Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last chance to win! Love a librarian!

Do you love your librarian??  Is there some helpful, funny guy behind the desk at, say, Muhlenberg College?  Or that librarian guy at the information desk at the Parkland Community Library?  Or maybe the reference ladies at the Bethlehem Area Public Library?  Do you appreciate how awesome librarians are?

TRUE STORY:  On a librarian bulletin board, one librarian asked for help finding a title for a borrower.  The borrower only knew the opening line of the book.  The borrower also wanted to find a book that had Coca Cola addicted elves in it.  With just that little bit of info, the librarians of PA were able to answer that borrower's questions.  How?  With their super book-finding library powers that's how!!!

You can nominate your FAVORITE librarian from now until September 12th - almost two weeks -  by clicking here.  Read "About the Award" for any restrictions or rules.  And nominate TODAY.

Last chance to enter the Jack Gantos audiobook of Dead End in Norvelt giveaway.  The whole shootin' match ends today at 11:59 pm. (Did you know that Jack's Mom once shot off a gun with awful results? I don't think that's in this book, but I could be wrong.)  Just leave a comment on this blog with your first name and where you are located and you are entered.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angelberger is in the bookstores now.  Anyone who read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda knows that Angleberger is not only a funny, clever author but an origami fiend as well.  Watch the YouTube above to learn how to make a simple Darth Paper finger puppet.

I don't need to make my OWN Darth Paper since I picked up a Tom Angleberger original Darth Paper finger puppet at Book Expo, along with a signed copy of Origami Yoda.  Nyah nah nah nah nah!  I have Darth Paper and you......Wait!

Oh my heavens.  I think I just got a great idea for my next giveaway.  It's brilliant.  Stay tuned.

Don't forget.  The Jack Gantos audiobook giveaway ENDS tomorrow at 11:59 pm.  Comment on this blog with your first name and the town you live in if you want to win an Advance Listening Copy of Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, READ by Jack Gantos and including an interview OF Jack Gantos that is not available anywhere else!!   It's amazing.  You could win it HERE

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Clearing out Part 2

I found a couple of journals in my clearing out adventure - both from 2003.  There was a lot of unfortunate whining in those notebooks - "I'm soooo tired."  "I eat all the wrong things."  "Why can't (insert family member here) do (insert preferred chore or activity here) without my asking?".  Blah, blah, oh-shut-up blah!

I tossed them but I think I will reclaim them because the lists of all the things I did while dealing with relocating my mother-in-law, working full time and keeping up with family visits totally floored me.  I've only been retired 8 months but that hamster wheel existence feels so unreal.  I also want to keep the record of Mom Maurer's last few years.  They were life changing for all of us.

Actually, everything is life changing.  PHILOSOPHY WARNING!!!!!  Enough said.  I will take my philosophy break in silence.  You can thank me later.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pregnant pause - Clearing out

 Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan is NO Juno.  Sixteen-year-old Ellie finds planning for the future - or even thinking  about the future - very confusing and scary.  And so, she finds herself 7 months pregnant, married to her stoner boyfriend (and the baby's Dad) and working at her in-laws' weight loss camp for the summer.  She shares a one room cabin -with NO INDOOR plumbing - with her new husband.  But this whole marriage-baby thing has made big changes in their relationship.  For one thing, Ellie is sober.  Lam, her husband, is not.

This is truly a coming of age story, believable until the very end.  Everyone involved including Ellie, shows their ugly side from time to time.  But when the baby is born, it looks like only Ellie will rise to the challenge.

Now, I am not going to tell you what happens.  There are a lot of things to make the reader cringe and laugh in this novel.  But I will tell you that the parents - Ellie's and Lam's - are four of the most selfish well-meaning people I have ever read about.  They are all "trying" to do the right thing; honestly, they are.  But all four of them are so caught up with what they wanted for their lives and for the lives of their children that their behavior is....pretty awful  And here's the worst part.  Um, ...I acted like that, too, (said in a very small voice).  Not proud, at all.  But it made the whole book that much more convincing.

There is a caveat.  The ending is hopeful and I always worry that some teen might read a book like this and think, "Hey, if that happens to me, it will all work out."  This is fiction - as in not true.

Here's what I wish.  All teens are patient, careful and respectful of one another.  All parents of teens are loving and accepting of their teens.  All babies are loved and wanted.  It should be that way.

On the home front: We bought new furniture for the family room.  (We have a grandbaby coming.  We want the house nice for her.) This means we need to get rid of old stuff, furniture, books, table linens, candles, music books.  Or we need to find other places for them.

Right now the living room looks like a heap with two large boxes of books on their way out and two piles of table linens - the "keep" pile and the "good-bye" pile.  The lovely old steamer trunk that held those table linens is going somewhere.  I hate to get rid of it but, really, it's a safety hazard for small people.  Thank goodness for the second floor of our garage.

Every time I move something to another room, I notice stuff in that room that needs to be thinned out and so my office is also a heap.  Sigh.

The weather is too wet for log splitting so today I will have to "exercise" indoors.  We stopped over at Mom and Dad's to make sure they had supplies for the Huge Major Big Enormous O-My-Heavens storm that is headed our way and Dad made my husband watch as Dad and I demonstrated that log splitter toy of his.  My husband was - ho-hum - so excited to see it.  I had fun and that's all that really matters, I think.

Batten down those hatches, friends.  Fill your bathtubs.  Put your patio furniture inside.  Irene is blowing in!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Splitting logs - new exercise routine

Nope!  Not like this.  But this sure looks old-timey!
My parents are in their 80s and my Dad is closer to 90 than not.  His persistent cough has been tied to something (???) in his lung which will be diagnosed as soon as they can get him in for a needle biopsy.   It worries him to be so tired and worn out.

So I stopped by today with a brother in tow to make sure my parents' 3 acres got mowed and where is the old sir?  In the barn splitting logs, that is where he is, thank you very much.  (Head Shake of Disbelief!)

He has something called The Anaconda, so don't imagine that he's lifting an axe over his head.  No, this manual log-splitter looks like an iron rod inside a long, narrow iron collar with a wedge on the end of the rod.  And here is how it works.  You, or in this case, I placed the wedge in the direction I hoped the split would go.  Then I pulled the collar up and slammed it down on the wedge in a motion that reminded me of churning butter. (I have never churned butter but I watched "Little House on the Prairie!")  I did it two handed throwing my whole weight behind it because, as I told my once six-foot tall father, "I'm a hefty woman, Dad.  I probably weigh more than you do."  And I did it one handed, taking turns.  At one point when the wedge went in at an angle, I stood in front of the log giving my triceps a bit of a workout as well.

The whole time, I admit, I did a little yelling and grunting and cheered each time a log split.  My Dad seemed to get a kick out of watching me, and I am sure he knew I was doing the whole thing for his benefit.  However, I got an excellent upper body work-out and I very well may go back tomorrow and finish the pile.  Mom and Dad have some more trees coming down this fall and there will be more logs to split next summer, after they dry out a bit.

I resent having to "exercise".  I am a hefty woman who "enjoys her food".  (We all know what that means.)  But exercise has kept diabetes at bay for years.  So when I find something that gives me a work-out AND actually accomplishes something, I am there!  Oh, yeah.  Splitting the Logs!  Karen the Log-Splitter! Go Anaconda, go!
Anaconda, Wand of Split-struction

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Storm's Coming

We had an earthquake this week -  the second one in my whole life and I am over half a century old.  It caused such a stir that it was the only thing people talked about for a day or two after.  This photo of a plastic lawn chair on its back has been floating around Facebook as the aftermath of the Great East Coast Earthquake and it represents the "damage" we felt around here.  The tremor was about what you'd expect if a really big truck dragging a heavy trailer came by your house.  Ooooooo!!  Scary!
Sad, isn't it?  We're suffering from the great earthquake of '11.
I thought it was pretty darn cool!

And NOW, we are going to be hit dead on by a hurricane.  My husband is running around putting batteries in things and otherwise battening down the hatches.  I have my own preparations to make.

I have unearthed a mound of unread ARCs left from BEA!  Yeah!  Bring it on, rain and wind!  I have BOOKS!!  And flashlights.  Oh and lots of water and I've packed the freezer with water jugs in case the power goes off.  And I am powering up my Nook.  Because what if I read The Predicteds and Bluefish and The Traitor's Smile-French Revolution anyone? - and the power's still off?  I have a couple of books on the Nook, waiting.   Like Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump I can rail at the wind and the storm.  "You don't scare me!"........ yet....much.....ulp.

Jack Gantos giveaway - still on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Little Women and me

One summer, I read Little Women 20 times.  Summers were longer back then and responsibilities, fewer.

THIS summer, I read Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Once.

Fourteen-year-old Emily March has to write an essay naming three things about a book she really enjoyed and one thing that she would change.  She picks Little Women.

She is sucked into the book and becomes the FIFTH March sister, the one in the middle.  And there she stays throughout the entire book of Little Women.

Emily learns a lot about herself, relationships and family while stuck in Marchville. 

Baratz-Logsted uses a couple of clever devices to get Emily from one end of Little Women to the other.  For one thing, if it didn't happen in the book, it doesn't happen to Emily.  So, Emily is forever trying to remember what did happen in the book to understand who new characters are or what she is supposed to know.  Emily remembers the big events and tries hard to prevent catastrophes.  But Baratz-Logsted finds ways for things to occur the way they did in the book - or close to it - no matter what Emily does.

Fans of the original Little Women will enjoy Little Women and Me.  The ending will cause some discussions.  And anyone who is a middle sister, or who has sisters, or wishes they had sisters will relate to Emily and her March sisters - both the 19th century and the 21st century clans.

The Jack Gantos giveaway has a few more days.  It ends on August 31st at 11 :59 pm.  Leave a comment to enter.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hipy Papy Bthuthdy, Winnie-the-Pooh!

Ack!  Winnie the Pooh is 90 years old, today!  Wow.  That's original fluff-brained Pooh, not cute-i-fied ad nauseam Disney Winnie.  When it comes to Pooh and Christopher Robin and Piglet, I am a Milne/Shepard ONLY fan.   I especially dislike what Disney did to Eeyore, who has been my favorite character since I reached adulthood.

Winnie and his friend, Piglet, live in a glass display case in the New York Public Library, now.  These toys are the original stuffed animals on which A. A. Milne based his stories.  Rabbit, Rabbit's Friends and Relations and Owl are based on actual animals.  Everyone else was a member of Christopher Robin's bedroom menagerie.  Except the Heffalump.  I'm not sure where the Heffalump came from.

To mark this august occasion, Christopher Robin's estate allowed the first-ever "authorized" sequel to The House at Pooh Corner to be published in 2009.  Return to the 100 Acre Wood by David Benedictus introduced a new wild character and brought back all of the old favorites.  I still like the old stories, the ones I and my son grew up with, best of all.

Don't forget the Jack Gantos giveaway has another week to go.   (Yeah, I just linked to my own blog in my blog!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Before Ever After

I just gave my ARC of Before Ever After   by Samantha Sotto to a good friend.  This book will make its way around the booktalk/book group circuit in no time.  BTW, Amazon has a very nice little book trailer.  Just click on the title above.

Here's the set-up.  Max was killed in a terrorist attack on the London underground, leaving behind his young wife, Shelly.  Three years later, on a Sunday morning, Shelly is trying to recreate Max's delicious baked eggs and cheese when the doorbell rings.  At the door, stands Max!!! No, wait.  This man's name is Paolo.  And Paolo claims to be Max's grandson......

This claim, and what Paolo shows Shelly to prove it, leads the two of them on a search for Max/Nonno and on a journey into the past - a tour through Europe that Shelly took with Max as the tour guide.  She met him, fell in love and now, she wants to hunt him down and demand some answers.

