President of the Whole Fifth Grade

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What happen when a scrappy 10-year-old cupcake entrepreneur discovers that the road to success goes through school politics? A hilarious, emotional political race that proves being successful doesn’t always mean getting the most votes.

Reluctant Readers beware!

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Author Kelly Barnhill’s magical tale.

Kelly Barnhill’s wonderful tale of mystery, magic, greed, honor and self-preservation is told in shimmering prose. The award-winning book (Newberry Winner  2017) is a worthy addition to any collection.

I volunteer with a local community center. I lead their book club. This month’s book is Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon.  When I arrived, the kids were rounded up from the playground. Let me tell you, you do not want to be the one who comes in and tears a bunch of kids from their playtime. I got groans, long faces and as much attitude as 9 and 10-year-olds could muster. I put up with about 10 minutes of restless foolishness. Then we got to business. Since no one wanted to read. I read first.

It only took a few sentences and the kids were hooked. As an author, I learned a valuable lesson. You have to pack that first graph or the first several sentences, with a punch. Barnhill went Pow-Pow. I hope the kids are as eager to learn what happens next as I am.

On Wednesday, we’ll see.

Patient Alice

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Beautiful, sparse and inspirational.

The Sketchbook

Alice is very patient while I experiment with art materials from the gift bags that participants and instructors received at the USk symposium in Chicago. I never try these things out at the event — no time for experimentation on site. But when I get home, it’s so much fun to play.

Today, while Alice waited, I found a tiny sample pad of Hahnemühle Bamboo mixed media paper along with a big fat 9B water-soluble graphite stick from Lyra. A wonderful duo, as it turns out. The paper is creamy, slightly textured and perfect for quick drawings. It takes a light wash well too. And with the sharpened Lyra graphite stick you can make thin marks to obtain soft grey washes, or very thick lines that release into the deep black washes. Definitely a combo I will use again.

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Not the end. A new beginning.

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Remember the hope? Hope is the precious gift we give ourselves. We must not let it die. It is time to turn desperation into contemplation. Then contemplation into computation. Add and subtract what you are willing to sacrifice, to and from what you are willing to achieve. Action, perseverance and stamina are our lights. Let us not become enslaved by despair and despondancy. Regret is the refuge of the unbeliever. Rather, let us embrace the struggle and join the fight. Freedom is worth fighting for. So with the clarity of a boxer’s bell, let freedom ring.