Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poems for Bb, Cc, and short Aa.

Bears on Bicycles

Balloons, banjos, bears on bicycles,
Baseball in the park.

Baskets, baths, bumblebees, birthdays,
Bedtime after dark.

Bananas, boats, buttons, buses,
Birds that sing to me.

How many things can you think of
That begin with the letter b?

Favorite Colors

What’s your favorite color?
I asked my friend Colleen.
She said her favorite color
Is a deep forest green.

Can you tell me your favorite color?
I asked my friend Fred.
Fred said his favorite color
Is fire-engine red.

I asked my friend Carol
What color she liked most.
She said her favorite color
Is the color of toast.

Can you tell me your favorite color?
I asked my friend Sue.
She said her favorite color
Is a very dark blue.

I saw my friend Carl.
Carl is such a great fellow.
What’s your favorite color, Carl?
He said it was bright yellow.

Now if you were to ask
The same question of me,
I’d say my favorite color
Is the color of the sea.

Sam’s Pet

Sam asked his mom,
“Can I have a pet?”
Mom said to Sam,
“You’re not old enough yet.”

Sam asked his mom,
“How about a little lamb?”
Mom smiled and said,
“No lamb for us, dear Sam!”

Sam asked his mom,
“Can I have a giraffe?”
Mom smiled and said,
“Sam, you make me laugh!”

Sam said to Mom,
“A jaguar would be good.”
Mom smiled and said,
“I don’t think we should!”

Sam asked his mom,
“How about a toucan?”
Mom smiled and said,
“That isn’t a good plan!”

At last, Sam asked his mom,
“What about a cat?”
Mom smiled and said,
“Okay, we can live with that!”

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Monday, April 26, 2010


KATHY: Today my guest author is Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters. Welcome to my blog today. Can you tell my readers where you live, and what preparation you’ve done to become an author?

TANIA: Hi, Kathy! Thanks for inviting me. Well, I am Brazilian but I live in Austria. I must confess that I haven't prepared myself to become an author. Some time ago I even didn't consider myself an author. For me writing is something that comes naturally, and I know that many people appreciate my writing style, however, it isn't a specific style.

But I really have a high opinion of writers who prepare themselves thoroughly, say, at Universities which are specialized in literature. Well, I didn't study literature. I finished a media course in publicity and advertising at a university in Brazil.

For a lot of years I worked as a school teacher. Maybe that was my “preparation”. If you are in contact with middle graders and teens you have a chance to enter their world.

KATHY: When did you start writing?

TANIA: About seven years ago while I was still living in Spain. That was more or less the time when my first daughter was born. We lived in a small village in the north of Spain. It was a very beautiful place with a view of the Pyrenees mountains.
I love to for a walk and take a book to read. Reading is my passion. Then I started to write stories. Every day I wrote a little. Until one day for whatever reason I couldn't find the file on my computer. I had no backup copy. Everything was gone.
I felt so disappointed that I said I would never write again.

Years later after going to Vienna I wrote Mozart in the Future. The whole story passed like a movie in my imagination.

KATHY: While living in Brazil you won first prize in a nation-wide travel diary competition with the Turismo Brasil Service Magazine. Can you tell us a little about this honor? Was your diary published in the magazine?

TANIA: I was really surprised by the honor of winning the first prize. In the beginning I didn't even want to take part in the competition, but the mother of a friend of mine insisted because she enjoyed my stories about journeys to other countries. She convinced me and I joined the competition. The travel diary was about a trip to Germany. First they classified my story as one of the 6 best travel diaries. I already was more than happy. Later they informed me that I won the first prize. I couldn't believe it. I had to double-check with the jury which consisted of journalists, writers, editors, and other professional people. I asked them why they chose my story. They answered that it was because of my simple and natural writing style, and that I write as if I were telling a story.

I jumped up and down and I cried when they told me that I could travel to the Caribbean for one week all inclusive.

KATHY: I understand that you wrote this story while listening to Mozart. How much of the plot did you have in mind when you sat down to write it?

TANIA: Yes, I wrote the book listening to his music. I had the whole story in my mind when I started out. The whole story came to my mind when I returned from my trip to Vienna. I had visited the house where Mozart used to live. The whole following night I couldn't help thinking about Mozart. But not Mozart as a grown-up, Mozart the genius, but Mozart when he was still a child.

From everything I had read about him I can tell that his father Leopold was very strict. They had very little money so Leopold pushed Mozart to play at a lot of places in order to earn money. Mozart worked a lot as a child. He spent a lot of time travelling and performing all over Europe.

KATHY: Did you write the entire story in one sitting?

TANIA: No. Every day I wrote a little bit of the story always listening to Mozart's touching music. Well, I only had a little free time when the children's were in Kindergarten.

KATHY: How many hours of editing did Mozart in the Future require?

TANIA: That's hard to tell. My husband, Carsten, helped a lot. It was an ongoing project. Carsten even suggested some minor changes while he was translating the book into German.

KATHY: Your love of music comes through every page of this book. Are you a musician yourself?

TANIA: I am not a musician, but life is made of tunes. If you listen closely you will be able to hear life's song in every moment, every situation. Every being has its own melody. Some people are able to express the musicality better than others.
You can find music and fantasy everywhere, you only have to be sensitive.

KATHY: The illustrations by Pedro Caraça are wonderful. How did you find your illustrator?

TANIA: I am from the town of Mogi das Cruzes in the state of São Paulo. I read an article in the town's local newpaper Mogi News about the illustrator and teacher Pedro Caraça. The article showed an illustration that I really liked. So I send Pedro an email asking him if he would like to do the illustrations for Mozart in the Future. He happily accepted the offer. We both get a lot of positive feedback.

KATHY: What age group do you see reading this book and why?

TANIA: When I am writing a story I don't think about the age or the reading level. However, there have been some book reviewers and literary critics who said from 6 years on would be appropriate. There are also some people who say that the book is for young adults, others say that not only parents but all grown-ups should read it.
I say that everybody who likes Mozart, adventures, and dreams should read the book.

KATHY: Kids will be fascinated to think of an artistic giant like Mozart as a child living in our century. They will relate to the age appropriate feelings and dialogue in your book. What else do you hope kids will come away with after reading your book?

TANIA: First of all, and without being arrogant, I would like to pass a message to all the parents because only the parents know that you have a childhood only once.
Kids have to study and learn, but we have to give them a chance to find their own way. We have to orient them without pressing them too much. Their success should be theirs only, not the parent's.

I have seen a lot of parents who hadn't had a chance to study piano, and now that they have children they oblige them to play piano. They feel vindicated by the success of their children. A child will easily get frustrated this way, and the parents too.

If you treat a talented child in a natural way, everything comes easily. If your children have a passion for something let them find their way. Talk with them about how to evolve the talent and orient them. In this way, both the children and the parents will be happier.

KATHY: Can you tell my readers a little about the steps you took to publish your book? Did you publish the book in Austria too?

TANIA: The first step, of course, is to write the book. Then you have to find an illustrator and place the illustration in harmony with the story. Finally you need an editor who will check the style, grammar, punctuation, etc. I write in my mother tongue, Brazilian Portuguese, but I am not perfect and there is always something that both my husband and my editor in Brazil find.

My husband did the typesetting. He also figured out how to do the publishing. Actually he set up a publishing company and he will publish other authors, too. Actually there are already two book from two different authors to be published soon. I am lucky to have an editor, translator, typesetter and publisher right by my side. He is publishing my writings in Portuguese, English, German, and Spanish, and he does the file conversion for the ebooks in both ePUB and Kindle format. We are printing in the US, England, Germany, and Brazil.

KATHY: Are you working on any other stories for the future?

TANIA: Within short my next book The Legend of the Black Lake will be published. The story is about a lake that is located in the region where we live. Very few things have been written about the Black Lake. So I decided to create my own legend about the lake. The book is illustrated by Felipe Campos from Rio de Janeiro. His illustrations are excellent. Felipe managed to turn the book into a piece of art.
Since The Legend of the Black Lake is almost published, I am already working on my next book. The story is about a monkey who lives on a Brazilian island and then immigrates to Austria.

KATHY: Do you have a website or blog where my readers can find out more about you and your book?

TANIA: Yes, of course. My website is available in four languages, including English. Just visit the website or write me an email.

KATHY: Where can we purchase Mozart in the Future?

TANIA: You can get Mozart in the Future at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many other online stores.

KATHY: Just for fun, can you share your winning recipe for Kuchen & Torten Magazine with my readers?

TANIA: Yes, sure, that would be a pleasure. I like cooking. Actually I think I already created a trademark: There is a recipe at the end of each of my books.
Here is my carrot cake. It's easy to prepare and very tasty.

Carrot Cake
4 eggs
120 ml of vegetable oil
130 g sugar
190 g wheat flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
3 carrots (approx. 400 g)
Place carrots and vegetable oil in blender. Add sugar, flour and baking powder.
Secure lid and select the highest speed. Run machine for 3 minutes or until mixed.
Place the batter into a greased cake pan.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 175 °C / Level 3

Chocolate icing (optional):
5 tablespoons of chocolate powder
3 tablespoons of milk
2 tablespoons full of butter
Place all ingredients of the chocolate icing in a pot. Heat mixture while stirring bringing it to the boil. Pour the icing over the cake.

KATHY: Thank you for visiting with us today. I enjoyed meeting you and reading your wonderful book.

TANIA: I have to thank you, Kathy. It has been a pleasure to be here with you.
I have planned to visit the US this year, so I will be able to present my books personally.

A big hug to all of you!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Title: Little Red Bat
Author: Carole Gerber
Illustrator: Christina Wald
Ages: 4-8
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs Hardback and Paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: March 2010
9781-607-180692 $16.95
9781-607-180807 $ 8.95
Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

When we mention bats what image comes to your mind? Count Dracula? Bats often get a bad rap. The little red bat in Carole Gerber’s story is a sweet young bat that doesn’t know whether to stay in the forest for winter or migrate to a warmer climate. She talks to many different animals that tell her how they survive the winter. Each one warns the little red bat about his natural enemy.

