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Fall is coming and so is the Lititz Storytelling Festival
!!!!!!! On Friday September 13th the fun begins with workshops and performances from 10 am to 10 pm???
ON Saturday, it begins all over again - workshops, a story swap and more and more and EVEN MORE STORIES!!!!!!! I am in exclamation mark heaven! Because I love stories that much.
And also, here are very important things you should know about this year's festival in Lititz.Jay O'Callahan
will be performing. Be still my wildly beating heart.
My friend, Charles Kiernan
, will also perform. I need to sit down.
Other tellers include Ed Stivender - he of the Morris Dancers -, Kim Weitkamp, Charlotte Blake Alston - oh yeah! - Rita Clarke, Ken Sensenig (say that 10 times fast), Marie Winger, Terri Mastrobuono and David Worth.
Now, I have made myself very very worried because........I will be telling at this festival, too - with all these great storytellers. I am feeling faint. Do you think I will be up to the task?
Here's how to find out. Come to the festival and listen to my stories and to the other tellers to find out if I measure up.
Watch for a weekend pass giveaway - on this blog - very very soon.
Years ago, when I was a young mother and babysitter, I rode the bus with my son and my young charge - everywhere. What else do you do with two five-year-old boys with endless imagination and energy? We rode downtown, to libraries, to parks, to the next town over, to visit friends. We also walked and later, in the summer, we rode bikes.
Everywhere we went, we told stories. After reading William Steig's The Amazing Bone, we came up with a story about a talking donut. Every bus trip for a month or so, we added adventures about the donut and King Rupert, the donut's best friend.
And then there were the tales of Llewellyn the Lion, who worked as a late night radio host and rarely went out in the day. He rode a motorcycle and had a tab at the butcher's. He lived in fear that people would realize that he was not just a gravelly voiced, hairy recluse but a lion - a real lion. As time went on, Llewellyn told us of his friends - all graduates of the Philadelphia Zoo's secret Animal Intelligence project - and we met Llewellyn's teacher, Professor Freeman. The animals were tricked into a reunion and were drugged and kidnapped to become stars in a traveling animal act. Fortunately, one of Llewellyn's friends was a dainty gorilla. Along with the Jaguar, ocelot, rhinoceros, several lions, a seal and a rhinoceros, they all managed to escape.
I wrote that story up and shoved it into the glove compartment of my old black Impala. When the car broke down and we had it hauled to the junk yard, the story was lost forever. The rhinoceros - or was it the seal? - was a poet and some of her poems were in that story. They were haunting and surprised me. Stories can be pieced together. Poems evaporate.
And then there was Super Anders and his sidekick Critter Man. These stories were made up bit by bit of the things that my boys suggested, cartoon characters that they enjoyed. Danny Dunn and his friends got tossed in there, too, since we read every Danny Dunn book we could find. I liked these stories best of all. The boys were always trying to save Little Annie, the Orphan Apple Selling Girl from danger. But Little Annie just as often had to save our heroes.
I miss Llewellyn and his friends. I miss Critter Man, who ba-a-a-a-rked! And I miss King Rupert and his talking donut.
Perhaps, I will ride the bus for nostalgia sake and remember small boys, stories and a time when I was young.
By: JD Holiday
Blog: JD'S Writers Blog
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, JD Holiday
, child abuse
, which will short story
, The Boy In The Leaves
, SHORT STORIES AND OTHER IMAGININGS FOR THE READING SPOT
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This is a sketch for a short story called, The Boy In The Leaves, which will be in my short story collection: SHORT STORIES AND OTHER IMAGININGS FOR THE READING SPOT.
In the story, two boys stumble on a horrible truth about child abuse.
StoryFUSION begins soon, very soon. Go to the StoryFUSION page for all the details but it is fabulous stuff.
Check my Storytelling page - above - for the Guerrilla storytelling events on Tuesday, April 16th and Wednesday, April 17th. These events are FREE and out in public places near you.
On Thursday, NCC and the members of the LVSG are offering FREE workshops at Northampton Community College. I am offering "Story in a SNAP", a workshop that will use improvisational exercises to combat both writer's block and stage fright. It will be a lot of fun and it would not be possible without the help of Professor Susan Petrole.
Story in a SNAP workshop - Thursday, April 18th at 11 am at Northampton Community College, in Room CC 165. (CC stands or College Center - the BIG building in the middle of the main campus.) FREE and open to everyone. Please join me.
