Author Archives: Morgan B.

March 22, 2010

Writing prompt! Dear Diary, I am writing from the year 2040

Posted by at 8:21 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink

Writingprompt_diaryfuture Diaries are all the rage. Between the movie release of Diary of a Wimpy Kid to the continued popularity of one of my favorite series, Dear Dumb Diary, I can’t seem to escape those little journals filled with secrets, sketches, and silliness.

So for today’s writing prompt, let’s pretend you are writing a brand new diary — only you’re writing it from the future. Say, 2040. That’s 30 years from now! Who will you be? Where will you be? Maybe writing from the first colony on the moon. . . or from the front seat of your flying car! What will you be doing? What secrets are you dying to reveal?

Try it out in the comments!

Dear Diary, I am writing from the year 2040, and I have lots to fill you in on. . .

— Morgan, Scholastic staffer

March 11, 2010

Look Out, It’s a Book Flashback!

Posted by at 8:06 am in Reads, Writing Prompt | Permalink

Look Out, It's a Book Flashback! Ink Splot 26 Blog entry If you’re someone who reads a lot—like, a LOT—then it’s probably possible that you’ll read hundreds, if not thousands, of books by the time you’re an adult. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget most of the titles and authors that you’ve read, even if vague notions of the story itself still stick with you.

Veronicatheshowoff That’s what happened to me the other day when I found a copy of a familiar book sitting on my bookshelf at work: Veronica the Show-Off by Nancy K. Robinson. I was pretty sure I had read it growing up, but I was also convinced that I wouldn’t remember much about it. Only, it turns out I remembered almost all of it—specific scenes, catchphrases, characters, and even the ending. I couldn’t believe how I knew so much about this old book, even though I thought I had completely forgotten about it. It was a total Book Flashback Moment, or BFM for short!

Sixthgradecanreallykillyou Sixthgradesleepover So I got to thinking about other BFMs I’ve had. Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, Barthe DeClements’ Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You, and Eve Bunting’s Sixth Grade Sleepover. Each of them is a book I must have read dozens of times, but somewhere in between sixth grade and adulthood, I flat-out forgot they existed.

I once knew a girl who wrote down the name and author of every single book she ever read, just for fun — sort of like her own compilation of mini-book reports. And after my Veronica the Show-Off BFM, I’m wondering, how do you all keep track of the books you read? Do you any of you write them down so you’ll never forget them?

And if you don’t keep track (like me!), are you prepared to have your own BFMs in the future?

— Morgan, Scholastic staffer

February 17, 2010

Book Review: Chasing Vermeer

Posted by at 7:19 am in Reads | Permalink

Chasing_vermeer_130 I didn’t want to read Chasing Vermeer. I was tired; it was late; I was actually in the middle of another book I couldn’t put down; there was television to catch up on. But then I cracked the spine and saw that author Blue Balliett had included a lovely neighborhood map on the opening pages, showing me where the characters’ houses and other sure-to-be-important buildings were located. I studied it. I like when maps are included in books. There are usually hints in them.

And then, the jackpot. I read the opening paragraph. And as I read it, I thought, “This already sounds like my most favorite book ever, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. And if a book sounds and feels like The Westing Game from that first paragraph, there is no way I can put it down.” Off went the t.v., down went my other book, and on went my nightlight. And soon came the story.

Chasing Vermeer is part mystery, part pentomino puzzle, part action, and all smarts. Petra and Calder are two sixth-graders who are suddenly thrown into an adventure they can’t turn down. It involves a painting by Vermeer, a famous Dutch artist who lived in the 1600s. (I’ve seen some of Vermeer’s works at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam so I was doubly interested, but even if you have no clue who Vermeer is, you’ll enjoy the story!) As the two try to solve the mystery by uncovering codes a thief leaves behind in newspapers, I got to play along, too. Even the illustrations in the book offer hints—you just have to look closely enough to spot them!

This riveting book is perfect for kids who like mysteries, puzzles, art, math, codes, chases, Chicago—or any or all of the above. If you’re still not convinced, read this sample excerpt from the book. What do you think? Talk it up in the comments!

— Morgan, Scholastic staffer

February 15, 2010

Writing prompt: I *so* don’t do ____

Posted by at 9:48 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink

Writingprompt_idont When you combine a scary subject (ghosts!) with a wacky, funny plot, you get Barrie Summy's I So Don't Do Mysteries, in which Sherry (short for Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin hangs out with her ghost of a mom and tries to help her solve mysteries. I know, it's a crazy idea
but it works.

So for this writing prompt, try to think of the silliest, wackiest, most out-there idea you can think of for a book or short story. Fill in the prompt below and get writing and don't be afraid to be outrageous. Who knows? Sometimes the craziest ideas are the best ones! 

Prompt: I *so* don't do ____, but one day last week, my long-lost _____ showed up and told me he/she needed my help. Here's what he/she asked me to do: __________.

Show us your prompts in the comments. Happy writing!

Morgan, Scholastic staffer

February 2, 2010

Trivia Tuesday: Answers Revealed!

Posted by at 9:30 am in Reads, Trivia | Permalink

Trivia_tuesday I admit it was a tough quiz if you're not obsessive about Ann M. Martin's The Baby-sitters Club like I am! But still, kudos to the great guesses (and even just the encouraging remarks!) that you offered. Only one can be the winner of Trivia Tuesday, though, so congratulations to:

Drumroll…

Mehreen, who answered all 5 questions correctly!

There was a tough bonus round too, and a big shout-out to the first commenter who answered that one correcty: Jennifer!

Still stuck on the BSC trivia? Here are the answers:

Question 1: In Book #2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, readers meet Charlotte Johanssen for the first time. Charlotte goes on to become the favorite charge of which member of the BSC? Answer: b. Stacey

Question 2:
In #9, The Ghost at Dawn's House, who (or what) is leaving behind the trail of items that Dawn thinks belongs to a ghost? Answer: a. Nicky Pike

Question 3: What is the secret language referred to in #16, Jessi's Secret Language? Answer: c. American Sign Language

Question 4: In #30, Mary Anne and the Great Romance, Mary Anne gains a new stepsister. Who is it? Answer: b. Dawn Schafer

Question 5: In #100, Kristy's Worst Idea, why does Kristy disband the Baby-sitters Club? Answer: a. Kristy starts to think she's a bad baby-sitter after her charge, Jackie Rodowsky, sprains his ankle while she's sitting for him

BONUS QUESTION: Dawn's friends from California started their own baby-sitting club after Dawn told them all about the BSC. What did they name it? Answer: The We <3 Kids Club!

Great job, everyone! And stay tuned for lots of exciting Ann M. Martin posts coming this spring! 

—  Morgan, Scholastic staffer

January 19, 2010

Trivia Tuesday: The Baby-sitters Club!

Posted by at 8:44 am in Trivia | Permalink

Trivia_tuesday I can't possibly be the only one still riding high from our recent announcement about The Baby-sitters Club, so I'm going to keep the ball rolling with some BSC trivia. So put down your Kid Kit, tell Karen to stop complaining about Morbidda Destiny, and let's get started!

Question 1:
In Book #2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, readers meet Charlotte Johanssen for the first time. Charlotte goes on to become the favorite charge of which member of the BSC?
a. Kristy
b. Stacey
c. Mallory

Question 2:

In #9, The Ghost at Dawn's House, who (or what) is leaving behind the trail of items that Dawn thinks belongs to a ghost?
a. Nicky Pike
b. Jamie Newton
c. Jackie Rodowsky

Question 3:
What is the secret language referred to in #16, Jessi's Secret Language?
a. French
b. Pig Latin
c. American Sign Language

Question 4:
In #30, Mary Anne and the Great Romance, Mary Anne gains a new stepsister. Who is it?
a. Karen Brewer
b. Dawn Schafer
c. Becca Ramsey

Question 5:
In #100, Kristy's Worst Idea, why does Kristy disband the Baby-sitters Club?
a. Kristy starts to think she's a bad baby-sitter after her charge, Jackie Rodowsky, sprained his ankle while she was sitting for him
b. Claudia's family announced they were moving out of Stoneybrook, so the club had no place to hold meetings
c. Dawn and Mary Anne decided to move to California with their parents

BONUS QUESTION for all you BSC experts out there!
Dawn's friends from California started their own baby-sitting club after Dawn told them all about the BSC. What did they name it?

Think you know the BSC? Leave your answers in the comments!

—  Morgan, Scholastic staffer

January 12, 2010

Trivia Answers: Wizards of Waverly Place!

Posted by at 7:01 am in Trivia | Permalink

Wizards_of_waverly_placeWell, well, well — looks like a lot of Ink Splot 26 readers are also huge fans of Wizards of Waverly Place (like me!). Last week’s quiz was tough, but so many of you pulled out your magic wands and summoned up some serious memory skills by correctly answering all five questions!

But, only one commenter can be first to do so: congratulations to the super-quick superfan grkgrl246, who scored a perfect 5 out of 5 almost as soon as the quiz was posted!

Just in case you’re still stuck, here are the answers:

1. All three of the Russo kids have magical powers, but only one of them will keep those powers as an adult. How will it be decided? Answer: #2 - They’ll have to compete in a magic competition.

2. Why did Jerry, the Russo dad, have to give up his wizardry powers? Answer: #1 – When he fell in love with a mortal woman, he gave them up to marry her.

3. When does Harper, Alex’s best friend, find out Alex and her brothers are wizards? Answer: #1 – At Pop-Con when Harper accuses Alex of being a bad friend. (Special shout-out to commenter Marytonga, who reminded us that Max called it Pop-CORN! Funny!)

4. Perhaps my favorite part of Wizards of Waverly Place is the song that plays during the opening credits. Who sings the song? Answer: #3 - Selena Gomez

5. In Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, the Russo family goes on a trip to the Caribbean. Alex makes a wish that comes true and causes all sorts of problems for the Russos. What was her wish? Answer: #2 – She wished her parents had never met.

It was fun talking magic trivia with you all, so thanks for playing. Until next time!

— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer

Photo © copyright Disney Channel/Craig Sjodin

December 29, 2009

Trivia Tuesday: Wizards of Waverly Place

Posted by at 5:19 am in Trivia | Permalink

Wizards_of_waverly_place Ok, magic fans, who out there is confident enough in their wizardry knowledge to take a trivia quiz on my favorite kids’ television show, Wizards of Waverly Place?

Airing on Disney Channel, Wizards of Waverly Place follows the Russo family as they live seemingly normal lives in Manhattan. . . except for the fact that all three Russo children have magical powers inherited from their dad! There’s the oldest brother Justin (David Henrie), who takes his wizardry skills very seriously; middle sister Alex (Selena Gomez), who doesn’t take anything seriously; and youngest brother Max (Jake T. Austin), who is seriously bad at magic. And then there’s Alex’s best friend Harper (Jennifer Stone), their parents, Jerry and Theresa, and all the characters who hang out in their sub shop and their school.

And PS, the stars of the show are all big fans of reading. Check out these videos of David Henrie, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Stone talking about why they love books.

Now that you’re caught up, let’s see what you really know about Wizards of Waverly Place!

1. All three of the Russo kids have magical powers, but only one of them will keep those powers as an adult. How will it be decided?

  1. Their parents will choose.
  2. They’ll have to compete in a magic competition.
  3. The official wizardry council will decide for them.

2. Why did Jerry, the Russo dad, have to give up his wizardry powers?

  1. When he fell in love with a mortal woman, he gave them up to marry her.
  2. When he had children, he decided his powers were too dangerous.
  3. He lost a magic competition against his sister.

3. When does Harper, Alex’s best friend, find out Alex and her brothers are wizards?

  1. At Pop-Con when Harper accuses Alex of being a bad friend
  2. At school when Alex turns her art teacher back into a teenager
  3. During a marathon when Alex casts a spell that makes Harper win the race

4. Perhaps my favorite part of Wizards of Waverly Place is the song that plays during the opening credits. Who sings the song?

  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Demi Lovato
  3. Selena Gomez

5. In Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, the Russo family goes on a trip to the Caribbean. Alex makes a wish that comes true and causes all sorts of problems for the Russos. What was her wish?

  1. She wished Harper had come on the trip with them.
  2. She wished her parents had never met.
  3. She wished for two sisters instead of her two brothers.

Get out those magic wands and cast your answers, readers! Check the answers, and we’ll soon see who has magical powers when it comes to trivia. . .

— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer

Photo © copyright Disney Channel/Craig Sjodin

December 18, 2009

Holiday Movie Traditions

Posted by at 7:49 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink

Holidaymovietraditions There are several things I insist on doing every holiday season: visiting the Bryant Park shops (check); stringing festive white lights around the fireplaces in my apartment (check check); listening repeatedly to Mariah Carey's “All I Want For Christmas is You” (check check check, sadly). But most of all, there are certain movies I HAVE to watch at some point during the holidays.
So let's talk about holiday movie traditions!

For my family, the top tradition is. . . drum roll please. . . National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (rated PG-13), which we try to watch all together (and try to not talk over each other as we quote liberally from the movie). But there are other must-sees, too:

  • A Christmas Story (rated PG): usually this is playing (on marathon!) on Christmas Day, and we put it on after opening gifts. A classic!
  • Elf (rated PG): does anyone out there not love this movie? Laugh-out-loud funny.
  • Home Alone (rated PG): I start laughing when Kevin's sister says, “You're what the French call les incompetents” and I don’t stop until the credits roll.

And then, there's one holiday movie I like to watch by myself, preferably curled up on a comfy couch as my holiday lights twinkle throughout the room. It’s my all-time favorite kids' Christmas classic: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (rated TV-G). I had forgotten about this animated movie until one December a few years ago when I caught it on television and remembered – bam! – just how fantastic it is. What can I say, I have a fondness for the Mouse Father and Mouse Mother and all their ker-plunking in the big clock tower.

There are so many other classic holiday movies, of course, and I could keep going (A Christmas Carol! A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie! Miracle on 34th Street!). But it's your turn now! What kinds of holiday movie traditions do you and your family have? What are your favorites?

– Morgan, Scholastic staffer


BONUS WRITING PROMPT: In the book Inkheart, the characters actually go inside the book and interact with the characters there. If you were writing a book where that were possible, what would be the title of that book? Leave your answer in the Comments.

December 7, 2009

Writing Prompt: Ahhh, Winter!

Posted by at 8:15 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink

Writingprompt_winter For those of you that don’t like the cold, I’m sorry. . . but for those of you (like me) who do, then yay! It’s finally winter!

While I find limitless opportunities for inspiration, it seems that the changing of the seasons often makes me pause, reflect, and write a poem or a short story (or in this case, a blog entry!). So let’s do a writing prompt to celebrate the arrival of winter. In the comments, fill in the blanks – and hopefully you’ll be inspired to expand your comment into a bigger piece of art!

This winter, I plan to ____. And even if the weather turns colder than ____, I’ll still do it, because I have ___ to keep me warm!

My take?

This winter, I plan to train for a marathon. And even if the weather turns colder than the frozen lunch I brought from home, I’ll still do it, because I have a Snuggie to keep me warm!

— Morgan, Scholastic staffer

Winter photo, Roob/istock