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1. Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat

underwood here comes the easter cat Review of Here Comes the Easter CatHere Comes the Easter Cat
by Deborah Underwood; 
illus. by Claudia Rueda
Preschool    Dial    80 pp.
1/14    978-0-8037-3939-0    $16.99    g

Cat discovers an advertisement for the Easter Bunny’s arrival on the front endpapers of this witty offering, and from the very first page he is unhappy about it. The text addresses Cat directly throughout the book, and he responds using placards, humorous expressions, and body language to convey his emotions to great effect. When asked what’s wrong, Cat explains that he doesn’t understand why everyone loves the Easter Bunny. To assuage Cat’s jealousy, the text suggests that he become the Easter Cat and “bring the children something nice too.” Intrigued, Cat plans his gift idea (chocolate bunnies with no heads), transportation method (a motorcycle faster than that hopping bunny), and a sparkly outfit (complete with top hat). But multiple naps are an important part of Cat’s daily routine. When he discovers that the Easter Bunny doesn’t take any naps while delivering all his eggs, a forlorn Cat devises an unselfish way he can instead assist the hard-working rabbit. Rueda expertly uses white space, movement, and page turns to focus attention on Cat and the repartee. The combination of Underwood’s knowledgeable authorial voice and Rueda’s loosely sketched, textured ink and colored-pencil illustrations make this an entertaining, well-paced tale for interactive story hours. And if he isn’t going to usurp the Easter Bunny, then clever Cat will just have to take over another ho-ho-holiday.

share save 171 16 Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat

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2. Poetry Friday: “A Poem!” from Etched In Clay

andrea chengAndrea Cheng is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her most Guest bloggerrecent novel, Etched in Clay, tells the story in verse of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man, poet, and master craftsperson whose jars (many of which are inscribed with his poetry and writings) are among the most sought-after pieces of Edgefield pottery. Etched in Clay recently won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

April is National Poetry Month, so we asked author Andrea Cheng to share one of her favorite poems from Etched in Clay:


Etched in Clay, p. 65

A Poem!

Dave, July 12, 1834

The summer’s so hot,

it’s like we’re living

in the furnace.

The clay doesn’t like it either,

getting hard on me

too quick.

I better hurry now,

before the sun’s too low to see.

What words will I scrawl

across the shoulder

of this jar?

I hear Lydia’s voice in my head.

Be careful, Dave.

Those words in clay

can get you killed.

But I will die of silence

if I keep my words inside me

any longer.

Doctor Landrum used to say

it’s best to write a poem a day,

for it calms the body

and the soul

to shape those words.

 etched in clay jar

This jar is a beauty,

big and wide,

fourteen gallons

I know it will hold.

I have the words now,

and my stick is sharp.

I write:

put every bit all between

surely this jar will hold 14.

Andrea Cheng: There are three poems in Etched in Clay which speak directly about the act of writing.  In the first one, “Tell the World,”  (EIC p. 38) Dave writes in clay for the first time.  Using a sharp stick, he carves the date, April 18, into a brick; he is announcing to the world that on this day, “a man started practicing/his letters.”  In the poem called “Words and Verses,” (EIC p. 52) Dave thinks about writing down one of the poems that has been swirling around in his head as he works on the potter’s wheel.  Finally, in “A Poem!” (EIC  p. 67) Dave actually carves a couplet into one of his jars.  His words are practical and ordinary; he simply comments on the size of the jar.  But he is no longer silent.

Further Reading:

Andrea Cheng on Writing Biography in Verse

An interview with Andrea Cheng about Etched in Clay in School Library Journal

A look at how Andrea Cheng made the woodcut illustrations for Etched in Clay

Filed under: guest blogger, Holidays, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: Andrea Cheng, dave the potter, david drake, Etched in Clay, National Poetry Month, poems, poetry, poetry Friday, pottery, slavery

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3. Find a Rainbow Day is April 3rd

Who knew there was a day dedicated to finding rainbows? Not me. But apparently, Find a Rainbow Day is a thing.

Well, I didn't find a rainbow today (yet), but I did find a pretty awesome one last year. The picture is a great reminder for me, but seeing it in person...well, it was just spectacular. It showed up all of a sudden, big and bright and beautiful, when the sun burst through all at once after a totally epic summer afternoon rainstorm:

Have a radiant Find a Rainbow Day, and happy colorful hunting!


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4. Resources For Teaching About Wangari Maathai and Seeds Of Change

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Seeds of Change cover

Seeds Of Change

In honor of Wangari Maathai’s birthday on Tuesday, April 1 and upcoming Earth Day later this month, we at Lee & Low Books want to share all the fantastic resources and ideas that are available to educators who are teaching about Wangari Maathai’s legacy and using Seeds Of Change: Planting a Path to Peace.

