Covid and My Risk.
This is 2020. A hundred years from now, it wil still be known for Covid 19. For all the things that we can’t do, like go out to eat, or see our seniors. It will also be known for the things we have to do like wear masks or stay socially distant.
I’m considered at risk. I’m 61, and a diabetic. I knew when Covid came out that I had to follow the rules. . I stayed home, went out only for groceries, and wore my mask.
Summer came, and my husband and I helped my daughter move. It felt so good to be away from home. To wear my mask less. I even ate at a restaurant, outside. It was lovely!
Then Covid spiked and my kids talked to both of us, about following rules and staying safe. It’s funny to have your children give you advice. I loved them for doing it, but I didn’t want to be a baby, or a wimp. I promised them I would take it seriously, and I did . . . I talked to my doctor about my plans.
And the Doctor Said
I wanted to sub this fall. I thought I’d be fine, but I promised my kids, my husband too. I asked the doctor, and the doctor said . . .
No subbing for me, unless I’d be willing to be double masked all day. She wanted me to wear an N95 mask, with a face shield.
I’ve been wearing an N95 since March, but I’m only out for groceries or quick errands. An hour, tops. I’m always glad to take off the mask and breathe again. For me, it’s just not worth it to take the risk, and, wear a double mask all day.
I thought I’d be subbing in my hometown by now. I thought the spread would slow, and I’d be safe to go out. But, I’ll listen to my doctor and wait – till she says it’s safe. When you can’t do something, you really want to do it.
What I Miss about Subbing –
This is one of the elementaries I subbed in last year. I hope I’ll be back before this year ends. From the outside, it feels cold and empty, but inside it’s full of life.
The second picture could have come from inside, but it didn’t. One of the best things about an elementary is walking the halls and admiring the projects. You can learn a lot about kids by examining them, AND, it’s so much fun! Kids think differently from adults, and they say what they think. I love it! Usually, LOL!
These photos came from two different classrooms. I love to look around when I sub. What’s on the wall tells you a lot about what they teach, and how they teach it. I’ve used them in lessons – that’s why they’re there.
The other photo is from a smartboard/SmartScreen. Every single room I sub in uses them. They’re so much easier to use than when I was teaching 6 years ago. Why? The teachers put the links on their computer screens and in their plans. Once or twice a teacher has had a student who was my tech support. They loved it! Me too!
In Wapak the teachers also have a para-educator who’s in and out all day. They can find the link for me. Sometimes they even teach the lesson, especially in math. It has key vocabulary words that classroom teachers use. I don’t want to use the wrong ones and throw the kids off. Paras are WONDERFUL! For teachers, substitutes, and especially – KIDS!
But – what I miss the most – are the kids. Without them school is dead, like over summer vacation. BTW – I wrote a manuscript about that. It’s still in my computer, waiting for me to get the words, just right. I will!
There is so much life in a school. Sometimes too much! It literally bubbles out the door and bounces around the playground. I love talking to kids about content, in any subject. I love opening their minds to something new. I love chatting with them at recess. I guess I just love kids!
I miss them. The only good thing about being locked down – is that I have more time to write stories for them.
Me – at a few of My Favorite Places –
Can you guess where I’m at? If you answered school, you’re right! The first photograph was taken last year at one of my favorite elementaries. I won 4 books within a month, so I did a post about them. I had my picture taken with each one. I miss reading books to kids. At home I read in my head. It’s faster, but not as much fun!
The second photo was taken 5 years ago. I was visiting the school where I used to teach. It was lovely visiting and seeing my ‘old’ colleagues. There’s no place like school! My favorite part of that picture is the kids’ faces. Look at them, lifted up, looking at me, like I had something fascinating to say. I hope I did!
At home, no one looks at me like that. At school they do, whether I’m doing an author visit or a regular day of subbing. I love hanging out with kids!
This is me at 3 different book events from 2019. The first is from my local library. I was on the schedule, which was a thrill! Having MY book at MY local library, it was a bucket list moment!
The other two are from two local stores who sell my book. Being there is like visiting a friend’s house. It’s lovely. In spite of Covid, I’ve done two book events at both stores since March. I wear my mask and visit with people. It’s lovely to get out of the house and talk books! And, I always shop – I love to treasure hunt!
