Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Season of the Yeti

Kenny Brechner - April 30, 2015

Yetis have traditionally been understood to be solitary creatures, very rarely spotted and few in number. Looking at the fall lists, however, it is clear that we need to revise our understanding of Yetis. They are neither rare, solitary, nor hard to spot anymore.  In fact there are at least 10 children’s books featuring Yetis coming out between June and December. What has caused the Yeti to evolve in this extroverted manner?arewethereyeti
Surely the answer lies in the pages of all these new Yeti books. For starters we can see that the word itself is fun to play with, as evidenced by the fact that there are two separate books coming out this fall with the title Are We There, Yeti? The S&S marketing notes for the release of Ashlyn Anstee’s delightful version accentuate this point by noting that while the surprise trip which bus driver Yeti is taking the kids on is long indeed, prompting his passengers to repeat our title phrase many times, “The best surprise of all is yeti to come.” The children drive far into the mountains to the cave mouth of a Yeti school and all the kids have an outstandingly good time playing together. Anstee’s book embodies two key points of this season’s Yetis: they are fun-loving, and they are like human children but a little more so.
thethingaboutThese themes are shared by The Thing About Yetis by Vin Vogel. These Yetis have all the fun human kids have playing in the winter except more so, they are positively frenetic. Not sure how to have fun in the winter, what better role models than Yetis? Dear Yeti by James Kwan sees the Yetis as winter guides too, but in a calmer, more parental manner. This book introduces the third key theme: caretaking. Two kids hike off in the winter hills to find a Yeti. The Yeti, mysteriously in possession of notes from the lost kids, invisibly helps them stay safe and warm during their adventure. The other upcoming Are We There, Yeti? by Kerry Morris inverts this caregiving paradigm by having a lost baby Yeti found by a Tibetan Mastiff who returns the baby Yeti to his Mountain dwelling parents.
yetifiles2This fall will also see the second book in Kevin Sherry’s terrific series The Yeti Files, which has proven to be just the thing for reluctant readers. This book further establishes that the loneliness which had previously marked Yeti existence has passed on now, to the point that the Yeti clan is looking to pay its remission forward by taking an interest in helping out other monsters who are still experiencing loneliness, like the Loch Ness Monster.
This bring us back to a signal question, can Yetis survive their discovery? How long can they remain frontlist darlings once the newness of their real nature wears off? Perhaps not at this pace, but given that Yetis are all about outdoor fun, survival, and caretaking, which are mainstay picture book and early chapter book themes, they should continue to thrive long after this wave of celebrity has crested. Certainly they are handling the attention much better than many human celebrities do. Role models indeed!

50/50 Diverse Reads Project

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 28, 2015

Earlier in the year, I decided to spend 2015 reading a much richer selection of books. I determined that fully half of the books I read will feature main characters of color, preferably by authors of color (though current publishing statistics make that latter goal pretty hard to achieve). I wanted to share a few of these books from my reading so far.

An Angel for Mariqua by Zetta Elliott (Rosetta Press)—This book for ages 8-12 reminded me so much of books I loved as a fourth- and fifth-grader, the kind of books that explored in a warm and authentic way life’s problems and pleasures as navigated realistically by a young person I could identify with, even if some particulars of her circumstances were different from my own. (I was a desert kid, and most books I read were set in cities, suburbs, or a green countryside. As you might imagine, there were few kids in desert settings in 1970s chapter books. Heck, there still aren’t many!)
Mariqua is eight years old and in a rough patch, getting into arguments at school and leaving her grandmother at wit’s end. The gift of a wooden angel from a mysterious street vendor is the beginning of a series of small good things for Mariqua as she whispers her hopes into the angel’s ear at night. She meets a teenage girl in the same apartment complex who has secrets and struggles of her own but teaches Mariqua how to manage her strong feelings and learn to open up her guarded heart.
We are an over-the-top society these days when it comes to storytelling, and that’s a lot of fun, but children are also still learning to navigate their lives. I loved books about magic and adventure when I was a kid, but I also loved books about family, school, and community. There aren’t enough of those books in our current climate, and I couldn’t help thinking of how little room there is in publishers’ lists for books like this especially when the main character isn’t white and doesn’t live in the suburbs.
Lion, Lion by Miriam Busch and Larry Day (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray) — An exuberant picture book with sly humor in the vein of Jon Klassen and Kevin Sherry, this one is for kids who like to put visual clues and cues together. A little boy calls for his missing Lion, but the lion who shows up is looking for lunch. The boy shows him several non-human lunch possibilities, but the lion dismisses each for various reasons (some of which will help the boy and his little kitten, Lion, later). Will this end badly for the tyke? Happily, the little boy is cleverer than Lion and all ends with a happy twist.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill) — This brutal, fast-paced fantasy feels both familiar and unique. Laia is not brave like her brother nor fierce like her rebel mother nor strong like her father. Laia’s family are Scholars, whose lands and rule were overtaken over by the cruel Martial Empire long ago. Laia’s rebel parents were captured and have disappeared, and now she and her brother live with their grandparents. As the book opens, Laia’s brother is arrested for treason by ruthless Masks — soldiers of the Empire who wear liquid metal masks over their faces — and her family disintegrates while Laia watches, helpless and terrified. Disgusted by her own cowardice, she finds her way to a hideout of Scholar rebels, hoping for their help to free her brother. In exchange for their help, she must disguise herself as a slave and go into service as the handmaiden of the sadistic leader of the Martial Empire, a woman so vicious her own son—a brilliant young soldier who wants nothing more than to escape his violent future—can’t love her. In addition to the palace intrigue and peril, this story offers love triangles and questions what lies at the very heart of courage, integrity, and loyalty.
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (Algonquin) — If the Brothers Grimm had visited Trinidad and gathered stories there, they might have uncovered tales like this one. I’ve never read a book quite like it—unique, colorful, and memorable, not to mention scary! Aimed at ages 8-11, it has a marvelously rendered Caribbean island setting and invokes colorful creatures of myth and folklore from that region. This story is definitely for kids who like to be scared to the tips of their toes by things that go bump in the night. Corinne, 11, is very close to her hearty fisherman father. Both share a deep love of Corinne’s departed mother. Neither has ever paid much attention to tales of the jumbies and creatures who live in the forest that borders the seaside village, but one day Corinne and some friends venture into the woods, triggering a restlessness in the creatures there. Then, when a beautiful, mysterious woman shows up at the open-air market and takes an interest in Corinne and her father, Corinne knows something is not right. The woman insinuates herself into Corinne’s life and her father’s affections, while the wicked sprites and evil mischief-makers are emboldened to leave the forest and attack the villagers. As her father literally falls under the jumbie woman’s spell, it’s up to Corinne to discover the legacy of her mother and the secret strengths that lie within herself, with the help of her friends and a witch. An author’s afterword elaborates on the varieties of jumbies in Caribbean folklore.
Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen (Simon & Schuster) — I’d been hearing great things about this book, so it was high up on my reading stack. When I cracked open the covers, I admit I was a little disappointed to find that it was a novel in free verse. It’s hard for those novels to avoid having the same staccato rhythm, and most really aren’t poetry. Red Butterfly wasn’t entirely immune to those problems, BUT — I soon stopped caring because I was so intrigued by the story and characters and the way this adoption story unfolds.
So much about the story is mysterious in the beginning. Kara is a Chinese child who speaks English fluently but has bad Chinese language skills. She lives with her mother in a small apartment. They have little money, and Kara’s mother rarely ventures outside. When she does so, she covers up from head to toe. Kara’s father lives in America and sometimes sends money, sometimes doesn’t. Little by little, the reasons for Kara’s circumstances become clear. I won’t say more because part of the magic of this book is in discovering the story at its own pace.
I loved this book. I cried at the end of it, cared about the characters — especially a couple of secondary characters in the middle of the book who are deeply, lovingly rendered — and I think sensitive (the positive connotation) young readers will really love this story. My one quibble is that the turning point for Kara comes a bit too quickly, is resolved too suddenly.
So many of us have friends with daughters adopted from China. It’s a tale we think we know at least the main outlines of, but Red Butterfly illuminated an experience I’d never known about — American parents living in China for years before the adoption officially goes through, Chinese children who are undocumented because of the single-child rule, having no official identity and therefore no avenue for even being adopted. It’s clear that this novel was written by someone with intimate insider experience, and it shows in both the small details and the emotional resonance of the story.
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones and Katie Kath (Knopf) — This charming middle-grade novel is lively and as much of a standout as The Jumbies, but for completely different reasons. It begins as the story of an immediately likable city girl and her parents, who inherit a farm and need to make sense of a completely unfamiliar setting. At first, you think it’s going to be the kind of bright, funny, warm, realistic novel that an author like Deborah Wiles writes—but then come, as the title promises, some very unusual chickens, some with quite alarming abilities. The mixture of the everyday and the humorously supernatural has a Roald Dahl flavor to it, but tilts less zany and more grounded. (There are even real facts about chickens and how to raise them peppered throughout the book, enlivened by great illustrations.) Twelve-year-old Sophie is resourceful and funny, an observant kid who writes letters to her deceased beloved abuela to keep her posted on Sophie’s new world, as well as to Agnes, original owner of the unusual chickens. She strikes up friendships with Gregory, the mailman (a refreshingly three-dimensional character and one of the only people in town who is “brown” like Sophie and her mother (her dad is white; her mom is Latina). Ethnicity is handled lightly but also directly in this book—for instance, Sophie has occasional moments of frustration due to people’s assumptions based on her mother and her own brown skin—which is also refreshing. These are brief, honest moments in a girl’s life and are folded so easily into a story that includes poultry thieves, shapeshifting creatures, communication from beyond the grave, as well as building an ideal chicken coop and finding friends. One of the most original, fun books I’ve read in a long time.
So that’s my update for now! The diversity revolution in publishing is beginning to have real legs, though we all need to do our part to make sure this isn’t another burst of enthusiasm that fades. Given the population of the United States, it is a win-win-win decision to bring all of our children into books that make them heroes, both ordinary and super, of stories.
Next up: The Lost Tribes by Christine Taylor-Butler (Move Books) and Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani (Tu Books).

Vermont Bibliophile Heaven

Josie Leavitt - April 27, 2015

All of us at most bookstores do more than our regular jobs. I am the newest member of the board of the Pride Center of Vermont and our annual celebration is on May 8th. I have been working hard to gather auction prizes. This year the auction is decidedly bookish and totally fun for bibliophiles.
I reached out to Chris Bohjalian (one of the truly lovely things about Vermont are the great writers we goinghave here and how easy it is to get to know them) to see if he would donate a visit to a book group as a prize. He responded with an enthusiastic yes, but offered up a different idea. “How would you like to auction off: Be a character in a bestselling novel?” I thought that was a fabulous idea and so did the rest of the board. This item is going to be the grande finale of the live auction. Can you imagine having a character named after you in any book? Let alone a book that, if Chris’s track record holds, will not only be on the best seller list for months, but will never go out of print?  What a great tribute to a loved one or something fun to do for yourself.
But the book donations don’t stop with Chris. Kim Fountain, executive director of the Center, had a good idea for a Vermont Bookstore Tour as a package. There are so many wonderful independent bookstores in Vermont that this seemed like a great idea. Of course the Flying Pig donated a gift certificate, and then I reached out to my friends. I had a storytelling gig at Bridgeside Books in Waterbury, and Hiata happily donated a gift certificate. Then I got smart and posted my query on the NECBA listserv and Village Square Books way down in Bellows Falls donated. Northshire responded immediately by mailing a sizable gift certificate the very next day!
I hadn’t heard from some stores and didn’t really think anything of it other than they were busy or had maxed out on their charitable giving for the month of May. Geographically, to complete the loop we had already, I really needed a store in Rutland or Middlebury. Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury was my choice, but I hadn’t heard from them. So I ordered a gift card online and paid for it myself (I’m learning that board members do this) designating the “from” part to be the bookstore itself. When Becky Dayton, the owner of the store, saw that she called me immediately. I explained what I was doing and she said,”Of course we’ll donate a gift card.” She refunded my $50 and mailed the donated card to the Pride Center that very day.
I have been heartened by the response from Norwich Bookshop as well. Liza Bernard emailed yesterday and asked if it was too late. I replied back a very happy, No!. And she’s mailing her gift card tomorrow. Everyone has been so wonderful about this package. Supporting the largest LGBTQ organization in Vermont while supporting independent bookstores just seems like a win-win for all involved. And, add to this the number of inns and cafes who have also donated along the indie tour route, this package is just amazing.
I’ll be wearing my auctioneer’s hat at the benefit and will be smiling the whole time as I try very hard to create a bidding war for these two book-related lots.

