Local Mom and Teacher Makes Learning and Caring Fun with Peacebe and the Heartwatch

Categories: Books

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If you've stepped into a public school in the last decade or so, you may have noticed an apple core poster, listing out eight "character traits," including kindness, responsibility and respect. They're all good things to remember, but if you know anything about kids, you know they need a little pizazz to get interested.

With bullying a hot-button issue, these character traits have become more important than ever for our younger generation. Right on time to fill the void, one South Florida mom and teacher is looking to "shine a light in a dark place" with The Adventures of Peacebe and the Heartwatch.

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Dr. Seuss Turns 110, Six Life Lessons Even Grown-Ups Should Remember

Categories: Books, Lists

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It's amazing the things you can learn from a book. When was the last time that you had a look? It's true what they say. You should read every day, because good books are playgrounds where strong minds can play.

Children the most should be taught how to read, because books come with tools that every kid needs, and of all children's authors (besides Mother Goose), we really most highly recommend Dr. Seuss.

But even for grown-ups, Dr. Seuss is a must. His writings are full of life lessons we trust. Even though the good Dr. has already passed, his teachings live on and his influence lasts. He just had his birthday, 110, and in his honor, we visit his lessons again. We hope to inspire a revisit of some, because you're never too old to make your own fun.

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Wynwood Book Club Brings Readers Hope and a Place to Come Together

Categories: Around Town, Books

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Since, the onset of the Kindle and e-readers, palpable, hand-held books have been in danger of becoming obsolete, but true book-lovers in Miami have found a way to preserve the sanctity of real books.

Last month, 27-year-old Isis Miller started the Wynwood Book Club, dedicated to spreading the love of reading around town and giving book-lovers a place to mingle.

"Although starting the book club was a random idea that came into beautiful fruition, it just felt, well, necessary," Isis said. "In a place like Wynwood, where art is flourishing and being noticed, there was not as strong of a literary presence as I felt there could be."

See also: Wynwood Mural Tours Offer Hidden Gems, History and Bicycle Adventures Free on the Daily

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Orange Is the New Black Author Piper Kerman to Speak in Miami

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Award-winning author Piper Kerman is busting out of her frozen New York digs and making her way to the Magic City, which happens to be one of her favorite places to visit.

Kerman, who wrote Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison, will stop by to deliver the keynote speech at an event for the National Council of Jewish Women - Greater Miami section.

"I live in New York City, so it's actually rare to visit an American city which feels as multicultural and exciting as New York, but Miami is definitely one of those," Kerman said. "Not to mention much better weather."

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George Saunders: "You Can Talk About Sex or Religion But [Money] Makes People Uncomfortable"

Categories: Books

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George Saunders has never been to Miami. But when he arrives on Thursday to discuss his latest book, he will likely immediately recognize it. That's because Miami is almost identical to the creepy, dystopian, sci-fi landscape conjured up in his short stories.

"I'm very class anxious and have been my entire life," he tells New Times ahead of his Thursday appearance at Books & Books. "When I've written stories that have worked for me, they were always exaggerations of that interior landscape. That matches exactly what you just described about Miami: the extremes of wealth and the extremes of poverty."

"I think that's a kind of American story that I don't see very often in fiction: that naked anxiety about money," Saunders says. "Somehow you can talk about sex or religion but when you start talking about money, especially scarcity of money, it starts to make people uncomfortable."

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NoViolet Bulawayo on We Need New Names and Michael Jackson's Popularity in Zimbabwe

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photo by Smeeta Mahanti
NoViolet Bulawayo: has a perfectly good name, thank you very much
In NoViolet Bulawayo's debut novel We Need New Names -- a finalist for this year's Man Booker Prize -- teenager Darling moves from Zimbabwe to Michigan, where she is struck by a rather large difference between Americans and the people back home.

In Zimbabwe, Darling thinks, fatness "did not interfere with the body; a neck was still a neck, a stomach a stomach, an arm an arm, a buttock a buttock. But this American fatness takes it to a whole 'nother level: the body is turned into something else -- the neck becomes a thigh, the stomach becomes an anthill, an arm a thing, a buttock a I don't even know what."

In fiction about Africa by non-Africans, it is jarringly common for the entire continent to be exoticized into a morass of clichés, a single place in need of saving and understanding by the West. But Bulawayo, who also moved from Zimbabwe to America (and who will be reading at this weekend's Miami Book Fair International), inverts this trope to put her outsider's eye on the grotesqueries of Western living.

"It's always been a personal interest of mine," Bulawayo says of the way the West appears to peoples living outside it. "As somebody who came from another culture, moved here and had to learn all the codes of behavior, I particularly wanted to flip the script."

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George Packer Explains How to Win a National Book Award: Bourbon, Cigars, and a Helluva Lot of Hard Work

Categories: Books

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National Book Award winner George Packer
George Packer knows how to write. He's won accolades for his powerful pieces in The New Yorker, inked several novels, and penned a prize-winning analysis of America's invasion of Iraq.

If anyone needed more proof of his talents it came on Wednesday, when Packer was awarded a National Book Award for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.

Packer's new book is a non-fiction masterpiece. In an interview with New Times, he reveals the secret: a bottomless supply of Bourbon and stogies.


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Karen Russell on Life, Death, and Bringing Swamplandia! to HBO: "I Want Cate Blanchett to Play All the Characters"

Categories: Books

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Jonathan Grassi via Wikimedia Commons
If you live in South Florida, it's hard not to have a mega literary crush on Karen Russell. The Miami native is just 32 years old, has three bad-ass books to her name, and is a MacArthur-certified genius. More important, perhaps, is that she's hilarious and didn't hang up on us when we asked her juvenile questions.

Here is the second half of our extended interview with Russell, in which she talks about everything from overdosing on chicken McNuggets to our fear of death.

She also gives hints about HBO's supposed production of Swamplandia!

See also: Karen Russell on Ghost Stories in the Grove: "In Miami, Doesn't It Always Feel Like Halloween?"

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Miami Book Fair: Daniel Alarcón Recounts His Drive Into the Dark Heart of Peru's Drugland

Categories: Books

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May-Li Khoe via Wikimedia Commons
Peruvian-American novelist Daniel Alarcón
Daniel Alarcón had been driving for days along one of the most dangerous routes in the world -- a serpentine service road recently carved into the dense Peruvian countryside -- when he suddenly sensed that he wasn't alone. "You look around you and think, OK, up in the hills somebody is watching us drive," says the young novelist, who is making several appearances at the Book Fair this weekend. "It was that kind of feeling."

Unfortunately for Alarcón, his quest to trace the path of Peru's cocaine production was far from over.

"The day that I arrived in Kimbiri, there had been two murders of just random people who had been killed and found hanging by some trees in the jungle," he says. "I arrived and I called my contact and he said: 'Hurry up! We're going out to look for these bodies.'"

See also: Miami Book Fair 2013's Best Authors

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Miami Book Fair Authors James McBride, George Packer Win 2013 National Book Award

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National Book Award winner and Miami Book Fair International author James McBride.
If we didn't know better, we'd think the organizers of the Miami Book Fair had consulted a psychic before planning this year's week-long festival of author appearances.

The fair, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, got a pretty sweet gift from the National Book Foundation this week: a pair of National Book Awards for George Packer and James McBride, both of whom are scheduled to speak at the fair this weekend.

See also: Miami Book Fair International 2013: The Ten Best Events

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