“Where will you live this winter?” asks the little red bat. “I’m wondering if I should stay or if I should go.” With a swish of his tail, the squirrel buries his last nut. “I’m staying. My winter food is all stored,” he says. If you stay, watch out for owls.”

Christina Wald offers outstanding illustrations, which add to the enjoyment and educational opportunities of this book. She even features close ups of certain animal body parts like the wing, foot, and head of a quail. Kids will see new details with every reading.

A feature of “the creative mind” section at the end of the book is a detailed, labeled illustration of a tree bat that is full of interesting facts. There’s an adaptation matching game, and a life cycle sequencing activity too. As a teacher I can say that The Little Red Bat is a must for every classroom.

Title: Newton and Me
Ages: 4-8
Author: Lynne Mayer
Illustrator: Sherry Rogers
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, Hardback or Paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: March 2010
978-1-60718-067-8 (H) $16.95
978-1-60718-078-4 (P) $ 8.95
Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

Lynne Mayer’s story of a boy and his dog, Newton, playing and discovering the laws of force and motion will delight kids everywhere. Whether this duo is playing with a ball or solving a problem with a wagon full of rocks, they illustrate how Newton’s laws of motion affect the world we live in every day.

The whimsical illustrations by Sherry Rogers will fascinate young children as they find new details with each reading. The clever rhymes will help new readers to navigate easily through this informative story.

“Saturday morning I was asleep in my bed,
when Newton, my dog, dropped a ball on my head.
Then Newton and I ran out the back door,
We had the whole day to play and explore.”

In the “Creative Minds” section at the back of the book Ms. Mayer recaps the laws in simple language, and asks the children some questions to reinforce and continue the learning process.

“A pull is a force that moves something toward you. What are some things in the book that the boy pulls? What are some things that you might pull?”

She continues to challenge kids by asking them to match up these laws with illustrations from the book. More facts about Sir Isaac Newton and his important contributions to math and physics are included here as well. As a teacher, I treasure Lynne Mayer’s book, Newton and Me, as a fun-filled, and useful tool for every classroom.

Title: Felina’s New Home
Author: Loran Wlodarski
Illustrator: Lew Clayton
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, hardback or paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: March 2010
978-1607-180685 $16.95
978-1607-180791 $ 8.95
Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

Felina the Florida panther’s beautiful forest home began to shrink, as humans take over more and more of her space. Loran Wlodarski tells the story of this scared and confused animal as trees are disappearing and roads are being built in her habitat. Felina finds many other animals are suffering as well. Will the animals adapt? Can children help to make the animals safe and happy?

Lew Clayton’s illustrations help bring this important story to life. Whether we see garbage in the water supply or sharp cans that cause injury to the animals, Ms. Clayton’s colorful illustrations transport you to the Florida forest.

Fun Fact: If panther’s catch a large meal, they may eat it over several days. If so, they will frequently cover it with leaves and sticks to keep it fresh and hidden from other scavengers.

The fun facts and life cycle information in the back of the book will help parents and teachers to continue the learning process. The activities encourage children to think about endangered animals and how they can help. As a teacher I recommend Felina's New Home for everyone’s library.

Title: Panda’s Earthquake Escape
Author: Phyllis J. Perry
Illustrator: Susan Detwiler
Ages: 4-8
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, Hardback and Paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: March 2010
978-1-60718-071-5 $16,95
978-1-60718-082-1 $ 8.95
Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

This delightful story is based on the real life story of a Giant panda who did escape from the destroyed Wolong Panda Reserve when the 7.9 earthquake rocked Northern China on May 12, 2008. Author Phyllis Perry uses the adventures of a mother panda, LiLing, and her one-year-old cub, Tengfei, to teach children about the endangered panda, and how they adapt to dangerous situations. In Panda’s Earthquake Escape, mother and cub escape from the wreckage. Confused and afraid, they get lost! How will they survive outside their reserve? Where will they find food and shelter?

“Tengfei watched. He had never seen anything like this before. These were not bamboo shoots, but he was really hungry. Finally he tried one of the bulbs. It wasn’t so bad. He ate several more. While they were eating, the earth beneath their feet began moving again.”

With the help of Susan Detwiler’s vivid illustrations, children will fall in love with this mother and her cub as they experience this event through the eyes of these gentle animals.

In “the creative minds” section at the end of the book you will find fun Panda facts and a life cycle sequencing activity. Teachers will love the two pages of earthquake facts as well.

Title: What’s the Difference?
Author: Suzanne Slade
Illustrator: Joan Waites
Ages: 4-8
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, Hardback and Paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication date: March 2010
978-1-607180-708, $16.95
978-1-607180-814, $ 8.95
Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

This endangered animal subtraction story points to the ways man has helped endangered animals to change their fate. Each charming rhyme by author Suzanne Slade offers a simple subtraction problem for children to solve.

