Author Archives: Karen W.

May 17, 2009

Being Green Chat Recap

Posted by at 7:53 am in Kid Power, Live Chats | Permalink

Our STACKS chat last month was all about being green, in honor of Earth Day. We talked about recycling, conserving energy, being less wasteful, and most importantly, spreading the word about saving our one and only planet!

Some of my personal fave parts of the conversation were:

1) A bunch of you reported that your schools were celebrating Earth Day by turning off all electricity for an hour — or even the whole day! I suggested doing the same thing to my boss at Scholastic, but since I work on a website, that didn’t exactly fly . . .

2) Special guest Moderator_Elise brought up the question of how to tell whether something is recyclable. I always thought that any piece of plastic with a 1 or a 2 on the bottom was fine for recycling, but thanks to you guys, I learned that it depends on where you live. So after the chat, I was inspired to do a little research about NYC in particular, and it turns out I’ve been trying to recycle a lot of stuff that isn’t allowed. Whoops, guess I got a little overzealous. Sorry to the people at the processing plant who had to go through all my plastic!

3) Everyone agreed that it’s important to be green everyday, not just on April 11th. As thumbelina08 put it: “We don’t have to be green just on Earth Day, we need to be green all the time. Earth Day  is just a reminder like a giant post-it note.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So, those were the most memorable moments of the chat for me. And you can continue the conversation on our Save the Planet message board! Or for more info on what you can do, there are tons of books to check out. Here’s three suggestions to start you off: The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon, Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Band and Penny Chisholm, and You Can Save the Planet: 50 Ways to Make a Difference by Jacquie Wines.

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

April 25, 2009

Book Titles for Opposite Day (Or Not)

Posted by at 8:28 am in Reads, Writing Prompt | Permalink

Oppositeday_130 Today is Opposite Day! Or should I say, "Today ISN'T Opposite Day" in order to make that true?

If you're as big of a Zac Efron fan as I am, then I bet you watched his recent appearance on Saturday Night Live. Obviously, I was glued to the TV for that. But while I loved the parody of HSM, I actually laughed the hardest at one part of "Weekend Update" featuring a band that takes classic rock songs and changes the lyrics to their "opposites" — sometimes using the word "opposites" pretty loosely. For example, the song "That's What Friends Are For" became "That's What Enemies Are Five." (Get it?)

I was inspired to do the same thing, but Splot-style. So I came up with some "opposite" book titles:

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid –> Skywriting of a Brave Adult
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire –> Harry Potter and the Collander of Ice
  • Inkdeath –> Wite-Out® Birth
  • Esperanza Rising –> Desperación Falling
  • Because of Winn-Dixie –> In Spite of Safeway (or In Spite of Food Emporium, In Spite of Gristedes, In Spite of Stop & Shop — take your pick)

Now it's your turn. Leave a comment with your opposite book titles! Or, you know, don't . . .

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

April 13, 2009

Happy Poetry Month!

Posted by at 6:15 am in Reads | Permalink

April is National Poetry Month, Celebrate by writing your own poem with the help of our Poetry Engine
April is National Poetry Month, so I wanted to share my favorite poem with all of you — a beautiful verse to awe and inspire . . . But then I changed my mind and decided I’d write my own poem instead! Too bad for you!

For a little help, I turned to Scholastic’s online poetry engine, which walks you through the process of creating a haiku, a limerick, a cinquain, or free verse.

I chose limerick, and this is what I came up with:

Nothing’s faster than a cheetah,
In a rush it’d surely beat ya’,
As hard as you’d try
To make your feet fly
By the end of the race it’d eat Velveeta!

Not bad, eh? Well, it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but I had fun writing it. So why not try your hand at writing a poem this month? Leave a comment with your results, or post your work of genius on the Write It poetry boards, where you can connect with other aspiring bards!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

April 10, 2009

Pen Names Trivia – Answer!

