Titanshade by Dan Stout

Titanshade Titanshade by Dan Stout
will be published 03/12/19 by DAW Books
416 pages

[Okay, so, I'm basically a ray of sunshine, but every now and then I indulge in some good old fashioned violent noir, and it was about that time.]

I loved this book. Admittedly, it's just the sort of thing that I'm into, kind of a sci-fi/fantasy/noir kind of novel set in a world technologically similar to our own, but with some magic and a few other intelligent species in addition to humans.

It was the first chapter that really hooked me.

Carter, a seasoned detective with a sharp mind and bad history, has been called to the scene of a horrific murder. The victim was dismembered and completely obliterated, and the room is red with viscera. It is a horrible display of tragedy and savagery. And for some reason, to Carter, it is smelling more and more delicious.


Turns out that the victim was a member of a species of frog people, and their blood smells delicious to homo sapiens. Explains why they keep to themselves so much and refuse to go to hospitals. We struggle with poor Carter, who is standing in the middle of this room full of pain and suffering, as his mind is processing the horror around him and his mouth is watering with a mix of arousal and nausea.

The horror and dread of that chapter reminded me of Stephen King, and I was in for the long haul.

The simple murder case becomes more complicated when they discover that the victim was part of a visiting ambassador's envoy and was in town for political bargaining. No one seems to benefit from his death, but everyone seems to be hiding something. Is it a corrupt politician? Corrupt businessman? Dirty cop? All or none of the above?

Will someone else please read this so we can talk about it?!?!

arc received from the publisher


When You're Scared by Andrée Poulin

When You're ScaredWhen You're Scared by Andrée Poulin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book deserves 5 stars for the artwork alone. The vividly colorful pages tell the story with the aid of only a few words. This tale of empathy and cause and effect is recommended for one on one sharing, where readers can make inferences and discuss what they would have done in that situation.

arc received from the publisher


Artist Saturday: Rolling Stamps

Learning inspiration: https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2012/03/pre-columbian.html

There's not a lot of easily-found scholarly information online about pre-columbian art in the Americas, particularly when it comes to stamps. However, we do know that they used rolling stamps to decorate household goods and the human body.

It could be a good opportunity to discuss life in pre-Hispanic central America.

- sturdy cylinders. We had a ton of these U-Line Kraft Tubes leftover from something else, but short lengths of PVC pipe would be inexpensive and easy to use, too.
- sticky-back foam paper. I used these.
- scissors
- paint - I used acrylic.
- paintbrushes of any size -- you're just using them to cover the stamp.
- heavy paper. Construction paper will do.

Cut shapes out of the sticky foam paper and stick it on the tube.

Cover the foam with paint and roll it across your paper.

Cost per child: about a dollar.


Activity for Kids: Geological Dig

Create an interactive archaeological experience for children without having to leave the library or spend big bucks. Recommended for school aged children, or younger children closely supervised by caregivers due to a potential choking hazard from small items. It gets messy, so it is best for outside, or atop a tarp.


  • Large underbed storage containers OR a small kiddie pool
  • Small skewers that can be used as stakes, and any kind of string or ribbon
  • Sand, can be found at low cost at home improvement stores
  • Shark teeth or fossils, can be easily found online at low cost
  • Cups or bowls to place fossils in when found


  • Small plastic pincers
  • Small brushes, like paint brushes


Fill container with sand. Mix in fossils, making sure to spread them as equitably as possible. Use the stakes and string to measure off equal-sized sections of the “dig site.”


Create a picture sheet identifying the different kinds of fossils in the mix so children can identify what they’ve found. Have children estimate how many they think there are of each type, based on what they’ve seen, then create a wall chart to show how many of each kind were found.

Check the outside of your building, especially any stone work, to see if there are any small shell fossils visible in the rock.

Messy Play for Toddlers: Five Fun Food Ideas

Be sure to let caregivers know of any potential allergens associated with these activities, and have boxes/containers ready to show them ingredients, if needed.

Here is a quick blitz through some food-based program ideas for use with little ones.

ACT ONE: Fingerpainting with Yogurt

Take three containers of plain or vanilla yogurt and put a few drops of yellow food coloring in one, blue in another, and red in the last.

Mix each well, and cover a table with a cheap white table cloth or a roll of large, white bulletin board paper and use it as a canvas.

ACT TWO: Dinosaur Dig (or animal bath, or car wash)

Take large, plastic toys such as dinosaurs, farm animals, or cars, that are big enough not to be choking hazards, and make sure they are nice and clean. 

Make 4 boxes of chocolate yogurt and spread it haphazardly in the bottom of a large under-bed storage container, and toss your toys into it to get nice and dirty. 

In another container, have some soapy water. It's time to wash the toys!

Have a third container or large towel available to catch the cleaned toys.

ACT THREE: Pouring Station

It's not so much food, I guess, but it does use kitchen supplies. Get out that old trusty under-bed storage container again, and fill it a couple of inches with room temperature water. 

Place small cups inside (avoid glass or Solo cups that can break) and let the kids scoop and pour. If you're feeling adventurous, set up another container next to it and let the kids move the water from one container to another.

ACT FOUR: Rainbow Spaghetti

Cook spaghetti noodles according to the package, and add different food coloring to different batches so you have different colored bowls of cooked noodles. 

Play with them separately or mix together. If you let them sit for a while or refrigerate them, they will be easier to handle without breaking up and getting all starchy.

ACT FIVE: Fruit Stampers

I have done this program a million times and I will do it another million, but caregivers have to take a very active role in this activity to prevent choking hazards from occurring. 

Take different fruits and cut them into smaller pieces that can be held more easily, while still showing the unique textures to each fruit. Make a simple paint by making watery rice cereal with a bit of food coloring, and stamp away on whatever surface you choose.


Artist Saturday: Dadaism

Click here for printable cheat sheet from my Google Drive.

So, if you weren't already aware, dadaism is pretty weird.
Kids love weird.

Study artists from the past and create your own art based on their style.

Literally anything, honestly --

I used:

  • stretched canvas (or multimedia paper)
  • oil and chalk pastels
  • different bizarre duct tapes
  • cut out letters in different backgrounds
  • glue
  • scissors

Just read up a bit on dada. It's pretty entertaining. 

The great thing about exploring art with young kids is that you don't need to know everything to get started. You're not lecturing to a hall full of grad students here. You need to know enough to give a brief introduction and get them curious, then give them the resources to explore a bit more.

Take a few minutes to discuss the creation of dada and the societal circumstances that led to it, gauging the maturity of your participants. Dada came into fruition with WW1 and everything that came with it.

Either pass around or show slides of a few selected artworks. I selected the four up top. Discuss themes you see, what you think the author was thinking, and what they want you, the viewer, to think.

...then break out the supplies, and have at it!

The kids did an awesome job and I really want to share more pictures, but every other kid featured cut outs of their names and I didn't want to share any identifiers. 

Have fun!

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir
I'm going to cut to the chase and just come out and say that this is one of my favorite books that I have read in a long time and I want every woman I know to read it and we will all be in one huge book club.

On its surface, it is a memoir of a woman who spends a few years of her young adulthood faking it as a professional violinist. The Composer, a man who is never named specifically, has written simplistic orchestral music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic soundtrack and pays semi-professional musicians to fake-play along to a soundtrack. The crowd never knows the difference, and the author becomes an accomplished violinist who really isn't that great.

Yet, there are nuanced layers to the story that make it rich and engrossing:

  • Ms. Hindman had a world-class education in Middle Eastern studies during 9/11, but no one was interested in what she had to share; they would rather hear her pretend to play violin.
  • After growing up in Appalachia and finding herself living among the children of the 1% in New York City, she feels that she must (literally) work herself to death to validate her existence.
  • Fascinating discussions on what she refers to as "life in the body" -- the struggle every woman has in coming to terms with her body and the space it inhabits. 

I'm calling this is as my favorite book that I read in 2018.

arc received from the publisher