Author Archives: Karen W.

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:


  • 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:


(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:

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 Book to Big Screen, Sneak Peek | 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

January 1, 2009

Start 2009 on Page 56

Posted by at 6:29 am in Reads | Permalink

Grab BagWriting the first blog entry of the year is a lot of pressure. I've been trying to come up with THE perfect book for a review, or THE perfect character for 3 Questions, or THE perfect topic for a FIVE list — but I've been paralyzed by the fear of ringing in 2009 on the wrong note. After all, they say that the way you spend New Year's is a sign of what the next 364 days will be like. What if I were to set off an unforeseen chain reaction in Ink Splot readers' lives just because of my choice — damaging your chances of school survival by writing about Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Or causing you to have a massive identity crisis by selecting Percy Jackson & The Olympians? Or — my gosh — I don't even want to think about what would happen if I were to focus on The Hunger Games?! (After all, there's a reason the series is billed as YA . . . )

So, to sidestep all of the responsibility, I've decided to go completely random:

You may be familiar with this game from other blogs, community sites, or even your friends' mass emails. The way it works is this:

  1. Grab the book closest to you. Now!
  2. Go to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Write that sentence as your comment, and say what book it's from.

The most important thing is that you DO NOT go looking for your favorite book or the coolest one you have — just grab the closest one!

Here's my contribution:
"I was painting one of the new dwarfs that one of Mum's friends had bought me."
From Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls

(Nice sentence. Talk about random!)

So leave a comment and let's see what you come up with! And now if you get involved in some sort of dangerous chase because you're reading The 39 Clues, you'll have no one to blame but yourself . . .

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

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 27, 2008

Coming Soon to a Little Screen Near You?

Posted by at 9:29 am in Reads | Permalink

Grab BagYesterday, Nintendo UK released their 100 Classic Book Collection for the DS. When I first heard the news, I got REALLY excited. But that's because apparently, I'm very dumb.

See, I thought that Nintendo had created games taking the player into the world of 100 time-honored books. But in fact, their new collection consists of digitized versions of the books; the idea is that you load them onto your DS so that you have great literature at your fingertips all the time. I obviously love to read, so I'm all for that. But you can see why I was just a tad bit disappointed, right?

And then I couldn't stop thinking about books that I feel would make great games. Not for nothing, THE STACKS has a whole bunch of book-based games. Still, I wouldn't mind being able to carry some around in my pocket — while everyone else on the subway is reading, I could actually be in my favorite book!

So, just for fun, I gave myself a little challenge: come up with a game idea for each of the books on my FIVE list from yesterday (my five fave books of 2008). Here goes . . .

BBBOOK-REV_large The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling
This one is hard because the book is made up of a handful of disconnected stories. I think the tale that best lends itself to a quick-play game is "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" — the player races against the clock to cure Muggle villagers' ailments, and the pot indicates how much time is remaining based on how wildly it hops.

Swindle Swindle by Gordon Korman
This heist story is a game just waiting to happen! Obviously, the player takes on the role of Griffin and has to execute the perfect robbery — dealing with canine troubles, a nosy neighbor, and all the unexpected roadblocks that pop up in the book.

39 Clues_ 26769698 The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
As I'm sure you know, there's already a huge game associated with The 39 Clues — readers are challenged to participate in the same dangerous hunt as Amy and Dan. But I do have an idea for a small game just to go with Book 1: a chase that takes place in the creepy underground labyrinth of the Catacombs.

Inkdeath_cornelia_funke Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
We already have some activities on THE STACKS for Inkheart, but I think any game for Inkdeath should take place in the Inkworld. I'm envisioning some sort of multi-player storming of the castle.

Hungergames The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Luckily for you, we already have an awesome game based on the trials that the tributes go through in this book for kids ages 12 and up; naturally, our game is called Tribute Trials. And luckily for me, this game already exists — so I don't have to come up with something to write about!

What about you? Which books would YOU want to see turned into games?

— Karen, STACKS Staffer