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MARSHA DIANE ARNOLD'S BLOG, FULL OF WRITING AND TRAVEL ADVENTURES AND OTHER MAGICAL STORIES. FOLLOW MARSHA ON , FACEBOOK, AND TWITTER!

Marsha

Marsha

Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books and early readers. I'm a Wanderer, but I'm not lost!

150 Best Ks Books, THE BRAVEST OF US ALL goes digital, Kansas sesquicentennial and Book Festival

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on Saturday, 24 September 2011
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Dorothy Gale, Amelia Earhart, and Marsha Diane Arnold. What do we have in common? We're all from Kansas! Today Kansas is celebrating some of its "children" and stories at the Kansas Book Festival in Topeka.

It's an especially wonderful festival as this is also the year Kansas is commemorating its sesquicentennial. The Kansas State Library selected 150 "Best" Kansas Books in celebration of 150 years, so this adds a glow to the festival, especially in my eyes as two of my books made the list. Thank you Kansas librarians.

My parents' family, grandparents' family, and great-grandparents' family spent many years farming and surviving on the Kansas plains. They knew dust storms, tornadoes, crop failures, and tornadoes.

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Both of my books were inspired by my Kansas roots. Prancing, Dancing Lily, the story of a cow who doesn't fit in with the herd, was inspired by my father's Ayrshire dairy herd.

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Helping my father feed an Ayrshire calf on "the farm".

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The Bravest of Us All was inspired by my Grandmother Krehbiel's storm cellar, which she and her family used not only for root vegetables and laying hens, but to seek shelter from storms and tornadoes.

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Check behind my father and that chicken to see my grandmother's storm cellar.

Illustrator Brad Sneed and I are delighted The Bravest of Us All is now available in digital form. You can find the digital storybook "app" for the iPad and the iPhone on iTunes. Enjoy the story, all about tornadoes, sisters, family, fear, and courage.

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Find the Kansas Book Festival at: The Kansas Historical Society, 6425 SE 6th Avenue, Topeka, Ks from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., today, September 24th.

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What would you like to know?

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So far this year, I've been booked at two conferences - as a speaker for the California Reading Association in November (http://www.californiareads.org/) and as a speaker/teacher/consultant at David Greenberg's amazing week long Oregon Coast Workshop (http://www.occbww.com/) next July. I would love my readers input!

For CRA, I'll mostly be talking with educators. My talk will be about the honorable and dishonorable in children's literature. I plan to talk about my and other authors' work and about the changes in the publishing world. What would you as an educator like to hear about?

My presentation and workshop in Oregon will be mostly for aspiring writers. I'll be talking about writing picture books, but haven't decided on the specific themes yet. It will be mostly nuts and bolts plus, I hope, lots of fun. What do you as an aspiring writer want to hear about?

Thanks for taking part in my little survey!

I like to think of my first book, HEART OF A TIGER, as perhaps my most "honorable" book.

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Delightful morning Skyping with Kindergarteners in South Carolina

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on Thursday, 15 September 2011
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What better way to start the morning than Skyping with happy, enthusiastic kindergarteners. So glad you enjoy my books. Thanks to Mrs. Bean, the other teachers at Stella Maris School, and of course, the delightful kindergarteners. Happy Reading! (Photos to follow soon.)

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So glad ROAR OF A SNORE makes you smile, Maya

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I just received the most gracious email from the Smedley family in Tennessee. It's mail like this that keeps me inspired to continue writing for our precious children. Thank you Bryon, Celeste, and sweet Maya for letting me share this with my Story Magician readers.

Just wanted to let you know that my daughter Maya (just shy of 2 1/2 years old) LOVES Roar of a Snore. I have been required to read this to her every night at bedtime for over 100 nights straight. Needless to say, I have the story memorized. She now reads about a third of the book to me when I insert carefully placed pauses in the dialog. Thank you for making my daughter so happy.

That last sentence is glowing inside my heart.

