Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wizardry Writing Wednesdays: Read Across America Week

Happy Wednesday young scribes,
Wizard Lexiconi here wearing his Seuss hat. Well, not really. I've worn my wizards hat for so long, all my hair has grown right up inside it. 

Be we at the Castle Library are celebrating Read Across America this week. What fabulous books have you been reading this week? There are many to choose from, and many fun activities to go along with them. 

I'm not going to talk to you about writing today. We've completed our Novel Writing lessons and will be focusing on age leveled writing topics during the spring. 

Today, I want to share some links to places where you can find fun Seuss activities to go along with this week's celebrations. 

Seussville has all sorts of activities to go along with Dr. Seuss's books. 

The Boy on Fairfield Street is about Dr. Seuss himself. Check out the book then fill out this questionnaire to compare your life to his. You never know what greatness you'll grow up to achieve. 

Make up your own book of crazy words. Seuss loves to come up with some of the wildest names for things and places. You can do it, too. Sometimes he combined common words to make up new ones. During your day, look at common things and see if you can give them a new name. Draw pictures to show what your designer creature or place looks like. Have fun with it. 

The Apples for the Teacher site has word family printable cards to use for writing sentences using word families, or to help in getting better acquainted with these familiar sounds and word blends. 

Finally, you can find some coloring pages here just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

Happy Writing (and reading), friends.
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales.
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Resources Fit For Royalty

Welcome back dear reader friends. Today, the Queen will not present another fabulous read, but rather a fabulous resource for finding picture books, and activities to go with them. This week schools and libraries around the United States are participating in Read Across America Week in celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday.

Susanna Leonard Hill, author of April Fools, Phyllis and Can't Sleep Without Sheep has established Perfect Picture Book Fridays for those looking for ... well, the perfect picture book for any situation.

I wanted to introduce her specifically for the great work she is doing. Hill invites blog book lovers to join in every week. I have added a couple of the books featured here at The Castle Library this past month since finding her wonderful site.  

Perhaps you need a book on a certain subject for your child, or to enhance a curriculum unit in your classroom or homeschool.  Perhaps you're looking for a gift and aren't sure what would be appropriate.
[In the topic list] you will find books listed alphabetically by category and title with suitable ages in parentheses.  Some are older books and some are newer, but every single book is highly recommended.  In addition, they all include resources for expanding their use at home and in the classroom! (from Hill's Perfect Picture Book Page)

Some of the topics you will find are: Acceptance/Tolerance, Adoption, Animals, Behavior, Biography, and more. I think you get it. =0)

Click on over and check out her list when you are writing up your lesson plans, or before you head off to the library or bookstore.

What are you doing to celebrate Read Across America Week? Have you set reading goals with your children? Why not a reading marathon or challenge on who can set a book goal and reach it first? So many fun things are out there to make reading fun!

Happy Reading,
The Queen

Friday, February 24, 2012

Giant Steps to Change the World

Happy Friday, good reader.
The Queen here with an inspirational book this week written by Mr and Mrs Lee. Giant Steps to Change the World is a book that will need parental or instructional involvement to help children understand some of the more complex concepts in this book. Though I loved the message, and the references used to inspire, I'm afraid many of the words and ideas might go over younger children's head.

However, there are activity ideas listed that can be done and teachers will not be hard put to find ways to expound the text and invite discussion as the book is read. I think children and adults alike will find great treasures to take away with them after reading.

Enjoy and Happy Reading,
The Queen

Book Title: Giant Steps to Change the World
Author: Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee                                                                                                               
Illustrator: Sean Qualls

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (January 4, 2011)
Reading level:Ages 5 and up
Book Info:Hardcover: 40 pages

Book Theme:
facing obstacles, people who changed the world, 

Book Summary
“On some days your dreams may seem too far away to realize… Listen to the whispers of those that came before...”

People throughout history have taken giant steps toward improving the world—but even the smallest step makes a difference. A wonderful and inspiring gift, Giant Steps to Change the World encourages readers to follow in the footsteps of those who came before, to reject fears of inadequacy, and to ponder what they can contribute to society.

Activity Adventures:

Young Readers:
Younger ones might not be able to make the name associations. See if they can guess what careers each referenced person did. After reading the book, encourage child to make a collage of what they might want to do when they get older and then see if others can guess what it is. 

Older Readers:
Try to match the quotes to the references in the story. Take it a step further, and pick one or two of the people to research and learn about their extraordinary lives.

Crafty Ideas:
Make a family steps to success poster.
Do this as a family. Everyone has something they wish to accomplish. The youngest might want to learn how to write their name, the oldest might want to learn how to play the piano or run a marathon. Everyone pick a goal.
On the poster, draw steps going up the middle from top to bottom. Make a small marker for each family member to move up the steps. Now, write down the goal each person wants to meet. Brainstorm small ways that goal can be met. Want to run in the 10k marathon? List the steps one would need to do to accomplish it. Run every day. Increase distance each week, ect. Every time someone accomplishes a small task leading up to their goal, move the marker up the steps until the goal is reached.
Encourage and cheer each other on along the way. 

Writing Prompts:
Write about how you might one day change the world. Dream big! Let your imagination soar and see what you can come up with. You never know...

Authors Arena

Spike Lee is one of the most prominent and influential media figures today. His films include the critically acclaimed School Daze; Academy Award nominee Do the Right Thing; Malcolm X; Clockers; and 25th Hour. Born in Atlanta, Spike attended Morehouse College and NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned his master of fine arts degree in film production. Spike and his wife are the authors of Please, Baby, Please, their first picture book with Simon & Schuster. They live in New York City with their two children.

Tonya Lewis Lee is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Virginia School of Law. As a children's television producer she has worked with Disney, Nickelodeon, and Noggin/The N, where she was the executive producer of the award-winning documentary I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education and the critically acclaimed miniseries Miracle's Boys. She is also the author of Gotham Diaries, her first novel.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Read Across America Coming Soon...

Pick up your nearest book and join in.

Naga S. Dragon here, the Queen's library assistant, to talk with you about Read Across America. 

Every year, on March 2nd,  Dr. Seuss's birthday, teachers, parents, librarians, mayors, and other elected officials, dragons, queens, knights, children, and yes, even the trolls stop to celebrate reading and books. 

Read Across America promotes that reading is fun, adventurous and provides a lifetime of opportunities. Children must learn to read if they are to succeed. More information and activity packets can be found over at National Education Association: Read Across America!

The Purpose of Read Across America from the NEA website:
Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

Happy Reading friends,
Naga S. Dragon
Library Assistant to the Queen. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Naamah and the Ark at Night by

Hello, dear readers.
The Queen here with a delightful book that puts a spin on a long standing Bible story. Naamah and the Ark at Night offers the point of view of Noah's wife as she calms the animals with song during the long nights of the flood. Check out the Activity Adventure sections for some fun ideas to expand this story.

Happy Reading,
The Queen

Book Title: Naamah and the Ark at Night
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti                                                                                                             
Illustrator: Holly Meade
Book Information:
Publisher and date: Candlewick (August 9, 2011)
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 32 pages
Genre: Children's picture book
ISBN: 978-0763642426

1. Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book
2. Horn Book Fanfare, The
3. Kirkus Reviews - Best Children's Books of the Year

Book Theme:
Noah's Ark, Family, Bible Stories with a new twist

Book Summary from
As Noah’s wife sings the animals to sleep, an age-old tale is told afresh in a soothing poetic form brought to life with beautiful collage illustrations.

Naamah is the wife of Noah, and her name means "great singer." For forty days and forty nights, as the ark tosses on storm-wracked seas, Naamah sings. She sings to the animals, two by two. She sings to her husband, her sons, and their wives. She sings, and they all sleep, finally at peace. Acclaimed author Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s rhythmic, lyrical text pairs with Caldecott Honor winner Holly Meade’s luminous collage for a cozy, tender lullaby, and an ode to the power of song.

Activity Adventures:

Young Readers:

Crafty Ideas:
Paper Plate Noah's Ark.
Ark cut out. Print or cut animal pictures from magazines to glue inside. Craft suggest using animal cookies.

Older Readers:
Discussion Questions:
This story provides a different perspective on the familiar story of Noah's Ark. Discuss some of the undocumented things that might have happened on the ark. Think about it. What might have Noah's family done to stay entertained. How did they keep the animals calm? What are things you do when stuck inside during long times of bad weather? Imagine if your home was filled with hundreds of animals. What do you think it would be like?

Writing Prompts:
Make up your own story about something that might have happened on the ark. 
Use Ark cutout to make a book with.

Authors Arena

Bartoletti has written many books, both fiction and non-fiction, and poems. She has also won many awards. Click on her name for a peek at her website where you can find more information.

