Summer Camps and Workshops

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Is there an author inside of your child waiting to be awakened? From treasure maps to fantastical creatures, play dough poems to larger-than-life characters, my workshops and summer camps aim to stretch kids' imaginations and show them how fun writing can be! I'll be teaching at several different locations in Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin. See my Writing Classes page for details, dates, and registration.

Maps, Poisonous Tongues, and Sweet Potato Soup

I was honored to learn that The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic had been named one of four finalists for the 2013 National Homeschool Book Award, which celebrates "great fiction that shines a positive light on what learning outside a traditional classroom looks like." Homeschooling families around the country can sign up to vote on their favorite book, and the website includes activities related to each of the books and suggestions for how to start a book club in your area. I'm so impressed by the creative ideas they've come up with for Mount Majestic . . .
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I love maps and was thrilled when my publisher asked me to draw Persimmony's map of the Island at the Center of Everything (the one that appears in the opening pages of the book). The NHBA folks have put together a great introduction to "creative cartography." Did you know that the founder of the Boy Scouts was a spy who drew secret maps on diagrams of butterfly wings? I didn't either!
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Kids are always asking me, "Where did you get the idea for . . . ?" Sometimes the best answer I can give is, "It popped into my head and made me laugh." This was the case with the poison-tongued jumping tortoises. The NHBA website has fascinating facts about tortoises and tongues and an activity sheet to help you invent your own crazy new animal.
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In honor of King Lucas's devotion to sweet potato soup (with lots of pepper), the NHBA book group taste-tested three different recipes, appropriately named King Lucas Sweet Potato Soup, Majestic Sweet Potato Soup, and "Pepper Isn't the Only Spice" Sweet Potato Soup. Try them all--I plan to!

What If I Were a . . .

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The door to my home office is completely covered with illustrations of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic drawn by kids. I go to work each morning tiptoeing past an army of crayon-colored Leafeaters, Rumblebumps, poison-tongued jumping tortoises, and pepper-loving kings.

Most of these pictures come from kids who have heard me speak at their schools, which I consider one of the great privileges of my job as a writer of children's books. I absolutely love the outpouring of imagination I witness when I stand before a group of students prompting them to ask the question "What if?" in their stories and in their lives.

The highlight of my recent string of school visits was a thank-you letter that ended this way (punctuated exactly as the letter-writer did):

"Someday I might be an author write a book ask you to read it what if I was a giant thank you."

What a fantastic job I have! Not only did I inspire this child to become an author, I inspired him to become a giant. Now that is worth the writing of a book.

If you're interested in having me come to your school or library, see my Visits page.

Persimmony Smudge as an Oreo?

This definitely wins the prize for most creative fan art. Made on the 100th anniversary of the Oreo by the inimicable Rebecca Reynolds, these delicate carvings of King Lucas, Persimmony, Mount Majestic, a pepper shaker, and a giant's nose definitely take the cake . . . er, cookie.
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Follow me . . .

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Dial Books for Young Readers
Ages 8-11
Available in hardcover and paperback

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
has been nominated for the National Homeschool Book Award! Vote here:
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