Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ellsworth's Club

Okay, you can come in the clubhouse now.

Forget it! You wouldn't let me in yesterday. Keep your crummy old clubhouse. Who wants to play in that dump anyway?

It's not a dump. It's My Book House and it has a great history. A long time ago, this lady named Olive Beaupre Miller couldn't find anything good to read to her three-year-old daughter. So she wrote some stories and poems. Then she decided she'd start a series of storybooks. She called them My Book House. The first set came out in 1920, in a cardboard house. In 1927, some of the sets were sold in wooden houses.

Fast forward to last week. The Writer took--

you mean dragged.

--her husband to some antique shops. She knew the Book House was there, of course. She just wanted to show it to him, just so he could see this marvel of publishing history. She had no intention of getting it. But, generous man that he is, he bought it for her as a graduation present.

The Writer has a newer set of Book House books, from the 50s. But she loves this set because of the little house. And we get to play in it!

How come The Writer has all this old stuff around? Tatty old postcards and cluttery junk like that old kitchen scale she just got. Fortunately it's too small to weigh me.

You have to be weighed on the scales at the feed store. The Writer hates this century. So she fills her house with old stuff to make her feel like she's living in 1920s.

But that's just an illusion! She's really living in this century.

Shhh. Don't tell her.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April Carnival of Children's Literature: Children's Lit Societies

The club meeting is about to come to order. Only bloggers interested in children's literature allowed. If you want to come in the clubhouse, say the password.


Wrong. While you think about the password, I'll think about what kind of club we should have. Becky at Becky's Book Reviews came up with the neatest idea. Her club is based on one of the most famous little sisters ever. The club has a theme song and cool activities like brick smashing! Go straight to her fort to become a member in good standing. Fun guaranteed, bunny ears optional.

I'm through wearing bunny ears. It's bad enough I have to wear this stupid beanie. Is "tuna fish" the password?

Nope. Preschoolers reign with the Queen of Country Music. Diary from England reports on an awesome club that delivers books to young children. Vanilla Joy reviews a preschool book that features kisses! That's better than a secret handshake. A Wrung Sponge discusses similarities between two books involving hares. And at Make a Difference, you'll find peachy-keen activities with Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Little kids are really into the club scene.

I'm a Very Hungry Cat. Does that count? Can I come in now?

Not until you give the right password. You don't need a password to get into The Library Collective--just show up Every Friday and you're automatically a member. Throw a ball, drop a fishing line, or take a hike to qualify for Kakie Fitzsimmons' club. In other words, act like a kid!

The Writer says I act like a two-year-old. Salmon?

Way off base. Some clubs are fan clubs, you know. Barbara Beitz talks to Sid Fleischman, a famous author and a magician. The fifth graders at Read Read Read have voted author Barbara O'Conner as club president for best read-aloud.

The Writer met Barbara O'Conner once. They shook hands and then The Writer touched me. If I give you the secret paw shake can I come in?

Not until you say the magic word. The paw shake might do you some good at The Reading Tub where summer book clubs are all the rage. Check out the swell rules!

Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast has started a club of, well, just her. And the fabulous illustrators she interviews. Head on over to the Seven Imp Clubhouse to meet members Jeremy Tankard and Lauren Castillo.

Mousie? Is that the password?

As if. The most exclusive club of all is up in Jen Robinson's treehouse where she talks about a child discovering the Just-Right book. That boy will have a lifetime membership!

I'm getting weak from longing. Are you sure you won't let me in?

What's that noise? Must be the wind. The Writer's friend Connie, who is working hard to get her own children's lit blog up and running, is forming a William Steig Magic Pebble Club. Members meet every spring and picnic at some rocky spot. After lunch they hunt for pebbles. The code word is "hee-haw" and everyone wears donkey ears.

That's worse than bunny ears! Hee-haw! Is that our password?

Do you think we'd use someone else's password?

Okay, I give up. What's the password!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Writing Monday: Poetry Month

Wha??? Is that The Writer I hear tapping on the computer?

Yes, she's back at work after being sick and being gone on school visits and having computer troubles. Her computer is still kaflooey but she's getting a new one soon.

April is almost over and The Writer wished she had celebrated Poetry Month. She hasn't written any poetry but her husband has. He's been composing poetry on the refrigerator, switching the word magnets around to create cool poems, like this one:

A nest
an aerie
an egg
from which
sweet songs
bright life
our house

The Writer made her husband a book and she is writing his poems in it. Here is the latest poem from the refrigerator. If you look really close, you'll see The Writer has drawn a teeny tiny nest on top of the "H" in "house," with a teensy weensy little bird singing. Isn't that cute?

I think The Writer is slipping, myself.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Computer Woes

Why is The Writer yelling so much in her office? She's interrupting my nap.

She has computer problems again. Apparently the virus she had a while back didn't really go away.

Oh, no. I feel kind of sick myself . . .

You're not catching the computer virus again! I'm not going to be your nurse after last time. The Writer's husband will order her a new computer soon. Meanwhile, expect a lot of yelling.

I hope the new computer doesn't cost much. It won't cut into my kibble expenses, will it?

Next week The Writer will be away on school visits. So we'll be back soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ellsworth Can't Hide

Ellie! Oh, Elll-ie! Where are youuuu?

Oh, for trunk's sake. That cat is coming to pester me again. I will never get my memoir written.

There you are! What are you doing way up there?

I'm trying to work on my book.

On top of the water heater? Boy, you find some weird places to work. [Jumps up.] Ommpf. Hey, it's kind of neat up here!

Now I know why The Writer says she never has any peace and quiet.

This would be a great place to play Mousie Hockey. We can smack the Mousie around this nice shiny round top. Will you go get Mousie for me?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back to the Memoir

Let me see . . . Great-aunt Lily married John Sager. Their daughter became The Writer's grandmother and she--

Whatcha doin' in the broom closet?

Trying to work! Is no place sacred? Can a writer ever find a hideaway from nosy cats?

It's the broom closet. Not a temple on a mountaintop in Tibet. You didn't tell me what you're doing.

Reading old letters and journals. This is research for my memoir, which as you know is called Ellsworth Elephant Is Not a Boy--

Uh-huh. This isn't just a broom closet, you know. The Writer keeps buckets of kibble in here. In fact, you're sitting on one.

I suppose you want me to open it?

If it's not too much trouble. But watch out for the mop. It's a killer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Writing Monday: Personal Experiences

The Writer is finally back after being sick. And she is ready to resume her spot in Blogland.


Because it's Writing Monday, The Writer wants to talk about personal experience pieces. These are essays or articles based on life experiences. When The Writer was trying to get published, she discovered a lot of small magazines bought personal experiences regularly. And those little essays aren't hard to write.

Because The Writer was always aimed toward a career in children's books, she wrote pieces about her childhood or teenage years and submitted them to small religious magazines, parenting magazines, and women's and homemaking magazines. The Writer always suggests to beginning writers to start with these pieces--the material is already there, waiting to be crafted.

The Writer still writes personal experience pieces, though not as often. She recently sold an essay about redecorating her powder room to Creative Home magazine (and is thrilled to have an article in a magazine she can buy at the grocery store). She wrote a very personal piece for this month's issue of The Edge of the Forest, the online children's literature journal. "Fairy Tale in the Forest" is one of her favorite pieces.

Most of the book reviews The Writer writes for her column in The Edge of the Forest, A Backward Glance, are wrapped in personal experience. There are many outlets for personal experiences. Search them out, The Writer advises, and start writing!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Winchester Goes to the Vet

You don't look any worse for the wear. I heard the struggle in the laundry room. It took The Writer and The Writer's husband 30 minutes to get you in the cat carrier. The Writer said she'd never seen a cat with 8 legs before.

Darn tootin.' I wasn't going without a fight.

It wasn't that bad when you were at the vet's.

It was horrible! First they weighed me--

--but you'd lost a half a pound! The Writer is deeply envious of that. She hasn't lost an ounce.

I lost weight from being nervous in the waiting room. It was full of police dogs and mean-looking cats. The vet looked in each of my ears and put something in them. Then I got a shot in the butt!

That was to keep you from getting rabies. The Writer said there was nothing wrong with you by the time you got to the vet's. Your earache miraculously cured itself. But she is sick. She begged the vet to let her lie down on the table and look in her ear.

The Writer needs to get better so she is taking a week off from the blog. I'm going to fix some chicken soup for her now.

Make double for me. I'm feeling kind of peaked after that trying incident . . .

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Winchester Has an Earache

What's with you? You keep shaking your head and scratching at your ear. Do you have fleas?

I do not have fleas! If I did I got them from you.

You can't get fleas from a stuffed animal. How come you're so grouchy?

My ear is bothering me. Every time I see The Writer I try to straighten up and look perky, but this ear just flops over.

You remind me of a Scottish fold. You know, that breed of cat with their ears folded over? The Writer's husband has always wanted one, ever since he saw the Baker and Taylor cats on the shopping bags The Writer brings back from Book Expo--

Will you stop blathering!! My ear is killing me!

You'll feel better tomorrow. The Writer is taking you to the vet. I heard her make the appointment.

No! Anything but that!! The thermometer!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ellsworth Goes Through Her Photographs

Now whatcha doing?

Honestly, Winchester, can't I have a shred of privacy in this house?

You're sitting in the hall. What am I supposed to do, go outside to get to my litter box?

If you must know, I'm going through old photographs to jog memories for my memoir. See, here's a picture of me with Elaine. She was a little bear owned by The Writer's friend across the highway.

Highway? The Writer sounds like she lived on Little House on the Prairie or something.

Elaine and I were good friends. I wonder what's happened to her now? The rest are pictures of The Writer.

Who's that cat The Writer is holding in that other picture?

That was her favorite cat, Blackie. Blackie used to sleep in a doll bassinette. The Writer had lots of other cats before you, you know. I knew them all. Oliver, Half-Pint, Pyewackit, Whiskers--

What about this Blackie? Was she as smart as me? Did she wear hats?

Yes, she did. She had a little black velvet hat trimmed with white fur. A friend of The Writer's mother made it for Blackie. Among her keepsakes The Writer has Blackie's pink and blue pop-bead collar, her i.d. tag, and a lock of her fur . . . Winchester? Don't go off in a pout!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ellsworth Writes Her Memoirs

Hi. Whatcha doing?

I'm trying to work, alone. What are you doing in my private study?

Private study? This is the kitchen. In front of the pantry. You're in my spot. So what's the big secret project?

If you must know, I'm writing a book.

Hey, I wrote a book! It's called The Great Catsby and it's about--

My book is a memoir. The Writer wrote a book about her life and now I'm going to. The title is Ellsworth Elephant Is Not a Boy.

[Winchester falls over laughing] Is this an April Fool's joke? Who do you think will read a book like that?

Will you please leave my private study? You're disturbing the Muse.