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NEW INTERACTIVE BOOK FOR THE BRAVEST OF US ALL

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What happened here?

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Where is everyone going?

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And why are Velma Jean and Ruby Jane so scared?

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Find out when you download my new interactive storybook. THE BRAVEST OF US ALL book went out of print earlier this year, but it's nowavailable to fans in digital form. Recently selected by the Kansas State Library as one of 150 "Best" Kansas books, I'm happy to have this available to educators and students. I know some of are doing play of the story for the KS sesquicentennial. Thank you! Download at iTunes for just $2.99 or follow this link, http://www.myblackdogbooks.com/marsha-diane-arnold/bravest.

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Skyping through the summer - with Martin Luther King Family Outreach Center and more

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This summer, I've been busy skyping with libraries, summer camps, and more. It was a surprise that there were so many wanting me to skype during the summer, but I loved it. These photos show one special day with Martin Luther King Family Outreach Center in Spokane, Washington. Each year, the center has a Summer Youth Academy for K-6, where children learn about writing and illustrating. Each class also writes and illustrates a book of their own.

I first open Skype, then my Keynote presentation, and finally Photo Booth on my Mac. Photo Booth allows the children to see myself, as well as the presentation, and I can see them through Skype. My eyes probably look as if they are rolling all over the place...because they are (ha), but it seems to work quite well.

It was a delight being with the children and both Jeani Brickner, Children's Services Director, and Brittini Allen, Program Coordinator, were lovely to work with. Check out their great work at www.mlkspokane.org

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Goodbye! We will miss you! - Love those words

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
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on Sunday, 26 June 2011
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As highlighted in the school district's webpage:

Sparked by training received as a result of winning a grant through the Professional School Library System at PNW BOCES, library media specialist Susan McCormack worked with the BV PTA enrichment coordinator Mrs. Andrea O'Malley to make this first virtual author visit a reality.

Throughout the month of May, students in kindergarten and first grade spent their library class listening to books by author Marsha Diane Arnold. They learned about her life as a child growing up on a farm in Kansas and about the redwood forest that inspires her in her current home in northern California. Students connected to the curriculum as they discussed life in rural communities as compared to urban and suburban ones. Through the use of satellite images, students got a sense of the space and isolation between the great farms of the Midwest Great Plains states compared to the homes spread throughout the communities of Buchanan, Verplanck and the lower Hudson Valley. Students began to make connections between how life experiences inform fiction writing. They learned about tornadoes and bravery while listening to Mrs. Arnold's story: The Bravest of Us All. They heard how stories based on farm life and animals can be fictionalized and infused with humor in: Roar of and Snore and Prancing, Dancing Lily. Students prepared questions for the author ranging from how she gets ideas for her stories, to how she chooses an illustrator to more personal questions such as does she have any pets?

Using web cameras and Skype, students visited with author Marsha Diane Arnold via computer screen split in three: the author, themselves on camera and the author's presentation. At the end of her presentation, the kindergarten students called out, "Goodbye, we will miss you!" as the author, Ms. Arnold, signed off. Thanks to the tremendous support of the BV PTA, we hope to make virtual author visits a regular annual occurrence.

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First Skype Author Ever at Buchanan-Verplanck students

Posted by Marsha
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When Andrea O'Malley asked if I'd consider being the "First Skype Author Ever at Buchanan-Verplanck", I responded, "Absolutely." I love talking across the miles, from California to New York.

Andrea and Susan McCormack did a wonderful job putting together the "happening". We had such fun, but not enough time to answer the many questions. So I'm answering more of them here.

First, I want to share with everyone that many questions about my books and me can be found at www.marshadianearnold.com. Secondly, I want to thank the great kindergarteners and first graders of Buchanan-Verplanck for a fun time. Thanks so Andrea and Susan also.

One of the first questions I'm asked is "How do you choose an illustrator." The students in New York wanted to know the same.