Part 1 – Meet Melanie – She’s a German teacher by day, and the school year of course. But at any other time, she’s a writer.
Melanie is from Southern Maine. If you’re trying to picture Maine, think New England, then go to the north-east corner of the Atlantic seaboard. Go across the border, and you’re in Canada, the nation to the north.
very musical – she sings, plays the piano, the recorder, and a few other instruments. She IS super talented!
Her website is titled Schreibenfreude, and it’s about sharing the joy of books, words, writing, and language. I think she’s on her way! If you’d like to learn more, visit her at https://melaniekyer.com/
This is Melanie with one of her favorite people, Gibran Graham from The Briar Patch. He helped her with presales. That’s when you buy a book before it’s published. Why? So you can be one of the first people to read it. It’s pretty exciting for authors, and for readers.
This is Melanie’s debut book, her very first. Your first is so exciting – for you, your family, for everyone you know. It’s a lot like your first child. You love all your kids, but there’s something special about that first one.
December is a month full of holidays, and they come from cultures all over the world. From religions like Buddhist to Christian to Jewish, and so many more. When eight cookies from different cultures come together, there’s a scramble to be the top cookie. Thank goodness for Indian Shortbread, who pushed to make peace.
Enjoy this rhyming picture book. It’s full of recipes and facts about traditional cookies from Greece, Germany, Israel, central Africa, the US, and Mexico.
Take a look at this map. You can find all of these countries. But to find the US and Mexico, this map would need to extend across the Atlantic Ocean.
Greece (in pink) Germany (green) Israel (red)
India (pink) I can’t see the name, but Pakistan (green) is west of India. I checked on a larger map 😊
Niger and Chad (green and yellow) are part of the continent of Africa. They’re in the north. Central Africa would be farther south.
This was me last year at the 2019 Northern Ohio SCBWI conference. It was 2 days, live and in person. I was so glad to be back, to see so many friends, and to find my book at the conference. All systems were GO!
This is what I looked like when I attended this year’s conference. I was in my PJ’s, on my couch, watching a video. This year’s theme – ‘Friends in Rectangles,’ like on a computer screen. It is 2020, the year of covid, social distancing, and zoom meetings.
I don’t like watching classes live – I get distracted by the chat window. I’d rather focus on the speaker so I watch the replays. The best part – I fit them around my schedule. It’s lovely!
I waited for the conference email with its list of sessions and links. I got it on the 4th, and I had till the 19th to watch everything I wanted to see. I only missed two sessions, one about mysteries and another on portfolios. I don’t write mysteries, and there’s no way I would ever illustrate a book. EVER!
Meet Sarah Jane Abbott! She’s an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Boooks and Beach Lane Books at Simon & Schuster.
Her first talk was Have a ‘Heart’: Writing Picture Books with a Message in Mind. Her ‘heart’ reminded me to craft my manuscripts for my audience. She said don’t talk down to kids. I agree - they are so sharp! Give them a good story, and make sure they have fun reading it.
Her second, If At First You Don’t Succeed, Revise, Revise Again. That resonated with me! I love revision, and I already do two of her suggestions. I read my words aloud, and every time I listen to them, I search for better ones.
Sarah shared an exercise that I’m dying to try. She took a manuscript and flattened it. I want to try enriching it first. Then I’ll read what the author wrote. She’s incredible, and kids love her books. I hope I can learn from her how to make my own magic! It’s always in the revision!
Sarah’s advice to writers/illustrators:
“Read as many recent books in the category you write (picture books, middle grade, etc.) as you can, paying special attention to the books that have been most successful in the market. Don’t give up! It’s a tough industry and persistence is key.”
Meet Jess Harold! She’s an editor at Scholastic, who works on picture books, graphic novels, and novels that center marginalized voices.
Her first talk was all about Picture Perfect Books! The books kids love. The ones they want to hear every night. There wasn’t anything new, but it’s great to hear I’m on the right track. That I’m working on those things that will make my manuscripts better.
Her second, How to Market Yourself! was another review, another confirmation that I’m on the right track. I post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’ve written query letters and pitches, but I’d never thought of including my social media numbers on them.
Jess reminded me to keep my comp titles current. Comp titles help agents and editors get a feel for a manuscript. Her last tip – to have 3 high resolution photos, of me, ready to use. I have a little updating to do!
