The Kirkus Prize

You know I can’t resist a good book, and with the shorter days upon us, I’ve been on the lookout for an engaging story to snuggle into for some fall reading. On my quest for something brilliant and extraordinary, I stumbled upon 18 new writers whose work is being considered for the first-ever Kirkus Prize, one of the newest literary awards for fiction, non-fiction, and young adult writers that pays a whopping $50,000 to the winner in each category.

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I have to admit, I was intrigued to see what a book of that caliber might look like. I discovered that the Kirkus Reviews magazine has been reading and reviewing submissions since 1933, and their magazine, website, and e-mail newsletter act together as a sort of marketing liaison between writers, industry professionals, and readers.

To become shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize, authors had to have a starred review from one of the magazine’s reviewers to be passed on to judges for further consideration. The judges have narrowed it down to the top six in each category, and the winners will be announced on October 23, preceding the start of the Texas Book Festival in Austin. In the spirit of the universal team of book lovers, I’ll happily volunteer to explore the winner in the fiction category and report back.

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The Sketchbook Project

If you’re an aspiring artist of any sort, your creative muse is calling, and you feel like sharing, then check out the Sketchbook Project. Or, if you’d like to be an aspiring artist, writer, etc. and need a creative muse, check out the Sketchbook Project.

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Every year since 2006, founders Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker have put out a submission call, encouraging anyone feeling creative to make their mark by filling a 32-page blank sketchbook with their unique artistic perspectives. When returned to project headquarters by the deadline, these sketchbooks (recently totaling more than 7,000) travel in a custom trailer to various locations in North America for interactive exhibits.

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When the books aren’t on the road, they reside at the Brooklyn Art Library, the permanent home to the complete collection. Since its inception, over 70,000 participants from 135 countries have contributed to the Sketchbook Project and each of those books has a space on the shelf.

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Visitors to the library can spend an afternoon browsing the creative works of other contributors, or purchase a sketchbook on site and get busy making their own contribution.

Pumpkin Moonshine

This lovely little slice of life was shared on the Farmgirl Connection chatroom last year by our Farmgirl Sister of the Year, Winnie (Red Tractor Girl), and I revisited it when one of the “milk-cow moms” over on my Heritage Jersey Organization chatroom named her most recent calf Pumpkin Moonshine. (If you’re a cow mom or dream of one day having a backyard milk cow, be sure to visit the HJO chatroom.)

Winnie’s post was:  “I am back from my visit up to Virginia and North Carolina to see my sisters and daughter. We had wonderful crisp fall weather, gathered apples, wore warm clothes, and shivered on mountaintops. It was wonderful in every way! So today, I am getting caught up here at home and started to get ready for Halloween. Do you all remember Tasha Tudor’s delightful children’s Halloween story called Pumpkin Moonshine? I have a paperback copy, and it has been one of my favorites since I found it when my children were little.” Pumpkin-Moonshine Moonshine? No, silly—not THAT kind of moonshine!

THIS kind of moonshine …

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Photo by huk_flickr via Wikimedia Commons

… more commonly known as a jack-o’-lantern. In the utterly charming Pumpkin Moonshine, little Sylvie Ann climbs to Grandpawp’s cornfield atop a high hill and finds the biggest, finest pumpkin in the field.

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Photo by vastateparksstaff via Wikimedia Commons

She is determined to transform it into a “fierce and horrid” pumpkin moonshine for Halloween. But it is much to large to carry, so how will she get it home? Why … she’ll roll it, of course! Ker thumpity, bumpity, thump! Watch out, goats!

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Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos via Wikimedia Commons

Can Sylvie catch the pumpkin before it bowls over the goats, frightens the hens, enrages the geese, and bumps into Mr. Hemmelskamp, who is carrying a pail full of whitewash?

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Images courtesy of Pen Pals and Picture Books

Well now, you’ll just have to read the book to find out. But I’ll tell you that one of my favorite parts of the book is the end—don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler—when Sylvie saves her pumpkin’s seeds for next year. How farmgirl is that? This fall, you might want to take the “pumpkin moonshine” theme a step further by carving a gorgeous, ghostly white Moonshine (or Valenciano or Polar Bear) pumpkin for Halloween. You can save your seeds after scooping or buy some for next year at ReimerSeeds.com.

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Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t think that the pumpkin in the photo above is actually white, but who knows? And it was just too good not to share! P.S. Pumpkin Moonshine, Tasha Tudor’s first book, was originally published in 1938 as a calico-bound first edition (because Tasha submitted her manuscript to Oxford University Press in a quaint wrapping of calico fabric).

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Photo courtesy of Bauman Rare Books

You can buy this rare first edition at Bauman Rare Books for a mere $1,200. Thankfully, Pumpkin Moonshine is once again in print and available for an extremely reasonable price on Amazon.com. I say “extremely reasonable” in light of prices tagged to Tasha’s early works (take a peek at this coveted page from her first rendering of Pumpkin Moonshine, appraised by Antiques Roadshow at a value of $8,000 to $10,000).

P.P.S. You can read more about Tasha Tudor in the “Sister Act” April/May 2011 issue of MaryJanesFarm, still available in our “Back Issues Bundle #6.” tasha-tudor-mag

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Floating Library

After a trip to the library, I cannot wait to start my newly borrowed reads. Reading in the bathtub or on a beach are common bibliophile pastimes. I am guilty of both. Or why not turn some pages while on a canoe? At that rate, what if the library were floating alongside you, something artist Sarah Peters explores in her current experimental public art project, The Floating Library.

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Handcrafted by architect Molly Reichert, this raft on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis houses about 80 books submitted by local and national artists.

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Paddlers on the lake can cruise over and sample offerings next to the raft, or check out books from two staff librarians who will provide a plastic bag to transport the treasure and directions to drop boxes around the city where it can be returned. One checkout favorite is a book printed with soy ink on potato starch paper with a cover made of nori, bonito flakes, and turmeric, which never needs to be returned because it can be fed to the fish after reading! The Floating Library will spend the month of September on Lake Winona, in Winona, Minnesota. If you happen to be in that area, join the ducks and enjoy perusing the library on location for me, too, please!

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