To keep us all in the storytelling mood, I must share this video from just a year and a half ago. Kelly will be telling on Wednesday. Look for her.
ReadWave has just announced the launch of a new reading widget, that aims to revolutionize the way that stories are shared and authors promote themselves online. The widget allows bloggers and website owners to embed stories online in a compact form.
An example of the ReadWave Widget can be found at
The ReadWave widget is the first reading widget to allow readers to “follow” the writer. When a reader follows a writer they are added to the writer’s fanbase and can receive updates on all of the writer’s future stories. The widget is designed specifically to help writers build up a fanbase and grow their readership online. The widget is also the first to be directly integrated with Facebook, so that content is automatically shared via social media.
Raoul Tawadey, CEO of ReadWave commented, “The ReadWave widget doesn’t simply provide the technology for embedding stories online, it also provides a legal framework for re-posting other people’s content within the bounds of copyright law. Every day, millions of indie writers post up their creative writing for free on their personal websites with the aim of attracting as many readers as possible. Currently other website owners can’t repost those stories due to copyright law. Our widget eliminates this copyright problem, and enables anyone to post your story anywhere without limits, and it does so in a way that ensures the original writer is reaping the rewards.”
Existing widgets use a predefined page size, so when the widget is made smaller the text is made smaller. The ReadWave widget is the first reading widget where the width and height are fully customizable and the text automatically adjusts itself to fit the space available.
“The ReadWave widget is great news for website owners,” says ReadWave’s Chief Technology Officer, Simon Van Blerk. “Rather than linking to someone else’s website, the ReadWave widget allows you to keep traffic on your own website. This means website owners can retain visitors and keep them engaged for longer.”
ReadWave is a community of readers and writers who love to discover and share new stories from contemporary writers. Readers can access thousands of stories and read them for free on mobile or desktop. Writers can use ReadWave to build up a fanbase and market their stories online. ReadWave puts writers in touch with the readers who are just right for them.
Blog: Welcome to my Tweendom
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, egalley from publisher
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, Treasure Island
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By: Stacy Dillon,
"So as that summer began, while America counted hostage days and Beth learned to swim, I thought up good lies to tell and climbed trees and lay a lot in the shade." (egalley pg 11-12)
11 year old Annie and little brother Rew live at the edge of the Zebra forest with their Gran. They keep mostly to themselves, on account of the house and on account of Gran, but Annie and Rew have each other, a battered copy of Treasure Island, the joy of making up bad jokes, and the many trees of the Zebra forest to keep them company on the hot, steamy summer days.
They are getting along in typical fashion when one summer night, a man rattles the back door and steps into the kitchen. Before Annie can process what is even happening, the man takes the key they always keep in the knob, drops it in his pocket and tells Annie to stay quiet. As Annie stands dumbfounded, Rew heads for the phone and then the door, but the man is quick and powerful. He is also covered in mud, and his clothes are torn. He has come through the forest. On the other side of the Zebra forest is the prison.
Now they must wait. Gran completely shuts down, and Annie and Rew must figure out how to be in the house with the doors shut and the windows closed, with the precarious piles and dirty dishes, with the man always there, always watching. There will be no more going into the trees to read Treasure Island, no more trips out into the shade.
Adina Rishe Gewirtz has crafted a novel that gives an inside look into mental illness and family. There is an incredible resilience to both Annie and Rew that shines through even though the two deal with their situation in vastly different ways. The importance of story (both family and books) is felt throughout. Even though some major points like the Iran Hostage Crisis and the plot of Treasure Island may be unfamiliar to today's readers, Gewirtz does a fine job of weaving them into the greater plot -- using them to give a sense of ticking time as well as examination into real life characters. This is a book that may not be for everyone, but will definitely find fierce love with the readers who love imperfect characters, finding connections, and those who don't mind feeling a bit off kilter.
Publishing April 9, 2013.
Peruse some of our past posts that will help you and your students find more things to write about.
I'm in that strange space between finishing art for one book and waiting for sketch okays on another. Time to pull out a story I've been needing to tweak for the longest time. I've missed it! It's funny how hours spent illustrating other people's stories gives you ideas on how to deepen your own. I love how creativity works sideways like that.
This was in the drawer. Drawers are good for when you need a total break in order to come back to your story with a fresh mind.
Now it's back on the wall.
Hard to ignore the wall. After a while your story speaks, sometimes softly and sometimes loud, and hints at ways to make it real. You can't rush the wall.
This is fun.
Blog: Jrpoulter's Weblog
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, child psychology
, children's books
, children's literature
, Dr. Virginia Lowe
, early childhood
, early learning
, illustrated books
, picture books
, primary school
, quality time
, remedial teaching
, Ripple Reader
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Reading – we all recognise it as a core skill. By ‘intelligent reading’, I mean reading with a level of comprehension commensurate with the child’s experience of the world they inhabit. Fortunately, reading to children is now encouraged as being supportive of reading literacy and as a sound foundation for future learning.
Not that long ago, children were seen as passive recipients of the eager parent’s input via the quality time spent in ‘read to me’ and ‘bedtime story’ sessions.
I always felt sure my children were taking in much more than the professional opinion allowed.
Recently, I borrowed a copy of Dr. Virginia Lowe’s very excellent book, “Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell” (Routlege 2007) based on the record of her own two children’s responses to books from birth to adolescence. Dr. Lowe’s book vindicates what I felt all along as a parent! This book should be set reading for students of primary, early childhood and remedial teaching, child and family psychology and for anyone with an interest in literacy!
Her children had a smorgasbord of stories proffered continuously, both Dr Lowe and her husband being librarians who were passionate advocates of children’s literature. The children’s reactions to and responses concerning elements of story and illustrations provide a wonderfully insightful peek into the psyche of the child. Both Lowe children clearly had a blessed and privileged childhood, but being ‘read to’ is within the reach of most children. Public libraries and school libraries are accessible to most families. Even if parental work commitments make a nightly ‘reading’ impossible, there are weekends and visits to grandparents when a ‘storytelling’ session can be included in the agenda.
There are other options.
Storytelling sessions are held regularly in many public libraries and are ‘free’.
And online resources such as “Ripple Reader” and “A Story Before Bed” provide a way for even absent grandparents and parents to read to their children. In the USA and Israel, ‘bedtime stories’ are part of official early education policy. Programmes like “Reach Out and Read” and “Read to Me” do a monumental job in promoting literacy and the power of storytime to be a deeply meaningful and bonding time in families.
Blog: Jrpoulter's Weblog
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, Christian Bocquee
, Deborah Abela
, Hilary Badger
, Jennifer R. Poulter
, Julie Fisan
, Kerry Brown
, Lucia Masciullo
, Martin Chatterton
, Petr Carnavas
, Terry Denton
, Tristan Bancks
, Wendy Orr
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The Untangled Tales website is the best of the Summer Reading sites. Going over the site, was like being in one of the famous ‘But WAIT, there’s more!’ advertisements! At every click of the mouse, there was more! There is something here for children of all ages [preschool, primary, secondary], for their parents, teachers and librarians. The site is gorgeous [literally] to look at, easy to navigate, entertaining in content and layout and engagingly informative!
The Celebrity Corner questions brought out the creative quirkiness of authors and illustrators in a very entertaining way and featured a very diverse group of creatives!
The Untangled Tales game is a blast – great fun! It challenges memory and prods research capabilities and informs about other cultures, their customs and attitudes as reflected in their fairytales and legends.
Check out the side tabs and their drop down menus – there is heaps and heaps of fun activity, fantastic tales, playful poetry and fanciful stories, arty opportunities, creative competitions in writing and art activities and painless learning along the way!!
Ralph Tells a Story written and illustrated by Abby Hanlon (Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012). It doesn’t matter if your five or twenty-five—if you’re in school, you’re gonna have to write. And lots of times you have to write stories—stories about yourself. Maybe it’s a daily journal. Maybe it’s a “My Special Moment” essay. Maybe it’s a descriptive narrative for a college composition class. Well, if you’re one of those kids who has NO IDEA what to write about and can’t think of ONE SINGLE STORY, then Abby Hanlon’s Ralph Tells a Story is the book for you. Ralph’s teacher always says, “Stories are everywhere!” and the kids in Ralph’s class have no trouble finding them. They write pages and pages and pages during writing time. But Ralph can’t come up with anything. Zero, zip, nada. So Ralph does what all smart kids do. He stalls. He goes to the bathroom. He gets a drink. He offers to help the lunch ladies. And finally, finally, Ralph thinks of the start of a story. But then he gets stuck. Which is exactly when his teacher asks him to share his story. Luckily for Ralph, his classmates ask lots and lots of questions. [...]
Much thanks to storyteller, Robin Reichert, for bringing this to my attention.