Part travelogue - I want to go to Slovenia, France, Austria, Switzerland, Venice - even to the South Sea Islands - part time travel, definitely romance, this book will carry you along.   Sotto's writing is smooth, descriptive and evocative.

OH, and I almost forgot!  Chicken lovers take note.  Chickens are very important in this story.   Any ideas what this "symbolism" might mean?  (Besides the fact that chickens rule!)

The ending troubled me, and I'd love to hear someone else's take on that.  Anyway, getting to the end was worth it.   Read the book and please come back and tell me what you think.

GIVEAWAY STILL ON:  Leave a comment mentioning the Jack Gantos audiobook giveaway, your first name and where you are located for a chance to win an audiobook of Dead End in Norvelt.  Comments on this blog are moderated so your comment will NOT appear immediately. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Giveaway extended

I have decided to extend the Jack Gantos audiobook giveaway for two reasons:
1.  The original requirement of  a minimum number of comments was NOT reached.
2.  I did a poor job of marketing this giveaway.

SO, if you would like to win an Advance Listening Copy of Jack Gantos' new book, Dead End in Norvelt, READ by Jack Gantos himself - AND including an interview with the very self-same Jack Gantos - comment on this blog.  Mention the Jack Gantos giveaway, your first name, and where you live so I can identify the winner in my blog post on September 1st.  The giveaway ends on August 31st at midnight EST.

This time there is no minimum amount of comments required.  I WILL give this audiobook away.

Check out this book trailer for Dead End in Norvelt.  I haven't opened the audiobook so I was not aware that there was a homemade airplane in this book,  as well as the Hell's Angels and a possible murder to say nothing of the bloody nose.  There is a sample of this audiobook on the publisher's website.  Listen to it here.  If the plastic wrap on the audiobook accidentally gets, um, broken, you won't care, right?

I will try very hard to get the audiobook to you BEFORE it hits the stores on September 13th.

All These Things I've Done

I finished All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin.  I was not disappointed at all and, although this book could be a stand alone, there are questions that crop up that could foreshadow another book, or maybe two.  For instance, just what did Mouse do to get 1000 days confinement in juvenile detention?

When I read a book that I hope others will want to read, I don't want to give too much information about the plot.  This book is sort of "The Godfather Lite" in subject matter.  I mean, really, the controlled substance is chocolate.   The plot is a teensy bit similar to Gordan Korman's Son of the Mob, but Zevin's book is not nearly as slapstick as Korman's work.  There are clever, smart ass remarks and funny moments in All These Things I've Done.  While both books address the complications of being a member of a crime family by birth and not by choice, Zevin goes into the decisions and their consequences more deeply.   Of course, Anya is an orphan and her guardian is dying - that tends to sober the whole mood, right there.

ENOUGH!!!  Read the book when you get the chance.  It comes out on September 6th so go to your library of choice.  Corner the YS librarian and tell him or her to ORDER this book.  Then put a hold on it.  More holds, more copies!!  That's the way it works in most public libraries.  Suspense, romance, crimes, injustice, - all of that and more wait for you in All These Things I've Done.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nice surprise

I opened my front door last night and a package fell into the living room.  It was an Advance Reader's Edition of Gabrielle Zevin's All These Things I've Done.  I think AREs or ARCs or galleys or whatever they are called are the best things to find in the mail - except for long chatty letters from far-flung family and friends. (Hint, hint, far-flung friends and family!)

Zevin got rave reviews for her earlier book ElsewhereElsewhere examined the afterlife of a girl who died at fifteen.  It was such a sad, thoughtful, wry and hopeful book that I couldn't wait to get my hands on All These Things I've Done.

I haven't gotten too far but I have learned an appalling aspect of the world in this book.  Caffeine and chocolate are both outlawed.  This book must be a HORROR story.  I swoon to think of a world where chocolate is a controlled substance.

