Thursday, December 22, 2011

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE!



Life is what happens between blog posts, and by looking at the time lapsed between my last blog post and this, you can tell I've had a lot of "life" happening. The week before Willy Wonka opened, my wonderful mother-in-law passed away after a painful illness. She was absolutely the funniest person I've ever known, and so full of life that she never really will leave us. Part of life is death, I know, but it can leave you speechless.

And part of life is . . . life. We are expecting our eleventh child in the spring, so I'm writing like mad to get ahead of deadlines. Which brings me to some good writing news!

I've been hired as a staff writer for knowonder! online magazine! So please watch for my stories there. It's a  fabulous concept. Check it out!

Our local community theater just presented It's a Wonderful Life, the Radio Show. My teenage daughter played Mary, and I couldn't help but bawl a little when we all sang Auld Lang Syne. For all it's ups and downs, heartaches and tears, the joys win out; it really is a wonderful life. I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and resolve to blog more in the New Year!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WONKA MANIA



It's the 40th Anniversary of the 1971 WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY movie. I turned 40 this year, too. So to celebrate, we're producing WILLY WONKA THE MUSICAL with Wellington Children's/Community Theater. I'm knee deep in Oompa-Loompas, and loving it!

I have to confess that I'm having more fun than a director ought to have, because these kids have SO much talent and energy! And there are so many cool effects and fun sets involved.

But let's talk about Roald Dahl, the author of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. As a writer, he broke all kinds of bounds and he broke some rules, too. I mean, alliterative characters (Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina??) and obvious morals, to name a couple. But who doesn't love it? I sure do.

So look out for some fun film facts and production updates in the upcoming weeks. If you could play any character from the show or book, who would it be? (I cast myself as Mrs. Gloop. My husband is playing Wonka.)

What's your favorite Roald Dahl book?

Did you know that the girls playing Veruca and Violet in the '71 version both had a crush on the kid who played Charlie? You can see a little fight between them on the boat ride. Check out Charlie's look of surprise. He was clueless.

Fred Astaire wanted to be Wonka in that movie. Can you imagine how different it would have been? Astaire was much closer than Gene Wilder to the proper age for a retiring chocolate factory owner, but I love Gene Wilder's performance.

Okay, your turn!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

LIBRARIAN LU'S VIEW

IT'S LU'S BIRTHDAY TODAY! Wish her Happy Birthday, please!

I think CHILDREN'S LIBRARIANS are just about the greatest people on earth. I'm blessed to be friends with a few, and if you want to know what's hot off the press and a really good read, just ask your local librarian. Meet Lu, Children's Librarian Extraordinaire and all-round lovely person!

How long have you been a children's librarian?
I've worked in libraries for a long time! I started out in junior high as a student library aide. (3 years) I worked as an aide in the children's department of a public library for 2 years. I've been a school librarian for 20 1/2 years.
What's your favorite thing about your job?
Getting students excited about reading or a particular author. It's great when they ask for a book that I've reviewed or read to them. The second thing I like is reading children's literature. I've always have a book going.
What was your favorite book growing up?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I wanted to be Jo, the main character. She was a tomboy who wanted to be a writer. I was a tomboy that didn't know I wanted to write until high school. My favorite books now are by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I love her "Missing" series.
What good book(s) have you read lately?
The latest children's book I've read is Operation Yes. I've also read a fantasy by Mercedes Lackey recently and I'm currently reading a mystery based on Jane Austen's books. I prefer science fiction/fantasy or mysteries.
You're also a writer. Tell us about what you're writing at this time.
Currently I'm working on a middle grade science fiction/fantasy called Saving the Light. It's about a boy that learns to deal with the death of his father while learning to be a Thought Bender, someone that can manipulate energy and matter. Since at an atomic level that's what everything is made of, the possibilities are endless.

Have a Burning Question for Lu about books (hers or others), the ins and outs of a library, what kids are reading or what's trending? Ask away! Thanks, Lu!

Friday, July 1, 2011

THE PENGUINS HAVE SPOKEN!



The penguins have drawn a name, and the lucky winner of the MR. POPPER'S PRIZE PACKAGE IS:  Small Town Shelly Brown! Congratulations, Shelly! Please send an email with your mailing address to mlbrown90 @ att dot net. WOO HOO for you! Thanks to all who entered!

Friday, June 17, 2011

MR. POPPER'S PRIZE PACKAGE

Yes, I love alliteration! And I love birthdays! And I love MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS! What do these things have in common? Well, in honor of my daughter, Hannah's 19th birthday, and the opening of MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS (this isn't an endorsement, since I haven't seen it yet, but did I mention how great the book is?) I'm giving away a PENGUIN PRIZE PACKAGE!


It will be filled with things Hannah loves (and she loves Mr. Popper and his flippered friends), like the book, Hot Tamales, a stuffed pony, a stuffed penguin AND a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card! (Stuffed items subject to change.) More random items may be included. 


How to enter: Tell me what animal you would have if you could and how you would feed it. It does not have to be an animal that lives on this planet. Purely imaginary animals are fine, too. In fact, they are better!


Contest ends July 1st!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SUMMER FUN

My kids help with the local summer reading program doing puppets and skits. They never walk the two blocks (aren't we lucky?!) to the library, without bringing home sacks of books. I confess, I'm a little jealous that they have so much free time to read. Sigh.


This summer I'm reading WE ARE NOT EATEN BY YAKS, LOSER, RULES, WHALES ON STILTS, and WIVES AND DAUGHTERS (which is a humongous non-middle-grade book, which I read to keep from turning into a twelve-year-old boy, ya know ;). I hope to read more than these, but I have to write, too. AND we're beginning rehearsals for WILLY WONKA soon at the Children's Theater of Wellington, so that will be "Buckets" of fun. (If you get that pun, be sure to note it in the comments!)


So, what are you reading this summer?


AND, it wouldn't be summer without a good game of flashlight tag, and Leslie Rose of YES, THIS WILL BE ON THE TEST has tagged me on her blog. Go check it out. She's the coolest fifth grade teacher I know, and she's into STAR WARS. Seriously. Check it out. Here are the honest answers to the tag questions:








Do you think you’re hot?
I'm certainly warm.

Upload a picture or wallpaper that you’re using at the moment. 


That's my husband (of course, he wasn't my husband then), me in the middle (age 16), and my brother, Jay. Oh, and the poodle? That's Cha Chi. This pic has been circulating throughout the Brownie ranks this summer.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat?
Two days ago I made some incredible baked chicken for dinner. I got the recipe off the Biskquick box. ;)

The song(s) you listened to recently.
Everything by Delirious? (Everything is not a song. I mean literally, everything by them.)

What were you thinking as you were doing this?
Why did we ever name that poor animal Cha Chi?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kassidy and Hope


This is Kassidy and her faithful friend Hope. I love her dog's name, because that's what this guest post gave me--HOPE. What books got YOU hooked on reading? For me, it was the BLACK STALLION SERIES. I would lie on my white canopy bed and read them for hours on end (always with a bag of Reese's Pieces.) Thanks, Kassidy, for sharing!

I took after my Dad because I did not like to read. It was boring to me. I would rather watch TV and play with my sisters.
     
Then my big sister told me about The Baby-Sitters Club. I liked that the characters were teenagers, and I liked reading about the same characters in the series. Then she told me about Nancy Drew. I liked the mysteries and how they were all different.
     
I don’t think reading is boring any more. Right now, I’m reading Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I like it because it’s about horses and their different lives.
     
I know there are some people who are like I used to be, and don’t like to read. Try reading because you might find a book that you like. You just have to find a book that interests you. Once you start reading, you can’t stop!

Friday, June 10, 2011

WE HAVE WINNERS!!!


That's right, I said WINNERS! In a fit of generosity, (and because I couldn't pick a winner), I'm giving each of you who entered a copy of JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW by Nathan Bransford!! Email your mailing address to: mlbrown90 @ att . net (Squish that together, of course.)

Wonderful planets, people! Thanks for entering and happy reading!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

COSMIC GIVEAWAY!



Win a copy of JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW by NATHAN BRANSFORD and illustrated by C.S. JENNINGS! This book is every bit as great as it sounds. "Space travel is all fun and games until someone breaks the universe." Substitute teachers and sprinklers. Planets that smell like burp breath. Space pirates.Yeah. So there you have it. And you CAN have it! I will send a copy of this hilarious book to the person who makes up the best planet and its inhabitants. Give your planet a name, describe it, and tell me who lives there. Contest ends June 10th, so GO!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WE WANT YOU!!