Over on Brain Pickings, Maria Popova highlights experiments done by Paul Zak, a neuroeconomics engineer. (And, no, I don't know what a neuroeconomics engineer is. It sounds a little scary, though.) These experiments showed how listening to a story effected brain chemistry and changed test subjects behavior.
You can watch the video and read Popova's article here.
It's nice to have empirical data that confirms what we storytellers have known all along. Stories change us. So, be careful what you tell. Stories are not just for entertainment - and they never have been.
By: Melissa Kline,
Blog: Reflections on Writing
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, Anything Prose...and Poetry too
, Rocky Mountain Women Writers
, Anassa Publications LLC
, Diana Dolan
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I have been a busy little writer and have now added publisher to my growing list of titles. I am the proud co-founder of Anassa Publications, LLC!
It all started with a desire to give the Rocky Mountain Women Writers
the opportunity to become published in a compilation. I wanted to give back to the hard-working, dedicated writers who make an effort to help our fellow members and writing community. The idea to put together a collection for the RMWW had been brewing for years, I just wasn’t sure exactly how to piece it all together.
After self-publishing a book for my son, I was inspired to go ahead and begin with the process of creating an anthology that would showcase the works of the Rocky Mountain Women Writers. I teamed up with my good friend, fellow author and RMWW member,Diana Dolan
, and together we made it happen!
Diana and I had a vision for a company that would help communities thrive and give writers an authentic publication experience - thus, Anassa Publications, LLC was born!
We are currently accepting submissions for our first project titled, Anything Prose…and Poetry, too!,
an anthology that will give special recognition to the Rocky Mountain Women Writers. If you are interested in contributing a story, (or two!), please check out our SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
The submission deadline for theAnything Prose anthology is September 30th. I hope that you’ll consider sharing your stories with us!
Be sure to check out our website www.AnassaPublications.com
, as we will be announcing exciting news and projects in the coming months.
I just finished The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean. Not a story book at all. HOWEVER, Kean tells the stories of how dozens of scientists, explorers, and other learned folks - to say nothing of isolated Scandinavian villagers and good old Neanderthal - contributed to what we know about DNA, the building block of our very selves.
If Kean had given his readers, "Just the facts, Ma'am," as Joe Friday was wont to say, I would never have finished the book. The science is daunting - all those A's and C's and G's and T's and mitochondria and mtDNA and messenger RNA and, please, please DON'T ask me what these things are (I sort of know but I will bungle it, I'm sure). But the stories, the life histories, the theories, the mangled logic, the loves, the victories and failures...the embarrassments and personalities - even the insane experiments - add them all together and you have a page turner. Man, that Sam Kean can sure tell a good story.
And after we find out everything that is now known about DNA, Kean tells us stories of how scientists hope to use what they have learned. DNA is awesome. We, this world, all living things - totally awesome and scary and thrilling and wow.... Read the book.
Storytelling is a most effective way to get humans to swallow facts and remember them. There is an organization dedicated to helping educators teach through storytelling. Good Stories for Good Learning is made up of storytellers and educators who have seen how their personal stories have made the subjects they were teaching become real to their students. Adding stories, your own or folktales or riddle tales or other people's stories, brings life to learning. Try it.
There are studies that have shown how the brain reacts to stories differently than to lectures, and there are studies that have proven that students remember the stories they hear - and the facts attached to the stories - longer than those facts without stories. (And, yes, I promise to share links to some of those studies soon but I am already a DAY LATE with this post, OK? You can trust me. Honest.)
So the next time you want to make a point, or help someone remember a fact, or teach something to someone, do what Sam Kean did in his book and what effective teachers are doing in classrooms all over the place - AND what humans have been doing since language began. Tell a story.
MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC
Children’s Ezine Guardian Angel Kids: Fun with Music – August 2012 Issue Welcome to the August 2012 issue of Guardian Angel Kids Ezine. We call it GAK because that’s the name of our gecko mascot! This month we celebrate the Fun of Music. The GAK staff can’t think of anything more universal than children enjoying music. They learn to respond and participate to music at a very early age.
As a child, Guardian Angel Publishing and Guardian Angel Kids publisher, Lynda S. Burch, loved to sing in the choir, learned the piano, and taught herself to play the organ. She enjoyed playing in the high school band from 7th grade through senior year of high school. She played the clarinet, soprano clarinet, and alto clarinet. Ms. Burch also sang in the school chorus and smaller groups and competed around the state just like Glee. As an adult Ms. Burch always made up songs and sang them to kids. One day she decided to write and record them instead of just singing them. These songs turned into over a hundred musical children’s books to be played on computers. Ms. Burch’s extended family from around the globe break into song about the weather, fun noodles in the swimming pool, or even a new alphabet song. What fun she has had with these musical books! We hope you develop a love for music as much as Ms. Burch and the GAK staff have.
Letter from the PUBLISHER: Lynda S. Burch
Featured Book: The New Alphabet Song Musical Flip Book by Lynda S. Burch and Photo Art by Lynda S. Burch and MarySue Roberts SPECIAL FEATURE:God Will Take Care of You Music Video – sung by a two year old and his family, the Buctots.Children’S poetry, ACTIVITIES, SHORT STORIES, and articleS:“Jenny’s Song,” poetry by Debra Mayhew – learn how to let your song out. “Canary Choir,” by Carol J. Douglas and illustrated by Lisa Griffin – overcoming obstacles. “A Box with Bellows,” by Juilana M. Jones and illustrated by Clara Batton Smith – mother and daughter bond through the love of the accordion.
“Whale Songs,” by Shari L. Klase – The glory of the ability to sing.“Fabulous Music Activities for Young Children,” by Kathy Stemke – children need to learn the basics of music early in life to develop creative intelligence.“New Teacher Tips on How to Prepare a Lesson Based on a Unit or a Theme,” by Dorit Sasson – lesson planning is a skill which takes focus and organization. Visit Guardian Angel Kid today and www.guardian-angel-kids.com and enjoy a child safe and ad free Ezine. We also invite you to stay connected with Guardian Angel Kids through our Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Guardian-Angel-Kids-Ezine/163785080346247. Please feel free to drop Editor-in-Chief, Donna McDine an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know what you think of Guardian Angel Kids and what you'd like to see in the future. They aim to please.
The Guardian Angel Kids Ezine staff and contributors look forward to your visit. Thank you for your time and interest.
This morning I went for a nice walk. I almost always end up in a coffee shop sometime during my walks. Coffee shops draw me in. They are full of people and people are interesting! Everyone of them has a story. Sitting across from me was a man with shining white hair. He was bent over his newspaper and chasing down his seeded bagel with warm coffee. I wondered what he did for a living when he was working. Is he married? Is he widowed? What did he look like when he was a little boy? Where did he live? What is his story?
The man in front of me was graying, but not retired. He had his work papers spread out before him and he looked entirely too serious for that time of the morning. He had a real coffee cup, not a paper one. He had on a nice dress shirt, Dockers, matching socks and black dress shoes. He could be a lawyer or even a teacher. I try to guess.
As I sipped my coffee I watched two girls behind the counter making a tall whip creamy chocolate drink for a young girl who looked to be a track star. Miss track star left and more customers poured in. None of them stayed, all left for work or play.
There was one more man sitting on the couch. His white curly beard was out of control. He had a vacant stare as he drank his coffee slowly. I wondered about him. Another man sat down on the couch across from him and Mr. Vacant began talking to him. He chatted about the hot summer forecast.. The other man barely listened to him. Mr. Vacant went back to his vacant stare. I felt sorry for him. Did he have family? Did anyone care about him?
That was my coffee shop morning. It was full of stories. stories of people whose lives I peeked into as I sat drinking my coffee.
Filed under: Kicking Around Thoughts
I'm pleased to announce that the March 2012 edition of Guardian Angel Kids Ezine is now online. This month's theme is The Human Body. http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/
The full press release is below with all the details. Please stop by and enjoy the stories, poetry, activities and online games with your favorite little ones.
M E D I A R E L E A S E
CONTACT: Donna McDine, Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine
For Immediate Release
Children's Ezine Guardian Angel Kids: The Human Body - March 2012 Issue
Welcome to the March 2012 issue of Guardian Angel Kids Ezine (GAK). This
month our theme for GAK is The Human Body.
Did you know that you lose 60 - 100 strands of hair every day? Or that
fingernails grow nearly four times faster than toenails? The distance around
the earth is 25,000 miles. If you measured the length of all of a child's
blood vessels, the total would be 60,000 miles. In an adult, it would be
100,000 miles or nearly four times the distance around the earth.
And that bothersome earwax that seems to build up so frequently? It protects
the delicate inner ear. Our bodies are indeed complex and amazing.