The heroine, Anya Balanchine, is the daughter of a notorious - and dead - crime boss.  And the new delicious boy at school is the son of the new District Attorney of the city.  Oops!  Set somewhere in the not-too-distant future, this book promises a good read.  And since the author is Zevin, I'm sure there will be some surprises.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jack Gantos giveaway

Today at midnight, the Jack Gantos giveaway ends.  We did not meet my "requirements" of 10 comments on that post.  Hmmm, I suspect that I don't have the readership for that kind of giveaway.  If you still hope to win an audiobook of Jack's latest novel, Dead End in Norvelt, comment on this post.  Anonymous comments are fine but I do need some way to identify the winner so say something clever in your comment.

If I get 10 comments - whoo hoo! - I will announce the winner in my Post on Thursday, August 18th.

90-second Newbery!!

Thanks to a Neil Gaiman blog post (The Three Weddings and a Fringe post), I got to see this delightful 90 Second Newbery video for Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.  Click and watch.  It's too cool.

I think there's still time to enter a 90 second video based on your favorite Newbery award winner.  If not for this year, I am hoping there will be a competition next year, too.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Discovery at Musikfest

It's embarrassing when someone from out of town has to lead one (meaning ME) to something on the Main Street of one's (me again) lifelong hometown.  My friend's daughter-in-law, whom I hope I can call my friend, too, led me into Seasons on Bethlehem's Main Street on Friday night during Musikfest.  Seasons is a taproom offering large samovar-looking kegs of flavored olive oil and vinegar.  WOW!!  That's pretty much all I can say, so I'll say it again.  WOW!  Small plastic cups allow customers to sample the oils and vinegars and then corked bottles are available for sale.  My young Alabaman friend had purchased vinegars for her family during Christmas and raved about the flavors.  Some of the more exotic vinegars included Dark Chocolate Balsamic, Pomegranate, Fig, Honey Ginger.  There was a strawberry infused olive oil, too.  I am going back as soon as the rain stops.

Because, of course, it always rains during Musikfest.  This week was not as bad as some past years.  It rained the first night, I think and then last night and today.   Thursday night was beautiful, with comfortable temperatures and manageable crowds.  I spent most of the evening at Lyrikplatz, next to the blacksmith shop on Main Street.  I was there to listen to Brenda Kahn and her guitarist, Andrei Maurer.  
In a previous post I described Brenda's music as swingy without being Swing. Um, not quite.  She's a head banger in a folky pair of jeans.  Her lyrics are edgy and her melodies are unpredictable.  There's no lulling the audience into the complacency of an easy listening experience with Brenda.  She does sing about the commonplace, the stuff we all relate to and then smacks it into the middle of the real angst driven world.  Andrei's guitar was, as I always think it is, a fine accompaniment to Brenda's songs.

I got to see the Carillon man for the first time on Thursday night, too.  He's got quite an act, sitting there beside his cage of bells in his spooky metal mask.  He dramatically swings his arms up as each piece draws to a close and then lowers his masked face into his hands.  He's fun to watch and the crowd loves him.  And,  no one knows who he is.....spooky!  Oh wait, yes we do.  He has a website and his performance is known as Cast in Bronze.
 His name is Frank Della Penna. But he could pass you on the street, in plain clothes, and you...would...never...know.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Irish Improv story

On Thursday - last week during the Amazing Storytelling Workshop - the kids demanded that Kelly tell a story.  Kelly is the Queen of Off-the-Top-of-Her-Head stories.  So, Erik had no idea what she was going to say.  Enjoy.

The Jack Gantos audiobook giveaway is still on.  Comment on yesterday's  post - if you comment anonymously give me a way to identify you when I announce the winner - and you could win a pristine, never listened to, Advance Listening Copy - complete with bonus author interview - of the new Jack Gantos novel for the middle school set, Dead End in Norvelt.   Jack's stuff appeals to all ages.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jack Gantos audiobook giveaway!

Jack Gantos has a new book out and I have a giveaway!!  Gantos' book, Dead End in Norvelt, which seems to be semi-autobiographical, takes place in the government built town of Norvelt.  The town was built after the mine that kept the surrounding area alive closed down.  Jack is grounded for the summer and spends his time with the area's historian and coroner, a feisty older lady.  This sounds like true Gantos, full of do-not-try-this-at-home antics and subtle insights.

Well here's the giveaway part.  I have, sitting next to my keyboard, a pristine, never opened, "advance listening copy" of Dead End in Norvelt read by the author and including an interview on disc 6!!!!!!!!!!!  I hardly want to give it away.  BUT if you comment on this blog post by August 15th, you will be entered automatically to win this amazing audio offering.  There are restrictions involved.  I need a minimum of 10 different people to comment on this blog for the giveaway to happen.  And you must include your email address so I can contact you if you win.

So, tell all of your friends about this giveaway, please.   Jack Gantos is (falsetto voice) awesome! (I met him at the Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference in 2010 - so funny and a great presenter!)

OK - Here's an update.  Comment on the post - say something, not just your name.  And use a user name.  I will try to contact you THAT way.  No email addresses floating around on the blog.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Internet Fast and Musikfest

Last night as I was journaling - with a pen on paper - I decided that I spend too much time on the internet.  On this blog, actually.  Which is a sentence fragment.  I should be ashamed.  About the sentence fragment, not about spending too much time on the internet OR on this blog - although those may, in some case, be causes for shame.

ANYWAY, I decided at 10 pm last night - I had been off the computer for approximately 40 minutes - that I would stay off the Internet for 24 hours.  I have tried this before and failed miserably.

But today, I DID IT!!!  Yay, me!  It helped that I have chores in the real world to do, like weeding and cleaning and cooking and shopping and that I have actual 3-D friends to go visit.  I mean, real truly-right-there friends that I can talk to and take walks with, not friends that I have to wear funny glasses to see in 3-D..

I was hoping to extend the Fast through tomorrow but I had to send some committee-type documents to a committee for a meeting I cannot attend.

OK.  Tomorrow - or today if you are reading this on Thursday, August 11th, - Brenda Kahn will share her songs at Musikfest at 8 pm at Lyrikplatz which is a small venue at the south end of Main Street.  Look at the map on the Musikfest website.  I like Brenda's songs.  They are swingy without being Swing.  Her lyrics cover real-life topics, not just love, lost love, lust, angst, party time - though she writes about these things, too.  And she has a very nice guitarist accompanying her tomorrow night.  So that's where I intend to be.  At Musikfest.  Talking in sentence fragments.  Since that seems to be a theme in this post.
I hope I have something more momentous to share with you next post.  Like how wonderful Brenda's performance was, how incredibly talented she is - and nice things about her guitarist, Drei, to whom I am related - and about all the friends I saw there.  (SENTENCE FRAGMENT!!!!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Return to Exile

I am waiting for permission to post the video of an improv story from the Storytelling Workshop.  Did you KNOW that I ran a storytelling workshop?  Yes!  I did!  And once I post that video I will stop running on and on and on about it.  (It was fun and amazing and the kids were sooo clever and......)

 In the meantime, let me tell you about a new book,  Return to Exile by E. J. PattenIt's the first in The Hunter Chronicles.  It gave me nightmares before I was even halfway through it.

I must admit, I am easily creeped-out.  That said, the town of Exile is a pretty awful place.

Mild Spoilers may follow.   If you really don't want to know anything about this book, skip to the last two paragraphs.  There is just enough info there to help you decide if the book is for you.

The Prologue does two things.  It shows the reader that Patten's writing style will include clever word play and that does lessen the tension a teensy bit.  It also sets the main character up as a boy who is marked from birth as something special and possibly something frightening.

Sky's family moves again on his 12th birthday but before they do he has another "hunting" lesson with his Uncle Phineas.  Phineas has been training Sky as a hunter, and in the history and folklore of Exile, as long as Sky can remember.  This move is momentous because the family is returning to the town of Exile, where Phineas' mansion stands.  And it is momentous because it is the first birthday in Sky's memory that Uncle Phineas does NOT show up to eat Sky's mother's world famous, though not necessarily tasty, goulash.  He gave Sky his watch earlier that day so we, the readers, are not all that surprised when Phineas is a no-show.

