Roots: Sam and the Dragon

Family on MarsWhen I was in elementary school I wrote tons of stories.  Unfortunately, I only know where two of them are.  From fifth grade I have one story which is laminated and another, my first “chapter book,” which was typed by an aide or volunteer who must have deciphered my handwriting.  Bless them.  We made fabric book covers, but apparently no one knew how to assemble the books, so I have ditto printed pages stacked inside the cover with an old rubber band to keep it all together.  No matter.  I’m so glad I still have the first chapter book I ever wrote!

I pulled my old book off the shelf recently and was amused to see the similarities between what I wrote in fifth grade and my latest book, Sam and the Dragon: A Medieval Mars Story.  Both books are intended for middle grade readers.  My original book, “Family on Mars,” is a story about a family who moves from earth to Mars.  The main character, Greg (age 13) lives with his parents and his sister (age 10).  Sam and the Dragon takes place on Mars.  Sam (age 14 in earth years) lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin Ahni (age 12).  But what really tickled me was how the story begins.  Compare my fifth grade story opening to the opening of Sam and the Dragon.

From “Family on Mars”

On April 1, 2010, the never-forgotten day, Greg rushed in with the newspaper. “Hey, Dad,” shouted Greg, “there’s an ad in the paper that says we can go to Mars!”

From “Sam and the Dragon”

Sam burst through the doorway of the red brick hut. “Uncle Al! Uncle Al!”

Pretty funny.

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Categories: Children's Books, Mars | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Lunch with an Author!

Come see me at “Lunch with an Author” this Thursday, 5/7 at 12:00 at Indulge! Antiques in Springfield, OR.  I’ll be there talking about my books with host Amanda Bird.  Should be great fun!

Here is a link for directions: http://www.indulge1461.com/directions.html

Categories: Book Signing Events | Leave a comment

Educator: A Clear Explanation of Why State Testing Hurts Public Education

I just want to add my two cents to this discussion. In my state we use the Smarter Balanced version of these tests. I have examined the sample questions and they are WAAAY over the heads of the kids who have to answer them. The worse part to me was the fact that children have to answer every question in order to complete the test.  Where there is multiple choice, it’s easy to just guess and move on.  However, many questions require the students to compose an answer (each answer in the math section also requires different use of the technology — even I had trouble figuring out how to put in answers for some questions).  So if a child does not know how to answer the question (likely!), they have to just make up something and type it into the test.  I don’t know about you, but making up senseless answers is not something I want my child to be taught how to do!  There are so many things wrong with this test that to list them all would fill a book. If you haven’t already, and if it’s not too late, please look into opting your kids out of these tests.

Diane Ravitch's blog

One of the biggest challenges to those of us who oppose privatization, school closings, high-stakes testing, and the rest of the failed ideas mistakenly called “reform” have a big job to do. We must educate the public. The public hears the word “reform,” and they think it means progress and improvement. They don’t know it means chaos and disruption of their local public schools. They hear about testing, and they think, “I took tests, what’s so bad about that?”

Here is a fine example of educating the public. It appeared in my local newspaper, the Suffolk Times-Review (recently recognized as the best weekly in New York state). It was written by Gregory Wallace, a former “educator of the year.”

Wallace explains in plain language for non-educators why the Common Core testing will harm public education.

He writes:

As a seasoned educator, I strongly believe that well-designed tests are a valuable…

View original post 522 more words

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Palm Sunday

Although I visited Guatemala and Honduras multiple times as a child I have never had the privilege of seeing firsthand the incredible dyed sawdust carpets of Semana Santa, holy week.  These are temporary works of art, forming a carpet for the parades and processionals that take place throughout the week leading up to Easter.  The first photo is from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the rest are from Guatemala.  Aren’t they magnificent?

..sawdust carpet in tegu

..sawdust 5

..sawdust 2

..sawdust 4

 

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Welcome new readers…

Welcome to new readers!  I’m so glad you found my website and The Purple Elephant book!  I write books for kids from kindergarten through middle school and my books are filled with humor, usually in the form of animals doing things animals don’t usually do!  Like Duck, who owns a farm, and the purple elephant who… well, I don’t want to spoil any surprises.

I came across this picture the other day and it is purportedly not photoshopped.  There is a famer in Scotland who dyes his sheep for the amusement of tourists.  I thought something like this would be perfect for a Duck and Friends story.

dyed sheep 2

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Amazon sale on Duck and Friends

Hi Duck fans!  I wanted to let you know that the e-version of my early reader Duck and Friends: The Dinosaur Bones will be on sale at Amazon from 2/10-2/15.  Sale price $.99, regularly $2.99. Tell your friends and let’s make a splash in the rankings! Great for ages 4-8.

Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Duck-Friends-Dinosaur-Bones-ebook/dp/B00ASOUUU8/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_1_XJPR

Categories: Children's Books, Duck and Friends, Promotions | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

For those who love dragons…

Hey, fellow dragon lovers! The list has been released for the most common passwords in 2014 and “dragon” made the top 10! Pretty cool! Suggestion: don’t use dragon as your password. 🙂

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And the winner is…

Hey, thanks for everyone who visited and those who played Pick Your Favorite Dragon in my Appreciate a Dragon Day contest & giveaway!  Diana was the obvious favorite, although the Medieval Mars dragon got a vote and my son wanted to vote for Duck’s friend Dragon if I had let him enter the drawing, which I didn’t.  He has all of my books already. 🙂  Anyway, I used a Random Number Generator from Google and it chose the number 2, which means that the second commenter (Lori) is the winner!  Congratulations and thanks again everyone who played!

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Contest & Giveaway for Appreciate a Dragon Day!

January 16 is “Appreciate a Dragon Day!”  I didn’t realize until today, but I included dragon characters in every series of my children’s books.  How could I not have known that?  Dragons, I’m sorry!  I really appreciate you! In appreciation of my dragons, I am holding a contest to determine the favorite.  Vote for your favorite dragon in the comments below and your name will be entered in a drawing to receive a free book of your choice from my Duck and Friends series, Purple Elephant series or Sam and the Dragon. You don’t have to vote for the dragon in the book you’d like to win. So… drumroll, please… the contestants are… .

Duck’s Friend Dragon (Ahhhhchoo! Bless you!)Duck's Dragon

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Diana the Dragon (Prince Carmel’s colorful friend)Diana Dragon

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Medieval Mars Dragon (the newest addition — welcome to the family!)Mars Dragon

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The Friendly Enchanted Dragons EXtraordinaire (normally known by their initials) from The Purple Elephant: The Journey Home (no photo available)

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Which one is your favorite? You have until 5pm PST Sunday 1/18 to vote.  Winners will be announced Sunday night.

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Appreciate a Dragon Day was established in 2004 by author Donita K. Paul to celebrate the release of DragonSpell. On her blog, Ms. Paul lists lots more wonderful ideas on ways to celebrate her holiday.

Categories: Children's Books, Promotions | 7 Comments

Geronimo The Parachuting Beaver

This morning I read a true story of animals antics that is worthy of any of my Duck and Friends books.  It was about Geronimo, the parachuting beaver. No joke. In 1948, Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game moved some beavers into the backcountry by dropping them out of planes with parachutes, and a beaver named Geronimo was their test pilot… er… rodent. A story this silly deserves a silly retelling and Rob Thornberry of the Idaho Falls Post Register really does the story justice.  You can link to the story here.

Categories: Duck and Friends, Musings | Leave a comment

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