Jess’ advice to writers/illustrators:
Don’t put all your focus into one project; make sure your portfolio is wide-reaching and eclectic!
Meet Allison Remcheck! She’s an Associate Agent at Stimola Literary Studio who says it’s a bit like a treasure hunt to find the books that speak to her most easily.
Crafting a Mysterious Mystery, had 2 parts. I finished the first half, but didn’t get to the second. I don’t write mysteries, but the first half resonated with me. It reminded me of the things books should have.
Stakes – something your main character will lose, if they fail.
Character Arc – the growth your main character makes because of their 3 tries to win the goal. Each try must become a little harder.
Theme – the central idea that’s at the heart of your story.
Take-Away – what your reader will learn or experience after finishing your book.
Allison’s advice to writers/illustrators:
It sounds really cliché, but the best advice I could give an author or an illustrator, is to really love the project you are working on, to write what pleases you, and don’t worry about trying to follow trends, or pushing yourself to conform to a popular genre or style. If your work is genuine, it will stand out. Be the trend-setter, worry about what you do well, not what you think will sell well.
Meet Weslie Turner! She is a Senior Editor at the Versify imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Weslie has edited books for all ages,
Her first talk, Character Creation: What Dice and Dungeon Masters Taught Me About Storytelling. I’ve created characters before like Neil in NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM, or Zoe in LAKE FUN FOR YOU AND ME, but I’ve never done it like this before . . . with Dungeons and Dragons.
Weslie’s version involves writing about your new character and the things they do. The next step - to write a conversation between characters. I could have a new character talk to an old one. I could also have them write or talk to a character another author created. We’d both gain from the experience.
Her second talk, Revolutionary Books: Publishing Stories That Create Change. There was nothing new in this talk, but it was nice to take a trip down memory lane, and look at some of my favorite books.
THE SNOWY DAY was one of them. I didn’t realize it was ground breaking when I got it in 2nd grade. Peter was the first black main character in a picture book. The important thing to me, and to other kids - I knew I loved his story! I still do!
I think every writer wants to write that story, the one that gives a kid a new perspective. Fingers crossed, someday, I write that story!
Wesley’s advice to writers/illustrators:
Seek out and listen to conversations about diversity, representation, and equity happening in the industry. Listen to people asking for more / better representation, listen more than you talk, and then when you think you have something to say, listen more.
Meet The Mazza Museum! I wish I could introduce you to Ben Sapp, the Director of the Museum, but I couldn’t find any photos. Ben has been with the museum for 25 year, and he knows it in – and out.
The Mazza Museum has grown over the years to include over 13,000 pieces of art, all of them illustrations from children’s books.
You’ll never see all 13,000 pieces on display at once. Only 3% is shown in the 6 galleries at one time. That’s about 390 illustrations.
The rest – stored away in their special climate-controlled vault. I copied 3 rows of illustrations, the work of 12 illustrators, from Mazza’s website, to give you an idea of the incredible riches stored away at the University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum. You can visit online, or in person.
Cheryl Harness Chris Raschka Dave Szalay Deborah Freedman
E.B. Lewis Gianna Marino Lindsay Ward Matt Faulkner
Pamela Johnson Paul Owen Lewis Rebecca Gibbon Wendell Minor
This is the cover of one of Mazza’s favorite author/illustrators, Patricia Palacco. I was lucky – I heard her speak at Mazza. I got to see the real Keeping Quilt, to hear her talk about it. She donated it to the museum, not to her grandchildren. They’ll get a copy they can enjoy, and play with, like Patricia did.
It’s an incredible gift, to an incredible institution. Did you know there was a time when children’s illustrators were not considered ‘real artists?’
Maybe that’s why Mazza has such a special place in the heart of so many famous illustrators. It was on my bucket list to have a book at Mazza, not as an illustrator – I draw stick people!
I was there for their last Funday Sunday before Covid. The next event was cancelled . BUT, if you click on this link, you can see what’s going on at Mazza right now
Here’s the link to their home page . . . https://www.mazzamuseum.org/ . . .
Click, and you can learn more about Mazza and what they can do for you. If you visit the Buckeye state, check out Mazza, and then head over to Dietz’s ice cream/chocolate. They’re two great reasons to visit Findlay!