In Exile, the adults are clueless and children are disappearing.  Sky meets a group of teens that go out at night "hunting" in an unschooled attempt to keep their families safe.  Sky fears that his Uncle Phineas has been killed and he and his new "friends" join together to fight the horrors that surround the town of Exile.

The book comes out on September 6th.  And if you like creepy towns where the adults act like mindless automatons and kids are on their own against evil creatures, this book is for you.  Patten's writing style is flippant and clever and might keep us more "sensitive" types reading, as well.  Keep a light on.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beat the Bunny

So here's Beat the Bunny in action.  That "cluck, cluck, cluck" sound is me laughing. 

Curses! Storytelling week is done.

We got HATS!  Part of the crowd models their storytelling hats at lunchtime.
It's over -  a week of games and stories and a LOT of fun. Thursday, I was so tired.  I admit I was looking forward to the last day.  On Friday, as we worked through a final practice - with the microphones  - and as we talked about our stage names ("Marshmallow Fluff", "Crystal Chandelier", "Hog Wild", "Knock Your Socks Off") I realized that I did NOT want this workshop to end.   I like  these kids - and the teen volunteers - and the adults who helped me, too.  I even liked playing Beat the Bunny.
Homemade trolls!  How many stories involving trolls do you know?
I reviewed their homework from the first day - to come up with a curse and a counter curse.  Most of the curses had people being changed from themselves into something else.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Aishani was turned into the ugliest t-shirt ever and could not be turned back until a young woman bought her.  Like that would ever happen!!!  Project Runway, look out.  Aishani is on her way.

In Vidhya's curse, a Princess is turned into a book and cannot turn back until someone reads the book and likes it.  This one is close to my heart because books are awesome!

Ethan gets turned into a soccer ball and has to be kicked into the same goal by the same player in the same game 10 times.  WHAT!!!!  Poor Ethan!

Gwen becomes a clock and will be turned back when a celebrity buys the clock.  Alas, the purchase must happen within three days.  That time restriction makes this curse almost unbreakable.

Nandini's curse falls on a mean mean man.  Everything he touches turns to stone, especially his money UNTIL he is nice to everyone for an entire year.  Nice going, Nandini!  Take THAT, mean man!

Jules' curse involved a vampire.  The vampire turns someone into a bee.  The bee has to make honey for the vampire to get turned back into a person.  Anything with a vampire - or honey - in it is especially effective.

There were others and the Teen Tellers and adults had some curses that reflected more on real life.  (Miss Jeannie turned into a bag of mulch!  Hmmm, what's on her mind, I wonder?)

Expect actual live footage of wild tellers-in-training sharing tales and playing Beat the Bunny. in the next post.

The kids turned Kelly into a troll.   

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 3

Once again, those excellent volunteers manages to keep 17 children and me thoroughly entertained.  I learn that kids are good indicators of barometric pressure.  Today, we had a lot more antsy-ness than we had the first two days.  And tonight, it rained.  Who knew?

Yesterday, I asked Erik to take some videos.  Well, the kids thought sticking their hands in front of the camera was very very funny.  My attention was elsewhere, alas, so I will have to do a little editing before I can show you the children as they "walked as if..."

I got a couple of photos of the children in a circle playing "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" a game that requires monumental concentration.

Tomorrow, we are practicing with the microphone!!!!!!!!!  That might need a few more exclamation marks!!!!  I will have to lock the mike away between the practice sessions.  But I know it will be fun because everyone wants to talk into a microphone.  Well, everyone at the storytelling workshop wants to talk into a microphone.

We will decide one who will tell when in Friday's performance.  We will talk about whether or not we need props and costumes and we will practice, practice, practice until our eyes are crossed.  And THEN everyone will get more tokens for their storytelling bags.  YES!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Best volunteers, Little Free Libraries

Thanks to my daily dose of Shelf Awareness, I learned of the most lovable project to increase communities' access to books, Little Free Libraries.  These are small dropboxes that hold up to a dozen books.  They are designed to be attractive works of art in themselves and normal people, like you and me, are encouraged to build them, get permission to install them in public places and keep them stocked with books.  The suggestion is that anyone can take and/or add a book.  Look at the picture.  Isn't that little box inviting?