Wangari Maathai

Seeds Of Change

Elementary School:

Seeds of ChangeMiddle School and High School:

  • Seeds Of Change won the American Library Association’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration in 2011. The Committee Chair and Book Jury have prepared activities and discussion questions for Seeds Of Change in the 2011 Discussion Guide for Coretta Scott King Book Awards, P. 20-21.
  • Have students read and discuss author Jen Cullerton Johnson and illustrator Sonia Lynn Sadler’s joint interview with Lee & Low, which covers the environment, their travels, and Wangari Maathai’s achievements.
  • After introducing Wangari Maathai with Seeds Of Change, delve deeper with the Speak Truth To Power human rights education curriculum, a project of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. They present an in-depth exploration on Wangari Maathai, the Green Belt Movement, and sustainability issues.
  • In teaching standard 7 of the ELA Common Core, have students evaluate how Wangari Maathai is presented in a documentary compared to the Seeds Of Change biography. PBS’s documentary on Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, contains a classroom section full of video modules, handouts, and lesson plans.

What did we miss? Let us know how you are using Seeds Of Change in your classroom!



Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: African/African American Interest, biographies, CCSS, children's books, common core standards, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, environmentalism, History, holidays, lesson plans, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, ReadyGEN, Wangari Maathai

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5. Win a Signed Copy of Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

Today, I’d like to share with you the chance to win a signed copy of the Amazon Best-seller ‘Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs’ Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

With Easter around the corner, this book will be a welcome addition to your loved ones library.

This is the third book in the Billy and Monster series and it has gotten about 48 glowing reviews on the Amazon website.

I recently read this book to Years 1 and 2 at Raglan Primary School and the children loved it. I’m sure your loved ones will too.

Before I reveal how you can enter to win a signed copy, let’s find out what happens with Billy and Monster in this Easter edition.

Billy and Monster love all the holidays as they get to spend quality time together. However, their best holiday is Easter as they get to eat their favorite food…CHOCOLATE!

This year, they’re spending Easter with Grandma Chocalicious who loves Chocolate even more than Billy. She’s an expert at making chocolate cake, chocolate waffles and even chocolate pasta.

This year Grandma Chocalicious has made a pyramid of Easter eggs for her party on Easter Sunday. Billy and Monster want one of the Easter eggs but Grandma says they have to wait till Easter Sunday.

What happens when Billy and Monster tip toe downstairs and the pyramid of Easter eggs comes falling down?

For a chance to find out what happens simply click the link below and you could very well have your signed copy just in time for Easter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs

by David Chuka

Giveaway ends April 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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6. Call for Halloween-themed Submissions: Conclave: A Journal of Character

Conclave: A Journal of Character is open for submissions for Issue 8, Autumn, 2014. We are particularly seeking HALLOWEEN photography, short stories, poetry, and short works of all creative forms. Death, candy, costumes, leaves, pumpkins, ghosts--whatever Halloween means to you.

Conclave is a bi-annual print journal that focuses on character-driven writing. See our website to see what we believe comprises great character.

We also select six of our best works each year to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

You may read all submissions guidelines here.

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7. Eleanor Davis illustrates Google Doodle for the first day of Spring


Here for the moment, on the Google homepage you’ll find a lovely animation by Eleanor Davis celebrating the first day of Spring. Of course it’s barely scraping 40°F as I type this. Hurry, Spring, hurry!

I know it’s popular to say this winter wasn’t all that but Nate Silver’s new 538 site says it was so there. Having spent two winters in Maine, I know that people all over the world have winters like this all the time, but in the Northeast US and New York in particular it was still pretty hairy. I spent the last few months scrambling between piles of revoltingly filthy snow and glare sheets of ice as I fought my way to Pret a Manger for my daily egg salad sandwich. It was like Act V in Diablo II complete with Halls of Anguish.

Usually by this time of year the daffodils and forsythia are showing their buds, but nothing has sprouted yet. So for now I’ll just watch that animation over and over and over. Hurry, Spring.

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8. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Erin go bragh! Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with nonfiction about Ireland and its history, fiction starring Irish and Irish American protagonists, and a little bit of pure blarney, all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine.