Come explore the world of "The Human Body" through featured books, poetry,
activities, engaging stories, and articles
> www.guardian- angel-kids. com.
Letter from the POETRY EDITOR: Donna J. Shepherd
Muscles Make Us Move: The Sum of Our Parts Series - Flip Book by Bill Kirk &
Artist Eugene Ruble
Human Anatomy Video by Dejan Kober
Children'S poetry, ACTIVITIES, SHORT STORIES, and articleS:
In the Bone Zone by Bill Kirk - learn about the skeleton through this
Games and Activities to Teach the Human Body by Kathy Stemke - games and
activities that require whole body participation will attract children's
If I Have to be Normal by Juliana Jones and illustrated by Clara Batton
Smith - finding a healthy balance even if you don't follow the "normal" way.
Listen Up! by Laura Thomas and illustrated by Jack Foster - school girl
Jasmine discovers the hard way why we are created with two ears and just one
Excuse Me, I Burped! by Layne Fleming - you open your mouth to speak and out
comes a burp. You're embarrassed. You wonder why you burped.
Read Aloud Tips and Strategies: How Educators and Parents Can Sustain
Interest by Dorit Sasson - both educators and parents play a strong role in
ensuring young readers are engaged during read aloud time.
Visit Guardian Angel Kid today and <http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/
www.guardian- angel-kids. com and enjoy a child safe and ad free Ezine.
We also invite you to stay connected with Guardian Angel Kids through our
Facebook Fan Page
Blog: Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind
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Shweta Ganesh Kumar shared with me this TED Talk from novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about how "a single story" about another person or country can cause critical misunderstanding, and I felt that the talk really reflected why I started this blog. Please watch it below, if you haven't already:
I sometimes teach creative writing to children and teens and have been very shocked to see that the first impulse of my students - all Filipinos or Chinese Filipinos ages 11-15 - is to write stories featuring characters with blond hair and blue eyes. It seems that, like the seven-year-old Adichie, my students have "a single story" about what literature is and do not think that people like them can exist in literature. (Needless to say, I am now trying to expose my students to more Filipino literature and literature from other Asian countries.)
I blog because our students, nieces and nephews, children, grandchildren, and godchildren NEED AND DESERVE more than "a single story" about Asia and more than "a single story" about each Asian country. And I am really grateful that you are here reading this blog, because that means you reject "the single story" about Asia and "the single story" about each Asian country.
Someone is Scotland has been very busy creating the most beautiful things and leaving them to be found - in libraries, museums, a Storytelling Centre and more amazing places. Oh my!
Author Stephen Brayton is by my blog today with some fun writing advice!
What could these two things possibly have to do with the writing process? Well, have you considered putting them into a story? If you’re writing books for children, okay. Why not others?
I’m referring to a topic I’ve written about in the past. Character quirks. I know many things are important for a great story. Plot, dialogue, setting, quality writing, and of course, characters. With any of these being poor, the story fails, so I’m not putting any more importance on the last one. I just like to read about good characters. Sometimes the plot is something standard but the characters will make it interesting.
I’ve mentioned this in other blogs and interviews, but many of my characters in my books are based upon actual people, or traits actual people exhibit. While researching material for “Beta”, I encountered a secretary at one business who showed no interest in assisting me in my inquiries. I’m sure my name and number I left, was left in the trash can about thirty seconds after I departed. She went into the story. At the next place, I met a receptionist who didn’t understand what I wanted. She became so flustered she passed the buck off to another person who directed me to the Internet where I found a contact number…anyway, I received no help there either. The original receptionist found a place in the book, too. The genteel and courteous office manager at a trucking company was also included as was the surly looking meat market clerk.
I’ve remembered my maternal grandparents in this book when my main character, Mallory Petersen, makes a visit to the Quad Cities.
I have fun developing traits for my characters. What interesting actions or words can I have them say or do? Sure, some I create out of thin air, but others come from everyday people. In Beta’s sequel I mention a gentleman in a coffee shop having a very animated conversation with his invisible friend. The guitar player is based on my best friend Chris (sorry, he prefers Tofer). I introduce a Narcotics investigator who audibly slurps his coffee and frequently sniffs. These two traits I observed in one person I met through my night job. I work in a place where different people show up daily, which provides plenty of fodder for characters. Recently, I had to roust a half naked drunkard lying in the hallway back to his room. Another time a drunk was passed out and while trying to wake him, he, yes, farted. I’ll always remember these two and I’m sure they’ll end up in a future story.