They won't take the place of public libraries but they sure look like a lot of fun.  Maybe, just maybe, public libraries could install a few of them as public services to the farthest reaches of their service areas.  Just a thought.

Well, I just finished the second day of the Storytelling Workshop that I am running for the Parkland Community Library.  I must give a HUGE shout-out to the volunteers who keep an eye on the kids as I run around "dealing" with popcorn shortages and finding where I put things - sigh.  Big thanks go to Robin R., Jeannie Kuttruff, Caroline Harakal, Emily Stein, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Erik N. and Katie M.  (People under 18 don't get their last names in, just in case.)  Raj S. was a big help yesterday and I hope to see him during the rest of the week.

I am always impressed when young people are more level-headed and organized than I am.  (Hmmm, that doesn't really seem to be a huge challenge, though.) So I truly have appreciated Katie M. who has made sure all the children are signed in and out and Emily Stein who is excellent at getting things cleaned up and sorted.  Caroline and Jeannie are my craft mavens.  Robin has an endless supply of games to keep the kids moving.  Erik and Kelly, my longest running Teen Tellers right now, keep the kids engaged, amused and charged up!

When working with this many children - only 17 this year - having three volunteers on hand at any time is a plus.  I doubt the workshop would run as smoothly - or at all - without them.

Stay tuned.  Erik took some video footage today.  I will post the videos and some photos when I have time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stories and kids

The first day of the storytelling workshop has left me exhausted but satisfied.  Thanks to Jordan Lutheran, we have a large air-conditioned space in which to spend the hottest time of day.  I expected to have a half hour to martial the volunteers and set out the activties but when I got to the church some eager parents and kids were already there.   I'm afraid I got a little flustered in a cheery sort of way, cut my finger, had to leave in the middle of several conversations to make sure volunteers knew what was up.  I hope those Moms realized I was more organized than I seemed.  Good thing I just bought a spiffy, nifty First Aid kit, so I could show off my bandaging skills to the parents.  Tomorrow, I will get there an hour early.

At noon, I always wonder how I am going to get to 2 pm.  At 2 pm, I always wonder where the day went.
One of my teen volunteers started as a workshop goer four or five years ago.  She gave me some excellent suggestions for active games to fill in the lunch time.  I toyed with the idea of sending them outside but there is not much shade and the room we're in is huge.

At the end of the day, we sat around and I gave them their homework.  They had to find a story to share.  It could not be a movie or a chapter book because there are 18 of them and we don't want to fall asleep listening to loooooong stories.  I have plenty of photocopied stories they can page through.

We talked about stories and ended up discussing how curses get reversed, as in The Frog Prince.  In the original story, the princess throws the frog against a wall!!!  What kind of twisted witch would make that the counter curse?  So I asked them, "If I turned Nandini into a toadstool, how could she get turned back?"  They decided she had to get to the Mall as a toadstool to be turned back into herself.

Several funny scenarios came out of that curse and counter curse.  The exercise was such fun that I added to their home work.  They had to come up with a curse AND they had to come up with a way the curse could be broken.  I can't wait for tomorrow.

Storytelling workshop

The Storytelling Workshop begins in 4 hours and 20 minutes.  My car is packed with the necessities of approximately 5 hours with 19 children, ?? teens and 3 other adults.  And what are those necessities?  Paper and pens and pencils and markers and tape and scissors and big rounds of fabric; popcorn and a popcorn maker and bowls and napkins and water and cups and name tags and a sign-in and sign-out sheet; books and photocopied stories, a list of games, a schedule for the day; AND release forms for all the parents to fill out. 

I think I'm ready.  Bring on the stories and the fun!  Now, I'll go try and catch an hour or so of sleep before heading out.