Princess Cora and the Crocodile

Reblogged this on Mudpilewood, where some visitors have children and grandchildren

Chapter Book Chat

cora cover

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

By Laura Amy Schlitz, Illustrated by Brian Floca

 

Published by: Candlewick (March 28, 2017)

Available in: hardcover, audible

At the time of this review this was a standalone book.

 

Disguised.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile is a lovely chapter book that masquerades as an elegant, long picture book. Truly, it could work as either, with the end result being children who are utterly delighted.

Newberry Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz writes a contemporary tale based on historical fantasy and fairy tales. The text is deft, spare, hilarious, and told with a firmly modern sensibility that keeps it from feeling like a tired old story. To wit: “The crocodile peered out from behind his claws. ‘This is what I’m telling you,’ he said.”

Like fairy tales of old, the story powers through actions and words that are usually considered too violent or inappropriate. Which…

View original post 113 more words

Sally’s Sunflowers

Sally started on her list. 1. Keep Bubbles out of the way.

She put a nice comfy cushion on the sunny windowsill in her bedroom, next she placed Bubbles on top of the cushion.

“Now number two, the birds,” Sally whispered.

It was a tricky thing to do but Sally placed five fat seed balls on the bird table in their garden along with a full net of peanuts.   Crossing her fingers she hoped the table wouldn’t break.

“Number three,” she said and went to collect his post from the postbox.  Sally walked to  Mr. Blunts door.

Bubbles ran up to her as Mr. Blunt opened his front door.

“Shoo cat!” He shouted.

“Bubbles came to say hello. She likes people.”

“Well,  I don’t like her. Why have you got my post?” Mr. Blunt asked in a loud voice.

“I was being nice!” Sally whispered.

Just then, Bubbles ran in to the kitchen.

Mr. Blunt chased after her. Sally followed. Luckily for Bubbles, Sally was smaller and faster than Mr. Blunt. Diving under the table she caught Bubbles in her arms and dashed home.

“My teacher says practice makes perfect, we will make him smile.” Sally said hugging Bubbles to her.

Number four was – mow his lawn. But, Mr. Blunt had already mowed it.

Sally shook her head. “It is very hard to help some people.”

Number five: wash his car.

img010

Sally took out the buckets and sponge for washing the car. She wanted the car to sparkle so she squeezed an extra dollop of liquid into the bucket.

She was washing the windows, when she heard a strange noise. She discovered there were dogs licking the car. Great big dollops of dog slobber were flying about and landing on the nice clean car.

“Shoo go away,” she said. They started barking.

Mr. Blunt came outside. “Who is making all that noise?” He stopped and stared at his car, which was covered in dogs of many shapes and sizes.

He was still shouting as Sally and the dogs ran away.

Mum asked her, ‘Is this what you washed his car with?’

“Yes. It said, it will give the greatest shine all week long.” Sally said scratching number five off her list.

Number six: buy him some sweets.

Sally shook her piggy bank. She counted out loud, ‘four euro and two cents. I could buy an awful lot of chocolate for that.”

Scooping the money into her blue purse Sally walked along beside her mum with a hop and a skip. The money rattled as she moved.

The sweet shop with its rows of rainbow jars of sweets was her favorite shop. “He is a really old man so perhaps I should buy him soft sweets.”

The shopkeeper said,  “that is a kind thought, yes jellies are over here.”

Sally scrunched up her face. Mr. Blunt reminded her of a shark. “What would a shark like?” she asked.

“Something strong and hard, I think, to crunch on.”

‘Well, he is an old shark so perhaps, some bulls eyes, chocolate candy, jelly babies and some soft jellies, just in case.’

“Good idea.”

Sally bought some chocolate mice for Bubbles and herself.

On the way home Sally said, “I don’t know how to give Mr. Blunt these sweets without making him mad.” She sighed. “How can I make him smile if all he does is get madder and madder?”

“Maybe he just doesn’t smile.” Mum said.

Sally grinned. ‘That is silly. Everyone smiles, even Bubbles smiles.’

Back home Sally walked to Mr. Blunts front door. She rang the doorbell. When the door opened Sally shoved the bag of sweets at him saying, ‘these are for you,’ and ran back home.

Mum asked, “did it work?”

“I don’t know.”

Mum bent down and gave Sally one of her extra special hugs.

“Number seven will make him smile, a great big toothy smile!”

Sally spent hours working on her picture. The bird table looked just like the one in her back garden, the birds looked like birds. Sally went to bed saying, “tomorrow I am going to see Mr. Blunt smile.”

That night Sally dreamed that Mr. Blunt smiled so much, he out shone the sun. It hid behind a cloud. The birds didn’t like his smile, they flew away. The dogs were frightened by it and howled like wolves.

On the way to his house, the next morning, the wind pulled the drawing from her hands. It landed in a puddle. She gave it a shake and continued to his door.

The door opened. “What? You’ve come to give me another tooth ache?”

“I drew a picture to make you smile, here it is.”  She held the picture out for him to see.

He took the soggy picture and gave a nod of his head.

Sally was sad but she said, “I’m not giving up. I’ll write down my funny joke.”

Sally’s joke was:

A cheeseburger walked into a bar and said, “hello, can I have a pint of beer please?” The bartender replied “Sorry, we don’ t serve food”

Sally wondered how she could deliver it to him without him seeing her. Dad said, “Let’s send it by airmail.”

He showed Sally how to make and fly paper airplanes. Soon the kitchen was full of paper planes whizzing about.

Sally and dad planes

“I can do this.” Sally said. Walking outside she took the empty bird food bucket and placing it upside down stood on it. She saw Bubble’s sitting in Mr. Blunts garden chair. The back door opened. Sally held her breath, pointed the nose of the plane in the direction of the back door and threw the plane.

It flew straight. Then with a – smack- it hit him on the nose. “Ouch! Who did that?”  He roared.

Sally hid behind the fence. With a sigh Sally sat down on the bucket. Now she had to bake a cake. Sally didn’t like baking but she did like eating cakes.

She baked the cake with mums help. While it was cooling Sally made the icing. “This is the best bit”, she told Bubbles as she drizzled some icing on his paw. He tasted it. Sally went to clean her face and put on a clean tee shirt.

When she returned she discovered Dad had left just one piece of the cake.

“Sorry Sally but it was delicious.” He said.

Sally had one chance left. But she didn’t know what to do. Mum gave her an idea. ” Mr. Blunts wife was a great gardener. ”

“Really?” Sally said. They were watching a tv program about gardening.

“She loved bright flowers.”

The man on TV was talking about Sunflowers. ” They are very smiley flowers, aren’t they?” Sally said. She went to find her dad.

“The trouble is real Sunflowers take months to grow, Sally,” he said.

Sally had a plan. First, she drew a huge sunflower.  Then she and her Dad to his workshop.  Days later they were finished. The flowers had bright yellow and orange faces. They had leaves for arms. The petals made a soft clicking sound that she knew the birds wouldn’t like. Her mum helped her paint the flowers.

“It will keep them away from Mr. Blunts garden and Bubbles too.”  Sally said.

Next morning, Sally and her Dad went to Mr. Blunts house, very early to plant their sunflowers. “Don’t worry Sally, if he shouts, I’ll shout back.” Sally crossed her fingers.

Mr. Blunt was grumbling as he walked to the door. He opened it. “You!” he said to Sally.

“Follow us, Mr. Blunt, you have to see this.”  Dad said.

Mr. Blunt followed them. They stood together and waited. Sally heard a strange sound. She felt sad, Mr. Blunt’s bottom lip was wobbling. She knew what that meant.

“I’m sorry, these were supposed to make you happy,” she whispered.

Mr. Blunt walked over and bending down hugged her lightly, ” Thank you. Can I touch them? My wife loved sunflowers, these are smashing!”

Sally did a cartwheel and laughed aloud. Her miles of smiles worked.

 

IMG_7698

 

“Well done! Sally. I’ve made some gingerbread, can I bring it over?” Mum asked Mr. Blunt. He answered with a smile.

After that, Mr. Blunt became the smiliest man in the neighborhood. He even suggested they start a business. From then on every Saturday morning Sally, and Mr. Blunt sold sunflowers in the market. And every Sunday morning Mr. Blunt arrived at Sally’s house to hand her a small bag of chocolate mice for Sally, just to make her smile.

Sally’s Smiling Sunflowers

Part 3.

Sally wondered what would make Mr. Blunt happy. She wanted to see him smile. “Everyone should smile sometime,” she whispered.

Her dad heard her. He said “If you do that you will be the biggest and best smile maker in the whole world.”

This is Sally as  the worlds biggest, best smile maker for you to colour.

*********************

 

 

Images belonging to another children’s story yet to be completed.

I thought instead of writing a story I would post a few of the great colourful images Sara has done for another children’s story. You might recognise one of the drawings which features on decidinglybob.wordpress.com

Sally lives next door to an elderly man who is grumpy. Her aim is to make him smile. The question is how does she do it?

 

The progression of a book cover.

I believed, stupidly, that once I had the main story written that the other bits and bobs would fall into place in a matter of weeks.

How silly of me. (Naive I think is the word.)

Editing took a long time mainly down to me. But the evolution of the cover was the work of Sara. She asked for an outline of the book. I sent it on, along with a draft copy. Then there were a few telephone calls and much to my delight I received the first idea. Here it is:

school-house-cover-idea

The debate began. A few suggestions were made and this was the next idea,

sample-cover-for-emer

which we liked but the problem was Harry the seagull had been cut from the story.

So back to the drawing board and then with Harry cut, deleted, the next debate was the title and the type face (font) colours etc.

20150828_131523

Finally this was the final  image.

runaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031

Did we get it right or wrong? Everyone’s opinion is appreciated.

 

 

Giveaway ! The Runaway Schoolhouse

Technically a giveaway in return for reviews could be questioned as not being a giveaway, but that is the deal.  I will post, to three readers, a copy of my book in return for their review. I will leave the giveaway open for two weeks.

I considered many complicated ways of holding this competition but decided simple is best.

Posted below is the first chapter of my book. The names of everyone who answer the following question will be put in a hat, (beanie) and three pulled out.

runaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031

 

Chapter 1

 

John and Sara Buggy were twins who didn’t look alike. They didn’t think or act alike either. In fact, they were complete opposites. Sara was a quiet, studious type while John was a messer who hated school and spent his days there playing practical jokes.

One blustery, grey Monday morning, they trudged their way to school, all set for another run-of-the-mill day in the tiny two-classroom building.

“Why are we walking so fast?” Sara asked John.

“I have something to do,” he replied, with the beginning of a smile tugging at his mouth.

She knew that look but instead of pressing him further, concentrated on stretching her short legs to keep up with his longer stride. There was a six-inch height difference between them and while John had a head of smooth, dark brown hair, Sara was stuck with a headful of tangled red curls. This didn’t sit well with her.

“School is the oddest place because most of what we learn is pretty useless in the real world,” John was saying, as they walked through the main door.

Sara considered her answer for a moment.

“You may think you’re right but I like learning new things and it’s always so cosy in here.”

***

Once they were seated,  Sara started to worry about what trick John was about to play on their teacher. Mrs Brown, she noticed, kept sniffing and clutching a hanky to her nose. Sara wondered if she were ill. She glanced at John who winked at her.

“Not long now,” he whispered.

“What have you done?” she hissed back.

Suddenly, Mrs Brown sneezed. John giggled. Sara turned her attention back to their teacher who sat in her chair with her nose twitching like a rabbit. She sneezed six times in succession, sending her glasses bouncing onto her desk. Eventually, she managed to stop long enough to hold her nose and shove her glasses back in place. Getting up from her desk she walked to the door and said very quickly, “Carry on with your maths.” This short statement was followed by more sneezing as she left the room.

John was given many high fives and claps on the back as his mates asked how he did it.

“A master never reveals his secrets,” he grinned.

Sara was not impressed.

“Someday Mrs Brown will get really mad at you and…”

“And what?” John demanded. “Writing a hundred lines is nothing I haven’t done before. Now, come on, it’s break time.”

Suddenly a shadow fell across his desk and Mrs Brown said, in a sharp tone, “Let’s try five hundred lines on the whiteboard today John, not on your tablet where you are a master at copy and paste. The line, I should not play pranks on the teacher, is to be written at lunchtime.”

Mrs Brown then turned to Sara adding, “And John is to do it on his own.”

“Yes, Mrs Brown,” Sara said.

***

At lunchtime Sara slipped back into the classroom to help her brother but found him staring at the whiteboard.

“You haven’t written many lines,” she said. Sara noticed a message written across the board – and it wasn’t in John’s handwriting.

School is a useful tool for life, John and Sara.

Sara read the words aloud and looked at John.

“I didn’t do it.The board was clean when I began and then it just appeared. It’s wrong anyway, school is stupid.”

He wiped the message away.

“Perhaps it is magic?” Sara said in a wistful tone.

“Huh, there is no such thing,” John sneered. “If there was I would click my fingers and the board would be full of lines, just like this.”

Turning to face Sara he clicked his fingers but noticed her smile fade as she pointed back to the board.

There before them, more lines of the same sentence appeared. They watched as they scrawled, with no sign of a marker, in neat, tidy rows.

Sara counted the lines.

“There are twenty rows of twenty-five lines.” She looked at John. “Did you do this? Do something else!”

“Two packets of crisps,” John shouted, then clicked his fingers and waited. Nothing happened.

Sara was busy staring at the board again. She read the message aloud.

You have enough lunch to eat in your schoolbag.

“I don’t like this. Is it a ghost? ” Sara whispered and jumped further away from the board.

John was curious and moved closer. “Rubbish! Ghosts don’t exist.”

“I wonder why it happened today?” And no sooner had she said it but the words changed and she read aloud, Today is my birthday, I am one hundred years old.

Gathering all of her courage Sara said,  “Happy Birthday to you but who are you?”

I am the schoolhouse you are standing in and my name is Clearie.

“Clearie, what an awesome name!” John said.

The words on the bottom changed once more and they both read the message.

Clearie means minstrel and scholar in Irish.

Suddenly, the ringing of the bell announced the end of break and the arrival of the other children back into the room, prevented Sara and John from finding out more.

Sara did notice the last message was wiped clean before Mrs Brown arrived back to her desk but she instinctively knew it wouldn’t be the last of them.

In the meantime, there was John’s lack of lines to worry about…

 

******

The question is: What was the first message to appear on the board not written by John or Sara?

 

 

 

 

Halloween: Sticky Toffee Surprise

lovisma 3

 

Lovisma was planning a big surprise for Halloween night.

Last year Breeze spoiled her surprise, this year she was being very careful.

He won’t ruin my Halloween night.” She muttered watching her cauldron carefully. She sat on a fat mushroom watching her spoon do laps of the pot.  “Hmm vanilla toffee apples who can resist them?” She giggled. On hearing a twig snap she looked up, then relaxed as one of the Muppet Bunnies dashed past her.

“Nothing will spoil this surprise. That stupid Ogre is helping Elegant and the Fairies make bobbing marshmallows.” She said.

Breeze was standing a short distance away disguised as a giant pumpkin.  He got the idea from Bob (click here to see him as a pumpkin.)  Hamish had helped Breeze get ready.  Everyone knew Lovisma hates pumpkins.

While  the children were dressing up as witches and ghosts, Lovisma placed buckets of her special toffee apples around the party tables. Her apples sparkled and glowed. “What child or ogre could resist these?” she muttered.

Meanwhile Breeze was holding a meeting with the other adults. “I am not sure what will happen when you take a bite so I took one from her basket.” He stared around at the Fairies and Elves.

Tulip said, “Well we won’t know until you take a bite from it.”

Breeze  didn’t want everyone to think he was afraid. He closed his eyes and took a bite. It did taste lovely but the toffee ran off the apple like a river and lay around his feet. He could not move his feet. “I am stuck.” He groaned.

Elegant said, “I bet she plans on taking all of the children’s treats while they are stuck to the ground. I am sure it will wear off soon Breeze.”

Breeze hoped it would because he didn’t want to miss the party. The fairies and elves worked on a spell to undo Lovisma’s spell. Then they created a spell for her.

The party was great. The children loved the bobbing marshmallows that looked like giant spiders. They laughed when Matt tried to eat a real spider thinking it would taste of marshmallow. The spider was  not happy as he scuttled awayinto the dark night.

The children noticed the toffee apples. Lovisma held her breath and waited.

Matt grabbed an apple. It  fizzled and sparkled sending shooting stars into the night.

Lisbeth, Lillian and Daisy-Lyah’s apples played a musical tune  the minute they held them.  Children were dancing and laughing.  Lovisma was angry.

“Give me one!” She grabbed an apple and instantly the ground beneath her feet began to shake. Everyone ran for cover as two tall scarecrows appeared carrying pumpkins. They placed the pumpkins on the ground and rolled them at Lovisma.

She was knocked off her feet and landed on a huge pumkin. Her feet and arms, and head was visible. Lovisma screamed. She was trapped in a pumpkin. She waddled off into the wood crying, “I bet you did this Breeze.  I will get out and then you had better watch out.”

Lisbeth was sitting beside Breeze shivering. “You don’t look worried Mr. Breeze.”

He smiled and said, “I am not, because Elegant added her forgetful potion to the spell so Lovisma will escape from the pumpkin but she will have forgotten everything and we will have a great party.”

Daisy-lyah and Lillian were kind Fairies and they filled a basket full of treats for the naughty witch.

 

 

Elegant to the rescue.

The yearly event  for witches is the “Broomstick Dive and Duck Ball”. It is a night of feasting, music, competitions and games.

Lovisma loves the competition called, “Whackiest disguise for a broomstick.” Last year she disguised her broom stick as a sausage roll. A giant warlock tried to eat it and broke a tooth. Lovisma didn’t hang around to collect her prize.

Elegant loves the “Design a witches hat” competition. Last year her hat looked like a giant board game complete with rolling dice and moving figures.

ElegantThis year the two witches began their preparations early. On the night of the ball, they took great care with their appearance. Elegant ‘s gown  was midnight blue sprinkled with tiny glittering stars, her shoes and hat matched.

Lovisma spent ages planning her outfit. When she appeared beside Elegant, she looked like a giant swirling lollypop.  They called their broomsticks and got ready to leave for Warlock Twittchets house. lovisma 3

Suddenly a loud scream was heard followed by a dog howling in pain. “What is that?” Elegant asked.

“I don’t know. Lets go.” Lovisma sped off into thenight sky.

Elegant looked towards the wood. The howling was dreadful. “Oh, dear.” She mumbled and flew after Lovisma. When she caught up with her sister she said, “I need to help it.”

“But you will miss the fun. Remember last years popping cheesecake. It was fantastic.” Lovisma said.

“I will catch up later.” Elegant said and went into the wood.

She found Tulip and Hamish trying to get close to a huge dog.  He was standing on three legs, the third one was bent and blood poured from it.

“My magic isn’t strong enough. He is in great pain.” Tulip whispered to Elegant.

“We will work together and fix this.” Elegant said.

Even with magic it took them a long time.  When his paw was mended and bandaged. Hamish  said, “We have to get him home.”

Tulip agreed, “yes he can’t stay here he will frighten everyone but where is his home?”

Elegant thought about the problem and declared, “there is only one way to do this.  We need a potion from the bubbling cauldron. Hamish, we will be back in a jiffy.”

The bubbling cauldron was asleep. It didn’t like being wakened and asked to work. Eventually Elegant persuaded it to allow her to make one potion.

When they returned they added the potion to water. When the husky drank it he told them his story.

Elegant was happy to return the animal to his home but she felt a little sad she had missed the fun at the ball. The next day when everyone in Mudpile Wood  heard of Elegants kind act, they decided to hold a party in her honor to thank her.