Monday, June 27, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Olive's Ocean
by Kevin Henkes

Flap Copy description:
Martha Boyle and Olive Barstow could have been friends, but they weren't. Weeks after a tragic accident, all that is left are eerie connections between the two girls, former classmates who both kept the same secret without knowing it. Now, even while on vacation at the ocean, Martha can't stop thinking about Olive. Things only get more complicated when Martha begins to like Jimmy Manning, a neighbor boy she used to despise. What is going on? Can life for Martha be the same ever again?

My thoughts:
The author, Kevin Henkes, is best known for his award winning picture books; however, in this MG novel he doesn't disappoint. His character development and voice are superb - the plot, however, is amazing! Seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Martha, she must deal with the death of a classmate, Olive; which haunts her on the family vacation on the New England coast. The emotional turmoil that Olive's passing brought about, and Martha's own near drowning, give her a new, more mature, outlook on life - and her place in it. This book won a Newbery Honor Award in 2004. Olive's Ocean would make a great summer read for the middle grade student.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Incredible Inspiration


Lake Quinault - Washington State

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.

Gertrude Jekyll

Friday, June 24, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Why do we write? Why do I write?
My journey as a writer really began many years ago; recording poems as a coping mechanism for a painful situation in my life. Now, as an aspiring author, I find myself writing from a place of joy - however, no one is happy all the time. I have realized my poet's heart makes my writing somewhat susceptible to my circumstances. What do we do as writers when life throws us a curve ball? I don't know about you, but I still write. Oh, I may take a hiatus for a few days from my WIP; but I'll blog, write poetry, or journal. After all, isn't writing really about recording the contents of one's soul? (Maybe that's the poet in me coming out. ^_^) It's the challenges in life that make us better writers; even though those challenges may not be pleasant at the time. Whatever your motivation is for writing - Write Like You Mean It!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry


  Summer Solstice

Faeries, druids, and dryads-
mystical, magical places;

Celebrating Summer Solstice-
wild wonder on children's faces.

                                  V.L.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Mr. Popper's Penguins
by Richard and Florence Atwater

Flap Copy description:
Mr. Popper's Penguins is one of the handful of American books for children that has attained the status of a classic. First published in 1938, the story of a house painter who is sent  a male penguin by the Great Admiral Drake, and who, thanks to the arrival of a female penguin, soon has twelve penguins living in the house, has amused and enchanted generations of children and their parents.

My thoughts:
Mr. Popper's obsession with Antarctica is both funny and educational. This chapter book for young readers won a Newbery Honor Award in 1939. However, the subject matter would not hold the interest of most middle grade readers, in my opinion. Mr. Popper's Penguins would be great to read to children a few chapters at a time in a classroom setting; or as a bedtime story for youngsters.

(I read this classic several months ago and hesitated posting it since my review was a rather weak "thumbs up." However, Mr. Popper's Penguins was recently made into a movie, starring Jim Carrey, and was released in the U.S. last Friday, June 17th. Consequently I felt now would be a great time to share this book with you - and the movie trailer looks hysterical!)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Incredible Inspiration




My father didn't tell me how to live -

he lived and let me watch him do it.

     
                            Clarence B. Kelland




             Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Libraries are like portals to a magical, whimsical world where the visitor can enter and take flight from their mundane existence. Growing up I not only visited our local library to study; but as a refuge from my family when there was stress at home. When I told my parents I was going to the library - I really went to the library!
     I mention this because the very same library that was my sanctuary, with the spirits of wise old authors guarding that bastion of literature, closed last week. Before you feel too sorry for me you should know that a new four-story library will open next month in the heart of our community.
     As a mother of three sons, I passed on my habit of visiting libraries (and bookstores) to them. Just when I thought video games may have replaced their love of literature my youngest son, Brian, discovered Brian Jacques' Redwall series. (Unfortunately, Mr. Jacques passed away last February. He single-handedly may have kept my youngest reading, which in turn kept him on track to now attend University.)
     With summer now upon us, make use of your local library; visit my old friends Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, and Emily Dickinson. Only a completely ignorant society would fail to see the enormous value in its libraries.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Ragweed
by Avi

Flap Copy description:
A prequel to Avi's award winning Poppy, this is the story of Ragweed, the mouse Poppy loved and lost. Long before Ragweed finds his way to Dimwood Forest and to Poppy, he leaves his family and the country behind and sets off by train for the big city, a place fraught with cars, buses, music, pleasure, excitement, attitude, and danger - chiefly in the form of cats!
     Silversides, for instance, is an urbane specimen in a pink polyvinyl collar studded with diamond like sequins. Founder and president of F.E.A.R. (Felines Enraged About Rodents), an organization dedicated to keeping cats on top, people in the middle, and mice on the bottom, Silversides, with club vice president Graybar, stalks her prey relentlessly.
     Ragweed befriends hipster band members Clutch, Dipstick, and Lugnut as well as Blinker, a timid and vulnerable pet store mouse. Through these friends, he discovers a world where courage and loyalty are the keys to survival. In so doing, Ragweed learns to trust himself and take charge of his destiny.
     Together the mice transform an abandoned bookstore into a cool new club, the Cafe Independent, and plan a blowout - and cat-free - opening night. But with Silversides and Graybar prowling the sewers, just how long can their independence last?