One morning, I watched a family discuss the previous night’s events. One sister sat very primly and properly on the edge of the sofa while another leaned back comfortably. A third drooped in her chair. The funniest member, the grandmother, sat with her leg over one arm of her chair, and exhibited a laid back attitude. While they talked, I wrote down descriptions for future use.
Other people I’ve met or observed and will remember for future stories: The intoxicated Japanese businessman. The homeless woman sleeping in her station wagon. The blustering man who left his wife because she didn’t want to continue to be at the casino and celebrate his success. A former coworker who wore shorts skirts to the office. Her replacement whose attitude could maim a cold fish. Four guys discussing boats for hours. An alcoholic boss. (A previous one, not the current one.) A desk clerk who admitted to her boss she was too stoned to work her shift. The Asian woman in the coffee shop holding a camera with a huge lens snapping pictures of three cup of coffee.
If you’re looking for unique characters, don’t frustrate yourself by trying to come up with interesti
Toys Come Home. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. 2011. Random House. 144 pages.StingRay has missed the birthday party. She didn't mean to. It was her first party, first party ever in the world to be invited to--and she missed it. She didn't even know she was missing it. She didn't know anything about the party until now, when it is already over.
The full title of this delightful prequel is "Being the Early Experiences of An Intelligent Stingray, A Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic." Of course, if you've read Toys Go Out
and Toy Dance Party
, you know all about Stingray, Lumphy, and Plastic. But what you may not know is how they all three came to belong to the Little Girl.
I love the premise of this one. I do. I definitely wanted more stories about these three friends. And these 'early' stories are just perfect!!! The six stories:
In Which There Is Nowhere Nice To Sleep
The Story of an Ear
What Happened to Bobby Dot
You Can Puke On Me
In Which Lumphy is Brave With a Tuna Casserole
The Arrival of Plastic, and Also The Reason We Are Here
The main character of this one happens to be Stingray. In the first story, we learn of how she arrived too late for the little girl's birthday party, but just in time to arrive on the ACTUAL birthday. As a new toy, she hasn't really found her place in the bedroom just yet. She's getting acquainted with the other toys, the other stuffed animals. She's learning--observing--everything.
Two new characters introduced are Sheep (was Sheep in the other two books? Have I forgotten?) and Bobby Dot. There's a good reason why Bobby Dot, the walrus, is NOT in the later books. At first, I wasn't exactly sure why Bobby Dot's story is included in Toys Come Home. Then I thought about it and thought about it some more. Things like that just happen. Not to be overly dramatic, but that's just a toy's life. And I definitely liked how that story is REDEEMED with a very familiar character, Lumphy.
It was so much fun to see the Little Girl shopping. There's just something oh-so-true about these books. In this one, one of the things I loved was HOW very individual the toys were. How when she was shopping she just knew, she just could tell, which (stuffed) ANIMAL was for her. Because the toys are so very-very real to her. Maybe not every reader can relate. But I can!!!
So some of the stories are just good fun, and one or two are slightly more serious. (Though not as tragically sentimental as say The Velveteen Rabbit).
© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss. 2011. Random House. 72 pages.
I love Dr. Seuss. I do. And I was oh-so-happy to discover that Random House was publishing a new collection of Dr. Seuss stories. These seven 'lost' stories were originally published in magazines in the early 1950s.
The seven stories are:
The Bippolo Seed
The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga
Gustav, the Goldfish
Tadd and Todd
Steak for Supper
The Strange Shirt Spot
The Great Henry McBride
I enjoyed almost all of these stories.
The Bippolo Seed is about greed. A duck finds a magical seed. He's told to make a wish and plant the seed. But before he can make a wish--a practical, simple wish--a cat stops him. He must want more than just a week's worth of food. How unimaginative a wish is that after all? So with a little encouragement, this duck named McKluck gets a little out of control.
The Rabbit, The Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga is about a rabbit NOT wanting to become the bear's dinner. The rabbit has to think quickly to make sure that does not happen! But it's not enough for the rabbit to manage an escape, it has to be done in style!
Gustav, The Goldfish. It didn't take me long to recognize that this was FISH OUT OF WATER. What I didn't know was that this story inspired it. And that the author of A Fish Out of Water was Dr. Seuss's first wife, Helen Palmer. Seuss' story rhymed, Palmer's didn't. But essentially the same story about a boy and a fish and the importance of following directions very very carefully!