Have you read a good book lately? There are more great books than I can possibly read, so I need your help spreading the word. If you'd like to write a short (500 word max) guest review, email me at mlbrown90 @ att. net . OR, I'd really love to have you video yourself reviewing the awesome book you choose. Just please be sure the book is appropriate for 5th through 8th graders.

You do not have to be a kid to guest blog. In fact, look for LIBRARY LISA, one of my favorite children's librarians, coming to this blog soon! She is a reading machine!

I'm currently reading THE GREAT HAMSTER MASSACRE by Katie Davies. What are you reading? Hmmm?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

STRETCHING

WE HAVE A WINNER!!! Congratulations, Katy! The names were too good for the Brownies to decide. So we had a drawing of all entrants. Thank you all for entering, watch the blog for our nest contest! Katy, email me at mlbrown90 @ att . net (squish that all together) and tell me which gift card you'd like!


Watch this video. It is so cool, you may have to watch it a few times. Then please come back from Slinkyland and read the rest of this post. There's a contest!






Is that cool or what? So what does that have to do with Writing News and Book Reviews? Lots! Almost everything I've had published was a stretch for me. I have a great husband (I call him my "Idea Man") who's always tossing me zany ideas and challenging me to step outside my creative comfort zone. You don't think I came up with a book titled REVENGE OF THE PINK GRANNY PANTIES all by myself, do you?


So let's do some mental stretching. Name these two slinky thingies. The Brownies will decide the winner. I'll announce the winner Monday, May 2. What do you win? How does a $25 gift card to TOYS R' US sound? (Sorry, couldn't reverse the "R" ;) Then you can buy your own Slinkies, or Sea Monkeys, or whatever. If you'd rather have a reading-related prize, you can have the same amount to spend at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!


Adults can play, too. We all need ssstttrrreeettccchhheeeddd now and then! (Just keep it kid-friendly!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

HAPPY 95th BIRTHDAY, BEVERLY CLEARY! (And Happy 40th to ME!)

That's right! I share my birthday with my favorite childhood author, Beverly Cleary! I love all her books, but have a special place in my heart for Ramona, because I was always getting into messes myself as a kid.


For example: On my first day of class in a new kindergarten, I passed gas LOUDLY during story time. I was mortified, especially when a boy pointed right at me and said, "It was HER!" I flatly denied it, and the teacher kept reading, but my cheeks still heat up at the memory.


What about you? Have any "Ramonaesque" memories? What's your favorite Beverly Cleary book? What did you think of the movie, Ramona and Beezus?

Monday, April 4, 2011

FRITZED!

Check out my funny space story, FRITZED! in the April issue of STORIES FOR CHILDREN. All Peter wants to do is sleep in on Saturday morning. But his BOTler, Fritz, thinks it's Friday, and that Peter's his little sister, Paige! I LOVE the illustration. It's hilarious! (That pic isn't it, that's the Jetson family, and their maid, Rosie. Is it any wonder the girl who spent her afternoons watching the Jetsons and playing Princess Leia--hair buns over the ears and all--grew up to write space stories?)


Peter and Paige live on Mars. What planet would you live on if you could? (Remember, Pluto's not a planet anymore. It got demoted ;)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'M BACK!!!

It's show time at the CHILDREN'S THEATER OF WELLINGTON which means my life has been consumed by all things acting this last month. And writing. And directing. REMOTE CONTROL is a ton of fun. Imagine a magic remote, and the chaos that ensues when a brother and sister use it against each other and bring their favorite T.V. characters into their living room. Throw in a gorilla with a belly ache and you get the picture. 


Any of you into acting? What shows have you been in? What shows would you like to be in? Got any great ideas for a play? (I'm always looking for fresh material!)

Speaking of acting, I just heard that Walden Media is making THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW by C.S. Lewis! I can't wait to see how they bring the book to life. It's my second favorite Chronicle of Narnia, right behind THE DAWN TREADER. And speaking of THE DAWN TREADER, did you see the movie? How do you think it compared to the book? 



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

AND THE WINNER IS . . .

Thanks to all who entered our Highlights Subscription Giveaway! View the video below to see who won. Winner, email me at mlbrown90 @ att dot net with your address. Happy Hidden Pictures!!!!
video

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WIN A YEAR'S SUBSCRIPTION TO HIGHLIGHTS!