Posted by at 6:39 am in Trivia | Permalink

Questionmark_130A big thanks to you Splotters who answered my last trivia question about pen names. But also a big thanks to those of you wrote in just to say how much you love Ink Splot 26! That really warmed my heart. No, seriously, I had to take some Tums after reading your comments. (Get it? You warmed my heart and I got heartburn! Anyone? No? Anyhoo . . . )

Back to the trivia! I asked you guys to match up pen names with real author names. And lucca4 got it right!

The matched-up answers are:

Lewis Carroll = Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Dr. Seuss = Theodor Geisel
A. M. Barnard = Louisa May Alcott
Lemony Snicket = Daniel Handler
Mark Twain = Samuel Clemens

Congrats, lucca4!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

April 3, 2009

Trivia: Pen Names

Posted by at 6:50 am in Trivia | Permalink

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In my entry about book titles that would make good band names, I included The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles and pointed out that the author, “Julie Edwards,” is actually famed actress Julie Andrews. What I didn’t know is that Julie Andrews is married to director Blake Edwards — hence her choice of pen name.

How did I find this out? Through a comment left by user Erik. (See? We really do read your comments, so keep ‘em coming!)

Following Erik’s lead, I’ve got some more pen name trivia for you. Match the pen name to the real author name, below. (HINT: For one of these pairs, you’ll definitely be more familiar with the real name than the pen name!)

Pen Names
1. Lewis Carroll
2. Dr. Seuss
3. A. M. Barnard
4. Lemony Snicket
5. Mark Twain

Real Author Names
A. Daniel Handler
B. Samuel Clemens
C. Theodor Geisel
D. Louisa May Alcott
E. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson

Leave a comment with your guesses, and I’ll reveal the answers next week!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

PS – If you’re like Erik and you’ve got your own triva tidbit to share — or stump us with — then submit it for us to use in our upcoming trivia game show. Say what?! Yes, on April 30, 1-2 p.m. ET, Scholastic will be holding a kid lit game show at our headquarters and broadcasting it live to computers everywhere. Kids like you will be competing for trivia domination, and we want your help coming up with the questions. So show us what you got! Plus, sign up for an email reminder about the game show.

March 13, 2009

Next Movie Musical Ideas

Posted by at 2:15 pm in Book to Big Screen, Reads | Permalink

Avi_romeoandjuliet_130If you read our account of our HSM3 viewing night, then you know that we’re kind of a teeny weeny little bit OBSESSED with the East High gang. You don’t even wanna know how many Zac Efron pics we have up in our office right now. (I’ll give you a hint: it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of exactly 13.)

But apparently, we at The Splot are not the only ones who love HSM — hence the creation of other teen movie musicals: Camp Rock, The American Mall, and Spectacular. Obviously, I watched all three. But none of them quite captured my heart like my beloved HSM franchise. (Maybe it’s just that I only have eyes for Zac.)

With tomorrow’s upcoming live chat about book-to-film adaptations, I started contemplating which books I think would make good tween/teen movie musicals, and here’s what I came up with:

Romeo and Juliet, Together (and ALIVE!) At Last by Avi
This is my #1 pick; it’s practically made to order! There’s already a school play, a not-yet couple who are crazy about each other but too shy to do anything about it, and an ensemble cast of friends determined to give them a shove in the right direction — not to mention into the spotlight. I mean, why hasn’t this been made into a movie already? You’re welcome, Kenny Ortega!

And here’s a runner-up:

Buffalo Brenda by Jill Pinkwater
An outrageous ninth-grader leads a motley group of misfits in stunts that turn the school upside-down. Scandalous newspaper expose: check. Prank involving a large mammal: check. This book is missing the big, dramatic star-crossed lovers angle that’s usually a fixture in a movie musical, but I think the quirky characters, hilarious dialogue, and wacky plot still make it an excellent candidate.

