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1. Some things are worth waiting for: Snow by Samuel Usher

Illustrator Sam Usher burst onto the scene two years ago with with a riot of colour and pattern in Can You See Sassoon?, which was shortlisted for the Red House Children’s Book Award 2013. When your first book gets flagged up as a potential prize winner, there is some expectation and anticipation when it comes to future publications.

More than two years after Can You See Sassoon? was published, Usher is back, and like all good things, it has been worth the wait.

snowfrontcoverSnow by Sam Usher celebrates that wonderfully exciting feeling in the pit of your stomach when you open your eyes in the morning, draw back the curtains and… your world has been transformed by a deep blanket of snow. The potential for play, the white world waiting to be explored, the possibility to really make your own mark….ahh! Just how quickly can you get out there to delight in at all?

A young boy zooms through getting ready, frustrated by the time it takes his Grandfather to join him. Will it be worth the wait for other kids are already out there leaving footprints everywhere?

A whole lot of snowballs and a little bit of childhood magic later, Grandpa and child agree “some things are definitely worth waiting for“. With Snow, I couldn’t agree more.

snow_-_grandad

Usher’s illustrations are full of life and energy; there’s a comfortable looseness about them, and I cannot help but draw comparisons (in the best possible way) with Quentin Blake. Perhaps it is because the Grandfather in this story physically reminds me of Blake, with his bald pate and avuncular manner. But it’s also in the noses, the wonky fingers, the hand gestures and I love this stylistic echo. Indeed I get a real kick from these potentially vulnerable pen lines that speak to me of a real person, drawing a line that connects creator, story, reader and listener together.

With another contender for my favourite page turn of the year, showing how an almost plain white page can produce both gasps and a burst of warm delight, Snow is a wintry classic that will bring much delight and joy, however long you have to wait for it.

Snow_inside

Alas weather in our part of the world has been unseasonally warm so I don’t hold out much hope of snow any time this year. Ever the optimist, I instead made some snow to play with in the warmth of our kitchen.

Snow dough is a moldable yet friable substance akin to commercially available ‘moon sand’, made out of corn flour (corn starch) and oil. We mixed about one part sunflower oil to four parts corn flour, and just for good measure added in a few drops of peppermint essential oil so that our snow dough smelt like Christmas candy.

snow1

I smoothed out the snow dough to recreate that blissful untouched vista of snow, and brought out a load of playmobil people and plastic animals (matching those in the book where possible). A small pot of glitter, for pinching and casting over the scene to add a little extra sparkle completed the invitation to play.

snow4

Lots of tracks in the snow were made, and because the snow dough is moldable, caches of snowballs and even an igloo were also prepared.

snow2

The snow dough has a wonderful crunch to it when you mold it – satisfyingly just like real snow!

snow3

Cake and hot chocolate completed our afternoon playing in the “snow”.

snow5

Whilst playing in the snow we listened to:

  • Dean Martin sing Let it Snow!
  • Snow Day by Zak Morgan – we really love this one!
  • Snow Day Dance by The Fuzzy Lemons

  • Other activities which could work well alongside reading Snow include:

  • Creating your own snowstorm at home. Inspired by the ‘Snowstorm in China’ magic trick (click here to see in action – I’m assuming shiny trousers are optional), you – and the kids – could tear up large quantities of white tissue paper and then use fans to get the “snow” falling in your home.
  • Using a jam jar to male a snow globe. I particularly like this tutorial on Our Best Bites.
  • Researching how to make the best hot chocolate. Why not make a “science lab” with different types of milk, cocoa vs hot chocolate powder vs melted chocolate, optional extras like marshmallows or flaked chocolate and investigate different ways of making this wintry drink; kids will no doubt enjoy coming up with their own recipes. Here’s a comparison of different recipes to get you started.
  • I know at least one of my readers has already got snow this November (Hello Donna!), but has anyone else had the chance to play in snow yet this year? Or are you heading into Summer?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Snow from the publisher.

    3 Comments on Some things are worth waiting for: Snow by Samuel Usher, last added: 11/20/2014
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    2. Snowman’s Story, by Will Hillenbrand | Book Giveaway

    Enter to win a hardcover copy of Snowman's Story, by Will Hillenbrand Giveaway begins November 12, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 11, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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    3. Caldecott Honor-Winning John Rocco Talks About Blizzard

    John Rocco discusses his newest picture book, Blizzard, the companion to your Caldecott Honor-winning Blackout.

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    4. Dancing in the Snow


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    5. Blizzard

    A Junior Library Guild Selection 2014

    One winter day it started to snow,
    and it did
    not 
    stop.
    At first it was fun, 
    But four days later, the snowplows still hadn’t come, 
    cabin fever was setting in, 
    and rations were running low. 
    Someone had to take action. 
    Will one intrepid boy be able to triumph over a fearsome BLIZZARD? 
    Blizzard_16-17_flat

    “We dug tunnels and secret rooms under the snow.”

     

    Blizzard by John Rocco -a book trailer from John Rocco on Vimeo.

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    6. A new day - a new play. First scene of "Storm Warning"

    Sometimes, when all the stars are in alignment and conditions are right, a play writes itself. This was the case with "Retribution" and it seems it's repeating itself in my latest project, "Storm Warning." I'm toying with the idea of possibly making it a dinner theatre piece but will wait for a final decision, depending on how the story progresses. Comments both pro and con always welcome. More characters are added in later scenes. 

    SCENE: Interior of a train. LEONARD WILSON stares out of the train window, his eyes transfixed on the sky. Sitting next to him is, GRANT SCOTT, another passenger, who is absorbed in reading a book.


    LEONARD WILSON – NERVOUS PASSENGER
    GRANT SCOTT – WEATHER PERSON, KMJO TV
    MARY WILLIAMS – SENIOR WITH AN AGENDA
    LINDA STEVENS – REPORTER, TODAY’S NEWS MEDIA


    LEONARD
    (softly to himself)
    Snow sky. Just what I need

    GRANT
    Sorry?

    LEONARD
    I was talking to myself that it looks like snow

    GRANT
    It's February.  Gotta expect the white stuff

    LEONARD
    They called for sun - not snow. Then again ,
    they have an accuracy rate of maybe 25%

    GRANT
    Actually...statistically,
    they get it right 50% of the time

    LEONARD
    Maybe  but never when you need an accurate forecast

    GRANT
    People think that we have an inside track with  the big guy upstairs. We interpret changing weather systems and fronts. Even then, Mother Nature likes to play tricks on us

    LEONARD
    By "we" does that mean you're one of them?

    GRANT
    If you mean do I predict the weather, I work for KMJO. Does that mean we stop talking to each other, now?

    (GRANT laughs)

    LEONARD
    So I’m sitting next to a media personality?

    GRANT
    Nobody ever called me that but I'll take it

    LEONARD
    Are you on-camera? I mean, would I recognize you?

    GRANT
    If you watch the weather at the end of our news and sports broadcast, my face might strike a familiar chord

    LEONARD
    So...like...how'd you end up doing this? Did you go to weather college or something? Wind is picking up. Not good…not good…

    GRANT
    Relax, pal.  Ain’t nothing you can do about it. I have a degree in meteorology. As a kid, I was fascinated how heat and cold affect people and animals. Went tornado hunting when I got older and almost got swept away by one.  There’s something about the rawness of nature – you know…the unpredictibility… that has always interested me. Anyway, now I'm the official excuse for not going into work on snow days or cancelling picnics when it rains. You'd be surprised how many nasty phone calls we get when we're wrong. People take their weather predictions very seriously.

    LEONARD
    (staring out of the window looking up at the sky)
    Your guess would be snow?

    GRANT
    Most likely. Don't take this the wrong way but you seem very tense about the possibility of a storm on the way. Guess you have an important appointment

    LEONARD
    (distracted)
    Uh-huh...

    GRANT
    Wouldn’t worry too much. We're travelling by train. Never heard of a train getting stuck in a snow storm, at least not in these parts

    LEONARD
    But I am. Snow could cause a delay and I can’t afford that

    GRANT
    You might as well take it easyand enjoy the trip. Worrying doesn’t make things go any faster. A teacher once told me that

    LEONARD
    Look - don't wanna be rude but I don't feel like talking anymore

    GRANT
    No problem-o. Got’cha loud and clear. It’s my media background that makes me gabby. I'll go back to reading my book

    (silence for a few minutes)

    (Cont'd. GRANT)
    Really looks like we're in for some kind of bad weather for sure

    GRANT
    Shoot! Really don't need this!

    LEONARD
    Sorry. I'm blabbering again, aren't I? Not one more word will come out of my mouth

    GRANT
    ...hadn't counted on snow... Changes things...

    LEONARD
    Look. You're working yourself up for nothing. It's gonna snow whether you like it or want it. The worst that can happen is that we'll arrive late. I'm Grant by the way and you are...

    GRANT
    Pissed off. Like I told you, not in a talking mood

    (GRANT pulls at his shirt collar and wipes his forehead with the back of his hand)

    LEONARD
    Really man - you're gonna give yourself a heart attack if you keep on like that. I was only trying to pass the time

    GRANT
    Who cares! I gotta get out’ta here

    (GRANT stands up and pushes his way past LEONARD and storms down the train aisle
    An elderly woman, MARY, seated in the seat on opposite side of the aisle, watches and listens to their conversation)

    MARY
    Hostile, isn't he?

    LEONARD
    (stretching the upper part of his body, watching GRANT disappear)
    You better believe it!

    MARY
    You were only trying to make small talk

    LEONARD
    Obviously picked the wrong person to sit next to

    MARY
    Rude too! Some people have no manners

    LEONARD
    Never mind manners. How about plain, old civility

    MARY
    Did I hear you say you're a weatherman on TV? Am I sitting next to a gen-u-ine celebrity?

    LEONARD
    (laughing)
    Wouldn't go as far as to call myself a celebrity but I do forecasts on TV

    MARY
    I'm a weather forecaster too, y'know!

    LEONARD
    You don't say. Which station?

    MARY
    Not a fancy prognosticator like you, of course, but when my legs ache, it's a sure sign there's gonna be something

    (MARY rubs her knees)

    LEONARD
    And is it gonna snow?

    MARY
    Major snow I would say by all the pain I’m feeling. Mr. Crazy Man there is gonna freak out for sure

    LEONARD
    The guy’s obviously got somewhere to be. Tough luck. Mother Nature has other ideas

    MARY
    You know what they say: y’can’t mess around with mother nature! I’m Mary, by the way. Darn! Dropped a stitch. Now I’m  going to have to unravel this and try to pick it up. Oh well. Lots of time to do it

    LEONARD
    Leonard.... Leonard Wilson. My friends call me Lenny.  The people that watch me call me a lot of other not-so-nice names when we make mistakes on the forecast. That’s a lot of scarf you’re making there

    MARY
    People have such high expectation of each other these days.  No room for errors or leniency. You make one mistake and… Listen to me go on. There. Found it.  Not a scarf. An afghan. It’s a cover for a bed

    LEONARD
    You travelling alone? There I go being nosy again. That’s what I get from working in the media. How about the two of us continuing our conversation over a coffee?

    (Conductor interrupts their conversation)

    CONDUCTOR
    ‘Scuse me...sorry folks but I'm going to have to ask you not to leave your seats

    MARY
    (staring out of the window)
    It’s starting to snow. I really hope we’re not delayed…have to be somewhere by tonight. People are waiting to meet me at the other end. Delay is not acceptable at all…not at all… Why do we have to stay seated, by the way?

    CONDUCTOR (INTERRUPTING)
    They’re calling for a major snow fall but this has nothing to do with the weather

    LEONARD
    Don't tell, me, the state police have come aboard looking for bank robbers....

    MARY
    …or an axe murderer …

    CONDUCTOR
    (nervous)
    Pesky mechanical problems is all.

    LEONARD
    Sorry but I don’t get why we have to stay put. How does our moving around affect repairing the train?

    CONDUCTOR
    We need to stop over in Timmersville for a spell to get a part. Not sure how long it’s gonna take. What with a storm on its way, it would be better if you don’t wander around

    LEONARD
    Say what?  You expect us to sit here for who knows how many hours while a spare train part is found? Ridiculous!  We’re not planning to leave the train or anything

    (starts to get up)

    (Leonard cont’d)
    I need to stretch my legs

    MARY
    Me too…these old legs can’t stay in one position for long

    CONDUCTOR
    (blocking them leaving)
    Can’t let you do that

    LEONARD
    Let us pass, please. You have no right to stop us

    CONDUCTOR
    No can do

    LEONARD
    Why not?

     CONDUCTOR
    Look – they told me to do this and that’s what I’m doing

    LEONARD
    They would be, who?

    MARY
    You better level with us if you want us to stay put

    CONDUCTOR

    For your own safety, don’t ask questions

    0 Comments on A new day - a new play. First scene of "Storm Warning" as of 8/24/2014 6:37:00 PM
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    7. my favourite books

    These are taken from an interview with the amazing Zoe Toft

    page-six[1]

    page-seven[1]


    Filed under: children's illustration, dances, flying, journeys, snow, songs

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    8.

    detail of my painting "the wistful ones"
    ©the enchanted easel 2014

    what's that you say, mr. polar bear? you'd like to take me away with you on an ARCTIC adventure? well, yes sir. i would happily oblige you, mr. polar bear...as we seem to have a true love and appreciation for the same type of climate. :)

    {it's NO secret...i loathe summer, heat and humidity. not one bone in my little august born body likes this weather...especially once the numbers hit triple digits. add in the words "oppressive" and "heat warning" and yeah, nicole is not a happy camper. so.....

    AC is pumped up, Christmas music is on (after all it is Christmas in july) and i'll be dreaming of snowflakes and Christmas lights while painting at the easel. speaking of "Christmas lights"...(sorry, couldn't resist attaching the video below) which leads me to some wishful thinking...perhaps a little Chris Martin under my preverbal Christmas tree. hmmm..;)}


    ***ps and btw, here's a link to the painting above...FOR SALE as a PRINT***

    0 Comments on as of 7/2/2014 10:39:00 PM
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    9. and another...


    0 Comments on and another... as of 5/2/2014 2:55:00 AM
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    10. Spring!

     Last night I squeezed in twenty miles after school. I didn't feel all that great, and I knew that some exercise would help. It did. It's lovely to be able to ride outside in shorts again!
     And here's Freya down at the creek this morning. Happy girl waded through the water.
    Just seven days ago, this was us! How easy we forget!

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    11. Boy, Snow, Bird: Helen Oyeyemi/Reflections

    So many unread books stacked on my floors, on my shelves, on the couch, and still I bought a new one—Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. I blame Porochista Khakpour's review in The New York Times. It was smart; it was seductive.

    And so is this book. The story of a run-away, a rat-catcher's daughter (her name is Boy), who arrives in a place called Flax Hill, marries a widower with a fair daughter named Snow, and discovers, when she gives birth to a girl she calls Bird, that the family she has married into has masqueraded all along: they are light-skinned African Americans. The fair, sweet Snow has (unwittingly) allowed this family to live their lie, to hide, to elegantly pretend. Boy will have none of that–or of Snow—once the darker-skinned Bird arrives. Snow is banished. Bird grows up. Weird things happen with spiders, with storytellers, with (but of course) mirrors.

    Boy, Snow, Bird must be trusted. Its readers must relinquish their hold. Don't try to guess where this is going. Don't look for Dopey. Don't think Oyeyemi is actually going to chant "Mirror, Mirror on the wall." Don't read thinking that this is all about race or all about fairytales, because it's bigger and more wild than that. Boy, Snow, Bird is brand-new country. It's a young writer (Oyeyemi is not yet thirty but already a veteran of publishing) inventing her own kind of fiction. Her sentences and images, often, are beguiling. Here is Bird, imagining herself in a spiderweb hat:
    No, a spiderweb hat is a better warning to beware. Bird would look out from under this hat with the watchful eyes of a girl from long ago, each pupil an unlit lamp, waiting for the magic ring to be rubbed, for the right words to be said. She'd give a lot to know why she and her mom have those eyes—the eyes of people who come from someplace strange they can never go back to. Bird and her mom and that servant-of-the-lamp look they go around giving people. Bird can't think of a single excuse for it.
    More and more, I think, we are seeing writers who are willing to go to the edge, to carry us forward, to take daring risks, to suggest that we set aside our expectations and follow along. We see critics embracing the brave and tangled; we see other readers not so sure. There are new fractures breaking in the land of literature. Personally, I'll always be grateful for the sure-footed flights of fancy that abound in books like Boy, Snow, Bird.



    0 Comments on Boy, Snow, Bird: Helen Oyeyemi/Reflections as of 3/31/2014 11:57:00 AM
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    12. illustration friday~spark

    the wistful ones
    ©the enchanted easel 2014
    ahh, the look of love...

    who could resist a baby polar bear with that *spark* of magic in his eyes? ;)

    PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE:

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    13. A Snowy Day Read-Aloud!

    [There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

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    14. the wistful ones

    my latest painting, entitled "the wistful ones" is now FOR SALE as a REPRODUCTION in my shop.


    the second painting in my *new* style. had planned on having this done a couple of weeks ago, in time for valentine's day, but mother nature and some winter storms had other plans (power outages and no heat mean no painting). but, better late than never. 

    besides, who could turn down a sweet little baby polar bear with such a "wistful" look of love in his eyes...? ;)


    0 Comments on the wistful ones as of 2/27/2014 10:30:00 PM
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    15. Post-Snow Days Catch Up

    Yaupon Holly in Snow

    Hello there! It’s been awhile. What with the snow storm and my determination to focus most of my energies on my (book) writing, I haven’t had much time to be here, and I’ve missed it.