Picture books

bunting ballywhinney girl Happy St. Patricks Day!In Eve Bunting’s Ballywhinney Girl (Clarion, 2012) Maeve’s grandpa unearths a mummy — common in Ireland, where (a note says) scores of remains have been found. Maeve’s uneasiness at the find turns to empathy for the long-ago girl who, like her, had blond hair. Emily Arnold McCully’s masterful pen-and-ink lines capture Maeve’s feelings; watercolors evoke the lush countryside. This is a sensitive opening to the universal theme of curiosity about death.

depaola jamie orourke and the pooka Happy St. Patricks Day!In Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka (Putnam, 2000), Tomie dePaola’s good-humored tale about the folly of counting on someone else to do your work, Jamie O’Rourke, “the laziest man in all of Ireland,” and his cronies have a grand time while his wife is away, but the house ends up a mess. When a pooka, or animal spirit, arrives and cleans the place from top to bottom, Jamie thinks his problems are over. DePaola’s cozy, colorful illustrations are a good match for the lighthearted, rhythmic text.

wojciechowski fine st. patricks day Happy St. Patricks Day!In the St. Patrick’s Day contest with rival burg Tralah, young Fiona Riley’s idea to paint the town green gives the town of Tralee hope for a win. When Tralee stops painting to help a red-bearded little man in green, it looks like they’ve sacrificed their chance to win. Susan Wojciechowski’s A Fine St. Patrick’s Day (Random, 2004) is a folk-like tale of kindness rewarded featuring a winning heroine and lots of atmosphere in Tom Curry’s rich illustrations.


Intermediate fiction

dowd kathleen Happy St. Patricks Day!A light hand, sharp wit, serious social issues, and a hint of subversion are ingredients in Siobhan Parkinson’s lively Kathleen: The Celtic Knot (Girls of Many Lands series; AmericanGirl, 2003). Times are hard for Kathleen and her family, who live in a crowded tenement in 1930s Dublin. Her opportunity for advancement comes when an unexpectedly kind nun recommends Irish-dance lessons. Well-contextualized Irish words and phrases are further defined in the appended glossary; historical notes and photos are included.

giff nory ryans song Happy St. Patricks Day!Patricia Reilly Giff’s Nory Ryan’s Song (Delacorte, 2000) recounts the tragic days of Ireland’s mid-nineteenth-century potato famine. Twelve-year-old Nory’s struggle to find food for her family brings her to the outcast village wise woman, where she overcomes her superstitions to learn the art of healing. Reflective rather than suspenseful, this first-person narrative allows the reader to become an eyewitness to history. This is a story of raw courage that ends hopefully if not happily. Look for sequels Maggie’s Door (2003) and Water Street (2006).


Older fiction

dowd bog child Happy St. Patricks Day!In 1981, eighteen-year-old Fergus finds a body of a girl from the Iron Age in the bog between Northern Ireland and the Republic. He dreams about her while struggling to focus on exams as his brother, a political prisoner, begins a hunger strike. Parallel themes of sacrifice and resurrection dominate the imagery of Siobhan Dowd’s novel Bog Child (Random/Fickling, 2008), and the suspense sustains momentum. An author’s note gives background.

heneghan grave Happy St. Patricks Day!After construction workers discover a mass grave in his schoolyard, thirteen-year-old foster child Tom falls — or is pulled — into the excavated grave. He emerges from the darkness to find he has traveled through time from 1974 Liverpool to 1847 Ireland. Tom’s colorful first-person narrative in The Grave by James Heneghan (Farrar/Foster, 2000) describes the era of the great potato famine with honesty; his time travel experiences also provide some clues to his family background.


Nonfiction, Poetry, and Folklore

bartoletti black potatoes Happy St. Patricks Day!In explaining how repeated years of blighted crops decimated Ireland’s huge subsistence class, Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine (Houghton, 2001) draws on an impressive array of sources to give faces and names to those who suffered and to those in positions of influence in Ireland and England. Added materials include a map, time line, and discussion of sources. Numerous archival prints add haunting evidence.

brown across a dark and wild sea Happy St. Patricks Day!A picture book biography based on the Irish legend of Columcille, Don Brown’s Across a Dark and Wild Sea (Roaring Brook, 2002) emphasizes the love of books and learning that helped preserve Western civilization during the Dark Ages. The text is lilting; the sentences vary in length and intensity to make it suitable for reading aloud. The design (with calligraphy by Deborah Nadel) is dramatic, and Brown’s illustrations are almost dreamlike in quality. An informative author’s note is appended.

depaola patrick the patron saint Happy St. Patricks Day!In Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland (Holiday, 1994), Tomie dePaola separates his narrative into two sections: the first, a biographical account of Patrick’s life; the second, a compilation of legends. The uncluttered illustrations are reminiscent of murals in their emphasis on essential elements of the narrative. The whole is a well-executed treatment of an appealing subject.

doyle one two three oleary Happy St. Patricks Day!Malachy Doyle gathers together seventeen Irish playground rhymes for calling someone out in One, Two, Three O’Leary (McElderry, 2004), a tale about the O’Learys and their ten children. Illustrator Will Hillenbrand depicts the family as bouncy and jolly, with bright colors against white backgrounds. The premise of the book is quite ambitious (a story told completely in nonsense rhymes), but the pictures tie the rhymes together to tell a lively bedtime story.