“Twelve furry otter pups in a grassy bed, two hunt for clams below. How many rest instead?”

While children learn about animal habitats and eating habits this book points out how the Endangered Species Act has protected many animals. Joan Waites’ beautiful watercolor illustrations bring the different environments to life.

“Gray bats hibernate inside warm caves during winter. There are only about nine caves in the U.S. where endangered gray bats can hibernate, and the openings of some have been blocked.”

The plight of eagles, prairie dogs, butterflies, whooping cranes, gopher frogs, crocodiles, salmon, bowhead whales, gray bats, manatees, otters, and red wolves are discussed in detail. As a teacher I can recommend What’s the Difference? as a great resource in the classroom or home library.

As with all of Sylvan Dell’s books there are several fact and activity pages in the back of the book. Sylvan also provides many on-line resources for teachers and students to use. All these books are available as e-books too. For more information go to Sylvan Dell Publishing's website:

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Two of my Earth Day Activities have been published with Gryphon House in their new release, Learn Every Day About Our Green Earth. Take a look!

A TO Z: LET'S GO GREEN! page 55

Arrange a wildlife refuge in your backyard with a birdbath, nest building project, bird feeder, and plants that attract birds and other animals.
Bicycle instead of using a car.
Create posters about caring for the earth.
Don't leave water running when brushing your teeth or bathing.
Eat organic foods.
Feed the birds.
Grow a flower or vegetable garden.
Hold on to your helium balloons that can hurt animals when they fall to the ground.
Insulate your home by blocking drafts by doors and windows.
Join with your friends to clean up the neighborhood.
Keep stuff in a box until you can reuse it.
Light your home with compact fluorescent bulbs.
Make scratchpads with old paper.
Nurture the soil with coffee grinds, eggshells and other compost.
Omit aerosols from your shopping list because they damage the ozone layer.
Plant a tree.
Quit wasteing food.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Stop throwing out old toys. Donate them instead.
Turn off the lights.
Use paper on both sides.
Visit a recycling center to see all the different things that can be recycled.
Write a letter to the newspaper encouraging your neighbors to recycle.
eXercise your body while collecting tin cans.
Yell "I love the Earth."
Zero in on helping the earth!

What to Do:

As you teach each letter, introduce a green idea, a green project, and sing the Whole World Green song.

Feed the birds-make a bird feeder.
Grow a garden-tin can herbs.
Hold on to helium balloons-helium balloon craft.
Join your friends to clean up your neighborhood-make a trash monster.
Plant a tree-make a thankful tree.
Rethink, Reuse, Recycle-make old ice cream containers into bluilding blocks.
Visit a recycling center-become a human recycling machine.
Yell at a litterbug-make a litterbug.

Song: Whole World Green (Tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb)

I will make my whole world green,
whole world green, whole world green,
I will make my whole world green
G-R-E-E-N, Green!


Cut different shapes out of the vinyl. (Square, triangle, rectangle, circle, oval)
Make them large enough for children to jump on.
Use either black permanent marker or black tape to number the shapes.
Tape the shapes to the floor to prevent accidents.
Discuss how little birds hop around instead of walk.

What to Do: Tell the children to be little hopping birds!
1. Jump on each shape and identify it.
2. Walk on each shape and say the number.
3. Jump from one to ten, saying each number as you go.
4. Jump on the even numbers only.
5. Jump on the odd numbers only.
6. Skip jump by fives. (5, 10, 15, 20, 25,…)
7. Skip jump by tens. (10, 20, 30,…)
8. Skip jump by twos or threes.
9. Walk backwards on the shapes and count backwards.
10. Jump and recite the numbers backwards.
11. Hop on one foot.
12. Jump hands on the shape then the feet on the shape.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010


Mother's Day
by Sherry

The kindest face I'll ever see,
The kindest voice I'll ever hear.
The one who cares the most for me
Is my own mother dear.

All through the year
I'll try to do
The things that show
My love for you.
And not be happy just to say,
"I love you, Mother," on Mother's Day.

Take an angel from the sky
And send her down this way.
Then send some little boys and girls
To keep her company.

Then fill her heart
With Mother love,
Give her a smile of cheer.
And you'll have a kind of Mother
Just like my Mother, dear.

Mother’s Day Song (Are You Sleeping)

We love mothers, we love mothers
Yes, we do; yes, we do.
Mothers are for hugging
Mothers are for kissing
We love you; yes, we do.
Only One Mother

by George Cooper

Hundreds of stars in the pretty sky,
Hundreds of shells on the shore together,
Hundreds of birds that go singing by,
Hundreds of lambs in the sunny weather.

Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.

Song(tune of "Bing-O")

There is a woman that I know,
And Mommy is her name-O.
And Mommy is her name-O!

There is a woman that I know,
And Mommy is her name-O.
And Mommy is her name-O!

There is a woman that I know,
And Mommy is her name-O.
(Clap, Clap)-M-M-Y!
(Clap, Clap)-M-M-Y!
(Clap, Clap)-M-M-Y!
And Mommy is her name-O!

There is a woman that I know,
And Mommy is her name-O.
(Clap, Clap, Clap)-M-Y!
(Clap, Clap, Clap)-M-Y!
(Clap, Clap, Clap)-M-Y!
And Mommy is her name-O!

There is a woman that I know,
And Mommy is her name-O.
(Clap, Clap, Clap, clap)-Y!
(Clap, Clap, Clap, clap)-Y!
(Clap, Clap, Clap, clap)-Y!
And Mommy is her name-O!

There is a woman that I know,
And Mommy is her name-O.
(Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap)
(Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap)
(Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap)
And Mommy is her name-O!

Del Abe Jones

This year on Mother s Day
We should think of offspring lost
And Mothers of all those Troops
Who paid the ultimate cost.

They ve watched Sons and Daughters
Sent off to a foreign land
To fight wars and give their all
In some conflicts so ill planned.

But no matter what the reasons
They ve always stepped up to the line
To give their lives for Freedoms
Enjoyed by all of yours and mine.

We must Honor all those Mothers
Of all those who have Served
And Sacrifices that they made
With our, Thanks! , so well deserved.

It takes a very Special Lady
To let Her Child go off to War
Or just to join the Military
With the pride and fear and more.

There's too many Gold Star Mothers
And if you might know of one
Please send Her a special wish
To praise Her Daughter or Son.

Military Moms are the Greatest
With a strength beyond compare
Who hope and pray their loved one
Comes Home safe, from over there.

So, let s keep them in our thoughts
And hope their prayers come true
All those Moms and all those Troops
Who stand Strong and Proud, and True.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Earth Day Celebrates its 40th Anniversary on April 22, 2010!

by Margaret Ollove

Forty years ago, on April 22, 1970, more than 20 million people converged in small towns and major cities across the United States to help launch the modern environmental movement. That first Earth Day was part teach-in, part call-to-action and part celebration. At Earth Day Network, our Education program continues a successful history of environmental education initiatives dating back to the first Earth Day in 1970. We are continuing this tradition for the upcoming 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day on Thursday April 22, 2010. We have hundreds of resources to help educate your kids, to go green, and to get involved in Earth Day.
Here’s a list of fun activities you can do with your kids to teach them about the environment.

· Pull out invasive plants and replace them with native species.
· Ride bikes, walk or take public transit.
· Volunteer at a local Earth Day event.
· Write a letter to a local policymaker.
· Start a family garden and grow healthy food. Start a compost pile and use a rain barrel.
· Switch out light bulbs for energy- efficient CFLs.
· Learn about the history of the environmental movement. Use activity ideas from Earth Day Network lesson plans.
· Paint an eco- mural. Use green art supplies.
· Make art from recycled objects.
· Play educational games Environmental Jeopardy.
· Use the interactive online Ecological Footprint quiz.
· View and discuss films on Earth Day TV.
· Clean up your playground, schoolyard, walking paths or watershed.
· Hold a recycling or waste reduction contest.
· Compost your food scraps.

Need Help? Contact for resources, ideas and support!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Dr. King's Spiritual Presence

Dr. Martin Luther King is remembered as a great orator whose impact on the nation came from the eloquence and inspirational quality of his words. His speeches, sermons and public addresses melded themes of democracy deeply embedded in the American conscience, and reinvigorated these messages with clear and insightful reflections on the true meaning of justice and equality.


As part of our effort to build the Memorial, we invite you to be a part of history by participating in our Kids for King Education Initiative. It’s easy to enter. Just write an essay, create a piece of art, or produce a short video expressing what you have learned about Dr. King’s ideals of Democracy, Justice, Love and Hope as well as how you plan to carry the legacy forward.

The end of the Kids for King Education Initiative has been pushed back to April 30, 2010, so get working on writing an essay, creating a work of art, or recording a video about your thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We encourage you to participate in this great program because 9 of you will be selected for a very special award. We'll fly you and one of your parent's or legal guardians to Washington, D.C. to attend a special press event on the National Mall this fall. We're excited to see, hear, and read about what you and your friends have to say about Dr. King. For more information please check out our website at We look forward to hearing from you today!


Why build a Memorial to Dr. King?

More than a monument to a great humanitarian, the National Memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be a place for visitors from all over the world to be energized by its extraordinary power; the power that illuminated the faith of our founders and now impels us toward our destiny as a nation; the power flowing from the uniquely American spirit of brotherly love, freedom, justice, and the priceless blessing they endure...peace.

Why build the Memorial now?

Dr. King once reminded the nation of “the fierce urgency of now” while warning against “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” The time is now a historical perspective. Many young people have heard of Dr. King, but are unaware of the significance of his contributions to America and the world. The design has been established; the site is secured; the fundraising teams are already at work; and more than $106 million of the campaign goal has been raised. The time is now.

What will the Memorial look like?

The Memorial is conceived as an engaging landscape experience to convey four fundamental and recurring themes throughout Dr. King’s life – democracy, justice, hope, and love. Natural elements such as the crescent-shaped-stone wall inscribed with excerpts of his sermons, and public addresses will serve as the living testaments of his vision of America. The centerpiece of the Memorial, the “Stone of Hope”, will feature a 30-foot likeness of Dr. King.

When will the Memorial be completed?

The Ceremonial Groundbreaking occurred on November 13, 2006. The Dedication of the Memorial is tentatively scheduled for the Fall of 2011.

How much will the Memorial cost?

It is estimated that the total cost of the project will be $120 million. Of that amount, more than $106 million has been raised.

What can I do to help?

Individuals as well as corporations can add their financial support to this effort. Contributions, large and small, are needed to attain our goal of $120 million. Spread the word to your friends, neighbors and acquaintances that their donations are urgently needed.Most major employers match employee donations, so if you donate to the Memorial Foundation your employer may double that amount.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010


April is a great month to go green. Kids all over the USA are going green in their classrooms and at home! Take a look at what others are doing and learn what you can start doing today to help.

Clare and Lisa of Minnesota cleaned up a creek in their neighborhood and went for a swim. The Redwoods Class at the Prairie Creek Community School in Minnesota collected almost 60 pounds of trash near their school. A kindergarten class at the Village Nursery School in Massachusetts held a bake sale to raise money for the rainforest. A fourth grade class in New Hampshire raised salmon from eggs until they were big enough to be released into a stream.

10 Steps to start your own clean-up project:

1. Think of a place that is important to you. It might be your school playground, your favorite park, a nearby beach, or any other place where you like to spend time.

2. What can you do to help your favorite place look its best? You could pick up trash, remove weeds, add a coat of paint, or donate plants.

3. Get permission. Before you make big changes, like planting, weeding, or painting, ask an adult to help you call a city official or the site owner to get permission.

4. Tell your friends and family. Ask others if they would like to help.

5. Collect supplies. Gloves, trash bags, paper towels, and glass cleaner
will be necessary.

6. Let the clean-up begin! Make sure to bring an adult with you. Take "before" and "after" photos for your scrapbook.

7. Safety first. Don't pick up any sharp objects, such as broken glass.

8. Wait before you throw! If you find any recyclable items like cans or paper bags, don't throw them out! Bring them to your local recycling center or use them yourself in recycling crafts!

9. Celebrate! Thank everyone who helped you. If you took pictures, you can send some to the friends and family members who volunteered with you. And remember to share your story with others.

10. Keep helping. Go back to your area once a month to keep it clean.

I’m in the process of publishing a book titled, Trouble on Earth Day. The main message of the book is to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! Here are some practical ways that you can get started.

1. Reduce: Use Only What You Need! Here are some easy ways for you to help
reduce the trash you create and save natural resources. Use fewer grocery bags! Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store, or bring back the plastic bags you got the last time. Use less packaging. Look for and buy products that have less packaging.

Water matters. Make an effort to use less water. You could ask your parents to install low-flow showerheads or turn off the water while you brush your teeth.
Save electricity. Use the stairs instead of using the elevator. Turn off the lights, TV, and computer when you're not using them.

2. Reuse! Find a second use for trash. Use old newspapers to make paper. Use this paper to make cards. Make a junk picture frame of cardboard, buttons, and other small pieces of trash. Be creative!

3. Recycle! Whenever possible, give an item a second life! Here are some great ways to recycle:
Buy recycled products. Ask your family or school to use recycled paper and other products.

Be helpful. Encourage your family and neighbors to recycle. Paper, plastics, aluminum cans, and glass can all be recycled.

Recommended books:

My First Garden by Wendy Lewison (infant preschool)

Don't Throw That Away!: A Lift-the-Flap Book about Recycling and Reusing by Laura Bergen (ages 4-8)

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches (ages 4-8)

Easy to Be Green: Simple Activities You Can Do to Save the Earth by Ellie O'Ryan (ages 9-12)

Planet Earth Gets Well by Madeline Kaplan (ages 4-8)

Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Environment by Linda Schwartz (ages 9-12)

Trouble on Earth Day by Kathy Stemke (ages 3-8)

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Saturday, April 3, 2010


Katie Hines has been writing snippets here and there as long as she can remember. When in 8th grade, she wrote a short story called, “Underworld.” Then, in high school, she wrote several poems that were published in an anthology.

Marriage and raising two children contributed to putting away writing for a few years, but she came back to it while in her 40s. Since that time, she has been a contributing feature writer and columnist for a local newspaper, has written several features articles for another area newspaper, and wrote religious and humor articles for an online Catholic ezine.

Her short story, “My Name is Bib,” was published by the Loch Raven Review in October, 2008.

Finished with “Guardian,” Hines is currently working on another middle grade urban fantasy novel, as well as a couple of chapter books, and is extending “My Name is Bib” into a full young adult novel.

