A Tale of Witchcraft

Posted April 23, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Middle-grade Books, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

I love picture books and often review and recommend them on this blog. When one of my critique partners from the Writers’ Rumpus Group asked if anyone would like to review an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of his forthcoming middle-grade novel, I agreed to read it and write a review. It is not my usual genre, but I must say, I was hooked after the first chapter!

willow cove

WITCHES OF WILLOW COVE has it all – teen angst, romance, jealousy, betrayal, mystery, and witchcraft. It’s written by Josh Roberts and takes place in a small Massachusetts town that dates back to the time of the Salem witch trials. Middle schoolers Abby and Robby are best friends who live next door to each other. On Halloween night, which also happens to be Abby’s thirteenth birthday, the two of them decide to explore an abandoned mental hospital at the top of Whispering Hill. It’s there that Abby and Robby are caught up in unearthly experience. Later, Abby comes to the realization that she and five other girls in her class are witches. Miss Winters, their substitute teacher, and witch, becomes their mentor. Abby begins to spend time with the five girls, and she keeps secrets from Robby which causes a rift in their longtime friendship. Robby, his friend Zeus, and his girlfriend Becca know there is something mysterious going on. The three of them band together to unravel the truth about Miss Winters. In the end, it takes a clever plan devised by Robby, Becca, and Zeus with the combined efforts of Abby and the five young witches, using their witchcraft to destroy the evil resurrected in the town of Willow Cove. Josh Roberts masterfully weaves a spine-tingling tale of witches and witchcraft with plot twists and unexpected events that will keep readers spellbound from beginning to end.

 

National Poetry Month

Posted April 16, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: National Poetry Month

Tags: , ,

“I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creations of Beauty.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

Happy National Poetry Month!

Poetry can make you laugh. It can make you cry. It can provide solace. Poetry is a magical language that has the ability to touch the heart and soul.

There are many different forms of poetry — acrostic, ballad, cinquain, concrete, free verse, haiku, limerick, lyrical, ode, sonnet, and tanka to name a few. Each form offers a different way of expressing thoughts and emotions. Poetry is universal.

Behold, I give you my Book Spine Poetry.

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As a former teacher/librarian, I found this book to be an excellent resource.

poetry

R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet written by Judy Young and illustrated by Victor Juhasz, Sleeping Bear Press.

My advice:  Find a poetry book. Sit down, relax, and enjoy the language of poems today and every day!

 

 

Life During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted April 9, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Laughter, Life

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

During this COVID-19 crisis, many lives have been turned upside down. My husband and I are at home, sheltering in place. We have never been closer – maybe too close. For now, creativity is of utmost importance to keep a calm household.Oatmeal clipart cereal fruit, Oatmeal cereal fruit Transparent ... Our typical day begins with oatmeal, fruit, and coffee. On the weekends we spice it up with eggs, fruit, and coffee. The thought of it makes my mouth water. Yummy in the tummy? NO! I call it the Boring Breakfast Menu! As soon as our breakfast is finished, my husband wants to know, “What’s for dinner?” In the back of my mind I’m screaming, Really? We just had breakfast! I calmly look at him and say, “It’s a surprise .”

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In the middle of the day, we get some exercise walking around the neighborhood and keeping our allotted social distance from other walkers. Sometimes we go this way. Sometimes we go that way. Sometimes we walk in circles. If not walking, we’re washing our hands and sanitizing the house from top to bottom so it smells like industrial-strength Clorox.® Then we’re on our computers. I’m writing or blogging with ultra-clean hands, and my husband is watching our investments go up and down like a yo-yo. Best Television Clip Art #537 - Clipartion.com

After our surprise gourmet dinner, we settle on the couch to take in some television entertainment. Even though we have endless channels available, we can’t decide what to watch.

Our conversation goes something like this as we pass the remote between us.

“You choose.”

“No, you choose.”

“You choose.”

My choice is always the Hallmark channel, but that was recently banned in our household. For the past few years, my husband has patiently watched every new Hallmark movie. So, if I click on a rerun, he groans and, miraculously, a new channel appears on the screen. Our tastes are a bit different. Documentaries about flying insects are not at the top of my list. Sigh!

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The next day is the same as the last one. I feel like I have the starring role in the movie Groundhog Day, reliving the same day over and over. Or I’m a member of the crew from Muppet Treasure Island, and I’ve got… “Cabin Fever.”  

Cabin Fever Clipart

How long this seclusion will last is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, my husband and I take the best medicine available  —- no, not alcohol — laughter. It’s the love that binds up together!

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Coronavirus is serious. Take care of one another and follow the rules of shelter-in-place. We are strong. We will get through this. Lift up your spirits — laugh and hold your loved ones close. (I hope you have six-foot arms!)

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A Tribute to Tomie dePaola

Posted April 2, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , ,

On Monday of this week, Tomie dePaola, winner of numerous awards and accolades, passed away. He had an enormous talent for writing and using his artistic skills for illustrating books that have entertained young and old readers over the years. Most of all, Tomie was a kind and generous man who put you at ease the moment you met him. He was a treasure!

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In October of 2018, I had the opportunity to interview Tomie at his home in New London, New Hampshire for the Catholic Library Association Conference. To say the least, I was extremely nervous. When my husband and I walked through the door of Tomie’s studio, we were welcomed by Tomie and his assistant, Bob Hechtel. My nervousness melted away. After a short video rehearsal with the Catholic Library Association, we took a tour of Tomie’s studio, and then he invited us into his home for a tour. (See the tour here.) Afterward, Tomie and Bob extended an invitation to join them for a delightful lunch. A week later, my husband and I were back in New London for the scheduled interview. On the evening before, we joined Tomie and Bob for a delicious dinner with laughter and conversation. Life doesn’t get any better than that!

There was a special aura surrounding Tomie. He made you feel like you were his best friend. He was charming, a good listener, and told stories that made you burst into laughter. To know him was to love him!

Some of my treasures from my visit with Tomie.

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An advance copy of QuietA New York Times bestselling picture book.

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One of my favorite books.

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Tomie’s Christmas card that year.

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With Tomie’s passing, the world has lost a bit of its twinkle. Luckily, we still have the gift of Tomie’s books and art for which I am forever grateful!

 

 

 

Spending Time Together

Posted March 26, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , ,

In this time of uncertainty with the coronavirus on everyone’s mind, life has become more stressful than ever. Many parents are now working from home. With child care centers and schools closed, your children may be causing interruptions and demanding your attention as you try to work. It’s not an easy time for anyone. When possible, take a break from your work and spend some quality time with your kids. They, too, are trying to cope with a new way of family life.

Here are a few ideas that might help entertain your children. As an added plus of spending time together, these activities also complement the STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum in schools. You may find that these special moments spent with your family can be fun for everyone.

Craft Day – Choose a simple craft and create.

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Organize and Categorize Day – Organize toys and books. Set aside those that your children no longer want and donate them.

Theater Day – Have the family act out one of their favorite books or make up a play and perform it.

Game Board Day/Card Game Day – Have fun learning a new card game or playing a board game.

Puzzle Day – Grab a puzzle piece and see where it fits.

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Game Show Day – Ask questions dealing with math, books, nature, etc. Correct answers gain points. With the points collected, all participants can choose a little prize – a special snack, a sticker, a small toy you may have saved for an anytime prize, etc.

Family Movie/Popcorn Day – Vote on a movie and enjoy it with the family with a side of popcorn.

Cookie Baking Day – Choose a family favorite recipe and measure, mix, and bake.

Quiet Reading Day – Find a quiet place to read your favorite books.

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Hide and Seek Day – Take turns hiding an object and have others find it with hot/cold prompts.

Zoo Day – Gather stuffed animals and set up a zany zoo.

Dress-up Day – Dress up in old clothes you may have around the house and let your imagination go wild.

Build a Tent Day – Use Sheets and blankets to create a secret place.

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Sidewalk Chalk Day – Draw a town in your driveway with roads, flowers, houses.

Band Day – Use objects around the house to create instruments. Don’t forget your voice is an instrument, too. Sing it out!

Build a House Day – Do you have old boxes? Try making a mini house with your mini family members.

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Old MacDonald Farm Day – With a moo, moo here and a moo, moo there… Keep on singing, adding as many farm animals as you can. Draw your favorite farm animals and house them in an imaginary barn.

Take a Quiet Walk Day – Make sure to keep your distance from other walkers.

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This is an extraordinarily stressful time. We are strong. We will get through this. When we do, we may realize that this was the best of the worst of times — a time when families came together.

Stay safe!

 

 

 

 

It’s Poultry Day!

Posted March 19, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , ,

Today is Poultry Day! When I hear the word poultry, I hear the word chicken. When I hear chicken, I hear Roast Chicken, Chicken Paprikash, Santa Fe Chicken, Chicken Salsa, Chicken Parm, Chicken Quesadillas, Chicken Alfredo, Chicken Picatta…

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Can you tell I love chicken? I could eat it three times a day from a chicken egg in the morning to Chicken Salad for lunch to tangy BBQ Chicken for dinner. Chicken is something to cluck about!

Now if only we could answer that all-important question, which came first? The chicken or the egg? While you’re pondering the answer, why not snack on some Chicken Fingers and take a “peck” at these great chicken books.

little chicken

A Little Chicken 

Edna

Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Edna The Bery First Chicken

Break

Chicken Break:  A Counting Book

talk

Chicken Talk

Deck

Pirate Chicken:  All Hens on Deck

count

Count Your Chickens

coming

The Chickens Are Coming!

salsa

Chicks and Salsa

 

Guess what I’m having for dinner tonight?

Cluck!

 

 

 

National Women’s History Month

Posted March 12, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Women's History Month

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Throughout history, many achievements made by women have been overlooked.  Advances in science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and social issues are among many of their accomplishments. March is National Women in History Month. It’s a time to celebrate women who have excelled no matter what the odds. They are role models for our younger generation of women, and it’s our responsibility to continue to support and encourage the talents of young girls.