doyle tales from old ireland Happy St. Patricks Day!In another collection, Tales from Old Ireland (Barefoot, 2000), Doyle retells seven of his favorite tales, beginning with “The Children of Lir,” one of the best loved of Irish tales. “Lusmore and the Fairies” warns of the need to respect supernatural powers; “Fair, Brown, and Trembling” is a Cinderella variant; other tales are deeply rooted in Celtic mythology. Niamh Sharkey’s illustrations are richly colored like illuminated manuscripts. Thorough source notes are included.

snell thicker than water Happy St. Patricks Day!While sharing a common Irish heritage, the voices and styles of the well-known and award-winning writers gathered in collection Thicker than Water: Coming-of-Age Stories by Irish and Irish American Writers (edited by Gordon Snell; Delacorte, 2001) are as refreshingly diverse as those of any top-notch short story collection. A strong sense of place, from a tiny island off Ireland’s west coast to a roadhouse in West Texas, is the common thread of these growing-up stories; that, and the strength of the writing.

souhami mrs mccool and the giant cuhullin Happy St. Patricks Day!Irish folk-hero Finn McCool hides behind his clever wife in Jessica Souhami’s Mrs. McCool and the Giant Cuhullin: An Irish Tale (Holt, 2002), a teasing tale of two cowardly giants. When Finn sucks his magic thumb, he can see fierce Cuhullin, who has his own magic finger, coming after him. Finn runs home to his wife, who hatches a plan to fool Cuhullin and deprive him of his magic finger. Both the light, playful text and vividly colored art are well matched to the comic tale. A well-made source note is appended.

share save 171 16 Happy St. Patricks Day!

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9. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Kitty Kelly

Above art by Jill Bauman, a World Fantasy Award nominated artist who specializes in horror and fantasy. Bauman has a whole set of cat holiday paintings in the link. Confession: back in the day I had a bunch of these prints hanging up in my office at Vertigo. Bauman is an accomplished artist but I find these cats a bit more disturbing than endearing! I’m not sure if that was the intent or not, but one thing is certain: YOU CAN’T LOOK AWAY.

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10. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 3/17/14: Top o’ the Kibble to ye!

Let’s start out this late St. Patricks Day roundup with Shaenon Garrity on two webcomics that adapt Irish Mythology:

I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it many times again, but one of the joys of webcomics is their ability to cover every possible subject and fill every conceivable niche. Say, for example, you’re into early Irish literature and you want to read it in comics form. Webcomics are happy to help you out. At this very moment, in fact, there are at least two ongoing webcomics based on the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, the central epic of the Ulster cycle: Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley and M.K. Reed’s About a Bull. Thank you, webcomics! You’ve justified the existence of the Internet yet again!


You won’t read a better piece of comics criticism this month than this and then be sure to check out Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley (above) and M.K. Reed’s About a Bull (below, with art by Farel Dalrymple) and enjoy some REAL Irish culture this day.


§ We’re very lucky that Qiana Whitted is writing more about comics; here’s an examination of meta-fiction in the work of M.F. Grimm and Howard Cruse.


§ And Samantha Meier continues her look at some long neglected history of women in the underground comics movement with a piece on the sexual anthology Tits & Clits

From its inception, Tits & Clits was a fundamentally different anthology than Wimmen’s Comix. Not only was it more single-minded thematically, it completely lacked the collective structure and underlying democratic ideology of Wimmen’s Comix. Whereas Wimmen’s Comix at its inception was a collaborative effort aiming to unite all of the women currently in the underground comix world (and to bring in even more women), Tits & Clits began as a partnership between Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevli, who created all of the material for Tits & Clits #1 and #2, Pandora’s Box, and Abortion Eve by themselves. (Farmer and Chevli produced seven issues of Tits & Clits between 1972 and 1987.)

§ The Tiny Report rejoices over John Pham as should we all:

Why isn’t John Pham super famous? I think he’s respected by most of us who are familiar with his work, but not enough indie comics fans are. This probably has something to do with the fact that a large portion of his work has been self-published or appeared in anthologies, so it tends to reach a limited market for a limited time. Maybe he’s a famous graphic designer, but I wouldn’t know it. That’s not my scene.

§ Dan Slott is truly a good sport.

§ An interview with Indie Age great Mike Baron reminds us some of that era wasn’t that great:

Q: I’ll be asking about your prose career, but first I wanted to ask you about comics. When I was thinking of people I wanted to interview, you were in my top five because of what you’re doing and what you’ve been doing for over 30 years: creator-owned comics. Before Image Comics and “creator-owned comics” were cool, you were doing them steadily and heavily with Nexus and later Badger. What was it like being a trailblazer?

