Congratulations to Cindy’s Parents!

Cindy left me home alone this weekend. She was quite firm that I couldn’t stow away on this trip. It had something to do with the fact that her parents have been married for 50 years and that she and her brother and sister, as well as all of their spouses and most of the grandkids, are spending a few days in Ouray, CO to celebrate with them.

Hmph. Is that any reason to leave your Professional Mews behind?

Apparently it is. And because I’m a supportive kind of imaginary cat, and since Cindy seemed to think this was a pretty big deal, I nosed through her pictures until I found these to share with you.

Then . . .

Then . . .

. . . and now.

. . . and now.

So . . . congratulations to Cindy’s mom and dad! And I really, really hope they have a wonderful time with their family this weekend.

Did I mention they went without me?

Posted in Humans | Tagged , | 2 Comments

MMGM: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

I’ve been in a quandary over what to say about this week’s Operation Story Share, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.

Here’s the inside cover copy:

The summer of 1899 is hot in Calpurnia’s sleepy Texas town, and there aren’t a lot of good ways to stay cool. Her mother has a new wind machine from town, but Callie might just have to resort to stealthily cutting off her hair, one sneaky inch at a time. She also spends a lot of time at the river with her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist. It turns out that every drop of river water is teeming with life—all you have to do is look through a microscope!

As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and learns just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Don’t get me wrong,  this is an excellent book—one of the best I’ve read in a while and I enjoyed it very much.

But . . . watch out, because what I’m about to say might rub your fur the wrong way: Just because adult editors/teachers/librarians/feline book reviewers love a book, doesn’t necessarily mean that kids will. Now, I’m not saying that all kids books should be filled with action, adventure, quirky silliness and farts—not at all! However, my tail gets in a knot when I meet kids who don’t like to read because the ONLY books they’ve ever been exposed to are something that an adult has deemed “worthy.”

Yes, we should expose kids to books that will stretch their minds and help them grow. After all, that’s the beauty of reading—experiencing the world in ways we might not be able to in real life. So, if a kid is ready to embrace a beautiful, quiet story about eleven-year-old Calpurnia in 1899 rural Texas, that’s great—this story could teach them to go for their dreams regardless of what others think.

But if they’re not ready, can we NOT force these types of books down their throats, just because they win awards from adult judges and we think they’re awesome? Can we let those kids read all the silly fart books their little hearts desire, in order to foster their love of reading? If we don’t turn them off, but create lifelong readers out of them, won’t they naturally come to these more challenging books eventually?

But that’s just my opinion. I’d love to hear what you think.

And now that I’m off my soapbox, I strongly recommend The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly for all you grownups and high-level middle-grade readers out there.

Posted in Book Recommendation 2013, MMGM, Operation Story Share | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Flash’s Guide to Using the Zero Draft

HeadshotAre you a plotter or a pantser? In case you don’t know, those are the technical terms for writers who carefully outline their stories before they begin, and those who write by the seat of their pants.

Plot BoardAround here, we’re a little bit of both. That’s why Cindy is a big fan of the zero draft. When I’m helping her with a new story idea, she first uses a plot board to come up with the main events in the story. But she can only plot so much before she has to start writing something. And then she plots a little more. And writes a little more. And goes around and around in so many circles that I start to get dizzy.

Supervising Cindy's writingFor Cindy, a zero draft is more than an outline, but not good enough to even be considered a first draft. It’s a chance to learn about the characters and get the story down with no pressure. This draft will never be shown to ANYONE, so it can be full of rambling, incomplete sentences and thoughts. It can start out completely voiceless and have stuff like this: (add description here) or (come up with something funny here).

When it’s done, Cindy has the raw material for an official first draft. Like a chunk of clay on a potter’s wheel before the potter begins, a zero draft looks very little like the finished manuscript.

But it’s a place to start. And that’s the hardest part, right?

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

MMGM: Half Upon a Time

There’s plenty of action in this week’s Operation Story Share to keep you turning the pages. Not to mention all the crazy fairy tale characters that kept my whiskers twitching with amusement. I’m talking about Half Upon a Time by James Riley.

Half Upon a Time

Check out the inside cover blurb:

Life’s no fairy tale for Jack.

After all, his father’s been missing ever since that incident with the beanstalk and the giant, and his grandfather keeps pushing him to get out and find a princess to rescue. Who’d want to rescue a snobby, entitled princess anyway? Especially one who falls out of the sky wearing a shirt that says PUNK PRINCESS and still denies she’s royalty. In fact, May doesn’t even believe in magic. Yeah, what’s that about?

May does need help, though—a huntsman is chasing her, her grandmother has been kidnapped, and Jack thinks it’s all because of the Wicked Queen . . . mostly because May’s grandmother just might be the long-lost Snow White.

Jack and May’s thrillingly hilarious adventure combines all the classic stories—fractured as a broken magic mirror—into one epic novel for the ages.

See? What did I tell you? Like I said, this book is funny and full of adventure and even has a little rivalry for May’s affections going on between Jack and a prince named Phillip.

And if you like the first book, you’re in luck. James Riley has written two more: Twice Upon a Time and Once Upon the End. What are you waiting for? Get reading!

Posted in Book Recommendation 2013, MMGM, Operation Story Share | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wonderful Wacky Words

Flash with DictionaryBeing a Professional Mews, my ears perk up whenever I hear a new word. Not long ago, I learned that defenestration means to throw a person or thing out the window. And this past weekend, I was able to learn more new words while spending time eavesdropping on Cindy’s husband and his friend after they’d spent the day hiking.

This friend was visiting from the UK, so there were plenty words and phrases to tickle my American whiskers.

Here is a small sample of the British English I overheard that day:

We left the car in the carpark and started up the footpath, bringing along our waterproofs in our rucksacks in case it rained. It was a brilliant walk, except for all the biters about. But after 17 miles, I fancied a bit of a lie down until dinner.

And here is the American English translation:

We parked the car and started up the trail, packing our raingear in our backpacks in case it rained. It was an awesome hike, except for all the mosquitoes. But after 17 miles, I was ready for a nap until dinner.

I don’t know about you, but I find the differences in our vocabulary to be quite fascinating!

And now I fancy a bit of a lie down myself. Then I’ll get back to work trying to get Cindy to use the word “defenestration” in one of her stories.


Posted in Words | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments