Check out this awesome Kickstarter from one of my favorite blogs! This will be a really unique book and they have some pretty interactive perks if you donate!

busy mockingbird


Hello there!  This is a different kind of post….I’m going to share a project we want to do!

Um.  Oh wait…I guess we usually do that, don’t we?  But this different because this is a project we want to do THAT WE NEED LOTS OF HELP WITH.

Ever since the Collaborations post went viral, people have been asking me to make book.  “You should make a book!” they’d say, and I totally agreed with them because they’re all awesome.  We had a few publisher nibbles, but they all fizzled.  They said they weren’t really sure how to sell it.  (Do you know you have to have a TON of existing interest in your idea and a ready-made audience online before anyone at a publishing company will even LOOK at it?   I mean, how do new things even ever happen that way?)

Anyway, after many trying and much attempts, it occurred…

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Veronica Mars: The First Book in an Original Mystery Series

Maybe I’m late to the party on this one but I didn’t realize that there is going to be a Veronica Mars series to follow up the movie. It’s supposed to continue the character after the film, so this movie isn’t the last we will see of Veronica Mars a.k.a. 21st Century Nancy Drew/Comic Book Superhero fusion played by the marvelous Kristen Bell.

So obviously I preordered it immediately. And when is this movie coming out?? The book is coming out in February, so maybe the movie will come out before that?

This is going to be awesome.


19 Must Have Literary Manicures

For all you girly book lovers out there.

Here are few of my favorites:

Love these To Kill a Mockingbird nails AND they look like Fall!

Can you believe someone painted those faces and all of those letters perfectly?

The Lord of the Rings, of course…

Check out the rest here:
19 Must Have Literary Manicures.

A Star Wars Pop-Up Book exists in the world.

Everyone just take a moment and appreciate the awesomeness of this. A Star Wars pop-up book exists in the world.

Children's Book Reviews

My kids want to share with you this excellent book called Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure. Just be sure you turn your self on to this particular book and experience something totally new when you flip a page. This child’s book can be a joy. My close friend not long ago finished reading Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure for she sons and wanted me to create an evalutaion about it.

The author is Matthew Reinhart / Lucasfilm and it is published by Orchard Books. It went on sale in October of 2012. The child’s book dimensions are 2.67″ Height x 10.45″ Length x 8.47″ Width and has got a weight of 2.1 lbs.

An excellent book is one of the very best items in the world. Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure can now be found at a discount for less than sales stand price. I want you…

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For the birds

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Literacy and Learning: Telling the Story Together

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Or at least a couple of sentences…

The book at hand was Mr. Popper’s Penguins and the kids in my class were seven, all at varying reading levels.

Mr. Popper's Penguins (book)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (book) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I improvised.

First of all, if you haven’t read the book (which I had not) then I have to recommend it. It’s got an adorably quaint feel both because it was written in the 1950’s and because it’s about a house painter/Antartica enthusiast who raises a bunch of performing penguins in a small town.

That’s basically the plot more or less. Some of the kids new it and others had never heard of it. Either way, I’m sure this activity will yield some fun results, and it’s one that can be used with any book that has pictures.

I assigned each child a picture from the book and he or she wrote a couple of sentences down about what seemed to be happening in the picture. Then we went around the room and told our version of the story in order. It was pretty fun and also managed to be coherent. This is an idea I would definitely use again.

Funemployment Summer Reading: A Wind in the Door

“There are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.”

This is why I love Madeleine L’Engle. She has a way of making the bizarre banal and I absolutely love it. This is the opening line from A Wind in the Door, the sequel to one of my favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time. Basically, the books follow the Murry children, Charles Wallace and Meg, as they dabble in the metaphysical and more or less save humanity from time to time.

A Wind in the Door

A Wind in the Door (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even after the stunning events of A Wrinkle in Time (in which she talked to an evil brain creature to free her father on another planet) Meg still has some trouble believing that Charles Wallace has seen dragons in their yard. I have no trouble believing Charles Wallace, and not for the obvious reasons that he’s already proven himself to be both clairvoyant and a reliable narrator. So why do I have no problem believing Charles Wallace when he says there are dragons in the vegetables? Because he is the COOLEST. KID. EVER.

Life Lessons from A Wind in the Door

I’m well aware that Charles Wallace is supposed to be the ultimate nerd/smart/socially awkward kid. But really, I only wish I had known Charles Wallace when I was in elementary school. It’s possible that he would have been so smart that I wouldn’t have understood how to interact with him. But I do owe his fictional character a debt of gratitude for making mitochondria sound interesting before I was old enough to study them. (Let’s face it, the kid was on to something. Mitochondria are pretty interesting…but I digress).

Charles Wallace Murry

[This is the kid who played Charles Wallace in the movie, but I’ve always felt very strongly for some reason that he should have curly hair. Oh well.] Charles Wallace Murry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Why do people always mistrust people who are different? Am I really that different?”

Oh Charles Wallace, you ARE that different. In your case, that’s good thing, but people are usually afraid of what they cannot understand. When never know exactly how the Murry kids grow up. Meg’s a full fledged adult at the end of the series but CW is still a teenager. I’m sure he grew up to be some kind of a scientist, but I hope that all of his surreal experiences as a kid also led him to be an inventor or something innovative like that.

Unfortunately, different is scary even for people who are generally okay with difference because difference often challenges our own beliefs. Especially when things happen in the early 1970s and involve mitochondrial DNA.

“A life form which can’t adapt doesn’t last very long.”

“Charles Wallace’s problem is to learn to adapt while remaining wholly himself.” Obviously, this is the great crisis of adolescence and early adulthood, which I did not at all understand as a nine year old reading this. I should probably reread all of her books to see what else was actually meant for an older person because she really packed a lot of that stuff in here in a very subtle way. So cool and crafty, Madeleine.

The Farandolae and Some Strange Forest in Your Mitochondria

At this point, things get a lot more scifi. So basically the mythical farandolae are small mouselike creatures with fish tales at the end of their mouse tales…and they live inside of mitochondria. If the farandolae count gets too low within the mitochondria, then the mitochondria die and this appears to be Charles Wallace’s problem. Someone on the internet cared enough to try to recreate this “Farandola.” The Farandola are born on trees, apparently, and come from fruit. This poor Faranolda, or Sporos as they call him, was the only fruit on his tree and that’s part of the problem. I mean clearly, if the trees inside of his cells are not producing enough fruit the OF COURSE Charles Wallace is going to get sick and die.

I for one am glad that this small mouse creature does not live in my mitochondria because a. it’s creepy and b. Sporos is really pretentious and condescending to all of the humans. Which like obviously if my body is the host agent that functions as your “galaxy” then you better shut your mouse-fish mouth about how you are smarter than I am. But of course this is all a great life lesson in how not to lose yourself and collaborate with the team even when everyone is being a jerk, so I really shouldn’t be too surprised that everyone is being all high and mighty to Meg and crew.

If you are a child of the ’90s then you’ll probably recall that episode of Magic School Bus when Ralphie gets sick and Ms. Frizzle decided to take the rest of the class inside of his body to explain white blood cells.

The Magic School Bus (TV series)

The Magic School Bus (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


That’s basically what the plan is for Charles Wallace’s mitochondria as well. Meg, Calvin, their school principal with a bad case of low self esteem, and their alien friends go to a place where everyone is the same size and they can all talk to one another even if some of them are microscopic cell parts. At this point, they have to use all of the self-awareness and communication techniques they’ve figured out over the course of the book to keep Sporos from being pressured into killing the fara (or super cool tree with fronds) from whence he came with all of his vigorous dancing. I kid you not, that’s the actual mitochondrial issue here in this book and all of the world depends on it. But I promise it’s much less trite with this lady is telling the story and not me:

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L’Engle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to Make a Hand-painted Book Cover (Also Applicable for Wrapping Paper)

First of all, this post involves no actual wrapping paper. But I think you could use this method to make your own wrapping paper because you essentially are “wrapping” book board in order to make the cover of a book. So I’m thinking you could also wrap a box? Maybe? I haven’t tried it, so see for yourself.

The first thing  you’ll need for this is some medium weight drawing paper. You could use another type of paper at your own risk, but I can recommend some good old fashioned drawing paper and medium weight should be able to take the paint.

Cut your paper to be slightly larger than your two pieces of book board (or whatever it is than you’re covering). An extra inch on each side should give you plenty of room to work with.

Now you’re ready to paint! Cover your paper with your base colors. I use acrylic paint but you could try craft paint as well (though I would suggest acrylic paint because of its flexibility).


Once your base color dries, you can go ahead and add the detailing. If you haven’t cut your paper in half yet (I didn’t cut mine until the last step but you can do it either way), then find the middle point of your paper so you can work on both the “front cover” and “back cover.”


I free-handed blue dots on my “back cover” and drew out a sailboat (though it’s kind of hard to see it) before I painted it.

Once you’ve finished painting, you’ll need to cover it with a sealant, so that you can protect your paint from the elements and general wear & tear. I used matte ModPodge to paint a thin layer over my design. Once this dries enough not to smudge or stick to anything, you’ll need to flatten the paper out under book or other heavy object.


After that, you’re ready to cover your book board or wrap whatever item you wanted to cover in your very own wrapping paper! The texture of the paper after this should be almost like a lightweight vinyl, so it’s pretty easy to manipulate.


Historical Fiction v. Historical Document: An 8 year-old’s Perspective

I read this book the summer after 2nd grade and I didn’t realize that it was fiction because I was under the impression that scholastic “discovered” girls diaries and then edited and published them (to be fair the series only had like 5 books then instead of 30 so this seemed much more plausible). Not to mention the fact that the author’s name was NOT on the cover–a first for me.

The Item In Question:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 1.32.17 PM

Anyway, long story short I sent a letter to Scholastic asking if they had any information on “Hattie Campbell” from the book because we shared the same family name and I was curious if we might possibly be from the same lineage. To further compound the confusion, I actually had a relative named Hattie and a relative named Wade (just like two of the main characters in the book). Any actual understanding of genealogy, however, would have told me that even if this wasn’t a work of fiction they could not have been connected to MY Wade and Hattie, but then again I was eight.

Of course, no one in my family at all deterred me from doing this. In fact, they encouraged me. My parents were probably too excited that their eight year-old wanted to write to a publisher to explain to me the difference between fictitious diaries and historical documents. And then like a year later I saw the disclaimer at the back of the book saying that it’s a work of fiction and I was totally and utterly embarrassed because I had written to a major publishing company “on Broadway!” nonetheless.

Finally, I had the explanation for why I had never received a response to my inquiry. They never ever wrote me back even to break it to me gently that there was no actual Hattie Campbell. In my adult years, I feel like that was unfair because it is a children’s publishing company and if there is a child who is trying to research her family’s roots then you at least owe her the courtesy of telling her that she might want to try some public records. I don’t care to listen to reason or consider the fact that they may have been inundated with actual business correspondence. I’d like to think that I would never be too busy to drop a quick note to a confused child who mistakenly believed a book my company published somehow linked back to her ancestor. I’m grateful for the experience though because it makes for a fun story. It was always one of my favorite books growing up and I absolutely cherish to this day, so when I found this hellogiggles article it was totally fun to see the book again!

If you’d like to relieve your childhood reading days, check out “A 20-something Rereads ‘Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie’ by Heather Taylor here: