Tag Archives: Reading

A Swashbucklin’ Good Time (To be cliche)

Ahoy, Mateys! Captain Dead Skin Dave is here, again! I be gettin’ very excited ta share me adventure with ye. Thar just be a few weeks until you can read all about my search for the Lost Cutlass o’ Captain Bo Ben, and my run in with the notorious evil pirate, Hairy Hazelroth!

Now, before my adventure comes out, I’d like ta make all of my young readers official members o’ Captain Dead Skin Dave’s crew! Thar only be a few simple steps ya need to do in order ta join.

Step 1: Ask yer parents if ya can be a junior pirate for Dead Skin Dave!

Step 2: Take the official Captain Dead Skin Dave Junior Pirate Oath:
I, (your name), promise to be the best junior pirate I can!
I will read all of Dead Skin Dave’s adventures,
Follow all orders from my Captains, Mom and Dad!
Speak like a pirate as often as I can,
And go outside and have a swashbucklin’ good time!

Step 3: Download and print out the Official Captain Dead Skin Dave’s Junior Pirates Badge!
jrpirates

Recommended Article: The Golden Age of Writers

From Esquire’s 1,000 Words about our Culture, by Stephen Marche; A great read about the current status of printed media, novels and writers in general.

“Writers have always been whiners. For nearly a hundred years, since at least the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the death of the novel has been presaged. And now, egged on by BuzzFeed and video games and just general hypercaffeinated, e-mail-all-the-time ADHD, the book is apparently, finally, about to die. At least we’ll have good stuff to read while we wait. This fall alone, the number of big books published by major writers is astounding: Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, Junot Díaz, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and about a half dozen others. Not that the list has stopped anyone from complaining. Literary circles have been so full of pity for so long that they can’t accept the optimistic truth: We’re living in a golden age for writers and writing.”

Read more: Writing Careers in 2012 – Stephen Marche on the Golden Age of Writers – Esquire http://www.esquire.com/features/thousand-words-on-culture/writing-careers-1212#ixzz2NHWwwjWt

Fantastic Adventure Christmas Edition: The Polar Express

polar-expressMost kids are familiar with the lovely book by Chris Van Allsburg, but lesser known is the somewhat recent film adaptation by Robert Zemeckis.  The film adds several elements to the story, including multiple characters, intriguing plot points, and dialogue that fits right in with the book. The story revolves around a boy and his journey on the Polar Express on its way to the North Pole to see Santa Claus.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The animation is top of the line technology, as all of the actors actually look and act like themselves due to stellar face and movement recognition software.
The story is filled with adventure as it follows around a group of kids. Not only will your kids be excited for the adventure, they will relish the fact that this journey is from the point of view of kids. They will be hoping and believing that they can go on an adventure just like this one.
Perhaps the best reason to watch this movie with your kids this Christmas: They will undoubtedly believe in Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas the-polar-expresscheer after watching this film.
Overall, it is a fun film filled with a lot of action sequences and a heartwarming and inspiring ending. Make a batch of hit chocolate and settle in one the couch for an unforgettable adventure.

On the Path to Inspiration

The other day whilst sitting in a mall, a familiarly fleeting feeling washed over me. Gazing upon the plastic Christmas wreaths and blurred jeans a small jolt of inspiration sprang forth. Why in this exact moment? Maybe it was a small burst o’ Christmas cheer, or maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t sat down for several hours. But more likely it was the brief realization that I need a place of inspiration in which to write. Just in that short time on the bench I had several ideas run through my mind, mostly due to people watching. Inspiration is all around us and in all things. Although, I find the human race the most entertaining of all options.

Since that moment, I have decided to go on the hunt for my perfect writing spot. Some people find solace in Starbucks or Panera bread. Others in McDonalds or a tiny bookstore café. Apparently mine starts with plastic wreaths and people. I will continue to update my journey for my perfect writing place here on my blog, with photos, sights, smells, sounds, etc.

I encourage everyone to find their place of inspiration, not just for writing, but for whatever it is that you love to do. If you love to read, get out of your comfy chair and spend a day reading at a bookstore. If your passion is shopping, try going to a different city and experiencing new stores. You get the idea.
Inspire others! Post your inspiration in the comments below!

Fantastic Adventure #9: Goosebumps

The Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine premiered twenty years ago. After an initial run of 62 books in the 1990s, the series has seen many revivals and is still in print, the latest series being named Goosebumps Hall of Horrors. No matter which series you choose, the thrills and chills are timeless. Perhaps the best part of the series is that each book is completely different. One may have a zombie theme, another may be centered around Egyptian mummies, or you may have a story about ghosts and monsters. This is very helpful in that your kid can decide which stories he likes to read. He may not enjoy ghost stories, but monsters and mummies are cool. Or perhaps Joey likes talking ventriloquist dummies, but Sarah likes ancient Egypt. No problem! There is definitely a story to please everyone.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: To start off, the first thing your child will notice is the cover. When I was a kid, I chose which Goosebumps books to read just by the cover. The artwork is fantastically creepy in a kid-friendly way, and will draw your child into the story by immediately giving him or her a visual reference for the book. This is important as it is a good way to get your kids to start appreciating drawings, and to use those drawings as a springboard to visualize the rest of the book.
All of these books are based off one simple premise: fear of the unknown. Most stories are in the POV of the kids, and the evil entity is usually shrouded in mystery until the last few pages. This sense of mystery and excitement is crucial to developing the imagination of your children. When there is an unknown, a child’s mind will immediately start deducing what or who the unknown could be (which also builds logic), and the mind starts creating those solutions. All of this brain activity helps to foster your child’s creativity and develop it in a safe environment.
The stories in these books are a little basic for adults, but still interesting enough that you will enjoy reading them to your kids (if they let you). The thrill of finding out what they twist is going to be at the end will keep your kid flipping the pages until the book is over. With over 100 old and current Goosebumps books out there to choose from, your kids will always have something else to read. Once you discover what type of stories your kid likes, it is a good idea to buy several in advance that are similar in tone, because sometimes it only takes a few hours to finish one of these books, especially if your kid is using his or her creative brain power.
These books will be more fun and scary for your kids then any other book in its genre. Your kids will not get enough, and it will encourage them to read.
R.L. Stine has created a world where scaring children is fun and acceptable. Any of his Goosebumps are perfectly safe. In a world where what is acceptable for kids is quickly eroding, it is nice to have such a large collection of spooky stories to fall back on.

Check out www.scholastic.com/goosebumps for recent releases and fun games for your kids!
www.rlstine.com for a complete list of all of his spooky works for kids.

Fantastic Adventure #6: The Ghost-Eye Tree

The Ghost-Eye Tree is a children’s easy reading book that is big on visuals and not so much on text. Every page reveals a large, well-painted picture and a few lines of text. The story of the book revolves around a scary tree that lies on a moonlit path. Two children are asked by their mother to fetch a jug of milk from the dairy. Unfortunately for them, it is dark, cold and they have to walk past the scary tree to get there. Will they make it? Or will the eerie sounds and moving branches of the scary tree get them?

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The cover alone is enough to get your kids in the mood for a scary story. The first time I saw th e image of that tree something clicked inside my head. I’m not sure what that was, but since then I have been fascinated with Halloween, scary movies and the visuals of Tim Burton’s movies. I can not guarantee the same for your kids, but it is a very powerful image that will definitely last in some way.
The artwork inside of the book is done in watercolors, leaving a very Norman Rockwell-like feeling, although a tad less realistic. All of the characters have warm, rosy cheeks and realistic features. The artwork is a great way to get your kids used to looking at paintings as art. They also are a good starting point for a conversation about visual storytelling. It is not always about the written word.
The story itself is a bit foreboding, as seen in this sample:
Oooo…
I dreaded to go…
I dreaded the tree….
Why does Mama
always choose me

When the night is so dark
And the mind runs
free?

The last stanza alone is enough to get your kids’ minds wandering. If you happen to have a large tree in front of you home, don’t be surprised if you’ll be putting up thick curtains over your kids’ bedroom windows.
The sense of dread and the fear of the unknown play strongly in this book. Your kids may be a little frightened, but hopefully in a good way that fosters creativity and a wandering mind.
Finally, the visuals are what matter. The outstretched limbs of the tree waving in the wind that look like they may reach out and grab you at any moment heighten the suspense of the story and will leave your kids wanting more of that haunted feeling.