So that’s my memo to Hollywood. Which books do you think would make good movie musicals? Leave a comment, or better yet — join us for our chat about book-based movies: tomorrow (3/14), 4-5 p.m. ET. See you then!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

January 20, 2009

Snapshots from the Inkheart Movie

Posted by at 5:47 pm in Book to Big Screen | Permalink

Inkheart_poster_130You know that forthcoming Inkheart movie? The one we’ve been talking about pretty much nonstop on The Splot for, oh, I don’t know, forever? Well, not to gloat or anything . . . but I’ve seen the movie, and you haven’t! >:-)

How do I know? Because it’s not coming out until this Friday (January 23rd). But don’t worry — that just means you have time to read the book if you haven’t already, or to re-read it in case you’ve forgotten the details of Mo and Meggie’s journey.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that the movie sticks pretty close to the spirit of the book. As always, action from the original story is condensed or cut altogether, but the overall plot is intact.

Also, Eliza Bennett, who plays Meggie, does a really good job — not like some other kid actors who are totally stiff or, even worse, just too over the top. The rest of the main characters are also well-cast, in my opinion: Brendan Fraser plays Mo, and Cornelia Funke actually wrote the book with him in mind for the character! Paul Bettany plays Dustfinger, and he’s perfect as the slippery fire-eater. Helen Mirren plays Elinor, and when I first heard that, I was not very happy because I think of Helen Mirren as a strong, bold woman and that’s not the way I see Eleanor — but Helen Mirren affects a slight revision of Elinor’s demeanor that works perfectly with her own screen presence and somehow also fits right in with my initial impression of the Elinor in the book. No wonder she’s an Oscar winner!

Most importantly to me, the same way that Inkheart the book doesn’t feel like a children’s tale so much as a finely-drawn fantasy novel, the film also doesn’t feel like simply a children’s movie so much as a full-on adventure film.

Are you excited yet? While you wait for the movie to hit theaters, immerse yourself in the Inkheart world online at www.scholastic.com/inkheart. Take a personality quiz to see which character you’re most like, listen to an audio reading of the first chapter of the book, see Cornelia Funke’s photo slideshow of her writing room, and more! It’s almost like being magically read into the story.

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

Movie poster courtesy of New Line Cinema.
January 19, 2009

The Real Harry Potter Trivia Answer

Posted by at 6:45 am in Harry Potter, Trivia | Permalink

Harrys_130A big thanks to those of you who answered my trivia question from last week!

The question was: In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, who are all the people involved in the “Seven Potters” plan for moving Harry to safety? Who pretends to be Harry? And who pairs up with whom?

The answer:

  1. Harry (as himself) + Hagrid
  2. Mundungus (as Harry) + Mad-Eye
  3. Hermione (as Harry) + Kingsley
  4. Ron (as Harry) + Tonks
  5. Fred (as Harry) + Mr. Weasley
  6. George (as Harry) + Lupin
  7. Fleur (as Harry) + Bill

And, of course, a Hagrid-sized CONGRATULATIONS to Kate for being the first commenter to get it  right. Great job, Kate!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

Illustration by Mary GrandPré © 1998-2008 Warner Bros
January 18, 2009

A Friday Fit for a Princess, Part 2

Posted by at 9:31 am in Authors | Permalink

Meg Cabot signs my copy of the last in book in the Princess Diaries series: Forever PrincessHey there, friends of Genovia. If you read my entry from yesterday, then you know that last Friday, Nancy, Carly H., Nick, and I went to an event at the New York Public Library to celebrate the release of the final Princess Diaries book, Forever Princess. And the special guest presiding over the ceremony was none other than Meg Cabot herself!

Yesterday I promised a rundown of Meg’s Q&A with the audience — many of whom were sporting their own tiaras. So here are the highlights, IMHO:

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  • I’ve long been a fan of the Princess Diaries books, but I never knew the origin of the series. Meg revealed her inspiration for the story: apparently, the whole thing started when she found out that her mom was dating her teacher. Gross! Meg explained, “Even though I was 30, I had to get my feelings out because my friends were tired of me talking about it.”
  • Of course, someone asked Meg the big question on the minds of all Princess Diaries fans: will she ever write more books about Mia? Well, maybe. Meg never planned to continue Mia’s story beyond high school, but she’s gotten lots of letters from readers in college reminding her, “I’m in college. It’s not like I’m dying.” So perhaps one day . . .
  • Unsurprisingly, Meg receives a ton of mail. But a little surprisingly, some of that mail has been from pastors! Unfortunately for Meg, those letters were to scold her for including French kissing in the Princess Diaries series. BUT thanks to those letters and also messages from kids complaining that their parents wouldn’t let them read Princess Diaries, Meg decided to write a series for younger kids: Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls!
  • Meg’s mom and her boyfriend (the teacher!) live in Washington, D.C., and the boyfriend’s granddaughters go to the same school as soon-to-be President Obama’s daughters. Or was it Meg’s mom’s boyfriend’s daughters who go to school with them? Or Meg’s nieces? Uh, actually, none of us can remember. Something like that. Whoever they are, no matter how much Meg begs, they refuse to give her any gossip because they’re mad at her for writing the All-American Girl books about them. (Although Meg insisted that the characters aren’t based on them, she did admit that their home’s proximity to the White House did inspire her to write the story.)
  • When Meg was a kid, she always wished she had curly, red hair (I wished the same thing!). So as an adult, she dyed her own hair red. During her visit to New York, a random guy on the street called out to her, “Hey, Red!” and Meg’s response was: “Awesome!”

Following the Q&A, Meg signed books for a super duper long line of people as we were all serenaded by the Switchblade Kittens, a band from LA with a whole album of songs inspired by Princess Diaries (the CD is called “Rebel Princess”).

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AND they even brought out a tiara piñata:

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The wait to get our books signed felt like FOREVER. Or should I say, it felt like Princess Forever? Uh, no I shouldn’t, because that’s cheesy.

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Anyhoo . . . here’s a pic I snapped of Carly H., Nick, and Nancy as we finally got to the spot where the line wrapped around between the projector and the back of the screen. (Btw, Carly was wearing a hat, so don’t think she has a mutant head or anything.)

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Finally, it was our turn to say hi to Meg, and she was super nice — even though Nick is always bothering her with requests for our Allie Finkle site.

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We each left with a goody bag from Vera Wang (Free lip gloss and perfume? Yes, please!)

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Plus, of course, our signed books:

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(Yes, I do have a Harry Potter throw pillow in my home. I’m not ashamed.)

— Karen, STACKS Staffer
January 17, 2009

A Friday Fit for a Princess, Part 1

Posted by at 8:57 am in Authors | Permalink

Meg Cabot signs my copy of the last in book in the Princess Diaries series: Forever PrincessLast Friday after work, Nancy, Nick, Carly H., and I headed to the New York Public Library for the evening. Yeah, yeah, we are a bunch of book-loving nerds, but on this particular night, we had more in mind than just browsing through the New Arrivals section — we were there for a special event with Meg Cabot to celebrate the publication of the last Princess Diaries book!

Forever Princess, the tenth and final installment in the series, came out on January 6th. And to mark the occasion, Meg made an appearance at the main branch of the NYPL to sign books, answer fan’s questions, and talk up her tiara auction. Say what? Yes, a tiara auction.

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See, Meg got a bunch of celebrities, authors, and designers to decorate their own customized tiaras, and she’s auctioning them off online all this month in order to raise money for teen programs at the New York Public Library. So Meg kicked off last Friday’s event with a photo slideshow to showcase her wares — and she was joined by former Project Runway contender and now famous designer Austin Scarlett, who created one of the tiaras that’s on sale.

Both Meg’s and Austin’s tiaras were on display onstage: