Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Plussy - (adj.)
Someone who is plussy is full of life and energy.
Example: The puppy was plussy and playful in the morning, but exhausted in the afternoon.
(From the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Poet's Dog
by Patrician MacLachlan

Amazon Description:
Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.

Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.

As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?

My Thoughts:
The Poet's Dog is one of my favorite children's books of the season! Written from Teddy's (the dog's) point of view, we see and feel the thread of love that binds all of us together. The simple, poignant text took me by surprise with the depth of its emotion. Grab a cup of hot cocoa (and a tissue) and enjoy the magic spun by award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan. This small, yet mighty book is truly special. I highly recommend The Poet's Dog to readers of all ages!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Living a Life of Gratitude

While families around America are celebrating this Thanksgiving weekend, my family is in a more somber mood. On the eve of the U.S. Presidential Election my younger sister, Karla, unexpectedly passed away. She had entered a Montana hospital with pneumonia, and due to a pre-existing health condition, her body could not withstand the attack to her system. She was only 59.

That being said, I've had a bit of time to reflect on this tragedy and have found comfort in the warm memories I have of my dear sister.

I'm reminded that even in times of trouble it is important to stay in a posture of gratitude. It's a choice. That's not always an easy thing to do. If it was easy to maintain a life of gratitude, everyone would do so.

So, I'm choosing to be grateful for the last time I saw my sister - it was at a 2015 family reunion. My husband took this special photograph.

We sat side by side chatting, laughing, and just catching up, in general. I am grateful that she was such a sweet sister. I already miss her so.

Karla is survived by three wonderful sons. I'm pictured here with two of them - Isaac (L) and Samuel (R) the morning of my sister's memorial service in Missoula, Montana. We vowed to stay in closer contact.

Be sure to give your family and/or friends a hug this weekend.

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Note: The winner of the signed copy of The Scandinavian Santa is Lee Blaylock. Congratulations, Lee!

                        Have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Kern - (v.)
adjust the spacing between letters or characters in a piece of text to be printed.
Example: The author requested that her cover designer kern the title of her book in a different fashion.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

Grayling's Song
by Karen Cushman

Flap Copy Description:
Like all Karen Cushman's gorgeous novels, "Grayling's Song" delves into the past to let us know what we must ask of our future. It's time for Grayling to be a hero. Her mother, a wise woman a sort of witch, has been turned into a tree by evil forces. Tangles and toadstools! Lacking confidence after years of being called Feeble Wits by her mother, Grayling heads off dubiously into the wilds in search of help, where she finds a weather witch, an aromatic enchantress, a cheese soothsayer, a slyly foolish apprentice, and a shape-shifting mouse named Pook! A fast-paced and funny coming-of-age odyssey from a Newbery medalist."

My Thoughts:
Like all of Karen Cushman's novels, Grayling's Song is set in medieval times. However, this middle grade tale marks the first time that the Newbery medalist has written an adventure fantasy - I loved it! The Old World setting is the perfect place to combine a magical plot with a malevolent adversary. The author's dialogue, character development, and setting descriptions are all spot usual. I highly recommend Grayling's Song to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn more about award-winning author, Karen Cushman.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Celebrate Universal Children's Day!

This Sunday, November 20th, is Universal Children's Day. The United Nations' (UN) Universal Children's Day is an occasion to promote the welfare of children and an understanding between children all over the world.
Click here to learn more about this important day for children.

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Last week I discussed the need for all writers to be motivated by a sacred cause. Only with such a passion can each of us create meaningful, inspirational, and entertaining fiction for young readers.

Children are, and have always been, my passion. As a teen I was a certified babysitter, as a dental hygienist I worked with children for years, and as a mother my three young sons were my entire life.

As a writer, my passion is to pen meaningful stories for children.

In light of the results of the U.S. Presidential election, it is now more imperative than ever that writers of books for young readers realize the importance of their calling and the immense difference we can make.

I've attached the link below to A Declaration in Support of Children posted by the Brown Bookshelf. Click on the link to read the post; I hope you choose to add your name to the already long list of names.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Filthsome - (adj.)
revolting or disgusting.
Example: The lost little girl found the boil-covered troll filthsome.
(From the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

When the Sea Turned to Silver
by Grace Lin

Flap Copy Description:
Pinmei's gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei's grandmother--before it's too late.

My Thoughts:
Grace Lin's most recent Chinese folklore fantasy, When the Sea Turned to Silver, just may be her best middle grade novel yet! And that's saying something, since her debut novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was awarded a Newbery Honor. When the Sea Turned to Silver is a beautifully written, lovingly illustrated, adventure tale that will touch the hearts of readers from all backgrounds, and I believe, all ages. I highly recommend When the Sea Turned to Silver!

Click here to visit the website of author/illustrator, Grace Lin.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
          More than Just Words

Since setting out on my "storyteller's journey" a decade ago, I've met all sorts of writers. (Meeting these scribes has had a deep impact on my life.) They come in a wide variety of ages and personalities and they pen in a diverse collection of genres. There is one difference that I find fascinating:

The varying motivations for being a writer.

While many writers adhere to the belief that to be a "real writer" you must have had a lifelong desire to be one; I don't fit into that category.

Then there are those who believe that you must have had a formal education that equips you to pursue a life as a writer. I don't fit into that category either. (My degree is in Dental Hygiene.)

The very basic passion for reading and writing stories is one that most serious writers of fiction all have in common. I do fit into that category.

In the end, I don't believe there is one "right reason" for being a writer. However, I do strongly believe that there is one important trait all writers must possess: Their writing must be more than just words. They must have a burning passion for something in life that causes them to pick up their pen and write. We each must have a "fire in our soul" for a cause or a belief that compels us to write. If a writer pens a story without a cause, passion, or belief, their words will be empty.

Writing without a "fire in the soul" is no different than a doctor treating patients without compassion, an athlete training for a track meet with no desire for competition, or a mother raising a child without love.

While our passions may not obviously show up in our writing, we must have an almost sacred reason for writing. We owe that to our readers.

After the results of the presidential election, there is plenty of fuel to light the fire of most writers. I saw this image online following the election results and realized it stated what we all need to remember:

Note: Next week I'll discuss what else motivates me to write!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Some Girls Are Born to Lead
Written by Michelle Markel
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Flap Copy Description:
In the 1950s, it was a man’s world. Girls weren’t supposed to act smart, tough, or ambitious. Even though, deep inside, they may have felt that way. And then along came Hillary. Brave, brilliant, and unstoppable, she was out to change the world.

They said a woman couldn’t be a mother and a lawyer. Hillary was both. They said a woman shouldn’t be too strong or too smart. Hillary was fearlessly herself.

It didn’t matter what people said—she was born to lead.

My Thoughts:
Whether you're voting Democratic, Republican, or Independent in this year's presidential election, it's most important that we all remember to VOTE! That being said, I felt a review for this delightful picture book by Michelle Markel & LeUyen Pham was timely. I loved it! It not only documents the amazing life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, but reminds young readers that indeed, "some girls are born to lead!" A group of prominent women is featured in an illustration toward the end of the book; females of all political persuasions, faiths, & races are included, making this book a perfect choice for any young reader in your life.

Click here to learn more about the author, Michelle Markel.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Harry Belafonte - Photo Credit: Public Domain
Artists as Gatekeepers

Like so many Americans during this election season, I've listened to more news about the presidential candidates than I probably needed to. However, a few weeks ago I heard a short and inspiring interview with legendary singer/civil rights activist, Harry Belafonte. Rather than bash either candidate this amazing man reminded creative types (of all  sorts) of something so important: "Artists are the gatekeepers of truth."

He reminded those of us in the arts that it is our duty to lead the way for the cause of civil rights, as well as all human rights.

I would add that not only are we the gatekeepers of truth, but the torchbearers of peaceSince the two major political parties have vastly different candidates - and vastly different ideologies - the presidential campaigns in this election have been nasty, on both sides. That makes it a challenge to maintain peace with those who believe differently than we do. Like many Americans I have friends - and family - who are supporting a different candidate than I am. So what's a person to do?

I believe we can confidently support a candidate without becoming confrontational. If, however, a friend or family member makes their political views confrontational, then it is our responsibility to disengage at that point. That is one way we can be firm in our political views, and also, be a torchbearer of peace. This brings to mind the now familiar words of First Lady Michelle Obama, "When they go low, we go high."

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Inky-booky (adj.)
the taste you get from chewing a piece of paper with writing on it.
Example: The young boy felt his comic books had the best inky-booky taste he'd ever experienced.
(From the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary)