29 August 2011

Writing Stories: 10 Things You Know to Be True

This week the Four of Us have another assignment. This week a story assignment. (Now would be a good time to grab your journal and a pen. No journal? that's okay, just grab something to write on.)
Step into a library.

Look at all those books.

I   M   A   G   I   N   E

Each book represents 
a person's story.

This week we invite you to find your story.

We'll take it 
Step ONE:
Look around you.
Think about your life for a quick moment (or a long moment).

Step TWO:
Answer this Question:
What do you know to be true?

Write a list of ten things 
that you know 
to be true.
If you feel inclined, feel free to share in the comments below --but feel free to keep your list all to yourself.

24 August 2011

The Get Away Challenge

There's still time to get away this summer! In the Northern Hemisphere there are still weeks until Autumn officially begins. But what to do when you really want to escape (without leaving home)? How about hitting a little Science-Fiction or Fantasy?

Click the photo and
check out the list!
NPR recently unveiled the results of their Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books:
"More than 5,000 of you nominated. More than 60,000 of you voted. And now the results are in. The winners of NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey are an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary titles. Read NPR's list of Top Science Fiction/Fantasy Books.
So this week we want to know what are your favorites? If you need a little fantasy, a little sci-fi get away  --what books are your picks? Check out the list and tell us some of your own.

Please use this format for your comment: Book Title, Author and why you choose it for the Get Away Challenge.

23 August 2011

Junior Rangers Helping Keep Sleeping Bear Dunes "The Most Beautiful Place in America"

Guess what it feels like to wake up in the most beautiful place in America? Normal! That's because we live in Northern Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL), Winner of "The Most Beautiful Place in America", is in our back yard. Now the rest of the world is on to something very special...

The Legend of The Sleeping Bear, believed to be an Ojibwe story, goes something like this --as told by The Mom to The Sisters when they were little:
The Legend of Sleeping Bear
"A big, old sweet Mama Bear was enjoying the good life on the shores of Wisconsin when a forest fire forced her into the waters of Lake Michigan with her two baby bears. They swam and they swam and oh, how they would have loved Michigan, but sadly the two babes weren't strong enough for that powerful lake. Those babies tried to keep up with Mama and they almost made it, but they were too little and where their tired bodies gave in to the waters of Lake Michigan rose North and South Manitou Islands. What happened to Mama Bear?  Well, she did reach the shore of Michigan and laid her sad body down to watch over her babies, like a good mother does, and there she remains forever." We like to think Mama Bear watches over all who visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes and once you visit, we bet you will never forget the grace and beauty of Great Mama Sleeping Bear.
The Sisters with SBDNL
Superintendent Dusty Shultz
Last Wednesday morning we learned about the big win for our local economy --and the big lose for those who would like to keep this treasure a secret. We just happened to be in the sweet little town of Empire, home to the Sleeping Bear Dunes Phillip A. Hart Visitors Center. The Sisters being  Junior Rangers wondered how they could help the National Lakeshore with this newly found fame and thankfully Superintendent of SBDNL, Dusty Shultz, had a moment to share and answer a few questions:

The Big Sister asked Dusty, "how can a Junior Ranger help protect the National Lakeshore?"

Dusty: "By being a great ambassador for the park. And by that I mean when you have a chance to talk to people about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore talk about the very special resources that we have here at the park and how we preserve and protect them so that future generations can enjoy them as well."
She accentuated, "so that YOUR children and your children's children can still come to Sleeping Bear Dunes and enjoy the same things that you are enjoying right now."

The Little Sister wanted to know "mountain lions... are there really cougars in Northern Michigan?"

Dusty: "That's the $100,000 question! A great question! The reason is because we have received numerous, numerous reports of the cougars/mountain lions being in the area and some from very credible sources. But we haven't been able to find any physical evience of the cougar being in the area. We've done things like put up cameras in the woods where we would try to photograph and had some deer that were killed along the road used as bait, thinking it would draw the cougar into the area and we would be able to get photographic evidence of a cougar, nothing worked. We have done snags to try to collect hair, fur from the animal.. nothing there. We've even gone to look for scat. Do you know what scat is?"
What to do? Click here.
Giggles from The Sisters, as they respond the affirmative. 
Dusty concluded, "all of those things have not come up with anything physical that we can say 'yes, there are absolutely cougars in the area'. But, as I mentioned there are numerous reports in the area, so we like to advise our visitors to be careful, be watchful and enjoy the scenery when you are out there hiking, but there is a possibility (of cougars) we just don't know for sure..." 

How do you feel about the publicity? 
Dusty: "I think it is great. The thing we enjoy most about SBD and being here are the wonderful resources we share with the public --you enjoy them, other people have that same opportunity to enjoy it as well. To me, the 71,000 acres that encompases SBDNL is plenty of room for everybody! So, you go to the beach and it's kind of crowded, just walk down the shoreline a litttle bit futher, low and behold, you are all by yourself or pretty close to it! That is kind of remarkable. Go to one of the inland lakes and there are no houses or development all around some of those lakes which is pretty special. There is plenty of room for everybody, we are just going to have to disperse them, if we need to, but right now there is room, just enjoy and experience this place, because it is so very special."

