Monday, February 21, 2011

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, Illustrated by Nathan Hale

Food to eat while reading: Cowgirl-up Cookies

This article first appeared in the March 1, 2011 edition of the Syracuse Islander Newspaper.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Rapunzel who lived in the Wild West and used her grit and spunk to fight injustice. What? That’s not how the story goes, you say? Then you haven’t read the graphic novel, Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale.

Like all graphic novels, Rapunzel’s Revenge uses sequential art that involves illustrations, panels and images. This evolving form of literacy is longer than traditional comic books and has a compete plotline as opposed to a cliffhanger ending. In a graphic novel the reader “reads between the panels”; they make connections between the pictures and text and the page as a whole. Graphic novels can be a tool to help children and adults succeed in the multimedia world we live in.

Young Rapunzel lives a sheltered life with Mother Gothel. When she dares climb the walls surrounding her home she learns that Mother Gothel is not her real mother, but a tyrant who controls the only water source in the land. After confronting Mother Gothel, Rapunzel is locked inside a tree in a magical garden where everything grows at an alarming rate, including her hair.

Using her ingenuity and her rope-like hair to escape, Rapunzel ignores the heroic prince and tags along with Jack (think Jack and the Beanstalk), a conspiring cowpoke who’s down on his luck (if only his goose would lay a golden egg). Rapunzel and Jack don’t lack for adventure. They tackle the wild frontier—fighting wolves, bandits and giant sea snakes while seeking freedom for those under Mother Gothel’s reign, including Rapunzel’s birth mother.

Plucky wit and raw determination make this modern Rapunzel a fitting role model for the new generation. Boys and girls will enjoy the mixture of adventure, romance and humor woven through this fairy re-tale. The sequential illustrations by Nathan Hale (no relation to the authors) make the book’s appeal broad enough to include adults and the pre-reading child.

Parents and children will delight in the detailed illustrations that are worthy of a second look (keep a close eye on the goose). One of my family’s favorite parts of the book are illustrations in which Rapunzel uses her hair to swing, lasso and even jump rope to pass her time in the tower.

If you enjoy Rapunzel’s Revenge, you will be glad to know that a sequel graphic novel, Calamity Jack is also available. The authors plan to release a third book in the series.

Genre: MG, graphic novel

Publisher: Published August 19th 2008 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books Paperback, 144 pages
Where I got the book: library

Check out the authors' and illustrators websites:

Shannon Hale
Nathan Hale

Also, print out these awesome paper dolls featuring Rapunzel.

For more information about graphic novels and how they can be used in schools and at home:

Monday, February 14, 2011

The UnValentine by Sam Beeson and I Heart You Valentine Breakfast

My aunt bought meThe UnValentine by Sam Beeson last year and it's a great twist on love and the holiday. 

"Lily didn't believe in love.
Yes, Lily was a cloaked
and brooding cynical inferno.
And frantically she scratched
her hot misgivings in her journal.
She knew that every word she wrote,
each pointed, prickly curse
Was absolutely true, and Lily
wrote it all in verse."

But when Lily finds a dark note crumpled on her desk she finds her own unValentine. 

Happy UnValentine's Day!

Here's a tasty and easy treat you can make for your own Valentine or unValentine:

Spread yogurt on a plate.  Slice a strawberry in halve and shape it to resemble a heart.  Add fresh raspberries and cream.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Interview with Sonia Gensler, author of The Revenant

Please welcome Sonia Gensler, author of The Revenant.  The Revenant will be available through Alfred A. Knopf on June 14, 2011. 
Read my review of this great read here.

What inspired the story of The Revenant?

I’ve always had a thing for girls’ schools – particularly19th century finishing schools that were daring to rival boys’ schools in the their level of academic sophistication. During a summer gathering in Tahlequah, OK, one of my critique buddies pointed out Seminary Hall (now part of Northeastern State University) and explained that it once was a Cherokee boarding school. I hadn’t known the Cherokee Nation built such a sophisticated school for their girls, and I had to know more. (You can learn more here.) Turns out there is a ghost story associated with the school – NSU graduate students conduct ghost tours every October – but I wanted something a little sexier and more shocking than the ghost of a former principal wandering around the school.

Tell us about your journey to publication.
It took me a few years to finish my first novel. When I was teaching high school English I just never seemed to have the time or energy to get a lot of writing done. But after I pitched my unfinished novel to a few agents at a writing conference (eeek!), I knew it was time to wrap that story up. Fortunately I had an excellent student teacher at the time – a young man who was ready to handle my classes on his own after a short time – so while he taught I went to the library and typed my brains out. That novel generated a little interest, but ultimately it was my second novel that got me an agent. When that novel didn’t sell, I panicked and wrote another novel entitled The Revenant. It was a November 2008 NaNoWriMo novel that sold in May 2009.

Do you have any current writing projects? Can you tell us what they are?
I’m working on a couple of gothic mysteries – one set in the early 20th century and the other set in the 30s. We’ll see which one my editor likes best!

Does your family enjoy your writing?
The only member of my family who reads my writing is my husband, and he enjoys it. However, when he’s not enjoying a particular scene, he’ll let me know. He’s been great about giving constructive feedback, and he’s amazing when it comes to bouncing ideas around. If I need some help untangling a snarled plotline, I go to him.

What is your favorite food to eat while writing/reading?
Does tea count? I really like to have a cup of steaming black tea (with milk and sugar) when I sit down to read or write. Maybe a ginger cookie to go along with it?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tasty Tuesday-Popping Water

Imagine a place where you pluck a colorful flower-cup from the foilage and dip it into a carbonated spring.  Laura Bingham's characters are lucky enough to find such a place in her book Alvor.  Use basic lemon-lime flavored soda and add some flavorings and fruit juices for a refreshing splash.

Popping Water

1 can of lemon-lime soda
1 tsp vanilla or other flavoring (try lemon, grenadine, coconut, etc)
fresh fruit (try limes, lemons, oranges, cherries)

Combine ingredients in a frosty mug.  Enjoy.

Alvor by Laura Bingham

Alvor is just the kind of book I love to read for myself and then dangle in front of my eight-year old bookworm son and say, I have a book for you!  It backfired on me this time because he took it from me before I was finished.  Both he and I enjoyed the book very much and are looking forward to the sequel, Wings of Light that comes out this April. 

Food to Eat While Reading: Popping Water

Read the synopsis here.

The setting and characters remind me of Fablehaven by Brandon Mull--so much creativity and adventuring in an imagined land that I would love to visit.  Like Fablehaven, Alvor is also about a brother and sister who find a magical world practically in their backyard.  Erin and Bain are twins who find a house in their grandpa's woods that leads them to a place where it seems they have been destined to travel to all along. 

The banter and love that Erin and Bain show each other is genuine and heartwarming.  They were easy together and after they were seperated for a time, their reunion was sweet. The two of them form a stronger magic than each of them alone. I love how their magical abilities branched from their natural tendencies and desires. 

Halfway through the book my son snatched it to his room and wouldn't let me have it.  I have to admit that it took awhile for me to get back into the plot.  It slowed way down for me in the middle, but that could have been due to the long break I had between reading sessions.  I'm glad I stuck with it because the second half of the book is filled with adventure and more wonder. 

Even though the characters were supposed to be sixteen, I had a hard time seeing them that old.  They felt much younger to me.  I know that an author should write a protagonist a few years older than the intended audience, but to me Erin and Bain felt closer to fifteen, or even fourteen years old. 

The romance in the book was perfect for a middle grade age group.  There was enough to keep me interested, but it was sweet and lightly frosted. 

Just a few more things: 
Did you see the cover?  Brilliantly done.  I love how the red light and the blue light shine into the forest from different directions, giving an image of good vs. evil. 
And the book has a dragon.  Come on, how can you resist a dragon story?

Genre: fantasy, MG
Publisher: Published May 15th 2009 by Cedar Fort

Where I got the book: Amazon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

LDSStorymakers Conference


It's that time of year again-no not icky fog and yucky colds and endless winter.

It's time for the LDSStorymakers Conference!

Every year a bunch of crazy writers get together to talk about the imaginary people whom they think about in their spare time, ok, really just all the time.

Last year my husband and I attended for the first time and it was fabulous! You can read about my thoughts on last year here. Such a fun group of people teaching classes, helping new authors, receiving and giving awards, plus there are agents and editors there who are willing to hold pitch sessions and mingle with hopefuls.

You can find out how to register here.

BTW, you do not have to be LDS or write for the LDS market to attend the conference.

The Storymakers are holding a contest to Share the Love and spread the word. Join in the fun!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winner of The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

The Winner of The Lost Saint by Bree Despain and some lovely blue nail polish to match goes to....
magnolias_1 .  Congratulations!