Author Archives: Karen W.

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:


  • 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”).

ChristmasCookies 032

AND they even brought out a tiara piñata:

ChristmasCookies 033

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.

Pictures 020

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.)

ChristmasCookies 034

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.

ChristmasCookies 038

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

ChristmasCookies 003

Plus, of course, our signed books:


(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.

ChristmasCookies 015

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:

January 15, 2009

Ann M. Martin Facts

Posted by at 6:32 am in Authors | Permalink

Annmartin_130Quick — rock, paper, or scissors?

If you said, “scissors,” then congratulations — you just beat beloved author Ann M. Martin. How do I know? No, I don’t have Ms. Martin trapped in my office cubicle, at the ready to play Rock/Paper/Scissors whenever I want. The reason I know she picked “paper” is because when Ann visited the Scholastic offices last month for our video shoot, we asked her to fill out a little questionnaire (with some of the same questions we gave to author Chris D’Lacey).

Take a look at Ann’s answers — and see how you compare:


Still dying for more inside scoop on Ann? You’re in luck because there’s plenty of info on Ann’s website: See photos of Ann’s family, friends, and pets. Read exclusive notes from Ann to her fans. And find out all kinds of factoids about Ann’s life and her many, many books — from the Baby-sitters Club series to Newbery Honor winner A Corner of the Universe.

For example, did you know . . .

  • Ann used to work as a book editor!
  • Ann’s dog, Sadie, was the inspiration for A Dog’s Life.
  • Just like her characters in the Main Street series, Ann loves to sew.
  • You’ll never see Ann wearing lipstick — she thinks it smells funny!
  • When she was 11, Ann fell off the ladder to her tree house and had to have her spleen removed.
  • As a kid, Ann slept with a special blanket that she named Mommy Blanket. She still has the blanket today — although she swears she doesn’t sleep with it any more!
  • Ann is currently wanted by the FBI for impersonating an officer.

Just kidding about that last one! But seriously, if you check out her website, I guarantee that you’ll find out something that’s surprising AND actually true!

And after you’ve explored her site, don’t forget to share your thoughts on the Ann M. Martin Message Board. Or, as always, leave a comment here!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

January 12, 2009

Trivia: Will the Real Harry Potter Please Stand Up?

Posted by at 10:35 am in Harry Potter, Trivia | Permalink

Harrys_130I don’t know if it was too many Christmas cookies or what, but I found myself in bed with a fever just before New Year’s. Too tired and fuzzy-headed to concentrate on reading or even TV, I turned to an old standby: the audiobook for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Nothing like the magical voice of Jim Dale to soothe a roaring headache. AND listening to the audiobook inspired me to come up with a new trivia question for you guys!

Towards the beginning of the book, members of the Order and friends of Harry’s arrive at the Dursley’s to help move Harry to safety. The plan involved six people drinking Polyjuice Potion in order to transform into copies of Harry. Each “Harry” then couples up with a member of the Order, and the seven pairs head off to seven different safe houses.

My question is: Who are all the people involved in this plan? Who pretends to be Harry? And who pairs up with whom?

Leave a comment with your answer! And don’t forget to include who travels with the real Harry!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

Edited 1/19: The answer is up!

January 9, 2009

Inkheart Movie Clips!

Posted by at 10:00 am in Movies & TV | Permalink

Inkheart_poster_130Hey, Cornelia Funke fans — how much do you love us?

A few months ago, we brought you the first look at the official poster for the Inkheart movie (in theaters January 23). Then we gave you an interview with Brendan Fraser, who plays Mo in the film. And earlier this week, we posted the music video, showcasing the vocal skills of Eliza Bennett, who plays Meggie.

Well, now we’ve got another treat for you: an exclusive sneak peek at the movie itself! Check out this Inkheart video clip, which you won’t see anywhere else on the web until tomorrow. At this rate, we might as well change Ink Splot 26 to be called Inkheart 26!


— Karen, STACKS Staffer
Movie poster and clips courtesy of New Line Cinema

December 30, 2008

Fill-in-the-Blank Famous Quotations: Allie Finkle

Posted by at 6:19 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink

I haven't posted a "Fill-in-the-Blank Famous Quotation" in a while, and since it's almost the new year, I thought I'd try my hand at an Allie Finkle edition — because her rules are kind of like New Year's resolutions. (In case you're not familiar with Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, it's a series by Meg Cabot about a girl who keeps a notebook of all the important things to remember as she navigates school, friends, family, and boys.)

For this "Fill-in-the-Blank Famous Quotation" entry, I chose two of my favorite rules from Allie's notebook:

"Don't get a pet that poops in your hand."
"Don't put your cat in a suitcase."

Here are my twisted versions:

  • Don't get a pet that urinates in your bed.
  • Don't put your cat in a mailbox.
  • Don't get a pet that sheds on your prom dress.
  • Don't put your cat in a dollhouse.
  • Don't get a pet that eats in your bathroom sink.
  • Don't put your cat in a filing cabinet.

"Don't get a pet that _____ in/on your _____."
"Don't put your cat in a _____."

How would YOU fill in the blanks?

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

December 28, 2008

Cat’s Out of the (Grab) Bag

Posted by at 8:53 am in Reads | Permalink

Grab Bag entry on Ink Splot 26, the blog for THE STACKS: Spoilers, Sneak Peeks, and the Inside Scoop
Recently, a friend of mine posted a photo of her cat that made me "aw" out loud. Check it out:


This picture brought to mind the kitty from one of my favorite books, Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes. I already posted a review of the book a little while back, but one thing I didn't mention is that Pinky turns out to be quite the talented writer — well, for a cat anyway. In fact, you can see below that the book cover even has an illustration of Pinky on the typewriter!