    How about you? How did you survive the weather, those of you who had it? It was the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in the South, and I’ve lived here most of my life. We were without power for a few hours, not too bad, and got in a good bit of sledding. I have to admit I’m glad to be back to a normal schedule, though. Except for the fact that my nine-year-old is being buried with homework and projects in an attempt to make up for lost time. Bless her dear little heart.

    In other news, the local chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, along with the Charlotte Writer’s Club, had a great panel Tuesday night on writers and authors using social media. Very informative, with very knowledgeable guests. If you live in the area, you should check out these two groups.

    Meanwhile, I finished Malcolm Gladwell’s latest (David and Goliath). Very Gladwell, very thought-provoking and entertaining. And now I’m diving into My Berlin Kitchen, given to me by a friend (thanks, Christina!). I looooove it! It’s written by a cooking blogger who grew up bouncing between Berlin and the U.S. I haven’t gotten too far, so I don’t know the story yet, but her style is so warm, so genuine and earthy. You throw that in with cooking and international living, and I’m so there. I’d recommend it to anyone but especially to my German-connection friends. It’s almost like sitting down to kaffe und kuchen with you. Almost.

    Also, because I had to do something when I couldn’t use my sewing machine, I’ve unraveled a sweater to re-use its very worthy yarn. Don’t cry for it, Argentina. It was a very heavy, stiff sweater, out of style, that my husband hardly wore (and never since I’ve known him). I’m thinking of reincarnating it into some throw pillow covers. What do you think? The yarn is actually pretty soft, just soooo heavy for a sweater. It’s almost like soft rug yarn.

    Unraveled sweater

    If you’re insane like me and are interested in unraveling sweaters, there are tons of tutorials out there about it. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a sweater with very chunky yarn. This one worked like a charm, I think because it must’ve been hand-knit, but sometimes unraveling can be more work than it’s worth. The tutorials can point you down the right path.

    Lastly, I made this little piece with one of my photographs:

    Sea bathing

    Recognize the quote, anyone? This is where I go when I need the Calgon to take me away.

    Okay, back to work. Cheers!


    2 Comments on Post-Snow Days Catch Up, last added: 2/20/2014
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    16. Entering the Dark Forest

     

      Raasepori-MoonLohja-summer2013 032

     The forest  has played a major role in children's literature from the earliest time.

    The forest was mysterious, a place of unknowns and often darkness and fear.

    From legends to fairy tales, the forest was a place of wonder and often a place of danger...from Winnie the Poo to Little Red Riding Hood

    Eastern Finland-PunkaharjuThe forests are central to the Planet Of The Dogs and Castle In The Mist.

    For readers, the forests, like the books whose stories embrace them, open the doors to the imagination.

    This blog is dedicated to children's literature that opens the doors to the imagination. And to the amazing role of dogs in enhancing our lives. - 

    .........................................................

     the NewYorker NewYorkerPageTurner_banner_n (1)


    SLEEPING BEAUTIES VS. GONZO GIRLS By Maria Tatar  

    In this fascinating article that moves through children's literature and cultural myths ranging from Gretel and Red Riding Hood to Katniss Everdeen and Lady Gaga, Maria Tatar explores the evolution of the female archetype today. Here are excerpts.

    "We’ve come a long way from what Simone de Beauvoir once found in Anglo-European entertainments: 'In song and story the young man is seen departing adventurously in search of a woman; he slays the dragons and giants; she is locked in a tower, a palace, a garden, a cave, she is chained to a rock, a captive, sound asleep: she waits.' Have we kissed Sleeping
    Beauty goodbye at last, as feminists advised us to do not so long ago...
    Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series have given us HungerGamesJenniferLawrencefemale tricksters, women who are quick-witted, fleet-footed, and resolutely brave...  they are not just cleverly resourceful and determined to survive. They’re also committed to social causes and political change...

    The female trickster has a long and distinguished lineage...Many of our female tricksters—often new inflections of the ones we know from legends and fairy tales—have complemented their DoreRedRidingHoodarsenals of verbal weapons with guns and steel.Little Red Riding Hood has been revisited again and again in recent years. The girl in red, often positioned as a seductive innocent who courts the predator as much as she fears him, is no longer a willing victim. When Buffy, from the popular nineties TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” dresses up as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween...

    These days, the trickiest of them all may be Lady Gaga... Lady Gaga draws us out of our LadyGagaKidscomfort zones, crosses boundaries, gets snared in her own devices. Shamelessly exploitative and exploratory, she reminds us that every culture requires a space for the disruptive energy of antisocial characters. She may have the creativity of a trickster, but she is also Sleeping Beauty and menacing monster, all rolled into one."

    Maria Tatar chairs the program for folklore and mythology at Harvard University. She is the editor of the excellent Enchanted Hunters, the Power of Stories in Childhood.

    The Illustration Of Red Riding Hood in bed with the wolf is by Dore...

    ......................................

     

                       RedRidingHood2011Movie

    In recent times, many versions of the fairy tales of old have been made for film and TV. Producers of these retold versions of Little Red Riding Hood have been inspired by the early versions of the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault with the ominous forest, the dangerous wolf, and the innocent young maiden. These retellings have often been heavily influenced by the quest for commercial success, and the reults have been decidely mixed. Often banal or cliched, they are examples of how commerce as well cultural change affects the retelling of fairy tales.

    Here is a link to the trailer of the  2011 Movie film, Red Riding Hood

    And here is an excerpt and a link to Roger Ebert's laugh out loud review.

    "Of the classics of world literature crying out to be filmed as a sexual fantasy for teenage RedRidingHood2011moviesgirls, surely "Red Riding Hood" is far down on the list. Here's a movie that cross-pollinates the "Twilight" formula with a werewolf and adds a girl who always wears a red hooded cape...

    What this inspiration fails to account for is that while a young woman might toy with the notion of a vampire boyfriend, she might not want to mate with a wolf. Although she might think it was, like, cool to live in the woods in Oregon, she might not want to live in the Black Forest hundreds of years ago because, like, can you text from there?

    "Red Riding Hood" has the added inconvenience of being dreadfully serious about a plot so preposterous, it demands to be filmed by Monty Python..."

    Like Mr Ebert, most critics gave the film a negative review. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the audience rating was 39%.

    ........................

    RedRidingHood1997A sensual intepretation of Little Red Ridin Hood  from 1997 is found in this short film by David Kaplan adopted from Conte De LA Mere Grande...music by Debussy...the wolf moves like a seductive spirit of the forest...soft black and white images and a clever Red Riding Hood... 

    Here is the Link: Red Riding Hood

    .......................

    Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

    Roald Dahl wrote his own version of Little Red Riding Hood in the form of a RoalDahlhumorous,tongue in cheek poem. This is how it begins...

    "As soon as Wolf began to feel
    That he would like a decent meal,
    He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
    When Grandma opened it, she saw
    The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
    And Wolfie said, "May I come in?"
    Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
    "He's going to eat me up!" she cried.
    And she was absolutely right.
    RedRidinghoodDahlHe ate her up in one big bite.
    But Grandmamma was small and tough,
    And Wolfie wailed, "That's not enough!
    I haven't yet begun to feel
    That I have had a decent meal!"
    He ran around the kitchen yelping,
    "I've got to have a second helping!"...

    The image above is from a fun film made of Dahl's Red Riding Hood poem using stop-motion puppets. The imaginative creators, Hannah Legere and Andrew Wilson, certainly caught the spirit of the Dahl poem. Link here to this delightful film version of Roald Dahl's  poem...

    The dog lover in the photograph is Roald Dahl.

    ......................

    Artists and Illustrators...

    LittleRedRidingHoodBookCover Wisnewski 14 different artist's versions of Red Riding Hood are posted on the  Art of Children's Books  blog site..here is an excerpt from their introduction...

    "Folk tales and fairy tales are at the top of the list when it comes to vintage children's books. The Brothers Grimm* folk tale, Little Red Riding Hood, has been a beloved and enduring story. Originally titled Little Red Cap, the story has a strong lesson. Since it's publication, Little Red Riding Hood has been illustrated by many artists over the years. Here is just a sampling of the different artistic interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood."

     Book cover by Andrea Wisnewski...*The original version was published by Charles Perault.

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    RedRidingHoodForestThe Forest and Imagination...
    The influence of the forest on the imagination will 
    always be with us, especially in legend, folk tales and children's stories.
    Innumerable film and TV versions, including 
    many annimated cartoons, of Little Red Riding Hood will continue to be made. And wonderful writers like Roald Dahl in the past, and Philip Pullman in the present, will continue to find the forests of fairy tales a timeless setting for timeless stories. 

     The illustration is by Arthur Rackham...if you look closely, on the path beneath the huge tree, you will see red Riding Hood and the wolf.

    ......................................

    Reading for Pleasure...opening the imagination, opening the mind...

    Ioe_logo
     

    Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, according to a UK study of the reading behavior of appoximately 6000 young people. Here are excerpts from a report that reaffirms the value early reading and bedtime stories.

    "Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE).

    Jordyn castleThe IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of10 and 16 than those who rarely read...

    ...Children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way." 

    The research was conducted by Dr Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown; To read the article, visit Pleasure Reading

    ......................................

    The Doors that Rose opens... 

    “I consider myself a facilitator…if my dog could drive, she would not need me. Rose seems to enjoy seeing people multiple times and developing a relationship with the people… She is SusanPurseTDRose_01a working dog by nature and she just loves these jobs.  I am constantly amazed at the doors that Rose opens…she goes to places I could never get without her…reaches beyond my reach, touches a person deeper than my touch.  The restless or agitated patient who is calmed by Rose’s touch...the child in the classroom who won’t settle down and get to work but when Rose sits by them, they quiet right down and the hyperactivity seems to dissipate.  The child getting excited about reading to Rose every week; they wouldn’t do that for me, but they do it for Rose.  Lying with a dying patient who will smile, close their eyes and stroke her with a peacefulness that is so precious…I know I could not enter that person’s space without Rose…it really is all about occupying part of someone else’s space for just a short time be it in a school, home or hospital...” 

    A former teacher, Susan Purser, and her Australian Cattle Dog, Rose, have been very active as a therapy dog team for several years in Sarasota, Florida. 

    ....................................

    Paws Giving Independence

     Paws Giving Independence is a recpient of a 2013 Planet Dog Foundation Grant. GIPGivingIndependeceBoyandDogPlanet Dog has this year donated $71,500 in new grants to 16 non-profit dog organizations..."The PDF grants will help fund assistance dog, therapy dog and search and rescue programs across the country and support a wide variety of non-profit programs that are helping children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities; injured service members; natural disaster survivors and many more people in need..."

    "Paws Giving Independence is an all-volunteer organization that saves dogs from area shelters, trains them to be service/companion dogs, and places the dogs, free of charge, with those in need. GIPGivingIndependenceGirlDogKaraLogan Their Saving a Life to Change a Life project identifies suitable dogs in shelters and trains them to meet the specific needs of people with disabilities. They train dogs to open doors, pick up dropped objects, turn lights on and off, and other ways to assist in independence. In addition, they train dogs to alert for epileptic and diabetic seizures, and psychological assistance for military veterans with PTSD. PDF funds support veterinary care, special prosthetics and balance equipment and training."

     Paws Giving Independence was founded in 2008 by 3 Bradley University students who recognized the marvelous healing capabilities of dogs.

      ..........................................

    for Dog Lovers and decent people...

    Here's a Goodreads review that strikes home and makes sense for dog lovers and decent people...Passionate dog rescuer, animal rights advocate and author.C.A. Wulff wrote How to Change The World in 30 Seconds...

    "At first i started reading this book as an animal rescuer myself. But as i started to go Arielchange world3edthrough all of the information in the book i realized that this book is a GREAT informative guide for people who have just dipped their toes into the realm of rescue. It is laid out in a way that focuses on an audience that may, or may not have already heard of some of the ideas. This way a novice rescuer can understand it, but the veteran rescuer isnt just wading through either. I saw several options that were detailed out even for someone in rescue many years. So really what im saying is.. it doesnt matter if you are new or old to it, this can give you great ideas, starting points and explanations for why so many rescuers are able to save lives on click at a time."

     Here is a link to the full review by Sylence of How to Change the World in 30 Seconds, in Goodreads... 

     .............................................

     Much has been written of the importance of childhood experiences with books...books that meant a lot to an individual as a child and where the memory of the book remains important in their adult life. Here, thanks to Monica Edinger's Educating Alice blog, are excerpts from a rather fascinating converstion by two of the most prominent, respected, and imaginative writers of children's and YA literature...

    FineBooksCollectionsLogo-top

     

     

     

    Guest Blog: Gaiman & Pullman Talk Children's Books in Literary Oxford

    BY REBECCA REGO BARRY ON AUGUST 26, 2013 8:40 AM Guest Blog by Catherine Batac Walder 

     "Gaiman talked about reading the Mary Poppins books when he was six or seven and how they helped form whatever worldview he had as a kid. 'The idea that the world is incredibly unlikely and strange secret things are always happening, that adults don't really explain to you, or in fact, that adults may be oblivious to'...


    ''His (Gaiman's) wonder was infectious as he recalled discovering the library when he was very GaimenCoverCoralineyoung and having that incredible feeling of power; discovering the card catalogue in which you could actually look up subjects like witches or robots or ghosts; or you could just take down books and read the interesting ones. Both authors talked about discovering American comic books and marveled at the speed in the stories, the size of them, with Gaiman adding, "Everything was alien, everything was equally as strange and unlikely, so skyscrapers, and pizza and fire hydrants were just as alien to my world as people in capes flying around..."

     

     

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       Aliceheader

    Monica Edinger, a fourth grade teacher, and a passionate advocate of the wonders and benefits of children's literature, has a very lively and informative blog:  Educating Alice . Her new book, Africa Is My Home, is receiving excellent reviews.

    Here are excerpts from her blog ;

                                    The Unjournal of Children's Literature 

    EdingerAfricaIsMyHomecoverThe “un” movement is an intriguing one. Until recently I had only heard about it in terms of unconferences, participant-driven events such as this one. But now there is another sort of un-thing, an unjournal. Created by children’s literature graduate students at San Diego State University, the inaugural issue of The Unjournal of Children’s Literature is up and ready for viewing, reading, and responding. Gorgeous to look at, clearly designed in terms of navigation, fascinating in terms of content, this is one elegant web publication.

    And from an article on kids, books and reading: "Reading to me is many things and so I think we teachers need to provide many different experiences with reading and books.  My fourth grade students read all sorts of material on their own, for themselves, for all sorts of reasons..."  

    ....................................................... 

    PALbanner

    What do Therapy Dogs Do All Day?

    Here are videos from Peple Animals Love (PAL), based in Washington DC, that document the wonderful work that their volunteers and their dogs perform. Click this link: PAL

    .....................................

    Fairy Tales as the Last Echoes of Pagan Myths...

    Seth Lerner, in writing about the orgins and history of fairy tales and folklore, points out that Wilhelm Grimm, at the time the Grimm brothers books were being published in 1812 and 1815, wrote that fairy tales were the "'last echoes of pagan myths'. He GrimmRackhamHanselGretel(Grimm) went on:"A world of magic is opened up before us, one which still exists among us in secret forests, in underground caves, and in the deepest sea, and it is still visible to children.(Fairy tales) belong to our national poetic heritage..."

    Lerner sees even more significance in Fairy tales. He goes on to point out that "what we find inside these secret forests, caves, and seas is not just a poetic heritage, but a personal one as well. For fairy tales are full of families, full of parents who bequeth a sense of self to children, full of ancestors and heirs whose lives play out, in little, the life of a nation from childhood to maturity..."

     Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego. The quotes and ideas above are from his informative and insightful book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter

     ................................................


    NYPLlogoNYPL's Children's Literary Salon is pleased to announce our event on Saturday, October 12th at 2:00 p.m.

    The ABC of It: Curator Leonard S. Marcus in Conversation
    Join Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature, Interim Director Jenny Brown as she interviews historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus about his current NYPL exhibit and the importance of children’s literature as a whole.
    This event will be held in the South Court Auditorium in the main branch of New York Public Library.
    For any questions or concerns, please contact Betsy Bird at elizabethbird@bookops.org.

    ........................................................

     

    GalleyCat_header 

    Harry Potter's Textbook...

    "J.K. Rowling will write her first movie script for Warner Bros., writing Fantastic Beasts and Where to
    JKRowlingBookFind Them–a film based on Harry Potter’s textbook from his school for wizards.

    The film is part of a planned series featuring the author of the magical book, Newt Scamander. Rowling published a book by the same name in 2001. She had this comment on her Facebook page:

    "Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world..." Here is the link: JKRowling

     

    .........................

    Dogs in the Forest...

    The forest plays a very important role in the Planet Of The Dogs Series. Here is an excerpt from Castle In The Mist...

    CITM-blog size-382KB"The dogs continued to lead the soldiers deeper into the woods.  Soon, it began to snow, slowly at first, and then, the wind increased and the snow was everywhere.  It became very difficult to see very far.  The leader of the soldiers told his men that they were to follow him.  They were returning to the castle. 

    They started walking through the snow when one of the men, who was an experienced forest guide, said to the leader, “With respect sir, but I don’t think we are going in the right direction.” The leader was about to answer him when howling started.  It seemed to come from all directions.  Then the leader spoke, “You will follow me, I am certain that this is the way.”  They continued on through the swirling snow, unable to see, and surrounded by howling dogs..."

    Here is an excert from a review:"Do you think it is possible for dogs to stop war? Author Robert J. McCarty has created a charming fantasy-allegory that can be read and understood on at least two different levels…a story about dogs who come from another planet to help people on earth.  But under the surface are the important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and how to overcome evil with good…Castle In The Mist will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. 

    Wayne Walker reviewing Castle in the Mist for Stories for Children Magazine, the Home School Book Review and the Home School Buzz wrote:


    .........................................

     

    Canadian Service Dog Foundation logoCANADIAN SERVICE DOG FOUNDATION

               CanadianCSDFdog_walker

    The Canadian Service Dog Foundation trains and provides service dogs for a wide variety of human needs and services. They provide a wide range of vital services,,,ten major humanitarian objectives are listed on their website. Here are the first two:

    • "To improve quality of life for Canadians through the use of service dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals. Provide opportunities, resources, and support through the use of trained service dogs for Canadians living with psychiatric disabilities so as to allow for greater functional independence, sufficient to make healthy choices and lead active lifestyles."
    • To support past or present military personnel, emergency service workers, and related professionals dealing with operational stress injuries through the use of specially trained service dogs.
    • Here is a link to learn more about their wide reaching canine services for people: CSDF Services 
    • ............................................

    Read sample chapters of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series by Pod bookmark back_flat

    clicking here:Books

    Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes  Noble, Amazon, Powell's...

    Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.

    Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- you can write us at barkingplanet@aol.com and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read Dog Books to Dogs....Ask any therapy reading dog: "Do you like it when the kids read dog books to you?"

    And Now -- for the First Time -- E Books of the Planet Of The Dogs Series are coming on KDP Select...

    Planet Of The Dogs will be available October 1...Castle In The Mist will be available on October 15 and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, on November 15...in time for the Holiday Gift Season... 


    Any one of these books would make for a delightful—and one would assume cherished—gift for any child.  All three would be an amazing reading adventure. Darlene Arden, educator, dog expert, and author of Small Dogs Big Hearts wrote:  

     ...........................................................

    Finding Fido

    "We are excited to announce that Barking Planet Productions is publishing a new book by C.A.Wulff.

    "Finding Fido" will be available for purchase at amazon.com on September 30. "Finding Fido" is a handbook every pet owner will want to have in their library.

    Between 3 and 4 million pets are put to death in shelters across the U.S. every year. Some of Fidofrontcover72them are owner surrenders, some are impounds, but the vast majority of them are missing or stolen pets.
     
    C.A. Wulff and A.A.Weddle, the administrators of the service Lost & Found Ohio Pets, have compiled a guide to address this sad reality.  ‘Finding Fido’ offers tips for preventing the loss of a pet; advice for what to do with a stray pet you’ve found; and a step-by-step plan in case the unthinkable happens, and you lose a pet.  
     
    This is an instructive and important tool every family with a dog or cat should have on hand… just in case.
     
    100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book benefits The Beagle Freedom Project!"

     

    ..................................................... 

     WCDogsLogo

    A Dog Health Update: here are excerpts from an article on Giardiasis – Parasitic Diarrhea in Dogs, Cats and Humans...The microscopic parasites known as Giardiasis are the most common intestinal parasites to be found in humans, dogs and cats. A protozoan parasite infection, it is the cause of a very serious diarrheal illness in the intestinal areas, known to be highly contagious but not lethal. However,  it is a parasite that can be transferred across species — from person-to-person or animal-to-person... The most popular locations for this parasite are on surfaces or within soil and food.However, drinking water and recreational water that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals are the most common methods of transmission. This includes untreated or improperly treated water from lakes, streams, or wells...

    Here's the link to read this comprehensive, informative article: Way Cool Dogs

    ............................................                                                              

           New England Conferences-Book Shows in October for           IPNE Small-logo-blue-white       Independent Bookstores and Libraries

     As members of the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE), we will be exhibiting Circling the Waggins and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale at the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA),October 6-8, in Providence, RI and the New England Library Association(NELA), on October 20-27, in Portland, Maine.

    ...............

    Nyt-global-edition-masthead-logo

    Green Eggs and E-Books? Thank You, Sam-I-Am By Julie Bosman

    Here are excerpts from Julie Bosman's article...

    "Dr. Seuss books, those whimsical, mischievous, irresistibly rhymey stories that have been passed down in print to generations of readers, are finally catching up with digital publishing...

    DrSeussCatInHatThe Dr. Seuss canon will be released in e-book format for the first time, beginning later this month, his publisher said on Wednesday, an announcement that could nudge more parents and educators to download picture books for children...picture books have lagged far behind(adult fiction) . Several publishers said e-books represent only 2 to 5 percent of their total picture book sales, a number that has scarcely moved in the last several years.

    But the release of the Dr. Seuss books, still hugely popular after decades in print, could move that number higher. The e-books will be available on color tablets, including the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook HD. The first titles to be released, on Sept. 24, include “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!” and “The Lorax” (featuring an environmentally conscious character who might be happy about the announcement)."

    ...................................

     

               LearEdmundBookofNonsensecover

    ''The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea 
    In a beautiful pea-green boat, 
    They took some honey, and plenty of money, 
    Wrapped up in a five-pound note.''
    Click here for information and videos of COROMANDEL , byTrevor Bachman's... Here is an excerpt from their site...A" vibrant musical odyssey for children and adults, Coromandel is a journey through the mind of poet Edward Lear"...playing in New York City in early October..." a fusion of rock, jazz, bluegrass, tango, musical theatre, and classical sounds makes for a diverse, delicious, and sonically satisfying evening. Told with a whimsical simplicity that appeals to children of all ages..."

    .....................................

    SunbearSqBigLogo

    "We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace." 

    —Albert Schweitzer, "The Philosophy of Civilization" -

    I found this quote on

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    17. Late Haiku-Tuesday

    Night falls like snowflakes, I slide under warm blankets and wait for dawn’s thaw   Autumn sings her song echoing through the evening golden melodies     Filed under: writing for children Tagged: autumn, blankets, evening, haiku, haiku Tuesday, melodies, melody, night, snow, snowflakes, songs, summer, thaw

    3 Comments on Late Haiku-Tuesday, last added: 9/19/2013
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    18. illustration friday~children

    i thought i'd share my sketches from the winter cover i did for SFC magazine last year. nothing like a little ring around the rosy with a group of children...and frosty of course ;)



    seriously winter obsessed....i need to move to the arctic!

