The Road Less Traveled: AB goes to Hampton Plantation, home of Archibald Rutledge

20170324_125139 (1)As a creative writing teacher, I’m always looking for ways to expose my young writers to strong examples of good writing and to the personal stories of respected, published authors. Recently, I accompanied some students along with their parents to McClellanville, SC and Hampton Plantation – the ancestral home of Archibald Rutledge, South Carolina’s first poet laureate. Rutledge grew up in a wealthy family with deep ties to the land and history of the South Carolina lowcountry. His great-great grandfather, Daniel Horry, purchased the land in the early 18th century and later built the house on this sprawling rice and indigo plantation. Rutledge spent his pivotal years roaming the land, learning to hunt the local wildlife, and befriending the children of former slaves. After decades teaching in Pennsylvania, Rutledge, already an established writer, moved back home to oversee the restoration of his beloved home. To the Rutledge enthusiast, such works as Home by the River and Tales of Whitetails bring this special place to life, and I wanted my students to experience it in person. Continue reading

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Wingfeather Saga, vol. 1 – by Andrew Peterson

by AB

As a middle school English teacher, I am always looking for quality fantasy fiction for young readers. Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga first came to my attention when it was recommended to me by my 13-year-old nephew. Here’s a tip: if a teenage boy sings the praises of a fiction book, that’s a big deal and worth your attention.ap Continue reading

1×3 Review: Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler

1×3 Review: 1 book – 3 reviews. We picked this book out to be our first 1×3 review when we first launched. So in a sense, we’ve been eagerly awaiting this review. Back in the spring, Natalie shared an article with us about Anne Tyler and the Hogarth Shakespeare Project – a publishing group tasked with finding acclaimed novelists of today and enlisting them to retell the works of Shakespeare. Anne Tyler, a 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (for Breathing Lessons), takes on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew in her own adaptation as Vinegar Girl. Continue reading

Top 5 Faves: School Edition

As one of our Special Features, we each want to share quick blurbs about our “Top 5 Fave”-orite books in a particular category. And for our September edition of this, we’re reeling in the nostalgia of our favorite books that we met “in the classroom.” These books come from all periods of our schooling lives and were either a part of a set curriculum or just something we found in the school library. We hope you recognize some and enjoy hearing about them all. We’d love to hear about some of your own favorites as well!

AB

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The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald
My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Doreen Hallford, read this book to my class, and I was captivated by the antics of J.D. and his middle brother Tom, aka “The Great Brain.” If you like humorist Patrick McManus, you’ll love Fitzgerald’s style. My husband, kids, and I were guffawing as JD tells of how his family gets the first “water closet” in their town and how JD turns it into a money-making venture.

Silas Marner by George Eliot
This 19th century novel written under a pseudonym was required reading my sophomore year of high school, but it quickly turned into one of my favorite books. A tale of injustice and ultimate redemption, Silas Marner tells the story of an outcast, wrongly accused, who finds himself rescued by the love he has for an abandoned baby that he raises as his own. Continue reading

Lit Tips: Sticker removal, book lists, and (obviously) chocolate.

It’s time for a hodge-podge of miscellaneous book information, where we will share a small collection of random and (hopefully) useful tips relating to books. Today’s special feature includes some tips from Meg on removing stickers and/or price tags from book covers; 2 ways from Natalie that you can keep track of books that you read; and AB’s favorite book-chocolate pairings. Enjoy the smorgasbord!IMG_7349

Removing Book Stickers (Meg)

IMG_7470Without showing too many pictures of my wounded books, let me just simply state that I have easily ruined more than one book dustjacket trying to remove price tag stickers – namely from the Goodwill. I LOVE our Goodwills in many ways! Especially since every week I can get 10 books for $1.99 with the right color price tag. But those tags … ugh. They are the stickiest of sticky stickers I’ve ever encountered and have given me no end of grief. Finally, last week after ruining the dust jacket to my new copy of Gilead (Marilyn, please forgive me), I did some quick research and honed in on a few methods to remove the paper monsters. Continue reading

Interview with Robert Beatty, author of the Serafina books

We were thrilled to meet up with best-selling author Robert Beatty at a book signing; and we appreciate his time in allowing our interview. We hope you’ll enjoy it as well!  

Interview by AB

ABOUT YOUR BOOKS:

RB1What inspired you to write a book set at the Biltmore Estate?
My family and I live very close to Biltmore, and we visit there often. It’s a place filled with history, beauty and a sense of mystery. We thought it was the perfect setting for a mysterious, spooky story from a child’s point of view.

The character of Serafina was inspired by my middle school-aged daughter, Genevieve, who used to prowl around our house and try to sneak up on me in my office when I was writing.

How has being a father played a role in your Serafina stories?
I’ve always been interested in strong, young female characters. I’ve always felt that girls can do anything they want to do, and be anything they want to be. One of my main goals in writing Serafina was to give my three daughters a story about a heroic girl they can relate to.

Do you have plans to write a third Serafina book? (Please say “yes.”)
Yes, a third book in the Serafina Series is in progress now.  Look for it in summer 2017. Continue reading

Serafina and the Black Cloak series

By Robert Beatty            Genre: Middle Grade Lit (mystery)
Reviewed by AB                   5/5 stars

You probably wouldn’t expect that one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the Chief Technical Officer and Chairman of the Board at
Narrative Magazine,Sera both books and an entrepreneur in the field of robotics would care anything about writing children’s stories. But that’s exactly what Robert Beatty did when he began pursuing writing full-time in 2013.

#1 New York Times Bestsellers Serafina and the Black Cloak (2015) and its sequel Serafina and the Twisted Staff (2016) were born out of a love that Beatty and his family have for Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home.

0714161842 (2)Recently, I had the chance to attend a book signing for Serafina and the Twisted Staff  (already in its second week on the New York Times Bestseller List) held at the Barnes and Noble on Woodruff Road in Greenville, SC. My 8-year-old daughter and 12-year-old niece were with me along with about 200 other young fans.

Mr. Beatty, who lives in nearby Asheville, NC, spoke briefly, answered questions, showed a trailer that he and his daughters had made for the second book, and signed hundreds of copies (including the 6 I had with me for all the founding members of The Shabby Coat Book Club). The excitement at the event was palpable and with good reason. Continue reading