They’re crazy about Oki!

Oki.One of my favourite bookstores in the world can be found in Sumner, Washington. Called a Good Book Café, the folks at this bookstore don’t mess around with their love of all things Kendra Kandlestar. In particular, they are fans of Oki.

How much? Well, popular staffer Paige Mitchell even had her arm tattooed with that little eeker, something which was featured in a recent article about the book store.

You can see a picture of Paige’s tattoo, along with one of their customer’s hand-made Oki, here! You can also read the whole article  here.

Of course, if you’re ever in Sumner (it’s just South of Seattle) be sure to check out this delightful store. You’ll lose yourself in the aisles (but don’t worry—Paige will find you).


Diorama drama

A few weeks ago, I built a diorama of the vault beneath the Elder Stone from The Box of Whispers (you can see the photo in that post). It was all with the aim to get my students inspired to construct their own dioramas.

We’ve been working on them for a few weeks, so I thought I would show some of their (fantastic) works in progress . . .

This is the centerpiece for Esther’s diorama. I believe this is from the scene in her book when a fairy hatches out of this magic egg. Notice the little bottle in the corner of the photo, filled with a very enchanted pink substance!

Esther's diorama egg.

This next one is Herald. He is writing a book inspired by Leviathan (and doing a fabulous job too, I might add).

Herald's diorama.

Kaeula’s diorama centers around the most important set-piece in her novel.

Kaeula's diorama.

Michael found a very inventive way to construct the trees surrounding his palace.

Michael's diorama.

Like Esther, Sarah is using her magic egg as the focus of her diorama. So far, so good!

Sarah's diorama.

I’m hoping that these dioramas will really help my students think about their settings and bring them to life—not only for the reader, but in their own imaginations!

Crack in Kazah Cover ~ almost done!

Here’s the latest photograph of my watercolour board and my illustration for the Crack in Kazah cover. The next step is to take it for professional scanning (which will do the colours much better justice than the poorly-lit photograph below). This scan will then be plopped into the cover template and combined with the title block and the other important design elements.

So, you think you’re a good pet owner?

Griffin.Last week, my class was discussing the classic book by Linda Reid Banks called I, Houdini. As part of the study discussion questions I had prepared, I asked my students to write a list of tips that they could provide for a pet. Kyumi, fourth grade whiz-kid, decided to choose dog as her pet.

Now, I know many of you have dogs, so I only feel it is my obligation to provide you with this list of helpful hints. It’s a wonder how any of us survived as pet owners without this useful information.

Ten tips I learned for taking care of a dog from movies, stories, books etc.

1. NEVER allow you’re neighbour to open his or her door on hot days or there is a chance that you’re dog will rush into your neighbour’s house, enter the washroom and fall in the toilet. (I Learned this from my mom when she told me her dad’s dog went into her neighbour’s washroom and fell in the toilet.)

2. Never ride a time machine with your German Shepherd to Russia during WW2 or else some random Russian man will shoot your dog. (From the book Saving Zasha.)

3. Try naming your dogs after supermarkets and good things will happen. So name your poodle Thrifty Foods or your Westie Save on Foods. (From Because of Winn Dixie.)

4. Don’t let your sheepdog do all that work in the fields. Make pigs do it! (From the movie Babe.)

5. Dachshunds are also known as Hot Dogs or Weiner Dogs. That doesn’t mean you put ketchup on them and eat them! (From seeing too many pictures of dachshunds wearing hot dog costumes.)

6. When owning a dumb dog, don’t own a fat cat. (From Garfield.)

7. Don’t talk in Spanish while holding your dog or else it will run away and then you will swear in Spanish. (From seeing this Mexican boy in my class have his mom chasing his dog when it was running away.)

8. Don’t put your dead dog in the freezer. (From hearing a story of this man who loved his dog so when it died, he put it in his freezer so if he wants to see his dog, he can just look in the freezer.)

9. Don’t film a video of you being bit by a dog and you showing your bloody finger while screaming and swearing in your mind. (From watching a video of a guy getting bit by his dog.)

10. If your dog has puppies, don’t throw them in a river if you hate them because that’s dumb. Just sell them. (From watching a video of puppies getting thrown into a river.)

Did I mention that I teach creative writing?

Delightful diorama

I just had to show this picture of a diorama one of my students built of a scene from Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve. This world-in-a-shoebox depicts the moment when Ratchet’s stump has been set on fire by the dastardly Raggart Rinkle.

Diorama of Ratchet's Stump

I just love seeing the art that comes from children reading Kendra Kandlestar. Just the other day one boy showed me a delightful little Jinx (complete with sword) made entirely from clay. How I wish I had had my camera! Of course, some of you do send me in your artwork (or pictures of it) from time to time. Keep it coming!

Crack in Kazah Cover – next stage

I’ve been making progress on the cover illustration for Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah. Much to my amazement, I have yet to tear the picture from my board in frustration (something I usually do at least two or three times during the process).

In any case, you can see the liquid masking tape has been removed and I’ve painted in some of the characters. They still require more detail and outlining, but I’m getting there!

The Crack in Kazah cover progress

Magical eruption

I’ve taught my magic potions workshop several times. There have always been a few harmless explosions, but this time one of my hapless apprentices spilled his potion (heavy on the blood from a two-headed goat) all over my jacket (even though I was yelling at him to back away, back away, back away!). Oh well. Such are the dangers of mixing mummy dust, burning acid, and heart’s desire.

This class also involved someone crying out, “Hey, you spilled pee on my poop.” (Seems someone had placed the bottle of Gnome poop right in a pool of dragon urine.) It’s not exactly your average day at school.

In any case, here are a few photos from that fateful day.