HIGHLIGHTS named me their Author of the Month for my story "Crickets (CRASH!) and a Birthday Bash" (Jan. 2011)! This funny story is extra special to me, because it was also a winner of Highlight's 2009 Fiction Contest! Help me celebrate by telling me your favorite birthday memory in the comments below. On March 1, I'll pick a random winner and give them a gift subscription to the magazine I've loved since I was a little girl (back when the dinos roamed the earth ;) Anyone may enter!

Monday, February 14, 2011

GREAT GROUNDHOG DAY GIVEAWAY WINNERS!!!

That's right! I said "winners!" Grady was so excited about getting lots of entries, and so stoked about his cousin Phil's prediction of an early spring, that he's giving away TWO more Barnes and Noble gift cards of $10 each. All you have to do is read Kimu and the Kelp Forest (below) and tell Grady what the kelp harvesters fed the hungry sea otters (kelp is NOT the answer!) First two commenters on this post to get it right win! 


And NOW... the random # generator has spoken! The winner of our GGDG is... KELSEY! She said her favorite book is HOLLY'S HEART. Congrats, Kelsey! Email me at mlbrown90 @ att . net for your gift card. I'm glad you like the blog! I'll announce the other two winners in the comments below. READY, SET, READ!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JULES VERNE!

In honor of Jules Verne's 183rd Birthday, I'm sharing an underwater adventure. This story was published in Characters and was voted by kid judges to be the best story in their 2008 contest! It's also been published in Bumples ezine. What do you think? Would it be fun living underwater? Do you think we ever will? Have you ever eaten squid? Did you like it? Have you read any of Jules Verne's books?(20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS...?)  Comments, please!


Scroll down to enter the GREAT GROUNDHOG DAY GIVEAWAY!
                                                                              
Kimu And The Kelp Forest



"Kimu, I need you to take this to your father." Kimu's mother wrapped a square of squid and
some rice balls in a piece of seaweed. "He forgot his lunch, and I'm due at work in ten minutes."
Kimu swallowed. "Isn't there anything out there he could eat?"

"You'll be fine, Kimu." His mother strapped on her air tank. "Take your hydroboard, stay on
the path, and steer clear of the bats and the giants. Your father's working the east side of the
forest today. I'll see you this evening. Oh, and try to finish unpacking your room."





She gave Kimu a quick hug, slipped on her flippers and walked into the pressure-locked portal that led to the ocean outside. Kimu watched through the window of his oxydome home as she waved to him, then kicked closer and closer to the surface. He'd have given anything to have gone with her. It had been a whole week since he'd stood on dry land, back before school let out
and they'd moved below.






Kimu could just picture his friends up above enjoying the summer; hanging out at each other's houses, hoverboarding, having fun on the beach . . . what was left of it.


"You're so lucky," his best friend Landis had said. "I mean, how great is that? To be one of the first families to live in the ocean! I wish my dad was a biologist."

Of course Landis would want to live underwater, he was the best swimmer in Council Cove. And I'm just about the worst, thought Kimu. Even with flippers. Now give me a hoverboard . . .


When Kimu could no longer see his mother, he turned and stared at the seaweed wrapped
squid on the counter. He hated squid.

And he hated living in the ocean. But since the ice caps started to melt, there was less land to
live on up there. His new neighborhood would soon be full of people.

Kimu zipped up his wet suit, snapped on his scuba mask and stuffed the squid and rice into a
pouch on his belt. As he shouldered the oxygen tank, he took a deep breath to make sure it
worked. All that gear felt suffocating.


But then, everything down here felt like that. Their oxydome was like living in a reverse
aquarium; he was trapped inside while all the fish and sea creatures swam around free. Not that
he wanted to swim around out there.

Kimu stepped inside the portal and pressed the button that opened the hatch to the ocean
outside.

He unhooked his hydroboard from the dock and lay down on it. Kimu hated the powerless
feeling of lying on his stomach. Even though the controls had mirrors, you could never really
tell what might be swimming up behind you. He pushed the ignition, and the engine whirred to
life.

Kimu cautiously maneuvered toward the kelp forest. It was only his third time out with the
board and he was still getting the feel of the controls.

He'd almost reached the forest's edge when something bumped him from beneath. The board
bobbled, nearly knocking him off balance.

He looked down and almost laughed with relief. It was just a school of harmless halfmoons
on their way into the forest to feed. One of them hung back and blinked curiously at Kimu. He
waved and the fish slashed back to the school.


Kimu steered the hydroboard east along a path cut out of the forest. It would take him right
through giant territory. But they didn't really worry him that much. The giants weren't as big as
he'd thought when he'd lived on land. He'd seen a couple of them at a distance, but never up
close.