A: Well, it was extremely exciting, but I do have to point out that when we originally signed the deals for Nexus and Badger we signed away the rights to those characters. It’s only thanks to Dark Horse Comics’ Mike Richardson that Steve Rude and I got the rights back to Nexus, but First still holds an interest in Badger. But since the creation of those two I’ve done numerous creator-owned series like The World of Ginger Fox, Spyke and Feud.

Flat Squirrel Productions


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11. Where Do Boys Belong In Women’s History Month?

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Irena's Jars Of Secrets

Irena’s Jars Of Secrets

I entered the education field to broaden the minds of a new generation and teach the truths that I felt I had missed or was denied in my own education. Indeed, I was not alone in those motivations. According to the Primary Sources project by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of the more than 20,000 public school classroom teachers polled, 85% of teachers say they chose the profession in order to make a difference in children’s lives.

Despite my righteous ambitions, once in the classroom, I was hesitant to broach the conversation about gender with a mixed class of boys and girls. So many of my own college classes that focused on social justice and equality issues were almost entirely women.

Acutely aware of my students’ fragile perception of themselves, I was intimated by the prospect of guiding the discussion. When I was leading a classroom of my own, it was often easier to concentrate on the benign world of synonyms, dictionary skills, main idea, and genre features than push my students to think about what role gender plays in achievement, history, and identity.

I wondered: How do we teach about women’s history and contributions without alienating boys? Will boys disengage if a girl or woman is on the cover or is the main character? In this day and age, do girls still need explicit attention drawn to high-achievers that share their gender?

Leading up to my first month of March as a teacher, I thought I would “just” read more books with women as the central figures during Women’s History Month, but not explicitly point out that these were all women so as not to freak out boys and hope the girls would pick up on my subliminal messages of empowerment….

Face palm

Insert face palm here.

This thinking was a huge disservice to ALL of my students’ educations. As I introduced books with prominent women historic figures or girl characters, I realized if the books were about gender, we would discuss identity and tolerance. Other times if the story just happened to have a girl character, but gender wasn’t a central feature of the story, my scholars just wanted to focus on the great story and how the universal lessons applied to their lives.

Four lessons to think about when teaching women’s history so both boys AND girls grow and learn:

  1. Two words: cool stories. Above all, if it’s a great story, it doesn’t matter who is on the cover. Everyone will want to sit up and participate.
  2. Pick contemporary and diverse stories. To continue to show the relevancy of the women’s movements and contributions of women to society, we owe it to all of our students to find more contemporary examples of women figures and showcase more diverse participants in equality. Let’s keep exposing our kids to women of today and of different backgrounds.
  3. Show explicit examples of men championing women. Boys need to see great role models of men advocating for women alongside or behind the scenes. There are plenty of men who have been in the trenches with women fighting for social If we want to instill resiliency and develop children’s imaginations, we need to present children with stories about long odds, big dreams, and fantastic leadership that come in all shapes, sizes, and bodies.justice and as invested in their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers achieving great success in a field of study as the women themselves. If we want future generations of men to respect and support women, we need to offer boys examples of how to recognize and champion women’s contributions. Boys and girls need to see that the struggles for equality impacted everyone and were not about one group’s success at the other’s detriment.
  4. Talk about the universal lesson and character traits. Everyone can learn from a story about overcoming obstacles, persistence, and courage. Women like Wangari Maathai and Pura Belpré fought for what they loved and believed was right first, and then fought for who they were and who they represented. If we want to instill resiliency and develop children’s imaginations, we need to present children with stories about long odds, big dreams, and fantastic leadership that come in all shapes, sizes, and bodies.

Throughout the year and especially during Women’s History Month, we need to teach that gender shouldn’t be an excuse to bar someone from exploring or contributing to a field of study. Concurrently, we want to show all students that gender can offer a unique perspective or approach that should be recognized and celebrated.

Alongside our girls, boys need the language of equality and a broader view of history. Women’s contributions advanced our society and continue to impact all of us. We need to teach that gender totally does matter and, at the same time, totally doesn’t matter.

Shining Star: The Story Of Anna May Wong

Shining Star: The Story Of Anna May Wong

Susan B. Anthony Is Great, But Who Else Do We Have? Here are books about high-achieving women from diverse backgrounds with diverse pursuits.

Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up The Stage

Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up The Stage

Women and The Men That Championed Them. Explore these books with awesome men celebrating awesome women:

Killer Of Enemies

Killer Of Enemies

Stories That Will Hook ’Em All. Here are stories so fun that it won’t matter who is on the cover…but the cover just happens to feature a girl:

Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: children's books, diversity, Educators, Girls/women, History, holidays, Reading Aloud, reluctant readers, Wangari Maathai, women in history, women's history month

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12. Tell a Fairy Tale Day is February 26th

Fairy tales are a beloved and meaningful part of the lives of many people, across many languages and cultures, and so surely it comes as no surprise that there's a Little Known Holiday dedicated entirely to those time-honored tales:

Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Celebrated annually on February 26th, it's a day to have some fun and tell some fairy tales in whatever way suits your fancy. And just in case you're stuck for ideas, we've collected a few suggestions to get you started:

Make Up Your Own Fairy Tale to Write or Tell or Act Out

You can have a ton of fun creating your very own original fairy tale. Need help getting started? No problem. Here are a few basic guidelines on what makes a fairy tale...a fairy tale:
  • The story begins at a non-specific point (such as: "Once upon a time..." or "A long, long time ago, in a kingdom far away..."). 
  • Things tend to happen in threes.
  • There is usually some type of royalty involved.
  • Some sort of good vs evil theme is always a good bet.
  • Some sort of magic is typically included (say, a talking animal, perhaps, or a magic sword).
  • Often, there is some type of quest to be embarked upon, or a difficult task to be completed, before the hero/heroine can accomplish their goal.
  • A lesson is usually found at the end.
  • Most endings are of the "Happily Ever After" sort...but not always. There could instead be a "cautionary tale" aspect to the ending.

Find Some Ready-Made Fairy Tales to Share
  • Visit your local library and check out some of your fave fairy tales to share with your loved ones, no matter their ages. Or look for fairy tales that are new-to-you. Children, or adults, or preteens...even teens* love a good fairy tale. (*Yes, you do. You know you do - especially if that fairy tale is of the Fractured Fairy Tale type, or maybe even a picture book with some really awesome illustrations.) 
  • Wander the aisles of your local bookstore, browsing their fairy tale collections, until you find a couple of fairy tale books that you just have to have. Stories so powerful that they've stayed in people's hearts and minds over so many, many years must certainly be worth adding to your own collection of books, right?

Go Online
  • Visit this Pinterest Tell a Fairy Tale page for a fun, informal game of "Guess the Fairy Tale."
  • The World of Tales web page has a large collection of fairy tales you can read online for free. The tales are from a variety of cultures, and also include folktales and fables.

Watch Some Videos

* * *

However you choose to celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day, we hope the fairy tales you enjoy today live on in your heart...happily ever after.

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13. A Special Running Valentine

Whether single or alone, you can always find love.
runner finds love
Okay, Happy Valentine’s Day…whether you find this a jank holiday or not probably has more to do with your relationship status than anything else. But we can all agree that the love between a runner and their legs is something sacred. To be cherished and adored, to be respected and never taken for granted.

Love what your runner body can DO for you, that it’s far more powerful than merely something hot and pretty to look at.
runner feet hearts
Be grateful for the incredible way a body can adapt and repair itself…build it stronger.

Celebrate the rush of endorphins.

If love is making your heart race…look no further.

Be you loving your legs in pairs or rocking solo, grab a chocolate heart and bite it’s flipping head off…you ran, you deserve it!! ;)

[Hearts may not have a head, but you get the picture.]

1) Finish this sentence: I love my legs and today I will show them that love by…
Forcing them to run. They know they like it…bwahahaha.
2) How are you treating your legs right so they rebuild and repair?
Stretching, Baby!
3) Favorite chocolate treat?
Any and all. S’mores Pop-Tarts are always a choice I fully endorse!

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14. Full Holiday Onslaught: Cartoon Style

Just in case you haven’t reached your maximum capacity for the Holiday Spirit…you know us runners always have to err on the side of excessive. “Not quite totally maxed out yet? Welp, we know what to do!” So I’ve got a couple more holiday cartoons for you. Or COURSE, I’m wishing you, your running shoes, and all your family and friends my best!!
politically correct holiday card

gingerbread man running
…unless you’re on the receiving end of some grievances. In which case, hang in there. ;)

More Comics and Cartoons HERE!!

1) What Holidays are you celebrating?
2) What foods are you currently OD’ing on?
3) If your family had a race for the last gingerbread man…who would win? Be honest.
Probably my bro. He’s got all the fast-twitch.

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15. The Quickest Way to a Runner’s Heart…

It’s that special time of year where every runner everyone is a little kinder, a bit more generous, and hopped up on hot cocoa and sugar cookies!! Amidst all the list making, if you REALLY want to win over the hearts of your family, friends, or that certain someone…you better have stashed away in that gift pile some brand spanking new running shoes!! ;)
rudolf running
Other acceptable presents that are sure-fire ways to rock the recipients’ holidays are:
* A Garmin
* An AWESOME running shirt
* BodyGlide
* A PR

…actually that last one you have to go out and win for yourself! ;)

Happy Holidays my runner friends!!

1) What’s something that you’re excited to be giving to someone this year?
2) It IS the spirit of giving but let’s be honest, is there one item in particular you’re really hoping to get?
3) Best holiday gift you’ve ever gotten? Best one you’ve ever given?
Gotten, wow, there’s a few. I think I’d like to share that I was SOOOOOO pumped when a talking PeeWee Herman doll was was unwrapped. “I know you are, but what am I?”

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16. Happy Holidays!

This is my favorite time of year.

I love the lights and good tidings, not to mention all the crazy shows on TLC and HGTV about Christmas-themed weddings and competing with their neighbors to decorate your house (which I like to watch while gorging on peppermint bark).


 (A festively decorated Key West house, with a holiday dolphin theme, of course!)

I also love all the stories about strangers paying off the lay-aways of single moms at K-mart and I TOTALLY love all the crazy “gift guides” celebrities put on their blogs because we’re so going to give someone an ugly $45,000 watch as suggested by Rachel Zoe.

But this time of year I also start having stress dreams that I’m still working at the first real job I ever had (as a gift wrapper in a bookstore), and I’ve accidentally wrapped someone’s perfect gift wrong, ruining their ENTIRE holiday.

The truth is I think I’m better at choosing (and wrapping) gifts for my fictional characters (check out the What Would Meg Cabot’s Characters Want Holiday Pinterest page) than real life friends and family (and store customers).



(Something John Hayden from the Abandon series might receive.)

If you’re like me and waited until now to start your holiday shopping, there’s still time! Here is MY celebrity gift guide, the nicest thing about which is that most of the gifts are free or next to free:

Give someone this FREE online booklet of some cartoons. I did (yes. I draw too)!

The best part about this gift? IT IS FREE (it’s also good. Well, in my opinion).


If you know someone who is Brazilian and speaks/reads Brazilian Portuguese, Size 12 and Ready to Rock was just released there on December 9 (read a free sample here).  So you could give them a copy.  Also FREE (well, the sample is. The book itself costs money).




Of course, the sequel,  The Bride Wore Size 12, is already out in the US and Canada as a trade paperback and e-book, which makes it the perfect stocking stuffer, if you ask me (but I’ve already read it, so I hope no one gets it for me).  However, this costs money, unless you go to the many websites online where you can find pirated versions. I am not going to link to them however, since I can’t make it THAT easy!


You could also try surprising a loved one with the gift of a copy of Holiday Princess (we’re giving you a chance to win one here).




But since the contest ends AFTER the holidays, this suggestion probably defeats the purpose.

People keep asking me, “But Meg, what do YOU want for Christmas?”

I already got what I wanted for Christmas: a sabbatical.  For those of you who don’t know what this word means, here is the definition:


Any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.


I’ve been taking a little break from writing to do other things (such as drawing)  . . . although my sabbatical hasn’t been too successful as it turns out I can’t help writing, so I can’t help sneaking bits of that in.

Other than that, though, it’s been LOVELY. I got to spend time (the entire month of October!) with family and friends in Europe. My good friend Michele Jaffe has been spending the winter in Key West (she even helped decorate our tree)! I even have a secret project I’ve been working on that no one knows about!  Shh! Don’t tell.



The project does not involve Slutty-McSlut-A-Lot. She just looks cute in this photo. 

All in all, if I’d been on that Westjet flight where Santa asked all the passengers what they wanted (and at the end of the flight, everyone got what they asked for at baggage claim!), I wouldn’t have known what to say to Santa! Because I truly have everything I ever dreamed of . . .

Well, except this unicorn from the movie Legend.


I wish the same for all of you in 2014, and much, much more!

More later.

Much Love,


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17. HoHoDooDa 2013 Day 15

Mice skates 2 450

Another wee redraw of last year’s  “Mice Skates”

Skate on over here and check out my fellow HoHoDooDaers!

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18. HoHoDooDa 2013 Day 10


Wasn’t able to squeeze out a doodle today, (hmmm, that didn’t sound quite right, did it?)

Anywho, I thought I’d post this guy from a couple of years ago. Also, it seemed like a wee bit of color was in order.

Hope y’all are having a great holiday season so far!

Why not stop on by here, to see what my fellow doodlers are up to.

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19. Constitution Day Resources (ages 6 - 11)

Next week, Americans celebrate Constitution Day and honor the signing of the U.S. Constitution. I've enjoyed finding resources that help students and teachers explore the Constitution, and wanted to share them here.

This year marks the 226th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. This document establishes the basic structure of our government, the responsibilities of each branch of government, and the basic rights afforded all Americans.

