In this guest post by Vodníkauthor Bryce Moore, Bryce shares his favorite things to see, do, and eat when visiting Slovakia.
When I was asked to write a brief guest blog post about traveling to Slovakia, the first question that popped into my head was, “How do I keep it brief?” I’ve been to the country many times, and I absolutely adore it. There’s so much to see and do—although there are some things you have to watch out for if you’re not accompanied by a native Slovak speaker.
First off, let me say that this is just really for western Slovakia. I have yet to be over to the eastern half of the country, and I don’t know much about it. In many ways (from what I’ve been told, at least) the eastern and western sides are like two different places. Eastern Slovakia has a much bigger influence from Hungary. Western Slovakia is influenced by Austria and the Czech Republic. Surprising, in a country that’s significantly smaller than West Virginia. But then again, it’s Europe. Things work differently over there.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let me dig right into the meat of the topic: why should someone want to go to Slovakia? A better question would be why wouldn’t someone want to go to Slovakia? It’s a beautiful country, filled with mountains in the north, plains in the south, and rolling hillsides in between. It’s got dense forests, wild rivers, and some of the most awesome castles you can think of. The food is fantastic, the people are friendly, and it’s an area most Americans haven’t even heard of. (Seriously. Try writing a book that takes place in Slovakia, and see how many people ask you where that is again.)
Congratulations to our picture book Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic, which just received its THIRD starred review! School Library Journal calls it “a stellar title that will rest comfortably next to acclaimed picture-book memoirs by Allen Say, Peter Sís, and Uri Shulevitz.”
Writing someone’s biography can be a tricky business. First—and this is important—you’ve got to be enthusiastic about the person you’re writing about. Otherwise, it won’t work. Readers will know that on some level you’re not engaged and they won’t enjoy reading the book any more than you enjoyed writing it. I was asked once to write a biography of the Three Stooges. I said no, because I’ve never found their humor to be funny. Sure, I could get the facts right, but that’s not enough. You have to have passion.
Rufus Brutus the Third: You point them towards the floor. What a silly question.
What’s the most annoying thing your pet parent does?
PD: It’s hard to pick just one thing, don’t you think? There’s the nasty medicine they make me take, for one. Not to mention the dry cat food they give me. They only give me wet food once a week, like I need to be on a diet. Ian does sneak me food from the table though, so he makes up for it a bit. Oh, and trying to keep me in the house all the time! A cat’s gotta roam, you know?
Well, Poetry Month is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop reading poetry to your kids! Poet/Anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins provides our final tip of the month. Check out his advice as well as his anthology, Amazing Faces.
As Spring finally appears to be arriving and April is swiftly fleeting away, Guadalupe Garcia McCall shares some advice about reading poetry- and adding your own passion into that reading. A published poet in more than twenty literary journals, McCall’s first book, Under the Mesquite, will be released by LEE & LOW in Fall 2011.
Some more advice from our LEE & LOW poets! This piece of wisdom is from award-winning author Marilyn Singer. Her first Lee & Low title, A Full Moon Is Rising, is expected later this spring. Some great advice from a woman who really knows poetry!
“My parents knew that reading to their kids was important. But reading wasn’t the only thing they did which shaped my love of books and then of writing. They also sang to me—especially my dad. He had these wonderful pastel-colored HIT PARADE sheets, which contained the lyrics of the most popular songs of the day. Now, we may not have Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, and all those other great lyricists around these days, but we have plenty of other good ones. I think that singing that stuff to your kids is a marvelous way to inspire musicality, love of words, and a feeling for poetry.
We know we’ve done something right when readers share their excitement for our books with the entire Internet. Amy Cheney, librarian at Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center, is one of those excited readers: she made a video with other staff at the ACJJC, all explaining why they love Yummy and why it’s great for the kids they work with every day.
Jen Cullerton Johnson is an educator and the author of Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace, a biography of biologist, environmentalist, and activist Wangari Maathai. We asked her to blog about ways teachers can bring awareness of nature and environmentalism into the classroom; here are her five key suggestions. We hope you find them useful, and of course, feel free to add your own suggestions and methods in comments!
Green teachers everywhere know that students can’t become stewards of the environment without hands-on interactions with nature. Describing the root system of plants puts third graders to sleep, but if you bring in several plants and allow the students to feel, see, and discuss, the room becomes atwitter with curiosity. Active learning impresses the mind. Passive learning depresses it. Green teachers facilitate a nature-based experience for their students. In each lesson they teach, in each interaction with their students, they look for ways to connect the environment with other subjects.