Friday, August 24, 2012

Nature's Patchwork Quilt by Mary Miche

Happy Friday dear readers!
Today, I'm presenting a beautifully written and beautifully illustrated picture book for your enjoyment. The book itself will not be released until September 1st, but there are so many free activities to go along with it, this seemed perfect for Freebie Friday.

Nature's Patchwork Quilt compares nature to a homemade quilt and does so in a way, I believe, even young children will be able to grasp. This comparison will help children understand how the different ecosystems in our world work, and how all life is intertwined and stitched together in a complex network covering the planet earth.

There are so many fun lessons to incorporate along with reading this book. The author has provided many activities and links to find more if you need it. Are you a teacher who is looking for a new way to present a unit on the environment? Check this book out. Are you a parent, looking for a good interactive book? The pictures in this book can provide hours of wonderful discussions. And look for which ecosystems involve humans. Can you spot the person amongst the wildlife? Look closely.

Happy Reading,
The Queen.


Author: Mary Miche                                                                         Illustrator: Consie Powell

Book Information:

Publisher and date: Dawn Pubns (September 1, 2012)
Reading level: 4 to 12
Book Info: 32 pages - fully illustrated - 11 by 9
Genre: non-fiction nature picturebook

Curriculum Components: Habitats • Adaptation • Biodiversity • Food Chain

Book Summary from
Just imagine all of nature—mountains, prairies, oceans, and all—lying on your bed as a patchwork quilt! Take flora and fauna in their unique habitats, fold them up and you have a book, this book. Earth’s major habitats are spread before you, ready to be examined. Here in this beautiful package are revealed the key concepts of natural science. This patchwork quilt of nature covers the whole Earth, your home—yours to learn about, to enjoy, to care for, and to love.

The Prairie Habitat page
© Consie Powell,

Activity Adventures:

On the last pages of book, you can find several activities for both homeschooling and classroom use. Click the links below for more ideas.

Young Readers:
Draw your own nature pictures and create a paper quilt. Go to the park, or your backyard and draw what you see.

Classrooms can create a bulletin board of various environments and quilt them together.

Older Readers:
Pick an environmentalist and do research on that person. There are a list of them in the back of the book.

Crafty Ideas:
Print animal pictures, or cut from magazines. Now, play a sorting game by drawing various ecosystems on sheets of paper. Which animals belong in the correct system?

Authors Arena
from Dawn Publications website

Mary Miché has been an environmental educator since 1972, when she began her work in outdoor education schools. She completed her masters degree in environmental education in 1982. She has visited hundreds of schools since then, singing her nature and science songs for children. This book was inspired by her many trips to and concerts in Yosemite National Park. Mary has worked with children in public schools for over thirty years. She is especially concerned with helping children to understand environmental processes and to take care of our earth. Visit her website at

 Consie Powell loves to “muck around in nature’s lovely untidy places,” as she puts it, and then to illustrate the complexities of nature. She has spent
time in all of the habitats illustrated in this book, her trusty sketchbook and a small tin of watercolors in hand. She has illustrated a dozen children’s picture books about nature, seven of which she also wrote. Although she grew up in sunny southern California, Consie now lives in the far north woods of Minnesota with her husband and their Newfoundland dogs. Visit her website at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wizardry Writing Wednesday - All About Me

Good day young scribes!
Have you sharpened your pencils? Filled your backpacks with notebooks and paper? It's that time... or soon will be... for back to school.

You know one of the first things you'll be asked when you walk into that classroom is "Tell us about yourself!"

This is an important question, friends. Who are you? How will you fit into this classroom community?

Do you have your summer journals? Let's find a clean page and brainstorm some questions. Parents, you can help your children think about these questions and answer them. For smaller children, pick one or two and help them write their thoughts while they draw the pictures.

1. Give us the basics: How old are you, where were you born, what do you look like? Draw a picture of yourself. (Might as well get some practice in on this, you'll be asked to draw yourself doing various things throughout the year.)

2. Where have you been? Make a list of states, countries and places you've visited, or lived in.
Do you have any interesting facts or memories about those places? Write a short note about it. You never know when these little antidotes will come in handy. Like when asked to write a paper on where you've been, or about an important memory. May as well be prepared. That's what I'm here for.

3. Create a normal daily schedule. What time do you get up in the morning, and go to bed? What activities do you enjoy doing during the day. If you put play video games from 8am until 9pm, we need to talk. Seriously, get outside for a bit. ;0)

4. Now, I want you to write a letter of introduction. In this letter, tell your teacher one important fact about yourself that you like for people to know. Do you have a favorite nickname you want to be called? Do you love strawberry ice cream? Does the thought of making friends make your stomach twist in knots?

Then, think of what you really would like to learn about this year. Is there anything you are curious about?

What subjects are you an Ace at? Which ones leave you all in a flutter?

Finally, end your letter with a statement of your intentions. What effort are you willing to put into your learning? Will you do your homework? Pay attention in class? Be kind to others? Think about this, because it's important. You are responsible for your learning. That old adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink" applies to you. The teacher can provide the learning material, but you have to be the one to take it in, learn it.

I'm eager to hear about how your first days of school go.
Leave a comment anytime.

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

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

Happy Monday dear reader friends,
The Queen here with another Young Adult fantasy I'm sure our fantastical readers will love.

Eye of the Sword, by Karyn Henley, is the second in her Angelaeon Circle series. I do encourage you to read Breath of Angel first, as I started with this book and had some difficulty catching up to what was going on in this world.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed following the hero, Trevin, on his quest to help the king and princess find what they have lost. In turn, Trevin finds out who he really is. I love stories like this. Henley weaves a fascinating fantasy tale from legends and folklore that keeps you turning the page to see what happens next.

I've noticed there have been more and more books coming out about the Nephili - half human, half angel beings. If you are as intrigued by these stories as I have been, then put this book series on your list of must reads!

I also wish to mention that we at the Castle Library are partaking in the CSFF Blog Tour. For more information on that, and a list of other bloggers participating, see the end of this post.

Happy Reading,
The Queen


Book Title: Eye of the Sword by
Author: Karyn Henley

Book Information:

Publisher and date: WaterBrook Press (March 13, 2012)
Reading level: Young Adult/ Adult
Book Info: Paperback: 256 pages
Genre: fantasy
ISBN-13: 978-0307730145

Book Topics:
Nephili, honor, finding one's identity, love, bravery, seeking for hidden lost treasures

Book Summary from
Where angels walk the ground and the future is told in song, does a man of low rank have a chance at love with a princess?

In Camrithia, a land of shadows and mystical secrets, Trevin lives to serve King Laetham. But his heart belongs to the princess, Melaia. When the King sends Trevin on on a dangerous quest to find the missing comains—captains in the king’s army—he must leave Melaia to the advances of a swaggering Dregmoorian prince.

Challenged to prove his worth, Trevin throws himself into his quest. Striving to prove his love, Trevin undertakes a second mission—find the harps Melaia seeks in order to restore the stairway to heaven. Through fire caves, rogue winds, and murderous threats, Trevin remains steadfastly dedicated to his quest—even when he is falsely accused of a heinous crime. As Trevin’s time runs out, he realizes he must face the shame and horror of his own past and the nightmare that has come to life. Will he have the courage to finish what he has started?

Activity Adventures:

I strongly encourage readers to browse Henley's book-site where she provides more background information about both books. You'll find a map of the region, facts about angels, along with a hierarchy chart. Book One has a reader's guide to go along with it.

Writing Prompts:
Pick one of the Angels listed on author's site and research more information about it. Write up a fact sheet, or maybe even a story about the angel of your choice.
Why did you pick that particular angel?
If you could meet one in person, which would you choose?
If you were an angel, which type do you think you would be? Why?

Discussion Questions:
Trevin undertakes a quest to prove his loyalty to the king, and to help the girl he loves find the lost harps she is looking for. Have you ever gone out of your way to help someone you care about? What happened?
(You could even write the story about how it turned out)

Trevin gets a chance to look upon a sword that will reveal who he really is. If you were to look into such a sword, what do you think you would find out about yourself?

What are your thoughts on angels? Do they mingle among us? Talk (or journal) about what you believe and why you believe that.

Authors Arena

Author: Karyn Henley
From Henley's author site:
Award-winning author Karyn Henley has written over 100 titles, which include a mix of children's books and articles, parent-teacher books, articles, and curricula, and preschool musicals and CD's/DVD's of original music for children.
An accomplished songwriter, Karyn has been a Dove Award nominee, and received a regional Emmy Award as Music Composer for a Christmas television special.  She has traveled worldwide speaking to parents and teachers and entertaining children and their families in storytelling/active movement sessions and concerts.

    A graduate of Abilene Christian University (BSEd), Karyn received a Master's of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Check out Henley's blog Maybeso for some great post about the writing life, more about her books, and even tips on writing novels.

CSFF Blog Tour

In conjunction with the CSFF (Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy) Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Please check out these other bloggers who are also participating in the CSFF Blog Tour.

