Learn More about Children’s Author Byron von Rosenberg

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .   Pikachu’s Good-bye

Describe your first kiss. It’s best forgotten.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . . I Don’t Want to Kiss a Llama! because I read it all the time and it always makes me feel better.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .  Muscular Dystrophy Association because they helped my dad when he had ALS.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be? I don’t know.  I’m making this up as I go along.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.  Scout Executive in Wichita Falls, TX although I can now thank God for sending me there.  I learned so much about people and the world, and found out how much God loves and protects us all.

 
A quote that motivates you . . .  From “Look at My Hands”  (the dedicaton to Don’t Feed the Seagulls on my website at www.idontwanttokissallama.com)  “The love that I gave him he passed on to you.  Now pass it to others and watch it renew”  which I am blessed to do on an almost daily basis.

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .  I don’t know.  They titles have deserted me already!

Three Wishes
    1.  World peace

    2.  God’s grace
    3.  a new poem!

Favorite game you played as a child . . . Peekaboo as a little child, Capture the Flag as a Boy Scout

Byron von Rosenberg

Tatty Ratty "Baby" Book Club

     By being participants in the 2011 International Postcard Exchange, our United Kingdom pen pals, Sam, Rebekah, Jeremy, George, and Daniel recommended the picture book Tatty Ratty by Helen Cooper to us.  So, we immediately placed our order online and anxiously awaited an e-mail from our local library, Glen Carbon Centennial Library, stating our book was in.
     The image of a bunny eating a doughnut while taking a ride in the evening sky piqued our interest.  What follows is an imaginative tale of the whereabouts of a lost bunny enhanced by the reference of familiar characters from other children’s storybooks.  Thus, not only is a new tale being told, but the backstories of other famous literary figures are introduced within Tatty Ratty.  As a parent, I found the story useful as parenting advice if ever in the unfortunate predicament of a child missing a favorite toy.  As a teacher, I appreciated the introduction of allusions in this literary work.
     As a means of experiencing Tatty Ratty, the squirts dug into their own collection of stuffed animals and found their own “Tatty Ratty.”  Opting to create an adventure exclusive to our Tatty Ratty, we took turns placing Tatty Ratty in various circumstances throughout the house and then using our imaginations to explain how she arrived at each location.

Tatty Ratty taking a joy ride on the Plasma Car.

Working off some of that porridge on the treadmill.

Cleaning up after a full day’s worth of adventure.

Fresh from our Farm to Table field trips, we made a trip to the local produce stand, Norma’s Produce and Greenhouses, and selected items which a bunny would most likely enjoy.  Returning home with our bounty in tow, the squirts cleaned their (few) selected vegetables and (numerous) fruits and prepared them with minimal assistance (“I can do it!” was heard often during preparation) into a child-friendly salad.



Helen Cooper

Farm to Table Field Trips Part 1- Happy Dairy Month!

     The term “author” may be defined in terms of written pieces, but also “the maker of anything;  creator;  originator”  (dictionary.com).  Although I tend to focus on the written word when blogging, I found an opportunity to discover farm to table authorship, so to speak.  Thus, the squirts and I enrolled in a cooking class at Eckert’s under the guidance of guest teacher, Rebecca Collier, Nutrition Educator for the St. Louis District Dairy Council.  Of course, the squirts were looking forward to shopping with squirt-sized grocery carts (as promised) after class courtesy of Eckert’s Market,

but I was eagerly anticipating the actual cooking class with my girls.
     In approximately 90 minutes, the girls completed four nutritious and aesthetically pleasing snacks:  Tuna Cheese Sailboat Sandwiches, Ring around the Rainbow Parfait, Vegetable and Cheese Kabobs, and Strawberry Milk Blender Special.  Besides the focus in each of the recipes as having dairy as a main ingredient, the farm to table ideal was also brought forth with fruit for the parfaits and smoothies being freshly picked that day.   Being introduced to the baker who baked the rolls bright and early from the adjacent kitchen for our sandwiches allowed us to literally visualize where our food originated or was authored.  Thus, if an ingredient was not produced from farm to table by Eckert’s, local products were implemented for use in the recipes.