Most people think the author is the one who chooses their illustrator, but it's actually the editor. The editor, who chooses your story to publish, also chooses the illustrator. Editors are aware of the style of illustration they want for the book and they are aware of many illustrators around the world.

Other questions asked:

1) How do you get story ideas, like the one for Prancing, Dancing Lily?

An idea for a story may develop from something I hear or see or remember. I often begin with a title and the title is often the name of a character. My stories are usually character driven. I enjoy getting to know my character and his/her personality helps me develop the plot.

Prancing, Dancing Lily was inspired by the cows I knew on my father's Kansas dairy farm. The book is dedicated to "my father, his Ayrshire dream, and all the cows at Highland Ayr dairy farm". Ayrshires, which originated in County Ayr, Scotland, aren't a well-known breed, but they are beautiful, with a reddish-brown and white coat and horns that often reach over a foot in length.

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2) How did you decide to be an author?

As a child, I loved to read, but I never thought about becoming an author until I was grown and had children of my own. They and their friends were what inspired me to write. You can read more about that under "About Me" on my website, www.marshadianearnold.com.

3) How old were you when you wrote your first book?

I'm what some call a late-bloomer. My first book wasn't published until I was in my 40's.

4) Where do you write your books?

Writing is a wonderful profession because you can write wherever you are. But I prefer to write in my office, in my home, surrounded by the beautiful countryside.

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5) How many books have you written?

I've had 11 books published and hope to have many more. This summer I'm working on a chapter book for all of you.

6) Do you have any pets?

I adore animals and don't know what I'd do without some animals around. I have three cats. I've had German Shepherds and a Boxer, but have no dog at the moment. I would love to have another dog soon.

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Judy Moody is my friend

Posted by Marsha
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on Monday, 13 June 2011
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Megan McDonald, author of the popular Judy Moody books, says that sometimes she thinks she is Judy Moody. Thus the title of my post today. This post is dedicated especially for all you kids who are big fans of Judy Moody, Stink, and the first Judy Moody movie, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.

Last week I got an email from Megan inviting me to invite our old writers' group crowd to a weekend of Judy Moody festivities here in Sonoma County. You see, we all heard the very first Judy Moody drafts when Megan was part of our writers' group. So, the "old" writers' group met at Screamin' Mimi's Ice Cream Shop in Sebastopol for a little reunion, a little ice cream, a little book signing, and of course, to congratulate Megan on the opening of Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. We sampled two special Judy Moody ice cream flavors - Moody's Mud and Thrillalectric. We even got to meet the delightful Jordana Beatty who portrays Judy Moody in the movie.

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Awaiting the arrival of the real Judy Moody.

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Myself and Teri Sloat waiting...

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The REAL Judy Moody - Megan, who wrote it, and Jordana, who plays her.

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Megan and Jordana

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The once and always great Sebastopol Writers' Group -
Lisa Shulman, Me - Marsha Diane Arnold,
Megan McDonald, Jordana Beatty (No, not in the group...too young when it began.)
Teri Sloat, Matthew Gollub, Susan Meyers.
Missing in a bookstore somewhere - David Schwartz

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Matthew Gollub and I sharing a special Judy Moody flavor - Thrillalectric. Yum!

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Thank you West Virginia for the delightful Skype visit

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Tina Riley is the energetic, enthusiastic Technology Integration Specialist for the Roane County Schools in West Virginia. She worked to make our June visit a reality and was so excited by the success of the event, she's planning more skype visits for next year. Tina, students, and educators were attentive listeners and asked great questions. Thanks for a great Skype visit and thanks for your wonderful thank you notes.

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Showing the Tiger's "heart."

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Skype with 2nd, 3rd, 4th graders - such great listeners

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Tina looks on as our Skype lesson begins

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Skyping across the miles

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
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on Tuesday, 07 December 2010
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I love visiting students all over the world in person, but if I can't always travel to them, I enjoy skyping as well. Amy Johnson, Technology Integration Specialist with Parkway School District in St. Louis, MO recently arranged a skype visit between Hanna Woods School and me. The school had just purchased all of my books to do an author study (Thank you Hannah Woods.) They had great questions when we met. Here's what's truly grand. They have a "friend" class in Oklahoma that did an author study and skype visit with another author. After everyone had completed skype visits, the two "friend" classes skyped to share what they'd learned from both authors. Round and round we go with Skype! I'm getting dizzy!

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Missouri and Texas schools

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I just finished putting information packets and Letters of Agreement in the mail to Missouri and Texas schools. I'd love to add schools to these visits, so if you live in Missouri or Texas and would like me to visit your school, let me know. I'm currently booked in Missouri the week of March 21st and would love to stay for the week of March 28th. I'm booked in Fairfield, Texas (Dallas area) on May 5th and would love to be there at least a week.

Of course, if you're not from Missouri or Texas, I'd love to see you to. Just contact me through my website, www.marshadianearnold.com

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Everyone's a Story Magician

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My SCBWI regional advisors, Erin Dealey and Patti Newman arranged for a videographer to video the Norca group. It was scary, but a wonderful learning experience. I hope lots of teachers and librarians invite me to their schools, so lots of kids will learn the Storymagician rap.

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"Roar of a Snore" in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

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This is surprising, but I don't think I've mentioned the fabulous honor of Roar of a Snore being selected for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. I got a letter from Dolly herself in May!

This is one reason I like Google Alerts. It reminds me of things and it tells me about events like this reading, where my book was read to a classroom in Tennessee.

Thank you Dolly. Thank you Peggy.

Roar of a Snore in Tennessee

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Thanks for a great time, San Anselmo Montessori!

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Marsha
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Today I visited SAMS for the third time in 6 years. It's always a delight. What a beautiful setting, dedicated teachers, and lovely children. I shared my book ROAR OF A SNORE, then the young story magicians, ages 3-6, helped me write ROAR OF A SNORE II, set in a zoo with a new main character, Josie Jo. A roomful of imagination! The school gives each student a book, which I had the pleasure of signing. We should all be grateful to schools like SAMS for giving young minds such a healthy beginning.

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Thanks to Fairfield and the Trinity Star Arts Council

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Sometimes when I visit schools, the community goes above and beyond. That's what Fairfield, Texas did this May when I spoke with the Elementary and Intermediate schools. Authors are so lucky to be able to meet new friends all over the world and experience new things...all because they wrote a book.

It was the marvelous folks of the Trinity Star Arts Council who put these visits together. The council is a non profit organization whose members are committed to the enrichment of Freestone county through the arts.

Below are a few photos of my friends Bev and John, a visit to an exotic animal ranch, and a celebratory BBQ at a beautiful Texas ranch.

Thanks for the memories, Trinity Star and Fairfield schools.

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My dear friend & sweet hostess, Bev Awalt

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Host John Awalt

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Invited to a ranch full of exotic animals

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The donkey who thinks he's a zebra

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Miniature horses who think they are regular size horses!

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Bev gets up close with a llama

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Marsha and elk

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Joy in flight

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Amazing Rachel, educator extraordinaire

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Texas longhorns

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Heart of a Tiger cookies

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Texas style hospitality and BBQ

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HUGS ON THE WIND on RippleReader.com

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Hugs on the Wind is available as an e-book on Ripple Reader. You can record your voice, so that your little reader can hear you reading the story to them. What a great concept. Hugs on the Wind is a lovely bedtime story. Little Cottontail misses his grandfather and all they shared. As he plays in the meadow, he thinks of ways that the wind, stars, stream, and trees can help him send hugs, kisses, and other messages to his grandfather. The story is about being separated, making the story meaningful to any child who misses a loved one. Here's the link:

http://www.ripplereader.com/Book.aspx?id=1386&Title=Hugs%20on%20the%20WindAND

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Demmitt Elementary in my Top Ten

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I've visited hundreds of schools and thousands of students over the years. Demmitt Elementary is now in my Top Ten. I love you Demmitt Elementary students, educators, and parents. I'm so lucky I got to spend 3 whole days with you. 

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Their welcome included a limo ride to school, a beautiful calla lily plant (which I'll be planting in my California garden soon), and a welcome assembly which included a conga line, welcome song, and full-blown production of my book ROAR OF A SNORE (http://tiny.cc/qc3xh), complete with orchestra led by virtuoso music teacher, Melinda Wissel. Wow! Double Wow!

Below are some of the dedicated teachers of Demmitt. Beth Green, who started the wheels in motion and invited me to Ohio, is to the left of me. She's a lady who makes things happen!

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Because of Beth, the students had skyped with me prior to arrival. The fabuloso teachers encouraged the students to write about my suggestions. Writing projects lined the halls. Students chose their own name, like Little Four did in HEART OF A TIGER.

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They wrote ROAR OF A SNORE II with Molly Olsen as the main character and a brand new setting. A series is beginning!

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Fourth graders made journal entries about their trip to Camp Kern,a la"Artists in the Backyard'.

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They also chose their favorite of my novel beginnings, explained why, and designed book covers for my "hopefuls". Thank you! You're inspiring me onward with my writing.

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The students and I had two days of Funshops. What a pleasure to spend two whole days with small groups. We had fun with writing games, word play and writing stories. Boy, did those kids write. What grand creators.

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And can those Ohioans cook! Yum. The first day I had lunch with students. Check out the animal cupcakes made by Super PTO Vice-President, reminiscent of animals in ROAR OF A SNORE.

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The next two days, teachers provided scrumptious lunches. Melanie Huffstetler, teacher and Cake Lady, baked the most delightful creation, a HUGS ON THE WIND cake. A perfectly beautiful and perfectly delicious dessert. You can find more of her amazing work at www.mels-celebrations.com.

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A bushel full of thank yous to the Demmitt community. I wish that you each find your unique style like PRANCING, DANCING LILY, do what you love like THE PUMPKIN RUNNER, and follow your dream like Little Four in HEART OF A TIGER. You are each a wonder!

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Inaugural Technology Day at West Elementary School

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I had a fabulous Skype visit on June 9th with West Elementary School in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Yes, that Plymouth - the historical"America's Hometown", the site of the colony founded by the Pilgrims in 1620.

Amazing first grade teacher, Andy Young, invited me to be part of the annual school Read-A-Thon and their INAUGURAL Technology Day. It's such fun to be part of something new that will be a continuing tradition for students.

Thank you Andy and West Elementary second graders.

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GREETINGS, DEMMITT ELEMENTARY

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Hello students of Vandalia, Ohio! I'm so excited about skyping with all of you this month and visiting you in person next month. Your fabulous Beth Green has been planning and emailing with me for weeks. We will have lots of fun writing, imagining, and creating.

I have fun planned for you already. First of all, I'd like you to look at my March 7th entry "please choose your favorite story idea". Then choose. My children are grown-up, so it helps me to know what kids your age are thinking and what you like.

Secondly, I'd like you to think about two things: your dreams and doing what you love. These two actually go hand in hand.

Have you read my book, Heart of a Tiger? In it the kitten Four has a big dream. On his Naming Day, he wants to give himself a name like that of the magnificent Bengal Tiger. But if he chooses such a name, he can only keep it if all the other animals agree it's a fair and honest name. The name he gives himself is the name he'll live with for the rest of his life.

If you could choose your name on Naming Day, what would your name be? Think about it. It's a big decision.

Have you read my book, The Pumpkin Runner? In it, Joshua Summerhayes runs a 500 mile race, just for the love of it.

Think about what you do, just for the love of it. What do you love doing?

What would your name be? What do you love doing? Both of these relate to your dreams, what you want to do in life and what you want to be in life. These are big questions. We'll talk more about them when I see you in Ohio.

In the meantime, keep reading, keep writing, and keep doing what you love!

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