Julie Bihn Thomas Fletcher Booher Keanan Brand Beckie Burnham Jackie Castle Brenda Castro Jeff Chapman Christine Theresa Dunlap Cynthia Dyer Victor Gentile Ryan Heart Janeen Ippolito Jason Joyner Carol Keen Emileigh Latham Rebekah Loper Shannon McDermott Karen McSpadden Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Anna Mittower Mirriam Neal Nissa Faye Oygard Nathan Reimer Chawna Schroeder Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Jessica Thomas Steve Trower Shane Werlinger Phyllis Wheeler

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wake by Amanda Hocking

Happy Monday, dear reader friends,
The Queen here with a Young Adult novel that's a definite must read to top off your summer.

Wake, book 1 in the Watersong series, is about two sisters from a small beach town. When a strange group of girls arrive during the summer tourist season, everything takes a turn for the strange... and dangerous.

I'm a fan of Amanda Hocking, anyway and this new book didn't disappointment me. As I read, the character's gripped me, and whenever I put the book down, I was left wondering how they would get out of this sticky predicament they found themselves in. Before I knew it, I was finding excuses to sit down and read more. Hocking's writing improves with each book. While reading Wake, I felt like I was at the ocean, the scene so real, and description so intense...

I'm glad I don't have to wait long for the next book to come out. If you're interested, you'll see more information about Lullaby, at the end of this post. Check out Hocking's website to win prizes during her Under the Seapalooza blogtour. You can also check out the Watersong section for character bios, book excerpts and a sound track to her story.

I hope you enjoy Wake as much as I did.
Happy Reading,
The Queen

Author: Amanda Hocking                                                                                                            

Book Information:

Publisher and date: St. Martin's Griffin (August 7, 2012)
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250008121

Book Theme:
Mythology, family, sisters, the ocean, falling into traps

Book Summary
Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Here's a video about the book... looks gripping!

Authors Arena

Biography from

Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with John Hughes and Jim Henson. In between making collages and drinking too much Red Bull, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Her USA Today best-selling series the Trylle Trilogy has been optioned for a film, and the books will be re-released through St. Martin's starting in January 2012. She has two other young adult series out now - My Blood Approves and The Hollows - and a stand alone fairy tale, Virtue. Her next series is entitled Watersong, with the first book coming out Fall 2012.

To learn more you can follow her on Twitter - or visit her blog: or find out news at her Facebook fan page:, and her Goodreads:

If you loved this book... look what's coming next!

Lullaby (Watersong #2)
Harper only wanted a safe, normal life. But when her younger sister Gemma runs off with a dangerous clique of beautiful girls, Penn, Thea, and Lexi, everything changes. Vowing to get her sister back no matter what the cost, Harper must face dangers unlike any she's ever experienced. Fortunately, she has Daniel by her side, a gorgeous guy who's devoted to helping her find her sister—and who's immune to the girls' dark powers.

While Harper searches for her sister, Gemma struggles to adjust to her new life. Gemma's powers are growing by the day, and the longer she lives with her new "sisters," the harder it is to resist entering their magical world. It's a realm both dark and beautiful, and where she's plagued by strange hungers and unspeakable needs. Just as she's drifting far away from her old life, Harper and Daniel find her...but no one can deny how much she's changed. All she wants is to return to her family and the mortal world, but how can she do that when she's become something else entirely—and will they still love her once they learn the truth?
Coming November 27, 2012.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Freebie Fridays - Olympic Fun

Today, I don't have any free coloring pages. But since the 2012 Summer Olympics are going on, I thought I'd rally up a few links to free activities and information about the games.

Hope you enjoy!


Time for Kids has all sorts of articles and information about the Olympics. 

Kaboose has some fun Olympic activities, quizzes and crafts.

And of course, Enchanted Learning, a wealth of educational fun and information, had a history of the Olympics, along with more crafts and activities suggestions.

If you were to play in the Olympic games, what sport would you try for? Play some fun summer games in your yard. Don't forget the garden hose!

Happy Reading, Writing and Summer Adventures!
The Queen and all.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wizardry Writing Wednesdays - Best of Reading List

 Good day young scribes
I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again and again. Good writers are great readers. This is what we are all about here at the Castle Library. Encouraging you to read, explore your world, live adventures in words and express yourself as others have done through the centuries past.

Story is king.

And the Queen loves a great story.
I, Wizard Lexiconi, also love a great story, and I love creating great stories.

