Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bad Luck Girl Blog Tour: Author Interview with Sarah Zettel

Please welcome Sarah Zettel to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Her amazing historical 
fantasy series, The American Fairy Trilogy, concludes with book three, Bad
Luck Girl.
About Bad Luck Girl: After rescuing her parents from the Seelie king at Hearst Castle, Callie 
is caught up in the war between the fairies of the Midnight Throne and the Sunlit Kingdoms. 
By accident, she discovers that fairies aren’t the only magical creatures in the world. There’s also 
Halfers, misfits that are half fairy and half other—half paper, half steel girder, half electric spark. 
As the war heats up, Callie’s world falls apart. And even though she’s the child of prophecy, she doubts she can save the 
Halfers, her people, her family, and Jack, let alone herself. Bad Luck Girl, they call Callie, and she’s starting to believe them.

The American Fairy Trilogy is historical fantasy. What about history inspires 
you to write?
That’s a big question.  I guess the first reason would be because history is full 
of people and people are endlessly fascinating and inspiring.  The actions of people 
who did big things, small things, good things, bad things, both, who survived, who failed to, are the raw stuff 
of stories.  Add to that a dramatic landscape, like, say, the Dust Bowl or Chicago in the age of Depression 
and jazz, and how could anybody fail to find inspiration?  Plus, I am very much interested in the way things 
work, and it’s only by studying history and trying to understand it that we find out how the present works, 
and how the future might work. One of the reasons I write is to learn, and writing about history is one 
heck of a way to learn about history.

What does it feel like to have your trilogy come to an end?
There’s a certain amount of relief.  It means I don’t have to work on it anymore.  For me, there comes
a point when, no matter how much I love a story, I just never want to see it again.  There’s a certain amount
of satisfaction as well, as there always is when you’ve finished a big job.  Of course, I’m a little sorry too. 
 I spent a lot of time with Callie, Jack and their world.  I had a lot of fun, a lot of frustration and I certainly
learned a lot with and from the process of writing these books, and it’s always hard to let that go.  

What are you working on next?
I always have more projects in the hopper than is good for me, or my long-suffering, hard-working 
agent. I’ve just finished the third book in my other YA historical trilogy: Palace of Spies.  Book #2 in that 
series, Dangerous Deceptions, is coming out this November.  I have a mid-grade book about a girl who 
finds unicorns and monsters living in the shopping mall her parents manage.  I’m working on another
historical YA set in Greenwich Village during the Red Scare.  Oh, and did I mention the thriller,
and the epic fantasy and…

What time period would you travel back in time to if you could?
Me, personally, I wouldn’t go back.  I like history, I enjoy the mental exercise of setting stories there.  
But when it comes down to it, the past is a messy, uncomfortable place where I wouldn’t have had 
many rights, not to mention conveniences like antibiotics and eyeglasses.  If I was going to time travel,
I’d go forward, maybe fifty years?  Maybe a hundred?  See what the future holds.  

Thanks to Green Bean Teen Queen for letting me stop by!

Sarah Zettel

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My First Digital Storytime

So this past weekend, I was proud to finally give my library's fist digital storytime. We've been working towards digital storytimes for awhile so I was thrilled to have the chance to debut them as part of our Summer Reading Program this year.

To set up the storytime, I used an HDMI cable to attach the iPad to a large screen TV. This was very easy to do and a great way to project the apps to the group. It also gave me an easy way control the apps without having to worry about running the apps upside down or moving the iPad around the room so everyone could see. It did make me a bit more limited in my mobility, since I was tethered to the TV, but overall I felt that it worked out well.

I decided to go with an animal theme for my first digital storytime. I wanted to use a lot of apps that were very interactive since my goal with our digital storytime is to promote the interactive nature of apps and the benefits of interacting with your child and screen time instead of using the screen and child alone.

Moo Ba La La La-Sandra Boynton-$3.99-I opened with this one and used the read myself option but used the animal sound effects and animations along with the story. The kids liked the animations and the story was a familiar, so it was a good opener and a nice way to ease into using a digital component. 