From her biography I took these couple of paragraphs because I found how she got her start interesting:

Although I have always loved to read, I had no idea I was going to be a writer when I grew up. In school, I liked art class best. In college, I filled my schedule with literature classes. I took a creative writing class where I wrote short stories and poetry for the first time. I interned as a journalist at a local newspaper. These experiences fueled a desire to write my own stories.

But within days of graduation, I was offered a job teaching eighth-grade English, and I accepted. I never thought I’d stay, but I did. For the next eighteen years, I taught eighth grade.

My students wrote poems, stories, and essays. They researched, wrote, and illustrated their own nonfiction picture books. They held poetry readings. It felt good to see my students grow as writers. They inspired me to practice what I preached. I joined a writer’s group and got serious about my own writing. I credit my students with helping me find my voice and my audience — and a passionate research interest that would lead to the writing of award-winning nonfiction books for young readers.

Just because you are young doesn't mean you have no influence over those who are older than you. 

Illustrator: Holly Meade - Taken from Candlewick Press
Holly Meade's unique style has proved ideal to illuminate a wide range of picture books.

When Holly Meade creates collages to illustrate children's books, she begins the process with research, a lot of thought--and many, many drawings. Then she covers sheets of paper with washes of watercolor and sometimes stamps on patterns. Finally, she cuts shapes from the paper and arranges and adheres them using the working sketch as a guide. "The making of these pictures is difficult," the artist says, "but more like serious play than serious work."

After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, Holly Meade worked as an art teacher and graphic designer before embarking on a career illustrating children's books. She also enjoys making woodcuts, sewing, bike-riding, cross-country skiing, and jazz dance. A long-time New Englander, she lives in Sedgwick, ME.

 Check out the interview with Meade over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Friday, February 17, 2012

Maxfield Parrish: Painter of Magical Make-Believe by Lois V. Harris

Happy Friday good reader friends,
The Queen here and today she brings you a biography about the whimsical artist Maxfield Parrish. Read about where he got his start and how his work has adorned many a homes.

I found this book interesting and enjoyed learning about how Parrish not only studied the master's but learned the most under his father's guidance. Start young, find your passion and put all your heart into it.

Happy Reading,
The Queen.

Book Title: Maxfield Parrish: Painter of Magical Make-Believe
Author: Lois V. Harris                                                                                                               

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Pelican Publishing (September 28, 2011)
Reading level: K and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 32 pages
Genre: Non-fiction biography
ISBN: 978-1455614721

Book Theme:
Biography, Artist, Painters, Creativity

Book Summary - From the Inside Flap
An extraordinarily gifted artist, Maxfield Parrish helped shape the Golden Age of illustration with a career lasting more than half a century. Parrish received a university education and toured the galleries of Europe, but he said his father was his best teacher. Stephen Parrish painted with his son often and trained him to pay close attention to nature. Parrish grew up painting at an easel and visiting Europe to study the Old Masters. His imaginative style and lively colors decorated books, advertisements, candy boxes, calendars, and cards. By 1925, prints of his work hung in millions of homes all across America. This biography for children contains photographs of the artist and is illustrated with the colorful dreamlands he was known for creating.

Activity Adventures:

Maxfield Parrish's father taught him to pay close attention to nature in his art. Go outside and collect a few leaves and try to draw or paint them. Pay close attention to the leave's veins, shape and colors. Trace the shapes first with your finger, then the tip of your pencil. Now try to draw it and see how close you can get to the real thing.
Drawing takes patience and practice. The key is to notice the details and see if you can copy those things that make a leaf distinctive from other leaves. 

Explore Maxfield Parrish's works and biography.
Also check out his online gallery for pictures of his works. 

Authors Arena

Lois V. Harris is the author of three inspiring picture book biographies: Mary Cassatt: Impressionist Painter, Charlie Russell: Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist, a 2011 Finalist, Western Writers of America Storyteller Award, and a Parents' Choice Recommended Award Winner and Maxfield Parrish: Painter of Magical Make-Believe, released September 30, 2011. Lois' fiction and nonfiction have appeared in magazines and the L.A. Times. Her work encourages children to follow their dreams, and she enjoys visiting schools and libraries to talk about the writing process in creating books and magazine articles. Lois lives with her family and two cats in Washington State. When not researching or writing, you might find her on their boat in the San Juan Islands watching for whales.
This biography was provided by the author or their representative.

Picture Book Friday Participant

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wizardry Writing Wednesday #17 - Story Resolution

Hello young scribes and writing scholars-
Wizard Lexiconi here with the last novel writing installment for this season. 

Last week, we talked about the denouement stage, or the falling action. This is where you have taken all the story threads and tied them into neat little conclusion bows that will satisfy the reader and leave them closing the book with a happy sigh.

But that's not the end. It's not THE END until you've written THE END.

So, how to end a book? Generally, I enjoy a book that ends with a bit of a hook. Something that leaves the reader's imagination open to more possibilities.

You, dear writer, will have to decide... Is this the end, for good, of this character's story? Or will you perhaps, at another time, want to continue the on-going saga of your beloved hero? This decision will determine your ending scene.

Remember, the ending can go any way that you want. Please leave out the "And they lived happily ever-after." It's been done. Way too much. Okay for happy endings and a happy life, but don't say it.

Show it in a brief scene.

Or show a hint of pending adventure about to knock on the door.

Think of Dorthy. She was back home and she was happy and that's how The Wizard of Oz ended. We know her story was done.

Think of Harry and how in each book, you knew he would be back next year for more adventures in his fight against He Who Must Not Be Named.

In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, you knew some of the children would be back into Narnia at a later date. "Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia." This left the door open to possible returns.

I hope you are busting with ideas on how to conclude your story now. Don't make it difficult. This is probably the most heart-wrenching, yet thrilling chapter you will write. And then, those final words...

The End.

Of course, this is also the end of my novel writing lessons, but not the end completely. I will be back with mini-lessons for helping younger future scribes learn the craft of writing and a writing prompt here and there to keep your Idea Creator primed and working.

Until next time...
Happy Writing, friends.
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales.
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire.

Monday, February 13, 2012

American Girl: Marie-Grace and the Orphans by Sarah Masters Buckey

Good day dear readers,
The Queen here with a book she wouldn't normally feature here at the Castle Library. The American Girl series has many books from various times in history and even a castle-full of merchandise to go along with it. But the couple of books I've read from the series have been exceptionally well written and quiet interesting.

So, if you have young princesses who enjoy a good history, here is a series that they might get wrapped up in. The stories are clean, stick to reality as much as possible and can tie in with social study and history lessons. Such as Marie-Grace and the Orphans. The story takes place during the time of slavery and shows what orphans of that time were faced with.

Book Title: Marie-Grace and the Orphans
Author: Sarah Masters Buckey                                                                                                               
Illustrator: Christine Kornacki

Book Information:
Publisher and date:Amer Girl (August 30, 2011)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Genre: Historical chapter book

Book Summary
From American Girl Publishers:
Marie-Grace can't believe what she finds on her doorstep one rainy night: a sweet little baby! More than anything, Marie-Grace hopes her father will let the child stay with them. Then a stranger comes looking for the little boy, and Marie-Grace realizes the baby is in terrible danger. Together, she and her friend Cécile come up with a plan to protect the child—and to help the other orphans, too. But when rumors of a terrible sickness begin to swirl in New Orleans, Marie-Grace begins to worry…will anyone truly be safe? Includes an illustrated "Looking Back" essay about orphanages in the 1800s. The story continues in the fourth book in the series, Troubles for Cécile.

Activity Adventures:

Check out the curriculum guide from American Girl publishers in pdf format. 

Research the history of orphanages. Who started them and why? How have orphanages changed from Marie-Grace's time up to present time? 

Authors Arena

Sarah Masters Buckey

Sarah Masters Buckey is the author of the Marie-Grace Gardner books: Meet Marie-Grace, Marie-Grace and the Orphans, and Marie-Grace Makes a Difference. She also wrote The Hidden Gold: A Marie-Grace Mystery. Sarah Masters-Buckey was raised in New Jersey and lived in Texas for 15 years. Growing up, she loved swimming and sledding—and reading lots of books! In sixth grade, she was thrilled when her first story was published in her school’s newspaper.

In addition to this latest work, Sarah has written a variety of other books for American Girl. Her Molly® mystery The Light in the Cellarwon an Agatha Award for Best Children’s Mystery.