    0 Comments on illustration friday~children as of 6/13/2013 11:55:00 AM
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    19. Follow the Leader with Fluff and Billy

    Read It. Move It. Share It. 
    Each month I recommend a picture book for dance educator Maria Hanley to use in her creative movement classes in New York, and then we both share our experiences with the book. Our February book was Fluff and Billy by Nicola Killen. When you're done reading about the book here on my blog, stop by Maria's Movers to see what kind of movement it can inspire!


    When my girls were younger, they really liked to play follow the leader, and I sometimes used this to my advantage. At bedtime, I could usually get them to go upstairs for bed if I did some super silly moves going up our staircase and asked them to follow along.

    Fluff and Billy, published a few months ago by Sterling Children's Books, is a book about friendship and overcoming disagreements. But what made me think it would be a great book for creative movement classes is that the text and illustrations also inspire a good game of follow the leader!

    "I'm climbing up!" said Fluff.
    "I'm climbing up!" said Billy. 

    "I'm sliding down!" said Fluff. 
    "I'm sliding down!" said Billy.

    Fluff''s a little bigger than Billy, and he's the one who seems to be the leader. When he climbs and slides, Bill follows along. When he screams, swims, splashes, runs, and jumps, Billy follows along again. But, when Fluff decides to roll a snowball, Billy doesn't quite follow along. Billy decides to throw the snowball at Fluff, and it hits Fluff hard enough to knock him down.

    Just like when young friends or siblings play together a lot of the time and then have a fight, Fluff and Billy don't talk to each other for a while -- or at least for a few spreads of the book! Eventually, though, they make up and the book ends on a happy note.

    The illustrations of Fluff and Billy are darling, and I love the simplicity of the color palette that was used to create them -- shades of black and gray for their bodies and and orangish red for their beaks and feet. The backgrounds on every page of the book are a mix of white, blue, and yellow. I love books that use unique fonts, and this book does that, too.

    If you want to see a few of the spreads from the book, you can see them here on Nicola Killen's website. And if you're curious to see whether Maria played a game of follow the leader with her young students this month, I hope you'll check out her post here.

    My girls are six and eight now, and I haven't tried follow the leader with them in a while. They are actually getting pretty good at going upstairs on their own and at least getting the bedtime process started. It might be fun to surprise them with another game of follow the leader up the staircase one of these days, though. And I might even have to follow it up with a reading of this delightful book!

    0 Comments on Follow the Leader with Fluff and Billy as of 2/28/2013 9:27:00 AM
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    20. Running On The Tundra


    0 Comments on Running On The Tundra as of 3/1/2013 1:54:00 PM
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    21. Is Spring Springing?

    I love flowers!

    I love flowers!

    The weather is teasing me!  A warm day, a nice breeze, flowers peeking from the cold wet ground, and then WHAM! A freak snow storm!  Such is life in Colorado.  Peepsqueak is not worried.  As you can see in this picture, he is thrilled to find the first Spring flower.

    Do you have any flowers up yet?  We only have a few tulips and iris peeking out of the dirt. Flowers are still a few weeks away.  I am ready!

     


    Filed under: Peepsqueak!

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    22. Spring! Cometh!

     

     

    anipeepGif4

    Winter is on the way OUT!  I say this as a huge storm is coming into Colorado right NOW!!  No, I did not go to the grocery store in freak out mode stocking my cupboards. Instead, I spent a bit of time today digging in my garden resisting the urge to acknowledge the storm at all!  ha!

    Alas, tonight I will hunker down with my pens and paper and continue to work towards deadlines for up and coming trade shows. That is the good thing about storms!  They keep me focused.  I wonder how many artists are like me?

    I have one problem.  I can’t seem to go out to my studio to work.  It’s covered with papers, receipts, file folders etc.  It is my new book-keeping system in progress. Eeeeek!  My friend is helping me set up my Quick Books program.  She entered all my checks, deposits etc, and sent me the disk. I bought the program, installed it, imported my files… … then I went to reconcile the two bank statements that my friend did not add and suddenly I am thirty dollars off!  What on earth?  What could I have done?

    So, I did what I do best,  I locked the studio door and went in the house. ha!  My right brain is not in the mood for numbers!  Happy Spring everyone!

     


    6 Comments on Spring! Cometh!, last added: 4/9/2013
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    23. April 10? What? And St. Peter 8th Grade

    Had a terrific visit last week with the St. Peter 8th grade English classes. The students were wonderful listeners and had great questions. They had all read Chasing AllieCat, so it was much, much fun to get to talk with them! Thanks, Ms. Hughes!

    Time is flying past!
    It's April 10 already! And look at the ground! Freya's happy--she was crazy this morning, playing "Grab Mom's warm stuff and run." (Question of the day: How many exclamation marks can one writer use in one short blog post?)

     Time is flying! I'm not keeping up with my days...I put out fires at school, work on the details we need to iron out for our trip to South Africa, try to keep up grading and reading ahead of the students, and try to squeeze in a little writing and a little cycling.

    South Africa approaches, and it's getting more and more exciting as it does. Will keep you posted...might have more news by the end of the week! (There--I had to end with another exclamation point, of course).

    0 Comments on April 10? What? And St. Peter 8th Grade as of 4/10/2013 11:08:00 AM
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    24. write your heart in the sky

    writeyourheart1

    writeyourheart2

    writeyourheart3

    writeyourheart4

    writeyourheart5


    Filed under: journeys, love, snow, stars

    4 Comments on write your heart in the sky, last added: 4/30/2013
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    25. a bit of "wynter" in june...

    well, a December mermaid named "Wynter" that is :)

    she is the latest mermaid i am working on (and just about done actually). December is my favorite month of the year. always has been. must be my *thing* for winter, snow, cold weather, Christmas...i would be happy if it was December every day!

    complete with a white poinsettia and some snowflakes in her blue topaz colored hair, Wynter will be FOR SALE shortly :)

    check out some of the other mermaids in my shop....as well as the photos below of beautiful little Wynter in progress.

    © the enchanted easel 2013

    © the enchanted easel 2013

    0 Comments on a bit of "wynter" in june... as of 6/11/2013 3:25:00 PM
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