Postcards from outerspace

I just wrapped up mentoring at the CWC Galaxy Camp, and thought I would post these photos of one of our final projects: an intergalactic postcard!

This project was just to get the students thinking about setting by illustrating the front side of a postcard with a scene from a planet they imagined they were visiting. The backside is a short note to a friend or family member. To top it all off, they each were given a Star Wars stamp so they could post it!

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Robot invasion at the Galaxy Camp

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So many robots! One of the main projects the kids worked on at the CWC Galaxy Camp was to design and build a robot model—and then write about it.

We started by taking lots of inspiration from robots in books and film, including some of my favorites, such as Tik-Tok of Oz, C3PO and R2D2. It helps that I have my own voice-controlled R2D2 droid, which really helped the kids think about quirky characteristics they could give to their own creations.

After the inspiration process, we moved on to the robot construction. After selecting a variety of components, the students drafted up a blueprint or design for their robots. Then the set to work building the actual models.

Along the way, they worked on three separate writing components: an instruction manual, a short story (in which a character failed to follow the instruction manual), and, finally, a commercial to advertise the robot.

I’ve done this project a few times in the past, but this has been the most successful. I think it was because I had them pick their parts before designing, so it really helped direct the students.

Here’s a few photos of their creations . . .

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Evidence of aliens . . .

On day 1 of the CWC Galaxy Camp the focus was on alien life forms. We started by taking my quiz: What Type of Alien Are You? This inspired many of my students to modify their name placards:

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So now I’m dealing with a room of Chewbaccas, Stiches, E.T.s and the like!

After this opening ice breaker, each student imagined an alien visitation by writing a story in either the form of a journal entry or a newspaper article. One of the key components of this project was to draw the evidence of the aliens. You can check out a bit of their work (in varying degrees of progress):

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I’ve decided to collect stairs

Regular readers of this blog know I’m obsessed with doors. That obsession will continue, but I’ve decided that I will also start collecting stairs. Here are some of my favorite ones (so far):

From St. Paul’s in London:

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From Clifford Tower in York, England:

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From the catacombs beneath the city of Paris:

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From the flat my wife and I stayed in one summer, in the north part of Paris:

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From Alnwick Castle in northern England:

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Another staircase from Alnwick Castle:

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From the old farmhouse in the Scottish countryside that we stayed in one summer:

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From St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary.

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More to come with my future travels!

Kendra Kandlestar shortlisted for Chocolate Lily Award

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I received some thrilling news—Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers has been shortlisted for the Chocolate Lily award.

This is a readers’ choice award—ultimately, the winning book will be selected by the kids in the province of BC. I’m particularly pleased to be nominated along many of my friends and colleagues, including Dan Bar-el, Meg TillyAnn Walsh, and Rachelle Delaney. Congratulations to all the nominees!

You can find out more about the program at www.chocolatelilyawards.com.

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Literary history comes alive in Edinburgh

We’re just leaving Edinburgh, Scotland, to return home after a whirlwind tour through the northern UK. One of my real joys was seeing all the monuments, museums, and mementos to some of the best known writers in the world.

Here’s the “close” off the Royal Mile that leads to the Writers’ Museum. It features three floors, one each for Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Walter Scott.

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The museum is just through the door, straight ahead!

Here is the decoration on the spiraling staircase:

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And this is what it looks like on the inside:

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Just down the Royal Mile is The Deacon’s House Café. You can read the words in the photo of the signpost below to see how it is connected to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

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I also found a few more signposts about the Royal Mile that had literary significance:

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Probably the main highlight, however, was going to the Elephant Café, which is where J.K. Rowling did a lot of her creating for Harry Potter.

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It’s a neat café in its own right, as it is decorated top to bottom in elephants! Just look at the top shelf above the coffee bar.

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My wife took this photo from inside the girls’ loo; it’s full of praise and kind thank-yous to Rowling.girlsloo_bathroom

There was no such think in the men’s loo. Just this scrawled on the mirror:

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And here’s Marcie enjoying her tea at the café. Maybe she’s sitting in the very chair that Rowling sat in?

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Doors of Scotland

Here’s some of my favorite doors I’ve collected while trekking through castles, kirks, cities, and villages in Scotland. I could show you dozen upon dozen . . . but these are just some of my favorites.

As always, they fill me with inspiration, especially since the book project I’m working on these days is filled with doorways. And, as you can tell by the photos below, I especially love old doors . . .

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