Category: Teachers & Parents

Start a Storytelling Tradition

Story telling during the holidays is a great way introduce family to its traditions and to bring family closer together. An example of a family story illustrates how you can introduce story telling and build a tradition. But you don’t have to wait for the holidays.

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Mist, Children, Poetry and Times Past

  Last week I was in a beautiful old farmhouse on the Choptank River where I focused entirely on writing. The first few days were rainy. The river ran high. I loved the wet mornings, watching the mist rise from the river. Carl Sandburg talks about how mist moving across the valley carries everything with

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Every Fall

It’s that unmistakable time of year when school has started. After a miserably hot, humid summer in Baltimore, we suddenly had a few crisp days in late August. Now that September is over, leaves are turning. Mornings have that cool, approaching autumn feel to them. I love this time of year. I remember my Grandma

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“You Can’t Do That!” More about Death of Characters

The Beautiful Hills, Chapter 27 of The Black Alabaster Box is a chapter my granddaughter insisted on. She’d been my junior editor all along, listening to various iterations and offering suggestions. Sometimes I followed her suggestions faithfully. Other times I had to follow my own light. This was especially true when it came to death

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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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Going Batty: On Illustrating

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters (Mexican free-tailed batsUploaded by Dolovis) [CC BY 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons I made the decision to illustrate my trilogy for very selfish reasons. As a child, I hated it when there were pictures of the people in fiction. The illustrator almost always

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Chapter Discussion Questions for THE BLACK ALABASTER BOX

Teachers who are using The Black Alabaster Box with reading groups, book clubs, or as part of a study of the Great Westward Migration may find these questions useful. You could have students write their take on a question in a journal after reading the chapter, too. I don’t think it would be appropriate to have students

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