Meet Nichole de las Heras! She is a Senior Art Director at Random House Children’s Books, where she oversees board books, picture books, and early chapter books.
Her first talk was Picture Book Making 101 for the Illustrator. Nichole took you step-by-step through the nuts and bolts of making a picture book. From when the illustrator receives the manuscript and creates initial sketches, to publication.
It’s an incredible process. I worked with Cole Roberts to do 6 black and white illustrations, then the cover. We started with thumbnails and worked our way up. We went through 3 different phases. It was amazing to watch him create the images you see in our book.
Her other talk, What Makes a Good Portfolio? was about what Nichole, as an art director looks for when she looks through an artist’s work to decide if she wants to hire him.
Nichole’s advice to writers/illustrators:
Work to develop your own personal style/voice—your uniqueness will set you apart. Also, think quality over quantity for pieces in your portfolio.
Question 1 –
What vegetable was traditionally carved long before pumpkins?
Turnips Beeetroot Cabbage Potatoes
And the answer is . . . TURNIPS!
I can’t imagine hollowing out any of these vegetables, but evidently back in the 18th century (the 1700’s) pranksters used to hollow out turnips. Then they’d carve scary faces into them and turn them into lanterns. Some people said those faces represented evil spirits. Others said the faces kept evil spirits away.
Question 2 –
So where did those first jack-o-lanterns come from?
United States Ireland France Transylvania
And the answer is . . . Ireland!
Here’s the map of Europe. Do you see, France and Romania? They’re both in purple.
d you eliminate Transylvania? It’s not even a country. It’s actually in the center of Romania.
Ireland is in yellow, and the Irish were the ones who started making jack-o-lanterns out of turnips. It’s based on this old Irish folk tale . . .
Stingy Jack tricked the Devil out of his soul, but the Devil got even. He made Jack walk through the underworld with a lantern. It was really a turnip, held on a stick, lit by coal.
The Irish started making their own lanterns using a big turnip or potato. When immigrants came to the US, they brought their lanterns with them.
We switched to the pumpkin, a much bigger and better vegetable! The US isn’t on this map. You’d have to go west from Ireland across the Atlantic Ocean to find the US.
More Info: www.history.com
Part 2 – The Roots of Halloween
Question 3 –
Who is at the roots of Halloween?
The Celts (Kelts) The Romans
Question 4 –
What’s the name of their original festival?
Samhain (sow-in like cow)
Question 5 –
Why did they need this festival?
To speak with dead ancestors
To make predictions for the future
The answers . . . The Celts were at the roots of Halloween. If you look at the map above, they originally came from Ireland, the United Kingdom (England), and France. The first photo is a wooden Celtic figure.
Their Festival was known as Samhain. It started the night of October 31st, when the fall harvest was ending. The Celts believed that ghosts returned to cause trouble and damage their crops. They also believed those ghosts made it easier for the Druids, the Celtic priests, to predict the future. A Druid is in the last picture.
The Druids made huge bonfires. The people burned food and animals in them as sacrifices to their gods. The Celts wore animal heads and skins. They told fortunes for each other. Their festival helped them survive a long, cold winter with no grocery stores or new crops till spring.
The sacrifices, are now our treats. We exchanged the animal heads and skins for costumes, and the fortune telling became the trick part of Trick or Treat.
Tricks have mostly disappeared, but early Americans used to celebrate their harvests by telling ghost stories and fortunes, or by singing and dancing. Maybe with Covid this year, we should go back to those roots.
Please check out this source. It has a short video, 12 seconds, plus 4 sets of photos with the ghosts of Halloween past.
Part 3 – Halloween and Pop-Culture
Question 6 –
Which weighed more?
The Titanic OR One year of trick or treat candy
Question 7 –
When did kids trick or treat for coins, toys, and home-made sweets?
30’s & 40’s 50’s & 60’s 70’s & 80’s
Question 8 –
What is the most popular Halloween song of all time?
Dark Masquerade Farewell Forever Monster Mash Awaken
The answers . . . I can’t believe it . . . Halloween candy! The Titanic weighed a mere 100 million pounds, and it was one of the biggest ships of all time!
Every year we buy about 600 million pounds for one Halloween. That’s six Titanic’s! We must love our kids and their candy!
In the 1950’s and 1960’s kids got coins or toys or home-made sweets. I trick-or-treated in the 60’s, and I never got a single toy. Not one! Candy was cheaper to give away. When I started, we got regular size candy bars. When I finished, people gave out the miniature ones.
Home-made treats – I didn’t get them very often. By then more and more moms were working and didn’t have time to bake. Besides, would you rather have a chocolate chip cookie or candy? I’d pick candy every time!
By the 70’s and 80’s people started putting bad things in the treats. I remember hospitals would x-ray candy for kids. It’s a sad day when you can’t trust Halloween candy.
The most popular Halloween song – THE MONSTER MASH! Perhaps you’ve heard it! I have – ever since 1962 when I was 3 years old! It’s been a Halloween hit ever since for Bobby “Boris” Pickett.
Here’s the link for an animated version of Boris’ song. I remember the stairs and the blinking eyes from my childhood. Enjoy!
Read and Write - I’m always reading. I pick Young Adult/Adult books to read for fun on my Kindle. They can be new or old. It doesn’t matter.
With children’s books, I only read new ones, and I read them as a writer to stay current with the market. I pick out 4 picture books and a chapter/middle grade book a month from my local library.
I don’t read them just for fun. I read them to understand how to write for kids, to learn how to put in the content they need. It helps me build words and sentences into stories.
I also enter each one in my book log. I write about what I like/ don’t like. My Log is where I find the titles I review for My Reads. I look for books that match up to each new blog post.
I’m always writing! I write in segments for my website each night. After I finish a post, I pick a book to review. It’s one of the things I’ve done over the past four years to build a platform as a writer.
During the day I write as much as possible. I hate days with appointments. I never get as far as I hope. I always want more.
My favorite writing days are when I can stay in my PJ’s most of the day, and I can focus on the words. It’s heaven!
I never expected to have 3 WIP’s (Works in Progress) at the same time. Two of them are scheduled for March 2021. The third is due in October.
It’s funny to say a book is due, but in some ways it’s like birthing a baby. You have to give it enough time and nourishment to grow into a story you’re willing to put your name on.
Here’s what it looks like when I write. I find a comfy spot and sit with my laptop. I used to write in a room by myself. If there was any noise, I’d put on headphones. The bad part – it isolated me from my family.
I still write in a comfy spot, but now the TV is on. It’s background noise. I half listen, but my attention is focused on my writing. The best part – my husband can be in the room, and I can be part of the family.
Take Classes, Market Ourselves, or Our Books - When I was teaching, this is what my classes looked like. Well, if I only had 15 in my room. Most years I had between 20 and 25. The first year I had 30. YIKES! That’s a lot of kids to divide my time between. If each kid could talk for 1 minute, they could each speak twice in an hour. Most people don’t think of class size that way. Teachers do!
When I took classes, to help me teach or write better, I used to have to physically go into a class. That’s lovely if it’s only 30 minutes away. Once I traveled 15 hours to do a weekend of classes at Highlights, you know the magazine company! It was great, but expensive – time and money-wise.
I’ve also taken classes or done critiques online. I’ve never had a critique partner in my home town. Writing for kids is not something done in Wapak or Auglaize County, Ohio. I’ve had critique partners in Ohio, in Tennessee, across the country, and a few that were international. I’m in two online groups now, and one of my partners is originally from New Zeeland. Now she lives in Canada. The kidlit world is a small one after all!
Since Covid reared its ugly head, online is the only way things are done in the kidlit world. I went to my first national conferenc SCBWI in LA because of Covid. I would never pay airfare and hotel to get there, especially when my learning curve as a writer is still high.
Right now I’m working my way through the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference, online. I had 13 videos I wanted to watch. I have 3 left to see by the 19th. Only 2 days left, but if I don’t make it, that’s OK. I did the ones I wanted to see, FIRST!
Marketing is as unfamiliar to me as this illustration is. I’m a second grade teacher. That’s my wheelhouse, where my skills are.
Marketing, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, is about getting people to do what you want. I understand that – I am a teacher! But I don’t understand how to sell my book, or me as an author. That’s way over my head, like 100 feet deep!
But I am excited about marketing this year! I’m working with a hybrid publisher. It’s a little of self and traditional publishing smushed together. So far, I LOVE working with an editor. I love pushing my work to be better.