Tadd and Todd is a story about twins. One of the twins just loves to look exactly like his brother. The other twin isn't quite so pleased. In fact one of the brothers will do just about anything to be different. But that isn't always easy. I liked this one because it used the phrase: "which one was what one, and what one was who." It is an outlandish tale, of course. And it just gets more and more elaborate...what one brother will do to stand out from his brother. So it's enjoyable.
Steak for Supper introduces some fun animal-like characters--much like Wocket in My Pocket. It introduces the Ikka, the Gritch, the Grickle, the Nupper, and the Wild Wheef. The moral of this one is don't brag too much...you see, the little boy was going around saying that he had steak to eat every Saturday night. Well, one Saturday, these fanciful creatures decide to join him because they want steak too! Of course, the little boy doesn't know how he'll ever explain all this to his parents...
The Strange Shirt Spot is a very interesting story in that it introduces the idea of a spot that just WON'T go away. It is the inspiration, if inspiration is the right word, for the pink cat ring in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. The spot even gets on some of the same things.
The Great Henry McBride celebrates imagination and daydreaming. In this case a little boy dreams about what he wants to be when he grows up...
By: Steve Novak
Blog: Steve Draws Stuff
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With the Forts series wrapped up, I've moved onto something else, and believe it or not that something else is getting released in March!
Goats Eat Cans is coming soon!
What the heck is Goats Eat Cans and why should you care about it?Trust me when I tell you that you're going to like this thing.
If you hated Forts and you hate me for writing Forts, you're still going to like this.
Goats Eat Cans isn't Forts. It's nothing like Forts.Nothing at all.
Click the picture below to head over the official Goats site.You won't regret it.
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Cammie Bliss, the protagonist of my first young adult novel, The Stalker Chronicles, is a teenage girl who routinely, almost pathologically goes too far in pursuit of love. Because of this, her classmates have labeled her a “stalker,” and while it’s not a name she enjoys, Cammie realizes that she’s earned it. But when a new boy named Toby moves to her small town, Cammie—with the help of her best friend Rosie and a sympathetic teacher—hopes she can change herself and win his love.
My interest in creating a character like Cammie was initially very personal. I’d written a long prose poem about five years ago, entitled “My Friends and Enemies” which was published in the journal Fence. This poem was my attempt to create a catalogue or imagistic list of all of the people from my childhood, quite literally my friends and my enemies (not that I had all that many of the latter!). I suppose I was interested in mini-histories, in how a list can somehow create stories. But I was also struck by how many of those stories, for me, were about embarrassment, or moments in which I felt misunderstood or couldn’t quite speak my mind. I thought of all the boys I’d had crushes on, and how many of those boys I scared away because I was a little bit too aggressive or a little bit too out there. I wanted to tell some of those stories, and a young adult novel seemed like the perfect venue. But of course, Cammie is not entirely me, and I’ll leave it to readers to decide which things in the book I may or may not have actually done. But the flashback format is there. Cammie remembers the boys she stalked so that she can figure out how to stop.
I’ve also always been intensely fascinated by the horrors of high school and the ways in which outsiders—nerds, punks, skaters, Goths, LGBT kids, theater and band geeks, you name it—cope with the daily humiliations of being different. When I briefly taught high school in New York City, a colleague and myself asked our freshmen to perform monologues or scenes from Julius Caesar. These performances were wonderful! I remember one young woman in particular, who was as awkward as awkward can be—she had frizzy hair, a whole lot of orthodontia, and a very excited, high-pitched voice that sometimes cleared the room, but she was very comfortable in her own skin. She was a bit of exhibitionist, actually, and her performance was particularly good. We all gasped as she pulled a fake sword out of its sheath! She was totally invested in her character! She made me think about the difference between my students who could own their awkwardness and the ones were devastated by it. Cammie Bliss is very much in the middle of that struggle. Can she change? Does she even want to?
I think we live in a culture that encourages us to be voyeuristic, and girls in particular can be easily embarrassed or even choose to embarrass themselves as a way to establish community and closeness with other girls. I wrote my dissertation about Seventeen magazine and one of my chapters was about a column in the magazine, “Traumarama!.” In “Traumarama!”, girls submit short, embarrassing stories about daily humiliations. I became a student of this column, and obsessed with its repetitive, stylized, and heavily edited stories. The Stalker Chronicles, in some small way, was an attempt to make some of those stories more real, more hu