Category: Teachers & Parents

Dealing With Disappointment: Orchids and Ice Lollies

Picking Yourself Up After Disappointment and Failure Orchids are thought to represent love, beauty, strength, luxury, elegance, and uniqueness. These orchids brightened my room when I was away from home a few years ago. What if we were defined by our disappointments and failures rather than by our successes? No, seriously. Our successes are cause

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A Debt to Jonathan Walker, “The Man With the Branded Hand”

Jonathan Walker was an abolitionist known as “The Man With the Branded Hand.” Sid Johnson and the Phantom Slave Stealer, my forthcoming book, owes a debt to the abolitionist for its title. A lot goes into choosing a title for any book. Choosing the title for Sid Johnson’s story was a challenge until I got

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Why Alabaster Caverns?

The Alabaster Caverns near Freedom, OK are one of two places in the world where you can find black alabaster. Not far from the Santa Fe Trail, it is important in The Black Alabaster Box. 3 min. read. Kid Friendly.

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What Do You Know About the Santa Fe Trail?

The Santa Fe Trail recently celebrated its 200th Anniversary. Who were the people who used the trail? Author, Frances Schoonmaker, discusses a fictional family making the trip west and offers resources for discovering more about the Santa Fe Trail. 6 minute read. Kid Friendly.

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The Diverse History of the Trails West

The diverse history of the Great Westward Migration is illustrated in the life of James Pierson Beckwourth. Born in 1798 to slavery, Beckwourth was of mixed race. His larger-than-life story reached from the Crow Nation in Wyoming to the town named for him in California.

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When Favorite Characters Die

After one of my friends finished reading The Black Alabaster Box, she e-mailed me.“I loved it. . . I must say that you are very brave, because I couldn’t kill off some of my favorite characters.” It’s true. Some of my favorite characters experience the harsh reality of life on the Santa Fe Trail. Two die

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A Purple Iris for Teachers

When I finished my Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education at George Peabody College for Teachers, now part of Vanderbilt University, I was given an iris along with my diploma. Campus had been a riot of iris blooms the weeks before graduation. As we gathered on campus in our caps and gowns, we stood

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Edible Plants and the Character Mr. Payne

Esther Suh’s guest blog reminds us that there are edible flowers that we can enjoy, provided that we learn about them and make knowledgeable choices.  She points out that as Mr. Payne mentors protagonist, Grace Willis, in The Black Alabaster Box he teaches her to identify edible wild plants.  I like Mr. Payne a lot. When he

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