Five Green and Speckled Frogs-Software Smoothie-$2.99-I created a felt board story of this song (inspired by Cen Campbell of Little eLit!) and stored each felt board page in my photo stream. The kids were in awe of the felt board on the big screen and we counted each of the frogs at the start of each verse. They loved that the frog "jumped" into the water. I think this was my favorite app to use and I can't wait to create more felt boards on it. I'm terrible at crafts and making cute felt boards, so I think this is a nice alternative for non-crafty people like me.

-Animal Sounds From the Farm-Curious Circus-$.99-The kids love this app. I've used it in other storytimes as well as Digitots and it's always a huge hit. I asked the kids what the animal sound would be and then pressed the name of the animal and then the animal itself for the sound. The animation is simple and the animal sounds are wonderful. I have several parents ask me about this one and want to download it for themselves each time I use it.

Feed the Animals-Paper Boat Apps-$1.99
-Since I had a small group, I was able to have each kid come up and choose what food they thought an animal would eat. They were great about taking turns and loved having the chance to play with the iPad themselves and watching it project onto the big screen. This one does go to a "you earned a new sticker" page after several animals, but I just skipped past it easily. It also does have some ads pop up after awhile, but they're easy to close out of. 

Bunny Fun: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes-Rosemary Wells-Auryn-(available in Stories Alive, price unavailable) I first played the song and had the kids sing and dance along. Then I had them gather up by me and told them we could record our own version of the song. Using the microphone and record option on the app, I recorded the kids and I singing the song. I then recorded the kids themselves without my lead. The parents clapped and the kids loved that they were part of a performance.

Toca Band-Toca Boca-$2.99-I ended with Toca Band and again giving each child a chance to play with the app. Each child chose something or someone to place in the band and we listened to the song we created.

I was a bit nervous as to how the kids and the parents would respond to a digital storytime. Would the kids be engaged? Would the parents find it boring? I was very pleased with the response from both the kids and the adults. The kids loved watching the apps and familiar songs and stories appear on the big screen. They loved getting a chance to feed the animals and play with the Toca Band and interact with the iPad. And the parents really enjoyed that the kids got involved and they got to sample some new apps. Overall it was a great first digital storytime and I can't wait to do more!

Have you done any digital storytimes? What apps are your favorites?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mouseheart Giveaway

 About the Book: Hopper is just an ordinary pet-shop mouse—until he escapes. Soon he finds himself below the bustling streets of Brooklyn, deep within the untamed tangles of transit tunnels, and in Atlantia, a glorious utopian rat civilization.

But all is not as it seems. Hopper misses Pinkie and Pup, the siblings he lost in the escape attempt. Atlantia is constantly threatened by roving rebels who wish to bring the city to its knees. And there are cats everywhere, cats who would normally eat a rodent in a second, but leave the rats unharmed . . . and no one can seem to answer why.

Soon Hopper is caught in the crosshairs of an epic battle, one that spans generations and species. As the clashes rage, Hopper learns terrible, extraordinary secrets. Deadly secrets about Atlantia. Painful secrets about his friends.

And one powerful secret about himself.

If you work with middle graders, you know that animal fantasy is huge. My middle graders are forever asking for books like Warriors or Redwall or The Familiars. And now I can add Mouseheart to my list of suggestions of what to read next. 

This is the start to a series and it's full of adventure, action, great characters and a main character with lots of heart. I know my animal fantasy fans will love this one and I love that it's a series so they know more adventures are coming. 

And if you have readers who like the book, be sure to tell them to visit the Mouseheart website
The amazing folks at Simon & Schuster want to help get tweens reading this summer with a great prize pack of books! One lucky winner will receive The Search for Wondla, Mouseheart, and Belly Up (which was on our state award list a couple of years ago and my tween readers loved it!) If you're on need of some great summer reading picks, be sure to check out these books!

Want to win copies for yourself?

Fill out the form below to enter. 
-Contest ends June 11
-US Address Only
-One Entry Per Person

Imagination Designs