Soon we’ll start working on marketing for this new book, and you’ll HEAR about it. They’ll do part of the work. They’ll also guide me on how I can help. I’ll watch, take notes, and apply those things to NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM. I can’t wait!
This part of marketing, I DO understand! I know shopping, and one of the best places to sell Neil is at a museum gift shop. Neil was once sold at two museums – The Armstrong Museum in Wapak and the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve been trying to get it into a NASA Museum in Virginia. I was close – till Covid hit. Now it’s time to try again. Christmas is coming, and Neil’s book is a perfect gift for aviation-loving kids!
Part 1 – Celebrating a Socially Distant Halloween Trick or Treat
Project #1 – A Halloween Candy Slide
Trick or treat, anyone?
If your community is holding one this year,
here’s the perfect way to use social distancing, with PVC pipe. Here’s a basic supply list:
PVC pipe Spray Paint Cheese cloth
Skull Skeleton Acrylic Paint
Tools: glue gun scissors Hacksaw.
To get started, click on this link. It’s my source, and it also starts with a video: https://www.instructables.com/Halloween-Candy-Slide/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email
You might watch this video before trying this project. I added in photos and quick directions below to help you decide if it’s right for you.
1. Cut the pipes into the right lengths. 2. Assemble the bases.
3. Add the lips. 4. Paint the stands. Theirs is in black, but you could
use white, or, a different color.
5. Add the slide. 6. Decorate! You can use skeletons, witches, or
whatever’s on sale. Happy Trick or Treat!
Project #2 – A Halloween Cooler – OR – Walk by Candy Containers
I was looking for another socially distant way to pass out candy, and I think this could work. The project is done as a cooler, but I can imagine a string of pumpkins sitting at the end of my driveway. Let kids take one or two treats out of each pumpkin. It would be cute, fun, AND SAFE!
Here’s my source link, but no video. It doesn’t need one.
I’m sharing some steps with quick basic directions to help you decide if this project’s for you.
1. Draw a line to help you cut the top of your pumpkin. Cut, then scoop out the pumpkin pulp.
2. Repeat step 1 with the side of your pumpkin. Then give it a bleach bath.
It will keep your pumpkin from rotting for as long as possible. Then decorate.
3. Line your pumpkin with plastic wrap. Add ice if you need a cooler.
Add treats if you’re using your pumpkin as a candy dish.
Now, get ready . . . get set . . .
GO Trick or Treat, 2020 style.
Part 2 – Three Cute Costumes
#1 – Paper Butterfly This is one cute costume whether you follow the directions on the site, or make up your own. Here are photos for the wings, abdomen, and head.
Costume 2 – Spiderboy/girl What kid wouldn’t love this costume? The spider legs are black socks stuffed with newspaper. You hold them in place using cardboard and a black bag. His mom used face paint for his mask. She made two sketches before actually painting his face. You could do the same with a real mask. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Spider-Costume/
First sketch Second Face Paint
Costume 3 – Shower Anyone? Try this one! The other two shots show the tricky parts, the framework. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Shower-Costume/
Looking for something unique, try this one: https://www.instructables.com/Toilet-Costume/
If you still didn’t find a costume, try this link: https://www.instructables.com/howto/costumes/
Part 3 – Snack Time!
Snack 1 – Broomstick Anyone? If a picture’s worth 1000 words, these two equal this recipe. All you need are some pretzel sticks and cheese. The strip that goes around the cheese, is Nori (seaweed), but you could substitute anything long and stringy. Licorice could work, but I don’t know how it would taste. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Witches-Brooms/
Snack – Sand-witch? These three pictures are worth a recipe too, but I’d click on the link for some of the details. The author gives you a list of possible foods for each piece of the witch. She also has some basic patterns to help you cut your food. Finally there’s a video from Susan’s mother. She invented the sand-witch to get Susan to eat. If you want to be as cool as Susan’s mom, try red food-coloring in your milk, and you can pretend to be a vampire too!
Snack 3 – These eyes have it! WOW! They do! Would you believe that these eyeballs are made with fruit? I didn’t – till I read the recipe. The other ingredients hold it together. Click on this link, and then have some fun!
Part 4 – Projects Please!
Project 1 – A Haunted House This project came from a Kindergarten teacher.
She started with the letter H, made from strips of construction paper.
You’ll need black markers next. Add the roof, then the sides. Doors and windows come last.
Finish by drawing in the other details. Miss Kelly has her kids draw with pencil, then color in with marker. Link: https://www.instructables.com/Arts-and-Crafts-for-the-Letter-H/
Project 2 – Pastel Haunted House I love each and every one of these houses. They’re all different!
1. Pick two watercolors. Then mix them together on your page. Let it dry COMPLETELY.
2. Draw lightly with pencil. Put in everything you want – Graves, Trees, Bats, Moon, a Ghost. Don’t forget a house with doors and windows. Everything you draw will be colored in yellow, or black.
3. Start with your yellow Pastel. Don’t overdo it. Keep the focus on black. Let the yellow pop out.
4. Finish up with black Pastel. You’re done when your paper is filled by paint or Pastels.
Project 3 – Blockhead/Headless Robots Too cute! But you need to be old enough to use an Xacto knife, or have a parent do it for you. Click on the link for directions and for PDF’s to download and print out. The robots come in 2 sizes, with and without color.
Part 1 – Setting the Stage
Welcome to Germany, and to North Rhine Westphalia. In German, it’s spelled Noordrhien-Westfalen. It’s one of their 16 states.
Look at the map again, and find the red dot above the ‘e’ in Westfalen. That’s Münster. Now take your finger northeast to Osnabrück.
Lengerich is in the middle, and that’s where the real bat story took place, where I was pushed into writing – by a flying mammal!
Here are two postcards from Lengerich. Take a look around. I love the old buildings, the architecture. The first one reads ‘Beautiful Lengerich.’ The second is easier – Lengerich in Tecklenburger Land. That’s the beautiful northeastern section of Westphalia known for its hills, forests, and 100 castles.
I met Uschi, my host, when I finally arrived in Lengerich. I was a little anxious about staying a month with a stranger. Sending a few letters back and forth helped!
I wish I had a picture of her house, but I never took any. We spent all our time in her favorite place. In the US we call it the backyard. In Germany it’s the garden. Uschi did all the work herself. She’s one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met!
Uschi had six small gardens within her back yard. Each one unique and gorgeous! I’m not an outside girl, but I learned to be. I enjoyed every moment in Uschi’s garden!
Come inside Uschi’s house. It’s gorgeous, like her garden. This is her living room, where I met the bat. Sorry, I never got its picture!
But I made some other friends. The cat is Baghira, and the dog is Odin. They belonged to Uschi’s daughter Nina. I felt like I’d been given a new family, for a month, and I adored them!
Part 2 – In Flew a Bat
Look at the living room above, again. Imagine it’s the witching hour – midnight! It was my second night in Lengerich, and I was sitting in the chair behind Nina, reading. Uschi was watching the news from across the room.
From the corner of my eye, I saw something flying back and forth across her house. I’m a city girl. I thought it was a bird. Whatever it was, I wanted it to fly out the door. German doors and windows don’t have screens. All of them were open that night, and that’s how it made it into the house.
I called, “Uschi, bird!” When you’re in a foreign country, the fewer words the better. Uschi didn’t answer – she was sleeping. I walked over, quietly . . . I didn’t want to upset the bird . . . I nudged Uschi, and said ‘bird.’ She woke up, and then we started arguing/discussing what it was. I said bird. She said night bird, and whatever-it-was kept flying through the house, over and over again. Now I wonder, was it laughing at the two of us?
Then Uschi crossed the room. She picked up a thick book, 2 or 3 inches thick. Maybe not as big as this one, but big!
I looked at the book and wondered what she was going to do with it. The only thing I could think of – hit the bird with it.
She didn’t . . . she opened it up . . . turned to the page with the word Fledermaus. I didn’t have time to look –
Because the bird was hanging upside down, not from a branch, but from the curtain rod. I didn’t need to look in the book, which happened to be a German/English dictionary to know that it was a bat, a Fledermaus. BTW- German nouns are always capitalized.
Uschi and I argued about what to do (the bat’s still flying through the house). She was worried it could hurt us, or worse, fly into our hair.
I said, “It won’t. My 2nd graders read two stories about bats. They both said bats are interested in bugs, not people. Bats have echolocation so they know where they’re flying.”
I tried talking to the bat. I asked it to fly outside and catch some bugs, but it just stared at us. Either it didn’t speak Amerikanisch (American English), or it wanted to watch humans panic.
Then Uschi abandoned me – yes, my 2nd night in Germany, she left me alone with the bat, but she went searching for something, anything to help. Meanwhile I was stuck inside with the bat, still talking, still being ignored.
Then – I saw something – a mop at the back of the room. And – I had an idea – get the mop, hold it up to the bat, and the bat would start flying again. It didn’t!
It climbed down onto the mop with three limbs. The fourth clung to the curtain rod, just in case.
We stared at each other, like forever. Then I heard Uschi come in the door. I yelled, “Uschi, door!”
It was my short way of saying – leave the door open. The bat might fly outside.
My words broke the spell. The bat swept away from the mop and started flying again.
Eventually its echolocation found the door, and it flew out into the German night.
The End – For Now –
I didn’t think I was enough, or this story either. Another post is coming.
It will introduce you to two more characters, and where I found them.
Link for that post:
Part 1 - Meet Pragya – She’s a Visual FX Artist by day, and a children’s writer by night. She loves writing stories rooted in adventure, magic, and mythology. Pragya believes in the power of stories to inspire and touch hearts. She wants to make childhood special. That’s why some of her stories are written for our youngest readers. Pragya is also the founder of PenMagicBoooks Publishing.
BTW – FX artists are the ones who create elements on screen like fire, water, explosions, cloth, hair, and so much more. What a cool job!
long ago. Those bits remind me of Aladdin. The first movie was set in Agra, India. That’s also where you’ll find the Taj Mahal. It’s a gorgeous building dedicated to the favorite wife of an emperor.
The second photo is another reminder of the dual nature of India. Delhi is quite modern with things like cars, but there’s still room for the ancient, like this ox cart. It feels like a normal part of Delhi, not something that should be in a museum.
Pragya did not stay in Delhi or Bollywood to pursue her film career. The first picture is from a Bollywood movie. She came to the US in 2003 to study film at USC (University of Southern California). She earned an MFA, Masters of Fine Arts in Film, Video, and Computer Animation. She won the Sloan Award in Animation in 2006. Pragya is talented!
Here are some of the feature films and TV shows that she’s worked on – Disney’s Bolt, A Christmas Carol, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Star Wars, Transformers 3, and Kungfu Panda. She’s worked on Nickelodeon’s TV shows WallyKazam and Shimmer and Shine. Are you impressed? I am! I would love to sit and listen to her stories for an hour, two, or three. WOW!
What happens when you discover you and your best friend are opposites? That’s what Pragya, Donkey, and Unicorn must figure out by the end of the story. Unicorn is everything neat, sparkly, and clean, and Donkey is the opposite. How can they possibly remain friends? Only Pragya knows!
Meet a few animal babies and their Mamas in this bedtime story. It’s written in rhyme, with bright illustrations. Cuddle up together, and then say good night.
Bug loves being lazy. He’d rather skip getting dressed, or going to school, but things change when his parents stop doing all the work. What will Bug do – enjoy his lazy lifestyle, or take charge? You’ll have to check out this book to find out.
May 7, 2020
This is a coloring book kids will love. Meet 25 animals, and their butts. Then pick your favorite way to color – crayons, markers, colored pencils, watercolors, mixed media, whatever! Pragya’s only requirement – have fun!
If you’re looking for a way to help your favorite girl with confidence, gratitude, or self-esteem, try this journal, and its writing prompts. Words have power, and this book might just empower your favorite girl.
Now there’s also a coloring book version with positive affirmations for your favorite girl.
Be careful what you wish for! Little Elephant Bina Trunk thinks life will be perfect when she gets her wish and turns into a princess, but she discovers something unexpected. Being a special elephant is fun, but so is being herself too. What’s a girl to do?
What’s Bug to do when he stumbles over a stack of letters addressed to Santa Claus? They can’t make it to the North Pole on time! Bug spots a shooting star and makes a wish – to become Santa. Who would have made it hard to return those letters – the reindeer, the elves, someone on the naughty list? Inquiring minds will have to read to find out!
Ready for an adventure? Travel to India, and follow two elephant kids, Babu and Bina. They enter a cave and wind up trapped by the ghost of an ancient Maharaja. The fun starts – when the kids make a deal with the ghost. I bet his bargain is more about tricks than treats!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!