Here's the scene in the book where the family discovers Pinky's surprising skill:

In the beginning Pinky sat quietly enough, her little head going
back and forth, intelligently following the sentences as they appeared
on the blank paper. Next she tried catching the keys as they flew up.
Naturally this smart game intrigued Papa, and he paused to see what she
would do after that. She then tapped a key with one little front paw
and, as it flew up, she caught it with the other front paw. Sometimes
letters appeared palely on the paper. At first these pale letters
coming on the hitherto white paper astonished Pinky; but then she
performed this typing in a deliberate manner as though she knew what
she was doing and what she was typing. From time to time she surveyed
her results critically.

None of the Pyes had ever heard of
such brightness in a cat, and they were overcome with admiration. Once
Pinky actually spelled "woogie." This seemed to be a word, though no
one had ever heard of it.

All together now: awwwww . . .

And what about your pet? Anyone out there with an especially talented cat, dog, bird, gerbil, lizard, ferret, moth, pig, hippo, or giraffe? Leave a comment!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

December 26, 2008

The FIVE: Karen’s Top Books of 2008

Posted by at 6:30 am in Reads | Permalink

For our final FIVE Listing of the year, we at The Splot are offering up our top books of 2008. Here’s my list:

DISCLAIMER: These are my favorite new books from this year (as in, they came out in 2008), but I can’t claim they’re “the best.” Unfortunately, I lack the superhuman power to read all the books that are published in any given year. So regard these as my personal picks — the five new books I enjoyed most in 2008:

5. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

You may remember that in a previous blog entry, I revealed I love Harry Potter so much that I sometimes hug a life-size cardboard cut-out of the boy wizard that stands in our offices. So you can imagine how glad I was to return to Harry’s magical world through this book of fables. Like any good fan, I would have preferred to read a continuation of Harry’s story, but hey — I’ll take what I can get! Plus, I found Dumbledore’s notes particularly delightful.

Swindle by Gordon Korman

Probably best known for his many series (On the Run, Dive, Everest, etc.), Korman also wrote this novel about Griffin, a kid who gets cheated out of a rare and extremely valuable baseball card by a pawn shop owner. Known as “the man with a plan,” Griffin crafts the perfect scheme to steal back his card, and he recruits a team of kids based on the skills required to pull it off. I love a good heist movie, and reading this book was like watching the guys in Ocean’s Eleven do their thing. I hear there’s a sequel in the works — and I can’t wait!

39 Clues_ 26769698
The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

If you’re a loyal reader of this blog or if you’re, you know, not a total recluse, then I’m sure you’ve heard of The 39 Clues, Scholastic’s multimedia adventure series. Even though the whole thing was very hush-hush before the release, I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Book 1, and let me tell you, I did not want to put it down — and not just because I was afraid one of my co-workers might steal it!

2.Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

I worked on our STACKS site for Inkheart, and as a result, I spent so much time with Meggie, Mo, and Dustfinger that I got totally sick of them! So I have to admit that I avoided Inkspell when it first came out. But knowing that the trilogy was drawing to a close this year, I returned to the series and quickly remembered why I had loved it so much in the first place. At one point while I was reading Inkdeath, I got stuck alone in an elevator that stopped between floors. Normally I would have been impatient to escape, but not that day — I just pulled Inkdeath out of my bag and didn’t even notice that I was in there for half an hour!

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ages 12 and up) This gripping story had me hooked from page 1, and when I reached the end, I couldn’t help myself — I turned the book over and started again from the beginning. And I’m not the only one who loved it! The real indication of this book’s power to please is the overwhelming excitement that I’ve heard from every single person I know who has read it. At one point I was in a perfectly civil meeting with Carly H., Carly M., Brandi, and Nancy and someone brought up The Hunger Games; all of a sudden, we all just started yelling over each other in our fervor to talk about the book.  But I guess we can all agree on one point: the only bad thing about The Hunger Games is having to wait for the sequel!

What about you? What are YOUR fave books from 2008?

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

December 20, 2008

Marley and Me

Posted by at 9:16 am in Movies & TV | Permalink

I know a lot of you guys are dog lovers, so I assume you’re planning to see the new film Marley and Me. But did you know that the movie is based on a book with the same title, written by John Grogan? And did you also know that Grogan adapted said book especially for younger readers? That version is just called Marley.

If you don’t have time to read the book before the movie comes out, never fear! Scholastic has an exclusive video interview with Grogan, full of Marley photos and stories. Check it out before you head to the theater:

So, are you super psyched for the movie now? If you do go watch it, leave a comment with your review!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

December 15, 2008

Ann M. Martin Video Reading Update

Posted by at 3:59 pm in Authors | Permalink

On Monday, I announced that author Ann M. Martin would be visiting Scholastic headquarters to do a video reading of one of her books, and I asked you guys to vote on the book.

And the winner was . . . A Dog’s Life!

We just recorded the video this morning, so the finished product isn’t ready for public consumption quite yet. (Hey, THE STACKS may be in beta, but that doesn’t mean we’re throwing video online willy nilly!) Still impatient for the video? Hold your horses, already! Or entertain yourself with these goodies for Ann fans:

  • I’m sure you were already aware that Ann has a whole site on THE STACKS. But did you know that there’s also a message board just for kids who love her books? Head on over and get gabbin’.
  • Why not read Ann’s book On Christmas Eve? After all, ’tis the season! (For the inside scoop on Ann’s inspiration for the story, check out her Author’s Note.)
  • If nothing but a video will do, here’s a Baby-sitters Club video that you can watch right now.

And stay tuned for the video of Ann reading from A Dog’s Life!

— Karen, STACKS Staffer