Below are some picture book biographies that demonstrate the amazing contributions of women. Take a look and share these with readers young and old.

Raye

The Girl With A Mind For Math:  The Story of Raye Montague

Emily

Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge

heady

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life:  Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor

Dorothea

Dorothea Lange:  The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression

Eliza

Eliza:  The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton 

jane

Dangerous Jane 

mutchell

What Miss Mitchell Saw 

sonia

Sonia Sotomayor: Turning Pages My Life Story

Maya

Maya Lin:  Artist-Architect of Light and Lines Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Armstrong

Born to Swing:  Lil Harden Armstrong’s Life in Jazz

marlyn

Making Their Voices Heard:  The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

Run

Her Fearless Run:  Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon

game

Anybody’s Game:  Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball

 

 

 

Take the Challenge

Posted March 5, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

I love contests. So when Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords 2020 Contest opened, I knew eggs-actly what I wanted to write. You can join in the fun, too!

Here are my fifty words.

 

Humpty Grumpty

Humpty Grumpty was a rotten egg.

A grump who never smiled.

“It will be your downfall,” warned Mother Goose.

One day, an Itsy-bitsy Spider crawled up Grumpty’s shell.

It tickled.

Grumpty wiggled, jiggled, giggled, and…

had a great fall.

As he lay there—

a huge smile cracked across Grumpty’s face.

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Go ahead! Give it a crack and challenge yourself!

 

 

Kwame Alexander Teaches Us – HOW TO READ A BOOK

Posted February 27, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Poetry, Reading

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Frequent readers of my blog know – I love picture books! I just glommed on to a fabulous picture book, and I don’t want to let it go!

sweet

How to Read a Book is written by Kwame Alexander, a New York Times bestselling author and winner of multiple awards. He received the Newbery Medal in 2015 for The Crossover, and in January of this year, he won a Newbery Honor for his book The Undefeated. Kwame Alexander’s picture book is a lyrical poem written from the heart. His powerful words evoke wonder and excitement and encourage children to open a book and “peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine.” He writes about the feel, the smell, the sound, the look, and the taste of words readers discover in books. Alexander’s awe-inspiring poem speaks to the soul and opens the door to the joys of reading. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations add another dimension to Alexander’s delightful text. Sweet is also a New York Times bestselling author and artist, a two-time winner of the Caldecott Honor Medal, and winner of the 2012 Sibert Medal for Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Melissa Sweet’s unique collage illustrations complement Kwame Alexander’s poetic words. She uses a variety of materials including neon paint colors and pages from a discarded copy of Bambi which adds to the overall experience as readers immerse themselves in this book. Besides the eye-catching colors and attention to detail, Sweet also includes fold-out pages and smaller pages within pages that will appeal to readers. Each page turn is a gift of words and art.

This book is truly magic!

 

 

A Must-Read Book for African American History Month

Posted February 20, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Historical Picture Book Biographies

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Lizzie

Long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, there was another African American woman who fought for the right to have a seat on a streetcar. Lizzie Demands a Seat!  Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights is written by Beth Anderson and illustrated by award-winning E. B. Lewis. The year is 1854 and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings, an African American woman living in New York City, is late for choir practice. She boards the first streetcar that comes along, but the conductor stops her and tells her to wait for another car coming “for your people.” Even though Lizzie is a respected school teacher, church organist, and born a “free black” in a “free state,” she has never been treated as an equal. Lizzie sees plenty of empty seats on the streetcar and no one is objecting to her riding it, but when she stands her ground, the conductor is infuriated. He calls the driver for help, and Lizzie is roughly thrown off the car. She picks herself up and climbs back on. The angry conductor tells the driver to go and not to stop until he sees a police officer. The officer removes Lizzie from the streetcar with a harsh warning. She is left shaken and hurt. Lizzie’s parents are abolitionists, fighting for the abolishment of slavery in the South, and Lizzie joins them in their fight for equal rights for black Americans living in the North. After her streetcar incident, Lizzie is more determined than ever to right injustice not only for herself but for all. She decides the only way to accomplish this is in the courtroom. A meeting is called in Lizzie’s African American community where she tells her story. A committee is formed and they retain a white lawyer to represent Lizzie. Her father speaks in churches and writes letters and articles asking for public support. Newspapers run Lizzie’s story. Seven months later, Lizzie appears with her lawyer in court. The case of Elizabeth Jennings v. The Third Avenue Railroad Company begins. Beth Anderson’s rhythmic language and pacing will engage readers and keep them turning the pages to learn the verdict in Lizzie’s court dispute. Along with E. B. Lewis’ appealing illustrations that transport readers back to an earlier era in American history, Beth Anderson’s captivating story and author’s note demonstrate the tenacity of Lizzie Jennings as she champions dignity, justice, and equality.

 

 

 

 


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