My thoughts:
This rollicking tale of Ragweed invites us into the world of mice and cats, and the drama that resides therein. The writing of author, Avi, is both skillful and humorous. Although an entertaining, light-hearted adventure - the characters struggle with choices of right and wrong and the consequences of both; thus some valuable life lessons are woven into the text. I highly recommend this book for all young readers.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Anne Frank would have been 82 years old today.


The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God.

                       Anne Frank

Friday, June 10, 2011

Storyteller's Journey



It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

                       Ernest Hemingway




With all the writing, reading, blogging, and tweeting I do it would be easy to lose sight of why I first started out on this Storyteller's Journey! Having stories rolling around in my head has always been how my mind has kept entertained; so I decided it was high time I put some down on paper. What I didn't bargain for was some of the unexpected blessings I would experience along the way. The most important one being all the incredible people I've met that would have probably remained unknown to me if not for my dream to become an author. These creative, gifted folks have not only inspired me in my writing; but added to the quality of my life. They also have allowed me to feel a sense of belonging in a way I have never known. There are too many to name - but you know who you are! So, if you're busy trying to finish your umpteenth draft or polish that query letter that will be the one that gets you discovered; don't forget to enjoy the creative ride you're on, and don't forget Hemingway's quote!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

A Single Shard
by Linda Sue Park

Flap Copy description:
Tree-ear was so called after the mushroom that grew on tree trunks without the benefit of a parent seed. A good name for an orphan, Crane-Man said.

Foraging in fields and on rubbish heaps, and sharing the food with his friend Crane-Man, used to be enough to full Tree-ear's days. But now all Tree-ear wants to do is watch master potter Min at work.
     Ch'ulp'o is a potters' village, famous for delicate celadon ware, and Min is the most brilliant of all the potters in Ch'ulp'o. He is also known to be short-tempered. Even so, Tree-ear is drawn irresistibly to Min's workplace. He is fascinated by the miracle of the potter's craft and dreams of making a pot of his own someday. His quest leads him down unexpected paths, with hazards and rewards beyond imagining.
     This account of a creative spirit on its journey toward fulfillment is set in twelfth-century Korea, where the course of human destiny could be determined by a single celadon shard.

My thoughts:
When a novel is written by a gifted storyteller, I have found that the story will draw readers from all age groups - irregardless of the book's classification. Such is the case with this MG novel, A Single Shard, authored by Linda Sue Park. Ms. Park has beautifully written a deeply moving tale that has the perfect blend of character description, voice, theme, and plot. I had to reserve this book at the library because it was always checked out! It is no wonder that A Single Shard won the 2002 Newbery Medal Award. Whether you are eight or eighty take the time to read this gem!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Incredible Inspiration


Lake Quinault - Olympic National Park



There is pleasure in the pathless woods...


there is rapture on the lonely shore.

                                 Unknown

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sentimental Serendipity


Last Memorial Day weekend Michael and I spent time at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in our community of Vancouver,WA. U.S.A. This town is rich in history - I thought I would share just a bit of it with you.







Fort Vancouver was placed on the north side of the Columbia River by Great Britain's Hudson's Bay      Company  in 1825. Inside the fort were living quarters, a trade store, fur storage, a doctor's office, & various other buildings.










This British style garden replicates part of the five acre garden that existed nearly 200 years ago. The influence of Great Britain still runs deep here; as Queen Victoria's birthday is still celebrated annually in grand style.




Great Britain lost control over the territory which is now Washington State in the Treaty of 1846. The U.S. Army arrived in 1849. The Hudson's Bay Company moved north to Victoria in 1860.






It was a great day of writing for me, and painting for Michael. Our historic community is a source of great
inspiration. Although our town shares its name, Vancouver, with our neighbors in Canada - we have a rich heritage of our own to be proud of!
                                                                                    
                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                                                   

Friday, June 3, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Another element of my journey as a writer is interacting with people who are pursuing an artistic passion. By now you know my husband, Michael, is a part-time artist; & my son, Kevin, is an aspiring author, poet, and musician. My other two sons, David and Brian, are accomplished musicians as well. The reason I mention this is that I recognize the creative energy I receive from anyone pursuing a creative passion. Their passion acts like fuel to the fire of my own creativity and gives me the ability to push on. You might enjoy cooking, gardening, woodworking, or any number of creative ventures. When you share your creativity you energize not only yourself, but those around you. If you have a passion, pursue it! If you don't - dig deep into your soul and discover the treasure waiting for you there. Life is too short not to allow yourself to blossom as the unique individual that you were born to be!