TITLE: Guardian
AUTHOR: Katie Hines
PUBLISHER: 4RV Publishing
GENRE: Middle Grade/Young Adult Urban Fantasy
FORMAT: Traditional Publisher, paperback
ISBN: 13: 978-0-9840708-8-6; 10: 0-9840708-8-5

“Promise me you’ll find the journal and search for the treasure,” gasped Drew’s dying mother. “It’s your destiny.”

Three months later, three teenagers sit around a campfire roasting marshmallows. Drew Newman is just about to tell his friends a secret when a man steps out of the darkness. The man carries an old fashioned sword and wears a long, hooded cloak. He lifts Drew’s chin with his sword. “Where is it,” the man asks. “Where is the book?” Who is this man and what does he want?

Is the book the one Drew touched when he was a kid? The book was leather bound with gold and silver threads embossed on it. The threads formed a tree and its root system. When Drew touched the book magical things happened. Is this the book the man is asking about? What is this mysterious, magical book? Does this have anything to do with the promise he made to his dying mother?

Drew’s’ adventures start that night and continue when he travels to Nova Scotia where his grandparents live. Grandpa Ian tells him a story that involves Christ’s crucifixion, ancient magic and secret societies.

Drew eventually finds out that he’s a contender to be the Holy Grail’s next guardian. He has to answer two questions correctly. Through his answers we learn what the Grail really is.

Ms. Hines combines Christianity and fantasy making ‘Guardian’ a very enjoyable book. It’s fast paced with a lot of twists, turns and danger!

Find out more about ‘Guardian’ and the author at:

Deborah Hockenberry




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Thursday, April 1, 2010


Check out this article I found on ONLINE UNIVERSITY LOWDOWN

They fascinate and frustrate with their reluctance to give interviews, sign autographs, accept academic honors in person, and other acts that preserve privacy. Creative types blessed with considerable talent who voluntarily fall out of the public eye and skirt the media or find themselves wallowing in obscurity and adapt to the situation at hand by stepping aside pique the imagination of their fans and contemporaries alike. Some occasionally allow themselves the rare modest degree of publicity before returning to a homeostatic private state. Others retreat completely and correspond only in writing. No matter their motivations or preferences, these artists and writers only become more fascinating with the decision to live their lives shunning the overrated trappings of fame, fortune, and glory.

1. J.D. Salinger

Best known as the brilliant mind behind the undeniable classics Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey, Jerome David Salinger began his gradual isolation from public scrutiny shortly after publishing the former – his very first novel – in 1951.
Following an interview with the local high school newspaper in Cornish, New Hampshire, the fascinating but troubled author seemed to only regularly associate with the venerable Judge Learned Hand and his family…and even then it seems as if his relationships with the latter experienced heavy strain. He married Claire Douglas in 1955 and had two children with her, Margaret (b. 1955) and Matthew (b. 1960). Douglas dropped out of Radcliffe shortly before her graduation at his insistence, but the pair would come to face numerous hardships. Long stretches of time apart and Salinger’s troubled spiritual journey – which included a quick succession of different faiths and religions in a veritable whirlwind of vastly different beliefs and lifestyles – drove significant emotional wedges between the two. Douglas would even grow jealous of her daughter and how much affection Salinger heaped on her, at one point even planning a murder-suicide to escape him. He took advantage of his reclusive status to warn up-and-coming young female writers of the dangers of fame, subsequently striking up romantic liaisons with them. The most visible and open of these was Yale student and Seventeen writer Joyce Maynard, who dropped out of school to cohabitate with him for a year before his second marriage to a nurse whose engagement he shattered. Salinger died of natural causes on January 27, 2010.

2. Harper Lee

2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Harper Lee wrote the beloved and controversial semi-autobiographical novel To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960 – and it remains a bestseller to this day, dissected in high schools and colleges alike as an
extremely important work of American literature that shed light on bigoted race relations in the South. Following the novel’s publication, she refused to make any public appearances or grant interviews and published little besides a couple of short essays. Lee would, however, assist her close friend and fellow writer Truman Capote on the research trip to Kansas that would later become his 1966 debut novel In Cold Blood. In spite of her reluctance to open up to the media, Lee still accepted a few awards and honors for her contributions to literature. However, she never made any speeches or addresses, though occasionally she would voice concern in writing on subjects of censorship and the decline of books and reading. Some of the recognition she graciously received includes being named to the National Council of the Arts by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the ATTY Award, the Los Angeles Public Library Award, being inducted in the Alabama Academy of Honor, and the aforementioned Presidential Medal of Freedom. Lee divides her time between New York City and Monroeville, Alabama, seeking privacy and relative anonymity rather than a fully hermitic lifestyle.

3. Bettie Page

Because of her vivacious career as an iconic pin-up model and performance artist, many from the current generation are shocked to find out that the fun and flirty Bettie Page spent decades wallowing in obscurity and reclusiveness. A victim of
depression and schizophrenia, she retreated into herself following her meteoric ascent as a famous model, actress, and burlesque dancer that ended abruptly in 1957. Some attribute it to her conversion to Christianity, others to the obscenity trials that branded the erotic photography and videos as offensive material (though most of it would of course be considered PG-13 by today’s standards), still others to her failing mental health. Page would go on to flounder about in numerous Christian organizations and colleges, some of which denied her permission to go on missionary trips due to her divorce. She almost completely retreated from public scrutiny and suffered from a series of erratic marriages until 1979 when she was arrested for assaulting her landlady during a nervous breakdown. The State of California placed Page in a psychiatric hospital for 20 months, but upon her release instigated another altercation which led to an 8-year institutionalizing. It would not be until the 80’s when her popularity began its resurgence, a fact of which she remained unaware during the incarceration. After emerging from the hospital in 1992, completely broke, “The Queen of Pin-Ups” was stunned and pleased by her newly established cult following. While she certainly granted interviews and openly discussed her life, experiences, and philosophies, Page notoriously kept her visage hidden with the belief that she wanted her ardent fans to remember her as she was – though a couple of photographs of the aged performance artist taken before her 2008 death still float about the internet.

4. Henry Darger

Regarded as one of the quintessential examples of outsider art in the United States, Henry Darger existed in complete obscurity in his lifetime due to his highly regimented, isolated lifestyle – nobody even knew of his lofty literary and artistic
undertakings until his death in 1973 when landlords Kiyoko and Nathan Lerner discovered the thousands of pages worth of manuscripts, sketches, and watercolors he kept to himself. A menial laborer in a Chicago-area Catholic hospital, from the outside it seemed as if Darger’s life was marked with very little deviation and social activity. He attended daily mass, sometimes multiple times, went to work, and picked interesting bits of trash from the streets for use as illustration references. Darger’s most popular work, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, weighed in at 15,145 pages and featured hundreds of illustrations that underscored the importance of preserving childhood innocence, wonder, and naiveté – a theme that carried on into his 5,084-page autobiography The History of My Life and the more obscure 10,000-page novel Crazy House. Due to his tragic and traumatic past, Darger’s work clung to keeping kids safe and the hope and comfort he found in his devotion to Catholicism. Repeatedly denied the ability to adopt a son or daughter of his own, he sought solace in his creations and served as a sort of spiritual protector of the memory of poor, strangled Elsie Paroubek. He even kept newspaper clippings of her terrible demise around as a reminder of the importance of caring for broken and battered children – more than likely this was due to Darger’s own horrific childhood. His popularity exploded following his death, true to the archetype, and came to inspire numerous other artists (both outsider and traditionally trained), writers, and musicians.

5. Emily Dickinson

Widely regarded for her poetic experimentations in slant rhyming, free verse, punctuation and capitalization, Emily Dickinson only published a handful of her
works in her lifetime in spite of writing nearly 1,800. She confined herself to her parents’ home, maintaining a couple of friendships through written correspondence but rarely venturing outside for social interaction. Life, for the unmarried Emily, consisted primarily and satisfactorily of her poetry, keeping house, and gardening, for which she received a gratifying amount of recognition and respect – even compiling her own handy herbarium. She kept close with her family, with a particular love for children, yet almost always declined to participate in any activities requiring travel beyond the house. Though in spite of her reclusiveness, she still reached out to others with kindness and hospitality, sending gifts to loved ones visiting one another as well as long letters and greetings. Her exile seemed to come more from a simple desire to stay at home and keep with her beloved hobbies and comfortable routine rather than the expected misanthropy, mental illness, desire for privacy, or disillusionment with fame and the media. On her rare excursions out, Dickinson would generally clad herself in the white dress that would eventually become her trademark.

6. Stanley Kubrick

The idiosyncratic, influential, and highly talented director of the exceptionally respected films The Killing, Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove or:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket pioneered a wide number of artistic techniques within his chosen medium – including the Steadicam shot – that pulled from his background in photography. Almost every one of his films, including the oft-criticized Eyes Wide Shut, received nominations or wins for BAFTA Awards, Golden Gloves, and Oscars. A notorious and obsessive perfectionist, Kubrick worked his actors and crew to the bone to ensure the best possible shots and performances. While a project was underway, he would retreat almost completely into isolation to complete it, associating only with his close circle of family (Kubrick was married 3 times) and friends. It is rumored that he would occasionally answer the door masquerading as his own butler in order to inform visitors that the master was away so as to keep away from distractions and prying eyes. Occasionally, Kubrick would acquiesce to an interview request, but skirt around any questions regarding his personal life and rarely acknowledged the media with public appearances. Some of this comes to an aversion to flying, which kept him largely grounded in England for the 40 years prior to his 1999 death. Kubrick’s distaste with the empty elegance of Hollywood also led to many media misconceptions of him as a complete pariah or a misunderstood genius when the reality was – as contemporaries insist – actually neither.

In many ways, these recluses – most especially those with considerable influence on their respective creative communities – attract far more attention and romantic notions by placing their personal lives just outside the media’s reach. The myths and fantasies of what their talents must be up to behind closed doors only afford them more fame than they likely could have achieved if they laid their lives out for everyone to read.


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