ton of fun giveaways at our booth (#509), plus a great lineup of authors including:
Thursday, Nov. 14
6:00 PM – Michael Dahl will sign his first Hocus Pocus Hotel book Out the Rear Window
Friday, Nov. 15
10:00 AM – Gwendolyn Hooks is signing the Pet Club Story reader The Cat Food Mystery
1:00 PM – Don Nardo will sign the newest title from the highly-acclaimed Captured History series Assassination and Its Aftermath: How a Photograph Reassured a Shocked Nation
3:00 PM – Dana Meachen Rau is signing from her deliciously decadent Dessert Designer series Smart Cookie: Designing Creative Cookies
Saturday, Nov. 16
9:30 AM – Kristine Carlson Asselin is signing from the helpful Research Tool Kit series Smart Research Strategies: Finding the Right Sources
Hope to see you there!
Reading is a lot like running. It’s not always easy or convenient—and it definitely requires time and effort—but done consistently, the rewards always seem to outweigh the struggle.
I was reminded of the similarities between reading and running this past weekend as my family and I partook in events centered around the Mankato Marathon, which has been increasing in popularity since its origin in 2010. On Saturday, we went to the Running Expo on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, and my seven year-old daughter, Violette, and five year-old son Archie ran the YMCA-sponsored “Kids Kilometer” race amongst probably 200-300 other participants. On Sunday, I got into the act by running the Half Marathon.
Let’s look at the ways that reading and running are akin:
Just like running, reading takes getting in shape. The more you run, the better endurance you build—and the more you read (or are read to), the sharper your focus and concentration becomes. My two young preschool-aged sons don’t yet know how to read, but I give them books to peruse because I think that the very act of sitting down, being still, and leafing through pages is a good thing for them to get used to. I feel like this worked well with with my second grade daughter who is now beginning to read like a budding marathoner.
Unlike the reactive enterprises of watching TV or playing
video games, reading takes effort. It takes work to scan the words and make
sense of them. Sometimes the language is tough, and we have to look up words in
the dictionary. But if we keep going, something else goes to work without us
even usually realizing it, and that’s the imagination. Running’s the same way.
Getting started can be the tough part. But
once you’re in motion—your legs and arms pumping, your lungs gulping air, your heart propelling oxygenated blood to all parts of your body—the mind does an interesting thing: it often floats away on a fancy, a dream, an imaginary scenario.
The word “discipline” has the unfortunate quality of having multiple meanings, one of which can be synonymous with “punishment.” But the meaning of discipline that isn’t negative at all is the one that means “training, exercise, or regimen that develops a skill.” Practicing running, again and again, gives you the skills of increased speed and strength, livelier activity, and the ability to push through fatigue. Reading makes you smart, more experienced, and more able to relate to the people and things in this world.
Reading, at its best, can be a minefield of sensory explosion. How miraculous that—through words—we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch what a writer wants us to. And when going on a run, the five senses are likewise bombarded.
One of the best things reading does is to allow readers—especially young readers or listeners—a chance to get outside of themselves and relate. Whether that’s through an adventurous fictional character or by taking in information and wonder from the realm of non-fiction, the experience gained is invaluable.
The Half Marathon went mostly well, I’m happy to say. One of the best things about my run was that I lost myself for awhile and just floated along, brain adrift. And then, the most meaningful part of the race happened—a young girl passed me. Literally half my size, she just zoomed right by me in her pink and black outfit and tightly-braided hair at about Mile Ten, when I was starting to tire.
Initially, this shocked me into running faster. When I caught back up to her, I talked to her for a minute. She was nine years old. No, it wasn’t her first Half. Yes, she was on track to beat her personal record. Yes, she’d keep up the good work and keep on going. And if she was going to, I—on a renewed wave of inspiration, which is the best gift that both running and reading have to offer—was going to, too.
-by Nate LeBoutillier, Editor
While this isn't technically fiction-related news, I can't help but use today's post to give a big round of applause to some Capstone coworkers — our nonfiction team. Capstone's wordless picture book Here I Am was mentioned in the New York Times Sunday Book Review this past weekend! I'm in awe of everyone who worked on this beautiful story, from author Patti Kim to illustrator Sonia Sánchez to the wonderful editors and designers at Capstone who helped create it.
Here I Am is proof that not all stories need words in order to tell a truly beautiful, touching tale. Please join me in congratulating the hard-working team behind this beautiful book. Check out the full review, which calls Here I Am “winsome” and adds “the images vibrate with energy and detail” and learn more about the book (including a book trailer!) on Capstone Young Readers.
— Alison Deering
Editor, Capstone Fiction
We are beyond excited to share that our picture book Here I Am was reviewed last weekend in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.
The glowing review praises Here I Am as “winsome” and adds “the images vibrate with energy and detail.”
BIG congratulations to the uber-talented author Patti Kim (for her beautiful vision), illustrator Sonia Sánchez (for her specatcular artwork), and to our amazing internal team for all of their contributions to this incredible work!
And now onto our contest winners from last week’s post... Congratulations to the following folks who each win a copy of the New York Times reviewed (I will never tire of saying that!) Here I Am:
• Betsy Brown
• Courtney Kraft
• Crystal Brunelle
• Jennifer Reed
• Mallory Reiber
Thank you to everyone who entered our giveaway. Watch for more opportunities to win fun stuff in future posts on Capstone Connect!
I always love it when an employee comes to me to see if we are willing to donate books to their favorite charity. I especially love it when it's someone from one of our 'other' offices...and this one was a request from Lynnette in our Chicago office. The Family Counseling Service in Aurora, IL has a special place in Lynnette's heart, and now it does in ours too!
Capstone donated 300 books for the Aurora Paper Airplane Show this past weekend. The Family Counseling Service runs the event and they raised around $8,000 to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters. It doesn't take many books, but it can make a big difference to the charities...and hopefully to our employees too!
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