Today, instead of giving you another writing prompt, I've searched up some book list for you to look though. Have you read many of the books listed? Some are all time favorites, others are faves from the past couple of years. There's a list for each age group. Check them out. If there's some that you haven't read yet, make a trip to your local bookstore or library and check them out.

If for nothing else than to get out of the heat!

Happy reading and writing!
Wiz Lex.

The Book List

2012 Notable Children's Books A list of this year's most stand-out picture books. Some have been featured here at the Castle Library. Check for the links on the side bar and pages.

2011 Best Books in juvenile fiction - for young readers.

Best Young Adult Novels... ever. From what voters say.

Publisher's Weekly Best Summer Books suggestions - for various ages.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Poopendous by Artie Bennett

Good Monday dear reader friends,
When I first looked at this book, I will admit to being mildly disgusted. But then, the giggles started and I found myself enjoying this crappy story. So to speak. =)

Honestly, I think these books would be great for parents with toddlers who are in the process of potty training. Of course, any aged kid will enjoy the bathroom humor and learn something about how different cultures use manure in their daily lives. The information is interesting and presented in a fun, rhyming way.

I have no activities for this story. But I did want to introduce you to this book. It's the second in a series. Yes, there are more Poop books. Go figure.

Happy Reading,
The Queen


Book Title: Poopendous
Author: Artie Bennett                                                                          Illustrator: Mike Moran


Book Information:

Publisher and date: Blue Apple Books (March 27, 2012)
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 36 pages
Genre: Non-fiction picture book
ISBN: 978-1609051907

First Lines:
I’m Professor Pip Poopdeck. Welcome aboard!
We’re exploring a substance that most have ignored.
An icky-poo subject folks don’t care to visit.
Quite putrid and shocking and horrid . . . or is it?

Book Summary

“Everyone poops—yes, it’s true—from aardvarks to the humped zebu.”
     Artie Bennett, author of the award-winning and much-acclaimed The Butt Book, delivers the inside scoop on every type and use of poop in his “number two,” spanking-new picture book. In hilarious verses, with eye-popping illustrations, Poopendous! relates the many, often remarkable uses of poop throughout the world while paying homage to its prolific producers, from cats to bats to wombats! Virtuoso illustrator Mike Moran gives us a Noah’s Ark of animals doing their less-than-solemn doody. So pick up your pooper-scooper and come along for a riotously rib-tickling ride. You just may agree that poop is truly quite . . .  poopendous!
     Visit before someone else does!

Authors Arena

Artie Bennett is the executive copy editor for a children’s book publisher and he writes a little on the side (but not the backside!).
     His itch to write gave us The Dinosaur Joke Book: A Compendium of Pre-Hysteric Puns (currently extinct) when he was a much younger man. The Butt Book, however, was his first “mature” work. The Butt Book was showered with praise and won the prestigious Reuben Award for Book Illustration. His “number two” picture book, fittingly, is entitled Poopendous!  What more fertile topic could there be but poop!
     Artie was the youngest (at about age thirteen) person to originate and sell a crossword puzzle to the New York Times. He went on to sell several dailies and two large Sunday puzzles to the Times before he began college. It’s been downhill ever since.
     He and his wife, Leah, live deep in the bowels of Brooklyn, New York, where he spends his spare time moving his car to satisfy the rigorous demands of alternate-side-of-the-street parking.
     He is pleased to share the visionary promise of Poopendous! with a wider audience.

Illustrator: Mike Moran
  I'm an Illustrator whose worked for some really neat clients like: Major League Baseball,Grammy,Scholastic INC., Disney, American Greetings, to name a few. One day I hope to play first base for the New York Mets and be a songwriter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wizardly Writing Wednesdays - Another Writing Prompt

Hello again young scribes.

We are all down at the pond enjoying a day in the sun. How about you? Summer is winding down, what are you doing to squeeze every bit of enjoyment from your last few weeks?

Well, if it's too hot to go outside, or you simply want something to do in the comfort of your air-conditioned home, I have another writing prompt for you.

Don't they look like they are having fun?

What if...
You could breath underwater? What if your hands and feet turned into flippers and you could swim deep into any ocean, or lake, or pond.

Where would you go?
What would you do while you're there?
What would be the best possible thing that could happen?
What could be the worst possible thing that could happen?

I think as you answer these questions, a story might begin to form. If it does, write it. Illustrate it.

Now you have another story book.


Happy Writing,
Wiz Lex, Rankus and Dirkus who just dive bombed off the rocks and drenched the Queen. She doesn't look too happy about that, either.

But that's another story.