Getting a Yes

Josie Leavitt - April 24, 2015

It’s finally spring here, and with that comes two things: fundraisers for just about every cause under the sun, and folks asking for donations. During this season of benefits, if our store is typical of all indies, bookstores get asked to give something just about every day. This year has found me on the other side of the counter asking for donations as I’m newly on the board of the Pride Center of Vermont and our benefit is in May. As I’ve approached businesses for donations I’ve noticed several things and thought I’d share. Continue reading

Anatomy of a Great Community Read Launch

Kenny Brechner - April 23, 2015

This was the inaugural year for the Kingfield School Community Read and they came up with a great plan for launching it! The book being used was kept an absolute secret. Excitement in the gymnasium was running high. The first thing to do was to figure out the name of the book!

Kingfield’s wonderful English teacher, Maggie Adams, had been the driving force behind the community read. A group of area seniors were invited to the launch. Then, grades 3-8 formed lines and teams were made up of one child from each grade and one senior. Maggie projected a group of Scrabble titles onto a screen, showing the letters to be found in the title. The first team to solve the anagram would be picked to reveal the books and hand them out.


A team solved it with only one hint, the first word being: The. Then the lights went out and the music came on. Principal Kim Ramharter and an able assistant wheeled out the books on a display wrapped as a present!

 The winning team tore it open and revealed 175 copies of Megan Frazer Blakemore’s great book, The Water Castle. Each winning team member grabbed a pile of books.

Then the team hit the stands and gave everyone in the room a copy The Water Castle. Huzzah!

I was up next, to tell everyone a bit about why The Water Castle is such a great book, and such a great choice for their Community Read, particularly one launched with mystery and puzzle solving.

After that, principal Kim Ramharter sat down and read everyone the first chapter.

Many people followed along in their copies.

There were still 10 minutes left for everyone to read more on their own before it was time to get ready for the bus. The Community Read launch mission was a giant success!


A Note to the Shipping Department

Josie Leavitt - April 21, 2015

Dear Big Five Publishing House Shipping Department,
I am writing today because I can’t take it anymore. Every day I receive books from your company and every day I despair a little more. No, not because the books are damaged (I’m actually surprised at how infrequently this happens, so yay, you!) but at the sheer waste that has been happening lately. I know you’re busy with therightpig merger and dealing with the kinks of combining two shipping departments, but this is crazy.
The bubble wrap to the right (I put the foot-high flying pig penny holder in the photo for perspective) represents the bubble wrap I got for three boxes of books. Here’s where my real issue takes hold: all of this bubble wrap came to protect five books.
I’m sure you’re scratching your collective heads right now, thinking surely, five books did not come in three boxes. Yes, yes, they did. Five books, picture books at that, came in three fairly large boxes. I understand why there was need for protection as we all know books packed in large boxes without copious amounts of bubble wrap or air pillows are far more likely to get bounced around and damaged during shipping. But I have a suggestion: why not combine the shipments into ONE box?  Books are friendly things and they like being together with other books.
And I cannot recycle this kind of bubble wrap where I live, so now I have to throw it out or somehow save it in my already crowded back room, where I currently have six feet of bubble wrap waiting for someone in town to move who wants free packing materials. And while it looks like it should stack well, it doesn’t ,and is forever falling to block our access to our restocking shelves. While I didn’t have to pay for shipping on these (thank goodness for that, or I’d have written a far less pleasant note) I didn’t actually order these books. They were complimentary copies. Please don’t get me wrong, I love getting your books and particularly love getting free books from you, but not in three separate shipments that create more work than necessary for my already overworked staff.
So, since you’re probably still shaking out the kinks since you merged, I have a few ideas that you might want to start adapting.
– Use the right-sized box for shipments. It feels like the folks in charge of printing boxes with your name company name only have made HUGE and LARGE boxes and no mailers or small boxes. If you forward me the name of the person, I will write to them as well.
– Perhaps ask stores if they want these free books before you send them out. Not all freebies are created equal (this is what no one will tell you, so you can thank me for my honesty later). Again, if I get the name of the person to speak to about that, I will draft a note post-haste.
– Maybe it’s because I live in Vermont, and we care about landfills here, but to not use material that can be easily recycled seems very 20th century, and isn’t your new company supposed to be an industry leader? Lord knows you’re big enough to be setting a better example.
Thanks so much for your time and I hope you all have a great day.
Josie Leavitt

“A Bookstore Is for Forever Books”

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 20, 2015

Trinity CLiF EventWhen you visit a school filled with exuberant toddlers and little kids, you never know what gems might pop out of their mouths. Last week, I had the happy occasion to visit with 65 children ages 2 1/2 to 5 years at a bright, open, cheerful school that had won a grant from the Children’s Literacy Foundation to supplement their library and send new books home with the kids. Every surface in the bright, clean, vibrant classroom was covered with books donated by the folks at CLiF, who provide a terrific curated list to teachers and invite them to choose from the list and add any other requests the teachers may have. 
every hero has a story
One of the celebration’s guests was Rebecca, head of Youth Services at Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library, who told the children about the library’s summer reading program, which is newly open to children below kindergarten age. Every participant not only gets to read great books and do fun activities all summer long, but also receives a free Jarrett Krosoczka-designed “Every Hero Has a Story” Platypus Police Squad T-shirt! Very exciting. I totally want one.
As a lifelong avid reader, public library patron, and former school librarian, I have always been a huge fan of libraries. They are – even more so than our beloved and important community bookstores – absolutely vital to a community’s survival (not to mention thrival). After my author story time at the CLiF celebration, there was a little Q&A with the children. I asked if they knew the difference between a library and a bookstore. One little girl, age 4 or so, raised her hand. Here’s what she said:
“A library is where you can go and get as many books as you would like and you take them home and then bring them back. You can take them out again, though, but then you have to bring them back. A bookstore is for forever books. It’s where you can take a book home and keep it forever.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself. A bookstore is for forever books! *sniffle* And a library is that magical place where you can take as many books out as you like, over and over again. It occurred to me that nonprofit literacy organizations like CLiF, First Book, and so many others are the perfect intersection of bookstores and libraries: they provide free books children can take home and keep.
CLiF booksAfter the presentations, the children were invited to eat some of the tasty and beautiful snacks the school had set up for them and their families, and – best of all – they got to choose two books each to take home and keep from the many treasures the CLiF grant provided. I wish I could show you pictures of the happy, well-controlled chaos of 65 little children gazing with delight and concentration at the tabletops filled with wonderful books to choose from, trying to pick the very most enticing ones to take home, clutching their riches in their arms as the party dispersed and teachers led the little groups back to cheerful, bright, book-filled classrooms and the prospect of going home with their brand-new forever books.
Events like these make me so grateful to be part of a field that brings kids not just knowledge and entertainment and inspiration, but sheer joy. We are lucky!


The Darker Side of Déjà Vu

Kenny Brechner - April 16, 2015

Derivation affects us as book buyers and readers in powerful and complex ways. Most of the time it involves aspects that are relatively straightforward and overt, or at least well established. Read-alikes of popular books, for examples, are done on purpose and bookstore buyers are entirely at liberty to separate out personal and professional sensibilities and put a number in the order box if they feel well advised or obligated to do so.
Though the range of derivation varies widely, of course, nonetheless read-alikes, retellings of classics, books that share genre plot underpinnings, and so forth, are essentially advertised as such in the design, marketing and promotional departments. Every now and then, though, one encounters something which comes across as more of a blindside, and which elicits a more visceral, emotional response from us.
First of all I’d like to say that this is very subjective stuff, and should be treated with a great deal of perspective and discretion. I admit to being a bit of a princess and the pea here, and will make sure to correct that impulse by talking about what I think is important, but not getting into specifics here.
louiseAll right, so supposing that there are instances of derivation which fall into a special category of being on the other side of acceptable convention, how would one identify them constructively? More importantly if so identified what then?  For me, I associate the identification experience as having a déjà vu element. For example I was reading a picture book f&g some months ago when all of a sudden a strong thought flashed across my mind, a premonition that core elements of Harriet the Spy were about to appear in the book, that a diary filled with honest creative observation was about to be accidentally left behind and discovered by schoolmates, and so forth. This premonition was borne out entirely and in multiple instances.
Harriet the Spy is an all-time favorite book of mine and I feel both strong attachment and even oddly protective of it. Nonetheless, anything that stimulates self-righteousness should be examined closely and critically. And so I ask other buyers, what’s your take on this issue? Is there a responsibility to truth, fair play, and beloved dead authors that justifies outward discussion, or is it simply a matter of private reaction and not ordering any copies?

Coloring Books Are All the Rage

Josie Leavitt - April 14, 2015

There is lots of fun to be had at the bookstore for adults and I am not talking about Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m talking about a coloring book. Yes, a coloring book. The Inky Treasures series of coloring books are designed for children. But their complexity of art and grown up images have made this a bestseller among our adult customers. There’s more to do than just color. Creatures and treasures can be found on the pages, and  there are hidden objects and symbols to be discovered to complete a puzzle at the end.
These books are fun. Silly, old-fashioned fun, and I cannot keep them on shelves. And it’s not just me. Ingram Distributors has almost 13,000 on order for the two books combined.maureen I have to confess I knew nothing of these books, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book or its companion, the newest one in the series, Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book. But more customers sure did. Within a week, I had more than six special orders for them. Today, I finally learned about these books from an extremely happy customer.
Maureen came in yesterday fresh from the first nice day we’ve had and asked for her special order. She orders often enough that inkyshe really couldn’t remember what had come in. I handed the book and she started smiling from ear to ear. “Do you know about this?” I said that I didn’t. “It’s a coloring book for grownups. I can color again!” Her enthusiasm was utterly contagious. Maureen missed coloring with her now teenaged sons. She explained about the joy of colored pencils and just taking some time and filling in a beautiful drawing with the colors of your imagination. She left clutching the book to her chest.
And then, I ordered a coloring book for myself.

If Someone Only Knew: Inviting Hurting Teens to Talk

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 13, 2015

If Someone Only KnewAnyone familiar with the creative and advocacy efforts of YA author e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and her writing colleague Carrie Gordon Watson will know about their Never Counted Out initiative, which strives to empower teens—especially at-risk teens—by encouraging them to share their stories and believe in themselves despite being dismissed, stifled, bullied, or belittled.
The Never Counted Out folks have created a new project in reaction to recent suicides by transgender teens like Ash Haffner and Blake Brockington. Frustrated by the slow pace of tolerance in this country for kids and teens who are different from their peers, Charlton-Trujillo, Watson, and their team dreamed up the idea of a shared public blog for teens called If Someone Only Knew, which invites young people to share writings on that topic in an effort to support one another.
Charlton-Trujillo felt that her childhood and teen years growing up in a small Texas town, where she “felt counted out more often than [she] was counted in,” would have been vastly different if she had been able to connect to people like her in other towns and cities, sharing ideas and offering encouraging words and supporting the fierce belief in freedom and self-expression.
If Someone Only Knew invites teens to share their stories anonymously. It’s an opportunity to tell people what’s really going on in their lives—the good, the bad, and the ugly—which, Charlton-Trujillo and Watson hope, might just help other teens make it through the roughest patches. “We are now asking young people to be heard via writing and art rather than in a suicide note,” Charlton-Trujillo writes.
Submissions to the blog can take the form of photography, video, writing, poetry slam, and music, and the comments section will be moderated to keep internet trolling at bay.
The Never Counted Out website has a great clip from At-Risk Summer, the short documentary film sparked by Charlton-Trujillo’s novel, Fat Angie. The video shows Charlton-Trujillo working with teens. Her workshops are lively and funny, and clearly draw out teens who may not have many respectful, relatable adults in their lives.
Some of the contributions to If Someone Only Knew will eventually be published in a paperback anthology, likely to come out in 2016. “Monies from the publication,” Charlton-Trujillo says, “will be directed to programs sponsored by Never Counted Out.”
Kudos to an inspired and inspiring project!!