Friday, April 29, 2011

I just readThe Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. I absolutely loved it. It was just a fun book. Sometimes you need books like this. I laughed out loud several times due to the random Star Wars-themed jokes and sketches scattered throughout the text.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Point of View

Choosing a POV for a given project is quite difficult.

When my protagonist is a teenager, I tend to use the 1st person. Teen protagonists are usually read by teens, so the first person POV allows the reader to become intimately involved with the thoughts and emotions of the character. Teens also have a million thoughts in their head, so the 1st person narration allows that jumbled mess of ideas to be displayed on the page.

When my character is younger, or when I'm telling a historical story, I like the 3rd person POV. Younger readers don't care as much about the inner workings of the mind, and young characters shouldn't really be able to articulate themselves that well anyway. The 3rd person helps maintain that distance. When I read a Middle Grade story with 1st person narration, I'm usually negatively distracted by all of the details. For me, it's just not believable that a 10-12 year-old would have such a firm grasp on their thoughts and emotions.

It's raining. Time to curl up with the cats and read!

Monday, April 25, 2011


On many mornings, I drive past a kid in a wheel chair waiting for the bus. He's probably 12. He is ALWAYS smiling. His joy is absolutely contagious, and I just wanted to pass it on. Have a great day!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Graphic Novels

I've been trying to read as many graphic novels as I can lately. It's so interesting to see the different ways writers/artists can choose to tell a story. I read a few adaptations of some of H.G. Wells' classics that were filled with the real words from the stories. It was cool to see the pictures supporting them. In contrast, Shaun Tan's The Arrival has no words. One of my classmates, Tim Martin, compared it to watching a silent movie. Stunning visuals.

Pictured to the left is American Born Chinese by Gene Yang.

For more graphic novel choices, check out my classmate Ingrid Sundberg's blog post here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Balance in Historical Fiction

Historical fiction can be both educational and entertaining. As a former junior high history teacher, I know how valuable historical fiction as a secondary source can be as an educational tool. In my Colonial American History class for 7th graders, we read Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes as an accompaniment to our unit on the Revolutionary War. The students enjoyed reading the story a great deal. It was a break from reading the textbook and other primary source materials, and looking at the era through the eyes of a boy their age gave the students something for them to relate to. It was much easier for my students to empathize with Johnny than larger than life figures like Paul Revere or George Washington. The kids thought that Forbes made the story very believable, but as a writer, I know that it is a hard genre to write in.

It's hard because of balance. Historical fiction requires a great deal of research, so some writers may want to pack in as much info and details as possible to convince the reader that the story is authentic. Finding that balance is something that I'm working in with my current story. Too many details will bore the reader, yet too little will make them weary of the accuracy. There's not necessarily a right answer, so it's something I'm really trying to figure out.

I wish I had Yoda in my corner saying things like, "Ehmmm, balance, yes!"

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Took a nice little rest from work the last few days to visit Jesse's semi-adopted sister in New Jersey. Here's a picture of me with my psedo-niece, Midori.

Back to writing!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

More History/Cultural Reads

Here's a few more titles that would make great cross-curriculum assignments:

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy. Wonderful glimpse into the culture of Afghanistan through the eyes of a girl with a cleft lip during the earlier stages of America's presence there.

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson. Follows a family during the mid-90's conflict in Kosovo and their emigration to Vermont.

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka. A Japanese family is removed from their home, along with thousands of others, and placed in an interment camp during WWII. Another resource on this topic is a Fort Minor song titled, "Kenji."

Please see the previous post for info about M.T. Anderson's amazing books set before and during the Revolutionary War.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An Alternate View of History

I'm in the middle of reading the second volume (the first volume is pictured) of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Anderson. Although it is written in 18th century English that may be a bit hard for all teens to fully comprehend, I feel that it is a must read for any classes studying the Revolutionary War. If an English class was also studying 18th century literature at the same time, it would make for an amazing cross-curriculum assignment.
I don't want to give too much away for anyone that may want to read it, but I will say that it makes the reader question the motives behind the American rebellion. Anytime a light can be shone on the 'other side' of a given situation in order to educate, it's a great thing in my opinion.
It's a beautiful day today, and so, inspired by the book, I'll say, "Ye Gods, rejoice and be merry."