And they didn't attack people, either. That was all just science fiction. Although he did wish
he and Landis hadn't watched so many late night sci-fi flicks. Those are fun . . . if you live on
dry land.

Off to his left, Kimu saw an enormous shadow in the dark expanse beyond the kelp. It
looked like a gray whale. Whales didn't worry him, either. They were no threat to humans.
Kimu looked forward . . . right into the amber eyes of a giant! He gasped, swallowing a great
gulp of oxygen. The surprised giant shot straight up, leaving Kimu in an inky blur.
Kimu revved the board, propelling himself out of the black cloud. The giant had gone back
into hiding. Kimu couldn't believe it--he'd been inked by an octopus! What would Landis say?



He checked his watch, and saw it was almost time for his dad's lunch break. The harvesting
station was nowhere in sight. He sped up for a few minutes, then paused to scan the forest floor.
Red and purple urchins inched their way along the kelp roots. There would be no urchins near
the station; the harvesters gathered up the hungry kelp eaters and fed them to the sea otters. So
he must still--

Wham! Kimu came off the board with such force that he couldn't breathe. He whirled
around in the water, trying to see what he'd hit. An enormous bat ray lay just below him. It was
motionless, stunned from the impact. Kimu knew any impact he had with the ray would be
stunning. Those stingers could be lethal.


But he had to get his hydroboard. It had sunk to the ocean floor, and its motor was churning
up a cloud of rocks and sand not far from the ray.

Kimu's head was spinning, but he tried to think clearly. If he went for the board, he'd be
within stinging distance of the ray. Swimming was the only other option.

He'd try for the board.


The ray hadn't moved. Kimu dove slowly towards the board, never taking his eyes off the
ray. His heart pounded in his ears. As his hands scraped the sand, the ray flapped its wings and
flew straight at him.


Kimu grabbed the controls and flattened himself against the board. He opened up the throttle
and veered to the right of the ray and straight into a wall of kelp.

Kimu killed the engine, then tore at the kelp that clogged it. He kept watching for the ray, but
it had vanished. Finally, he settled back onto his board and headed east again.

After a few minutes, Kimu noticed the urchins thinning out along the ocean floor. He looked
up and saw the belly of a harvesting boat in the distance.


Kimu checked his watch. He was right on time

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GREAT GROUNDHOG DAY GIVEAWAY!!

Gazoinks! Grady the Groundhog wants to know your favorite book so he can read it!  (He's promised not to chew on the covers.) Tell him your favorite book, and why you like it in the comments, starting Feb. 2nd. He'll choose a random winner on Valentine's Day and send them $20 worth of Barnes and Noble bucks!! (This contest is for kids only.) Follow this blog for an extra entry! 
Don't forget to scroll down and comment on the latest Wimpy Kid book if you've read it!

We Have a Winner!!!

Congratulations Leslie Rose, the random number generator has proclaimed you (#21) winner of the $20 Barnes and Noble gift card. Leslie, please send me an email at mlbrown90 at att dot net to collect your prize!

Thanks to all who entered and recommended awesome reads! Saw some of my favorites and got some great new TBRs!

Tomorrow starts our GROUNDHOG DAY GIVEAWAY for kids. Send your middle-graders over and have them tell me their favorite book and why they love it. Valentine's Day we'll choose a random winner of some more Barnes and Noble bucks!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE UGLY TRUTH - Review by Micah


Hi, my name is Micah. I'm going to review Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Ugly Truth (book 5) by Jeff Kinney. In book 4, Rowley and Greg get in a big fight, in book 5, Greg is looking for a new best friend. Greg isn't having any luck.

My favorite part is when Rowley shows up one day at Greg's locker with a big zit in the center of his forehead. "My mom says I'm becoming a man," Rowley says. He goes to these other guys and tries to be cool. Like a week later, Greg is so fed up with Rowley and his zit, he writes a letter that says, "Dear Rowley, nobody likes your zit. Signed, The Girls."

I think you should read this book! I'm giving it four brownie points!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

This just in: WIMPY KID 2: RODRICK RULES arrives March 25!  http://usat.me?43012668

Monday, January 17, 2011

Earn Some Brownie Points!

Tell me either your favorite middle-grade read as a kid or recommend a recent book for our readers. Comment for a chance to win a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card! Contest ends February 1st.