Sarah was nominated for the Agatha Award in 2008 for A Thief in the Theater and in 2005 for The Curse of Ravenscourt. She was nominated for an Edgar Award in 2007 for The Stolen Sapphire.
Check out her other books and bio taken from American Girl Publishing

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

Good day, dear reader friends.
The Queen here with a thoughtful biography about British anthropologist, Jane Goodall. I liked this book because it shows how a love of observing nature started when she was a child. I think it will help encourage children to tune into those things they find fascinating and see how they can turn those interest into life goals. Jane seemed to know early on that she would work in the field of nature studies.

The illustrations are beautiful and the story easy to follow. Check out the Reading Adventure section for ideas on how to enhance this book and make reading more enjoyable.

I also encourage you to check out the other books listed over at the Perfect Picture Book Fridays page.

Book Title: The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps
Author: Jeanette Winter                                                                                                               

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Schwartz & Wade (April 5, 2011)
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Book Info:Hardcover: 48 pages
Genre: Juvenile biography
ISBN: 978-0375867743

Book Theme:
Naturalist, Jane Goodall, Biography, Chimpanzees, Preservation

Book Summary from
Acclaimed picture book biographer Jeanette Winter has found her perfect subject: Jane Goodall, the great observer of chimpanzees. Follow Jane from her childhood in London watching a robin on her windowsill, to her years in the African forests of Gombe, Tanzania, invited by brilliant scientist Louis Leakey to observe chimps, to her worldwide crusade to save these primates who are now in danger of extinction, and their habitat. Young animal lovers and Winter's many fans will welcome this fascinating and moving portrait of an extraordinary person and the animals to whom she has dedicated her life.

Activity Adventures:

Young Readers:
Make a pair of tube binoculars and become a Watcher yourself. 

Older Readers:
Learn more about Jane Goodall and her work by checking out the Jane Goodall Institute. There you can find videos and information about what's being done with the world's chimpanzees. 

Check out this video from New York Times discussing two recently released books about Jane Goodall and comments from the subject herself. Jane Goodall Illustrated.

Crafty Ideas: for older kids
What do you love to do and learn about? Using a poster board, Glue a picture of yourself, or draw yourself in the middle. Think about all the things you love to do and learn about. Do you love taking care of pets? Taking walks in the park? Being a daredevil on your bike? It's good to know where your interest are and to think about how you can expand these interesting into life careers. When you are doing what you love, your work never feels like work. 

Other Books You Might Like:
by Patrick McDonnell

My Life with the Chimpanzees
by Jane Goodall
The Chimpanzee Family Book
by Jane Goodall

Authors Arena

About the Author from
JEANETTE WINTER has written and illustrated almost 50 books for children, including Diego (a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, Parents' Choice Award winner, and Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies), Emily Dickinson's Letters to the World (New York TimesNotable Book, Parents' Choice Silver Medal), The Librarian of Basra (ALA Notable Book), My Name Is Georgia (Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, ALA Notable, Booklist Editors' Choice), and Mama (Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, Society of Illustrators Silver Medal). Her art with flat colors and perspectives in the folk art tradition have brought her many honors.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wizardry Writing Wednesday #16 by Wizard Lexiconi -

Wrapping It Up

Good day fellow scribes. Wizard Lexiconi here as we begin to wrap up our novel writing lessons. 

Last week, we discussed climax and the importance of making your character fight their way through that last, and sometimes deadly, challenge. The climax is the all or nothing moment. Do not let your reader down. 

Some examples are Dorthy facing the Wicked Witch of the West, Harry;s battle against Voldemort, Peter Pan fighting Captain Hook. 

But the story never ends at the climax. Oh no. 
Following is what is referred to as the Denouement, or the Falling Action. It's the part where Dorthy grabs the broom and runs back to the Emerald City so Oz will send her home. During this time, Oz gives each hero what they have desired. 

It's the part after Harry defeats Voldemort and now he must decide on what to do with the remaining Deathly Hollows.

It's also the part after Peter's brave stand when Wendy decides she is ready to go back home and grow up. 

All those loose story threads must be tied up before you get to the final resolution. Or your ending.

Have you made sure all of your story questions have been answered? Did each character get what they deserved? Or found what they sought, or conquered whatever they fought against?

Make sure they do. 

Next week we'll finish up with... well the final chapter. 

Happy Writing, friends.
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales.
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Floors by Patrick Carman

Hello good friends,
The Queen here with Monday's book feature. This week, a mid-reader chapter book, Floors by Patrick Carman.

I found this story to be imaginative, fun and full of mystery. Who is sabotaging the Whippet Hotel? Why has young Leo been given the challenge of finding the secret boxes? And why on earth does he need to take a duck with him?!?

You'll have to read like I did and find out.

You'll be glad you did.
Happy reading,
The Queen.

Book Title: Floors
Author: Patrick Carman                                                                                                         

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Scholastic Press (September 1, 2011)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 272 pages
Genre: Mid Reader chapter book
ISBN: 978-0545255196

Book Theme:
Family, friendship, invention, mystery and integrity

Book Summary from Amazon
Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel.

The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets. Leo should know most of them - he is the maintenance man's son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when a series of cryptic boxes are left for him . . . boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances. Leo had better be quick on his feet, because the fate of the building he loves is at stake . . . and so is Leo's own future!

Activity Adventures:

Enter the world of Floors and explore some of the fun adventures to be had at this wacky Whippet Hotel.

Authors Arena

Patrick Carman is the award-winning author of many books for young adults and children. He grew up in Salem, Oregon, and graduated from Willamette University. His birthday is February 27th, 1966. He spent a decade living in Portland, where he worked in advertising, game design, and technology.

Patrick Carman has been a life long writer and storyteller. He writes books for young adults and children for Scholastic and Little Brown Books For Young Readers. His bestselling series work includes The Land of Elyon, Atherton, Elliot’s Park, 39 Clues, and Skeleton Creek. Mr. Carman’s books have been translated into approximately two dozen languages.

Read more about Patrick Carman and see a book trailer about Floors on his website.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Won! I Won the Liebster Blog Award!!

Oh my. Wow! I...I'm simply honored. The Queen here, and I'm all in a flutter over having been awarded the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you so much Cheryl Velasquez from the Book Nook for picking my humble castle as a recipient. 

This award is given to those who have less than 200 followers in order to help bring more traffic to their site. How fantastic. Why, I had to have my crown polished and the dragons made to take a bath. (No easy task, let me assure you.) So, now I must tell you 5 things about myself. Humm... let me think. Oh, yes...

1. I adore books and keep as many as possible around at all times. My writer friend, Jackie Castle works part time in a bookstore and has kept me up on new releases that I can share with all of you, my dear reader friends. 

2. I have been married to King Bob for almost 22 years now. We have a young Princess who recently moved out into her own little castle and a young Prince who loves to build his own castles out of shoe boxes. 

3. Our dog, Ginger, loves to read, too.

4. One of my favorite things to see is young pupils walking around school with a book open. 

5. I like to teach at schools so I can have a chance to read fun books to the pupils there.  

In conclusion, remember my mantra: Don't be a troll about books. Reading is fun! 

Finally, dear readers and writing adventurist. I'd like to pass on this award to some other bloggers in hopes you'll stop by and pay them a visit. These are bloggers I try to visit from time to time. Be sure to click their follow or like buttons. 

On Young Adult Books

Books of Wonder and Wisdom

Wrapped in Foil

The Graceful Doe's Blog

Creating Curious Kids

Happy Reading - The Queen

Friday, February 3, 2012

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jerry Pinkney

Happy Friday, dear readers.
Today, I'll be joining the Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Leonard Hill's site.

I picked today's book because of it's brilliant illustrations and melodic prose. I know little ones will enjoy singing the words to this all familiar song as they follow the little chipmunk on his journey to the stars. This is definitely a sit-in-the-lap book to be enjoyed by young and old alike.
Happy reading,
The Queen

Book Title: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Author and Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney (Caldecott Medal Winner)

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2011)
Reading level: 1 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 40 pages
Genre: Picture book fantasy
ISBN: 978-0316056960

Book Theme:
nature, searching for stars in the world around us, chasing dreams. 

One of the most acclaimed children's book illustrators of our time now takes his legendary skill with watercolor to new heights in this lavish visual adventure. As a curious little chipmunk leaves his nest to greet the twilight, he gazes at the glittering sky above him. He can't help but also notice the sparkling dewdrops on a spider's web, the lights of the fireflies, and the shimmers of moonlight on the water. "How I wonder what you are!" marvels the tiny creature, launching a dreamlike quest to reach for the stars.

Inspired by one of our most popular children's lullabies, Jerry Pinkney's gentle world--where the loving arms of nature embrace us despite darkness or uncertainty--is perfect for easing little ones into dreamland.

Activity Adventures:

Young Readers:
Where can you find stars in nature? What about other places?
Lets go on a star hunt. Take a notebook or camera and take a walk, searching for stars as you go. 

Older Readers:
Research where the poem originated and why. Who wrote it? For what reason? Check the back of the book for information.

Learn about our solar system over at Kids Astronomy. 

Crafty Ideas:
Make glitter stars like the one pictured to hang around your room

Authors Arena

Image from Jerry Pinkney

Read an interview with Jerry Pinkney at Reading Rockets 

Biography from

A native of Philadelphia, Jerry studied at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) where, in 1992 he received the Alumni Award. He has been illustrating children's books since 1964, illustrating over one hundred titles, and earned the Caldecott Medal for his nearly wordless picture book The Lion & the Mouse in 2010. Among his many other accolades he has also been the recipient of five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards and four Coretta Scott King Honors, five New York Times Best Illustrated Book awards, and in 2006 the Original Art's Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators, New York, NY.
In addition to his work in children's books, Jerry has had over thirty one-man retrospectives at venues ranging from the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL to the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA. He has exhibited in over one hundred group shows in the USA, Japan, Russia, Italy, Taiwan and Jamaica. Jerry has illustrated for a wide variety of clients, including the U.S. Postal Service, National Park Service, and National Geographic. Jerry created art for the Harry Chapin Run Against Hunger commemorative poster, a foundation that helps bring food to those in need. He was invited to create a painting for the 30th Bologna Book Fait, Bologna, Italy and the NASA Art Collection at the John F. Kennedy Space Center. He was appointed to serve on the U.S. Postal Services Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (1982-1992). In 2001 Jerry was invited by Laura Bush to illustrate and design the White House Christmas Program. He has held professorships teaching art at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY; the University of Delaware, Newark, DE; and the University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. In 2003, Jerry was appointed to the National Council of the Arts - NEA (2003-2009). His art can be found in the permanent collections at the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Delaware Art Museum and the Brandywine River Art Museum.
His works have been featured in The New York Times, Arts Section, American Artists Magazine, The Horn Book Magazine, The CBS Sunday Morning Show and PBS Reading Rainbow Room. Pinkney is also a past trustee for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the Katonah Museum of Art. He lives with his wife, author Gloria Jean, in Westchester County, NY.

The artist has used a combination of watercolor, pencil and colored pencils probably as skillfully and effectively (and more so) than I have ever seen executed. Each frame consists of scenes taken straight from the wild; from nature and the softness he has achieved while staying true to his subject is rather remarkable. Through his illustrations and illustrations alone, Pinkney suddenly shifts from pure natural surroundings into a semi-world of fantasy as our curious and somewhat mischievous chipmunk suddenly finds himself in a small sailor's suit guiding a small sailing craft though the trees, is grabbed by the wind a then voyages among the stars. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wizardry Writing Wednesday #15 by Wizard Lexiconi -

Good Wednesday young writing scribes.
This week, the Wizard Lexiconi would like to discuss an all too important part of story telling, the reason stories can be so exciting...

Yes, friends, I'm talking about the story climax. 

That do-or-die moment in the tale when all looks bleak and hopeless for our hero. 
Can you hear the impending doom music? 
If not, well, it might be because of all the croaking going on. Stop being a frog and use your imagination!!

Up till now, all the scenes you've been pouring your ink, sweat and tears (and maybe a little blood if there's been paper cuts) into will continue to intensify up to this moment when every thing seems lost and there's no way out for our main character. 

But you my dear, clever writer will, of course, know of a way out. 

You will not, in no way what-so-ever, let your character be saved at the last moment by some side character, act of nature or God, or in any way get out of fighting their own way through the obstacle set before them. Yes, sometimes the hero comes to save the damsel in distress, but she needs to have fought her battles to a certain extent, unless you want her to be weak. 

The important thing to remember, when writing the climax, is to allow your main character to figure a way through the biggest task. Yes, they can be saved from a sinking ship, they can be lifted from a pit, but they must have beat some monster, or flaw of character first. They must have gained the talisman or won what they sought after. 

Don't short change the reader by letting your character off the hook and not have a chance to grow and change during this process. 

Have you figured out what your climatic scene will be? What task or challenge will your character have to face and over come? Think about it and be sure to keep notes of your thoughts during the writing process. Your ideas may change as you write. Nothing is set in stone. But it's good to know where you are going in your story and what goal you wish to see won. 

Next week, we'll talk about wrapping up your story which is also called "Falling Action" or "Denouement." 

Happy Writing, friends.
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales.
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire.