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 29, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Posted by at 8:30 am in About Us | Permalink

Recently, I chopped a foot off of my body. Well, kind of. I actually cut 12 inches of my hair. Same difference, right? For the past two years, I've been growing out my hair. Yes, I'm lazy — but my real reason was to get it long enough that I could donate it Recently, I chopped a foot off of my body. Well, kind of. I actually cut 12 inches of my hair. Same difference, right? :-)


For the past two years, I’ve been growing out my hair. Yes, I’m lazy — but my real reason was to get it long enough that I could donate it to Wigs for Kids.

As you can probably guess, Wigs for Kids makes wigs for kids. (Nah, really?) They need at least 12 inches of un-dyed, un-permed hair from each donor, and it takes 20-30 donations to make each wig. The wigs are all shaped to a mold of the child’s head, and the hair is cut and styled to the kid’s liking.

It’s a lot of work for the people at Wigs for Kids, but all you need to do is grow out your hair. Voila! An easy way to do something good — by basically doing nothing!

In fact, this is the second time I’ve donated my hair. Last time, I grew it out even longer:


Another bonus of such an extreme haircut is that sometimes people don’t recognize me right away. Very good for my second job as an undercover spy. Whoops, now I guess you know my secret . . .

For more info on hair donation, check out the websites for Wigs for Kids and another similar organization, Locks of Love.

— 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 19, 2009

Stacks in the City: Seattle Central Library

Posted by at 7:42 am in Reads | Permalink

Seattle_130 Last month I visited a friend in Seattle, and the very first place she took me was not the famous Space Needle, not the legendary Pike Place Market, not the acclaimed aquarium, and not the unique Chittenden Locks and Fish Ladder.

Nope; believe it our not, our #1 stop was the main branch of the Seattle Public Library! I guess birds of a feather really do flock together. (Or in this case, super book-lovers.) So I decided to give Carly M. a break and take over "Stacks in the City" for this month. Ready for my take on Seattle's Central Library?

Well, the Seattle Public Library's mission is "to beIMG_3899come the best public library in the world." That's a pretty tall order, but I was definitely impressed with what I saw.

The Central Library is pretty new — it went through a major redesign and re-opened to the public in 2004. It grew in size from 206,00 square feet with no public parking to 362,987 square feet plus underground parking.

But the improvements weren't just about making the library bigger — the library is also now a whole lot greener! Not only was the building designed for maximum energy efficiency, but it's also made out of recycled materials where possible. AND there are places where people can plug in their hybrid cars!

IMG_3900 Of course, the building is meaningless without the books. So let's get to the stacks! Or actually, the Central Library calls theirs a Books Spiral. Instead of taking the stairs to go between floors, you can walk around and around to look at all the books. Floor mats with Dewey Decimal numbers tell you which section you're in.

After getting a little dizzy in the Spiral, I made my way to the Faye G. Allen Children's Center. It really is a center and not just one room. There's an area for little kids and an area for older kids (color-coded so that you don’t accidentally end up in the wrong section), plus a story hour room. Sadly, no performances while we were there — unless you count when my friend put puppets on her hands and said hi to me in funny voices, but I don't count that at all and neither should you.

Luckily, my friend kept her hands occupied the rest of the time by taking photos, and so did I. Check out our pictures to see the rest of the Central Library — including the teen center, the automated book sorter, and the kind of spooky "heart of the library."


By the time we had finished exploring every nook and cranny of the library, I was ready to sit down and take a break. So we settled in for a little rest at the computer area in the Children's Center. Unfortunately, as you can see from this picture, I somehow scared all the kids away.


It might have been that I was a little sweaty after running around the library all morning, but let's just say it's because they were overcome by my staggering beauty . . . At any rate, at least I enjoyed my time at the Seattle Central Library that day!

— 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

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 22, 2009

From Page to Stage: Band Names Based on Books

Posted by at 7:26 am in Reads | Permalink

Everyone knows that the band Veruca Salt took their name from a character in Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But did you know that the band Good Charlotte also got their name from the title of a children's book (Good Charlotte, from the Girls of the Good Day Orphanage series by Carol Beach York)?

Good Charlotte_7098727    Goodcharlotte

Fine, maybe you already knew that. I'm, like, a zillion years older than you, so I never knew. But thanks to the miracle of the internet, I just learned that fun fact! AND I also just discovered that the indie music group Belle and Sebastian is another band who borrowed their name from a children's book (a French book by Cécile Aubry called Belle et Sébastien).

Of course, this got me thinking about other children's book characters and titles that might make good band names, and here's the list that I came up with:

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

I've always loved this fantasy novel by Julie Edwards (actually famed actress Julie Andrews writing under a pen name!), and this is the first title that came to mind for an awesome band name. Yeah, it's on the long side, but I'm sure they could shorten it to just “the Whangdoodles” for ease. I imagine them as a glam rock band, strutting around onstage in shiny outfits topped off with feather boas.


Taken from Suzanne Collins' fantastic series The Underland Chronicles, I think Underlander would be the perfect name for a metal band.

Brenda Tuna and India Ink

You've probably never heard of it, but Buffalo Brenda by Jill Pinkwater was one of my absolute favorite books when I was younger. It follows the hilarious (mis)adventures of best friends Brenda Tuna and India Ink Teitelbaum as they navigate the strange waters of high school; thanks to Brenda's wild personality, they dive in headfirst by taking over the student newspaper and orchestrating an expose, then planning a secret campaign to adopt a buffalo as the school mascot. Anyway, I think Brenda Tuna and India Ink sounds kind of like a duo of female folk singers, don't you?

Dear Dumb Diary_7874208
Dear Dumb Diary
I can't decide about this one. A power girl rawk band or a pop group? Either way, any musicians using this name would have to combine a lot of lip gloss with a little bit of edge. Or is it the other way around: a lot of edge with a little bit of lip gloss? Any fans of Jim Benton's series want to weigh in on this one?

The Four-Story Mistake

The title of this novel by Elizabeth Enright actually refers to a house, but obviously, as a band name, it would be most apt for a group with four people in it. I'm thinking an indie rock quartet.

Miss Nelson Is Missing

Remember those wacky Miss Nelson picture books by James Marshall? Punk. Most definitely punk.

So those are my ideas for band names based on children's books. What are yours?

— 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 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.