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10 Sweet Spooks from "100 Ghosts"— Plus, a Contest!

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Quirk Books

Comedian Doogie Horner was once a contestant on America's Got Talent, and he created the cover art for Quirk Books titles, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Now, he's got a book of his own out, 100 Ghosts: A Gallery of Harmless Haunts. We asked Horner to give us the lowdown on his favorite spooks from the book, and we've got five copies of 100 Ghosts to give away—more details below!

1. CLASSIC GHOST

"This friendly specter was the inspiration for the book, the tiny seed from which a great spooky oak grew. I drew him when I was designing a chart about the afterlife in various religions, and those round black eyes surprised me; they seemed lonely. It made me want to spend more time with him. Maybe make him a sandwich."

2. UNDERCOVER COP

"Adding a mustache to the ghost was a small change with profound implications, because it gave him a backstory. This isn’t just a ghost with a mustache, it’s a dead cop who’s still trying to do his job in the afterlife, but doesn’t realize all the criminal ghosts can tell he’s a cop because he’s the only one with a mustache."

3. HOMEMADE

"I didn’t come from a rich family, so we couldn’t afford fancy monsters. If we wanted to see a werewolf we couldn’t fly to Romania and hire a guide, we had to make one ourselves by getting my grandfather drunk, putting him in a fur coat, and dropping him off in the woods without a flashlight. Similarly we couldn’t dream of affording a spectral guide to call forth spirits in the parlor, so we had to make our own ghosts out of old Kleenex, buttons, and yarn."

4. PERFORMANCE ARTIST

"One Halloween my friend dressed as a classic ghost by draping a bed sheet over his head and cutting two holes for his eyes. We went to a party and the costume got uncomfortable so he took it off. The rest of the night when people asked him, 'What are you dressed up as?' he said, 'I’m a ghost, my sheet is draped over that chair.'"

5. SHOPPING BAG

"'You wanna see the most beautiful ghost I’ve ever drawn?' When I first saw that scene in American Beauty, it was 1999 and I was a teenager. Ricky Fitts’s monologue blew me away. He videotaped a bag! He saw the beauty in the world we all took for granted. But watching that scene years later it seems more like Ricky was maybe just trying to score with that girl. Now I relate more to Kevin Spacey flipping burgers. Does this empty shopping bag actually hold a second, smaller ghost, a more innocent version of myself? Or maybe a receipt for bologna?"

6. NERVOUS

"The most important thing I learned while making this book is that ghosts aren’t so different from us. They’re people too—dead people who have unfinished business and are doomed to wander the earth, possibly for eternity. And just like normal people, sometimes they get nervous. You think your job is hard? Try getting the walls to bleed or floating a cast iron candelabra down a hallway! My point is: sometimes ghosts get nervous."

7. TOPIARY

"Every time my wife and I go outdoors I inevitably ignore the beautiful scenery and walk around with my nose buried in a book or sketchbook. I’m allergic to grass and hope that if I don’t make eye contact it won’t attack me. During one trip to the Brooklyn botanical gardens I drew this guy while recovering from heatstroke."

8. FULL OF BEES

"This ghost is having the worst afterlife ever. I don’t know why he’s full of bees, but it’s awful for him on so many levels. First of all, it’s uncomfortable, obviously. Secondly, none of the other ghosts want to hang out with him because the loud buzzing is distracting. Third, these aren’t the kind of bees who make honey so he doesn’t even get to enjoy that perk. The only bright side of his insect infestation is that it makes scaring non-floaters (what ghosts call living people) easier because he’s flipping freaky."

9. STEAMPUNK

"I built a little quarter scale model of this ghost out of an old coffee can, an old pocket watch, and a coffee maker."

10. CHECKING IPHONE

"I bet ghosts actually do this. If I walked downstairs one night and found a ghost in my hallway, I would be surprised, but I would be slightly less surprised to find him looking at his phone instead of booing me. Hey, ghosts are only human. DEAD HUMANS, AS WE ALL ONE DAY SHALL BE."

Want to win a copy of 100 Ghosts? Come up with an idea for your own harmless spook, and leave it in the comments section below! We'll pick our five favorites and send them a book. You have until midnight on Sunday, September 15. Good luck!

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The Best Children's Books of the Year, According to Bank Street College of Education
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The Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education in New York City recently released its 2018 list of the best children's books on the market. Separated into five age-appropriate categories, the list includes more than 600 titles published in the U.S. and Canada in 2017.

In making their selection, judges considered books' literary merit, presentation, and potential emotional impact on young readers, as well as originality of the story, credibility of the characters, and absence of stereotypes. They also looked for positive representations of religious and ethnic differences.

Nonfiction books were checked for accuracy, balance, and documentation, while poetry books were assessed for their language, sound, rhythm, substance, and emotional intensity. Each book on the list was read and reviewed by at least two members of the committee, and then considered by the committee as a whole.

Of the books on the list, three are selected for special awards each year. For 2018, the Josette Frank Award—given to an outstanding novel in which a child character handles difficulty in a positive and realistic way—was awarded to Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. The Claudia Lewis Award for poetry went to One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes, and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for inspiring nonfiction went to Hawk Mother: The Story of a Red-Tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens by Kara Hagedorn.

Below is a selection of some of the books on the list. All of the titles below were awarded "outstanding merit" by the committee. For the full selection, click on the PDF link next to each individual category.

Under five category [PDF]
Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root and G. Brian Karas
Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper
Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown
Mine! by Jeff Mack
Noisy Night by Mac Barnett and Brian Biggs
Sam & Eva by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Snow Scene by Richard Jackson and Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer and Richard Jones

Five to nine category [PDF]
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
Alfie: The Turtle That Disappeared by Thyra Heder
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban
Good Night, Planet by Liniers
Pandora by Victoria Turnbull
Robinson by Peter Sís
Sleep Tight, Charlie by Michael Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo
Spiders!: Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle and Meryl Henderson

Nine to twelve category [PDF]
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander and Kelly Murphy
If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams
Little Bits of Sky by S. E. Durrant and Katie Harnett
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain, Philip C. Stead, and Erin E. Stead
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Twelve to fourteen category [PDF]
Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali
Satellite by Nick Lake
The Book of Chocolate: The Amazing Story of the World's Favorite Candy by H. P. Newquist
The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner
Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner and Maxime Plasse
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M. T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann

Fourteen and up category [PDF]
Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A print copy of The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2018 Edition ($10, plus $3 shipping) can be purchased by emailing bookcom@bankstreet.edu.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
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by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

A trio of wines
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Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

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