Mixing the Strawberry Milk Blender Special
Tasting the Strawberry Milk Blender Special

      The girls worked at their own stations with much intensity and determination.  My three-year-old sawed diligently through tomatoes with her plastic knife while my (picky-eater) five-year-old ate every last bite of the cantaloupe parfait she had created.  Although neither squirt dived into the tuna sandwiches (convinced they do not like tuna, but don’t realize I hide it in the marinara sauce), their pride with their handiwork was evident when they demanded we take the sailboat-shaped sandwiches home for Daddy to enjoy.

Learn More about Author Tamara Gerlach

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
P.S. I Love You

Describe your first kiss.
It was at our ranch. My neighbor’s cousin was visiting from Utah, he was super cute, and a “real” cowboy…so I let him kiss me. At first it was a little weird, but I liked it, so now I try to do it as much as possible.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
There’s a hair in my dirt, by Gary Larson. My kids loved the story, it made us laugh, and we got to talk about nature, and cause and effect.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
I support quite a few, because there are so many people doing such wonderful work in the world, but one is close to my heart, PINCC- Prevention International No Cervical Cancer. Over 300,000 women needlessly die every year because of a lack of education and treatment. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in December 2009. Fortunately, I got the treatment I needed, and I wish that for all the women of the world.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Joy in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. She is the essence of ease and flow, carefree and completely dedicated at the same time.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
Honestly, I have loved all of the jobs I have ever had. One day, when I was a teen working at Kentucky Fried Chicken, a big box showed up with a chicken suit in it. I was the first to volunteer to put it on and go out on the street to dance, wave at cars, and do one-handed gymnastics moves (I had to hold the head on with the other hand). So, I’ve been a dancing chicken…and I have no complaints.

A quote that motivates you . . .
“You can love other people only to the degree that you’ve come to love and accept yourself”   ~Shakti Gawain

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
Granny by Dave Matthews
Three Wishes
   1. That all people realize their own magnificence, freedom, and connection to  everyone and everything. Then, take care of each other and ourselves accordingly.
   2. That no one is hungry for food or love.
   3. That we practice Forgiveness, Compassion, and Love to wash away all of the fear and delusion in the world.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
I loved to go out into the hills with friends, or even by myself, and play “explorer.” We’d pretend that we were lost in the wilderness and had to find a “new world,” build camp, and live off of the land. It has served me well since I travel all over the world and feel comfortable in any environment because I know I can figure it out. On a trip deep into the Amazon, Ron and I stayed with an Achuar tribe and spent our days (and some nights) traipsing through the forest. When it came time to leave, I didn’t want to; I just wanted to keep playing “explorer.”
I still play my favorite game daily by exploring my heart and mind.

Experiencing Tuesdays with Morrie*

*I write a lot about experiencing the novel through crafts, snacks, field trips, dramatization, etc. This blog will discuss experiencing Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie through its dramatization which my husband and I attended June 12, 2011.  This blog, though, is written in celebration of the life of Michelle Conrady-Brown, born June 27, 1977.  Having only met Michelle a handful of times through her sister, my friend Ash, I felt as if I had known her for years due to her warmth and smile.  A loving mother to Avery and Nora, devoted wife, and tireless social worker, she is remembered forever in our hearts.
Michelle Conrady-Brown
     Having purchased my tickets for the play, Tuesdays with Morrie, I wanted to read the non-fiction work written by Mitch Albom prior to performance night.  Having downloaded this book on my phone, I intentionally learned how to use the digital highlighter thingy ma bob because of the thought-provoking aphorisms (these quotes will definitely find their way onto my chalkboard) at nearly every turn of the page.  The vivid descriptions of Morrie’s debilitating disease brought to mind memories of my own father’s gruesome death at the hands of cancer, and, thus, streams of tears from my eyes.  Yet, I do not walk away from the reading of Tuesdays with Morrie with mere sadness at the loss of Morrie, a contributing member of society, but sadness overshadowed by the motivation to do more with one’s life with the end goal of not benefiting oneself, but benefiting others.
    Thus “date night” arrived, and the hub begrudgingly agreed to accompany me to see the enactment of Tuesdays with Morrie (although X-Men: First Class would have been his choice).  This play, directed by Tom Corbett, had a one-night production at Troy United Methodist Church.  The two-man cast from the Ricks-Weil Theatre Company comprised Gary Roberts as Mitch Albom and Thom Johnson as Morrie Schwartz.  There was no changing of scenery, no intermission, and only slight costume changes.  Yet, the passing of twenty years and the suggestion of an accompanying cast through the use, for example, of an empty chair was achieved.  This play was able to portray the love between these two human beings as well as the rapid progression of ALS in a meager 90 minutes.  What impressed upon me the most was the creative usage of lighting.  At one point, Mitch’s wife, Janine (i.e. the character in the empty chair), visits Morrie.  A singer, she agrees to sing for Morrie at his request.  Morrie, in turn, closes his eyes in order to be in the moment and savor this gift of her voice (which is a recording played in the background).  After Morrie closes his eyes, the stage as well as the church’s Family Living Center, where the stage is placed, goes dark- unable to see my hand in front of my face dark.  Thus, the audience’s eyes are shut, too, in order to accompany Morrie in the present.  The play ended with roaring applause, and then there was an unusual quietness where, I guessed, people were lost in thought instigated by the play in much the same manner as the hub and I were.  The majority of the ride home was comfortable silence interrupted only with our agreeing that we both thoroughly enjoyed Tuesdays with Morrie.  I will now close with one of Morrie’s aphorisms for the road, this journey we call life, “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

Doctor De Soto by William Steig

     As part of the homework assignment for Reading Camp, we were to choose a picture book from the reading list provided and then partake in a dramatization of the story.  As luck would have it, William Steig’s Doctor De Soto, a Newberry Honor Book happened to be on our bookshelf.  No hasty trips to the library for this assignment.  Score!
     Main characters Dr. De Soto and his wife, Mrs. De Soto, work tirelessly on various patients’ teeth such as moles, chipmunks, and pigs.  Due to De Soto being a mouse, he took extra precautions against any potential patients that may cause harm to himself or his wife.  Outside the office, a wailing fox begged for treatment, and De Soto and his wife, from the kindness of their hearts, relented and decided to treat him.  A fox is a fox is a fox, so inevitably, his ulterior motives surfaced.  Yet, in the end, De Soto and his wife were able to successfully outfox the fox.
     A perfect choice to read before a dental visit or perhaps a field trip to a dentist’s office.  In our case, the squirts and I each chose a character from the story to reenact.  Being the largest of the bunch, I was the sly fox and used my spooky voice in the retelling.  My girls furiously worked on my teeth with their invisible instruments and finally sent me on my way with an intentional dose of artificially created lockjaw.
      For snack, an ideal time to reaffirm the healthy snack option- Green Meanies, mouths made from healthy food options – in lieu of sugary snacks as an attempt to keep dental work at bay.  If there is time, I have found that I cannot go wrong with sticker scenes with my squirts and their friends.  Oriental Trading offers Make-a-Dental Sticker Sheets which reaffirms the theme of the story.

Reading Level:  Ages 4-8
William Steig

Learn More about Author Sondra Wright

 A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
The movie “Imitation of Life” always evokes such strong emotions in me. The pain and hostility surrounding Sara Jane’s lifelong identity struggle; the toll it takes on her mother Annie, until she finally dies of a broken heart, and in the end Sara Jane realizing the hurt she had caused the mother who loved her and showing up much too late to ask her forgiveness.
Describe your first kiss…
My first kiss came very much by surprise. I was at my friend Sylvia’s house and her younger brother just swooped in and planted one on me. It was like the 4thof July going off in my head.
Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I still pick it up and read it sometimes today. It’s such a soothing and relaxing little story. It’s so beautifully illustrated and I love the way the little bunny acknowledges every item in the room with a good night.
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .I have an enormous passion for children and the elderly. These are often defenseless populations whose needs are easily overlooked. The Kinship Care Coalition and Advocacy Group of North Carolinais a startup organization that’s very near and dear to me right now. The organization raises awareness for the strikingly large number of grandparents who are raising grandchildren today; to make sure they get the support and services they need.
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
My Shero – – the woman behind the horse — Penny Chenery, Secretariat!!
Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
In my early 20’s I worked for a job listing service. Job seekers paid a fee and in return we gave them a list of employers that they could have probably located on their own for free. I hated it because I felt like we were scamming people! I remember talking with clients and at the same time trying to give them an “eye signal” to take their money and run. It was pretty bad.
A quote that motivates you . . .I heard someone say once, “God is watching…give Him a good show.” And that’s a quote that really moves me to give my best, be my best and do my best at all times – in every situation.
The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
Bustin Loose by Chuck Brown never fails to elevate my mood. It makes me happy, it makes me want to move – it makes me feel like I can conquer the world.
Three Wishes
   1. That everyone would know God’s love
   2. That there was no such thing as a hungry child
   3. That people learn to value and respect each others differences
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Scrabble! My mom played with me every week. In the beginning she beat me so badly I would cry, but she never cut me any slack and that was a good thing. Playing against such a tough competitor not only forced me to build my spelling and vocabulary skills but really served to develop my critical and strategic thinking skills as well.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

     Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain reaches beyond the animal lover or racing lover.  Instead, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a consuming read for men and women alike.  Creatively, narration is provided by Enzo, the terrier/lab mutt chosen at twelve weeks by the protagonist, Denny.  Enzo welcomes the reader into the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of his own life as well as the life of his master.  Without giving too much away,  the majority of Stein’s novel is a realistic tearjerker causing one to evaluate the treatment of his own life as well as others which then concludes on an almost fairy-tale note.
     Problems for me, the reader, ensued with the late introduction of Denny’s parents.  Their physical presence in the novel occupying only one chapter read as an afterthought.  Further explanation surrounding the parents only reaffirmed the notion that either more elaboration was needed, or the interjection of the parents should have been deemed unnecessary and distracting during editing.
     In regards to book club, this is one where man’s best friend should be not only welcome, but master or mistress of ceremonies.  The ideal setting would be a dog park such as Rock Springs Park in O’Fallon, IL.  If book club members are not owners of the four-legged friend, simply being near these canines at the park would set the mood.  Plenty of dog biscuits must be brought along to share with the dogs, and a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies made in the same manner as Denny- plopped onto the cookie sheet- to share with the humans completes the ambiance and hopefully gives chase to a conversational treat.  Garth Stein
   

Learn More about Cookbook Author Nancy Baggett

Describe your first kiss.

Not the least bit romantic, my first kiss was during a spin-the-bottle game when I was in the fifth grade. Neither I nor my “boyfriend” for the party were really the least bit smitten, but went along with our smooch anyway. I can still recall feeling awkward, and bet my guy does, too.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .  

I love The Lorax. The message is so important and eloquently presently, yet so readily grasped by even young children. The illustrations are also enchanting.  

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .  

Finding a cure for cancer. Too many family members stricken far too young.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?  Nancy Drew.

E
xplain the worst job that you’ve held.  

The most tedious data entry job-literally-ever. Every day, all day I copied random series of numbers from one ledger to anoither. No explanation of why was ever given–I only lasted a week  Had to quit to save my sanity.  

A quote that motivates you . .

.You never know what you can do until you try.

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island .

You Were Always On My Mind

Three Wishes
  1.That my grandchildren grow up to live healthy, happy lives.
  2  That world hunger is eradicated..  

3.That humans can learn to live in peace.

Favorite game you played as a child . . .

My cousin and I climbed trees in the woods and pretended to be bears. (It was more fun than it sounds!)

Nancy Baggett

The All-American Cookie Book Book Club Ideas

     As mentioned in my profile, I am a recreational baker at best.  I enjoy baking, enjoy eating baked goods, but can never guarantee my results with the oven.  One day I may hear rave reviews, and the cookie jar is soon empty and in need of washing.  Other days, all who come in contact with my baked goods seem to be “full,” “stuffed,” and “couldn’t eat another bite” with that same forced smile on their faces.
     Yet, without fail, every time I attempt a recipe with Nancy Baggett’s The All-American Cookie Book, my cookies are uniform in size (the flattened-pancake-burnt-at the-edges look is out) and scrumptious in taste.  What ensues in my household is no longer polite, forced enthusiasm, but rather a fussing of sorts over whom is entitled to the last cookie on the plate.  In addition, Baggett places each cookie into a historical context which further justifies my incessant baking.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

     The All-American Cookie Book is an ideal book club choice to be accompanied with a cookie exchange for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or simply to celebrate the cookie itself.  An assortment of flavored milks- strawberry, chocolate, soy, almond-  would definitely work with this snack of choice. 

Nancy Baggett