PRIMARY -- young students (gr. 1-3): These resources help introduce the Constitution to young students for the first time.
ELEMENTARY -- middle grade students (gr. 4-5): These resources help kids (ages 9 - 11) explore the basic ideas in the Constitution.
I'd like to embed the video from the American Bar Association here. I found it very moving:

Federal law requires that all schools receiving federal funds hold an educational program for their students on September 17th.

Tomorrow I'll share resources for middle school and high school students, grades 6 - 12. They will include more primary resources. I'd love to hear about resources you like to share with students to help them think about the importance of our constitution.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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20. Who Is Ready for Fall?

You Are My Pumpkin


I don’t know about you, but this is my absolute favorite time of year.  The weather is getting cooler, football is on t.v.  and soon leaves will be falling off the trees.  We have Halloween, Thanksgiving and then the Christmas season to look forward to.  This is my favorite time of year.  I love seeing the pumpkins already in the produce departments and knowing that soon I’ll be able to decorate my home for the upcoming holiday season.

In gearing up for fall I found this great children’s book, You Are My Pumpkin, and it is FREE through 9/13/13.  A beautifully illustrated bedtime story to tell your own little pumpkins you love them. Also, a fun way to get children excited for Halloween with adorable characters, colorful scenes and a sweet story.

Make sure to pick up your copy today while this fall freebie lasts!


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21. Constitution Day Resources for Middle School & High School (ages 12 and up)

As we celebrate Constitution Day on September 17th, we need to draw our children into the essential question one of my students asked last week: How is our constitution relevant today if it was written so long ago? Spur their interest with the contradictions inherent in the way the Constitution treated African Americans, but also show them how it protects their own rights today.

Today I'm sharing resources I've collected that will help middle school and high school students explore the way the Constitution establishes basic structure of our government, the responsibilities of each branch of government, and the basic rights afforded all Americans.

I'd like to end by sharing this video produced by the National Constitution Center. I found it a very effective way to bring students into thinking about what rights the Constitution guarantees that matter to them. Today. Right now.

Federal law requires that all schools receiving federal funds hold an educational program for their students on September 17th.

Yesterday I shared resources that are more appropriate for younger elementary students. I'd love to hear about resources you like to share with students to help them think about the importance of our constitution.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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22. The Christmas Owl Trailer



Well, we’ve attempted our first book trailer for our latest creation, The Christmas Owl.  Click the cover to view our trailer.

This story follows a Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word.

COMING NOVEMBER 2013 to Amazon. 

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23. IF ~ Creature ~ The Pale Man

Pale Man_RobertaBaird
You will see a banquet, don’t eat anything!
Your life depends on it!

~Pan’s Labryinth

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24. Hijinks ensued

So I was too busy enjoying the company of my home-too-briefly college girl and my beloved pal Kristen and her hubby and my goddaughter and the rest of my rowdy, riotous gang to REMEMBER TO TAKE ANY PICTURES (*smoke comes out of ears*)—but it seems Scott was clicking away during the frantic final moments of our feast preparation. (Who am I kidding. I was in the kitchen: all moments were frantic.) These just made me laugh and laugh. Which is exactly how I spent the holiday.









This last one is ridiculous but Scott made me include it because he likes how I go tharn. Which, too, is a fair representation of my state of mind while cooking: train rushing toward me and I’m frozen in my tracks. Help! Hrududu ain’t got nothin’ on gravy about to scorch.

(It didn’t. Whew.)

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25. Give a Book and Help Raise a Reader

When I was growing up, our tradition was that we always got at least one book for Christmas, and those were some of my most treasured gifts. I still remember the Christmas that I got an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories, and I sat next to the Christmas tree and spent a pleasant couple of hours reading. Giving children books as gifts helps to reinforce that books are something special and to encourage a love of reading. Here are some sources that can help you find the perfect book as a gift for the child in your life:

  • 150 Ways to Give a Book: Every year my friend MotherReader posts this list of gifts which pair a book with something fun related to the book. Check out the updated 2013 list here.
  • I've been involved with the Cybils Awards since the award was founded in 2006. Our goal is to honor those children's books which have both literary merit and child appeal. The Cybils lists are great sources of ideas for book gifts. Go to www.cybils.com and check out the 2013 nominations lists by category in the middle sidebar. The nomination lists include links to judges' reviews for many of the books. You can also check out previous years' finalists and winners in the right hand sidebar.
  • I've also been doing some web development work recently for the Mom's Choice Awards, making enhancements to their web store. Here you can shop for books, toys, and other gifts that meet the Mom's Choice standards of excellence. (My husband's book, The Dark Dreamweaver, is a Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient)
  • Don't forget your local independent bookstore! Independent booksellers are knowledgeable resources who can help you find the perfect gift. You can find a local bookstore or search for books through the IndieBound website.

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