Do you have a favorite spot? 

Dusty: "There are many... Empire BluffsThe Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and Glen Haven. We have some parks that are noted for their natural beauty and natural resources; we have some that are historical; and then we have some other parks that are recreational in nature. Sleeping Bear Dunes ties them all together and that is what makes this place so very special!"
What is a Junior Ranger? According to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore a Junior Ranger is:
"...someone who, after completing the requirements, promises to take care of Sleeping Bear Dunes and other national parks. The Junior Ranger program is a fun way to learn about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and about how you can help protect the park; just like our park rangers!"
Junior Rangers: A great free book and an amazing program 
from Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore
(The Sisters recommend it highly!)

Summer is not over, there are still weeks left --Autumn begins September 23, 2011. So, go ahead, find a National Park near you, click here! No nearby National Parks? No problem, try the on-line Junior Ranger Program, click here, get started and have FUN!

Take a moment and learn more! Have you ever visited Northern Michigan? There is no time like the present and the world could certainly use a few more Junior Rangers!

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore really is special and Superintendent Dusty explained, "there is room for everyone."

18 August 2011

What are You Reading RIGHT NOW! Challenge Summer 2011

Nice and simple: tell The Books for Walls Project what you are reading  --whether a newspaper, a magazine, a book-on-tape, or just a good old fashioned book.

Take a moment check out all of our challenges. Bookmark it and take a challenge whenever you have an urge to find or to share a good book or story: The Books for Walls Project Complete List of Challenges.

So, What are you Reading Right Now? Tell us in the comments below:

15 August 2011

A Parade of Bookish Cats and... The Cat has a Name

First we must thank everyone, The Literary Kitty Challenge provided endless inspiration. In fact we see that Cats and Libraries have long been connected, it seems our research is just beginning. And now when we visit libraries we have an additional question: Does your library have any cats?
Second, we have a name! Heavily influenced by Lakeside Shakespeare and going a bit further than T.S. Elliot's suggestion, "a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES" we give you The Cat's full name: 
Joseph Campbell 
(Her original owners, musicians Seth and May Bernard, thought her a boy and well, we didn't want to deny her --she does have a Joseph Campbell-y contemplative side.)

Last but not least, your photos! Thank you all, we had no idea how wonderful becoming cat lovers would be. Our laps will always be warm as we read and our hearts will always be connected to the world of Bookish Cats:

Mick and Monte loved The Black Cat Book as kittens. Photo credit: Robin K. Blum

Now they're older and have moved onto the bookshelves!
(Mick in red, Monte in blue)

Photo Credit: Robin K. Blum
Need a bookmark? Click this link to see what Monte and Mick use!

Allie reads anything she can get her paws on! Photo credit: Shanta Dickerson

Natty the Bookworm, reading one of her owner's favorite
books The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
Photo Credit: Maureen
It seems we are not the only book lovers who name their cats after Shakepseare!
Meet Iago, 2nd name Darth Little, 3rd name only he knows (read The Naming of Cats)
Here reading his favorite author: Stephen King.

Iago, brushing up on politics.

Iago, doing a little fact checking.

Iago, reading to the youngsters.
(Hippolyta would love to join him for story time.)

Iago, studying foreign language.
Photo credit for the "Iago Series": Phillip Kwik and Colleen Gilginas
Dewey The Library Cat 
Thanks to The Bean for mentioning Dewey we learned all about him and his book, quite a legacy! Is there a Cat at your Library? Click this link and learn about Library Cats all over the world!  
Our final bookish cat napping on The Mom's Bookshelf...
Hippolyta Hermia Helena Joseph Campbell Banquo MacDuff

Do you have a Bookish Cat? Send us a photo to info@booksforwallsproject.org, via Facebook or Twitter and tell us how to credit the photo! 

Be sure to take This Week's Challenge, 
why not take a whole bunch while you're at it!

11 August 2011

The Literary Kitty Challenge

 Focus, time to focus back on Books for Walls Project! Summer has been busy with helping Save Troy Public Library, going to the beach, planting our garden, enjoying Lakeside Shakespeare and now a new addition to the family... a kitten.

We need to get back to Reading Books and Writing Stories fun and Weekly Challenges --but the KITTY-- we cannot get our minds off the kitty. And then it hit us! The Literary Kitty Challenge! Cats and books have long been connected, their presence in literature endless, so why not combine them into a challenge. We are still working on a name for The Cat...

We have a bit of a tradition, we name our pets after Shakespearean Characters --in the fine words of William Shakespeare himself from Romeo and Juliet:
"What's in a name?

That which we call a rose
By any other name
Would smell as sweet"

Why is a name so important? Especially for a cat? T. S. Elliot, a famous cat lover, explains in his poem The Naming of Cats:
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
This week your challenge is to think about books and cats and names and then share:

  • cat inspired literature, 

  • famous literary cats, 

  • cat loving authors,

  • poems about cats, 

  • stories about cats, and 

  • while your at it, feel free to suggest a name, or two for The Cat, the newest member of the Books for Walls Project Family! We'll let you know what we decide on!

  • Now please, comment away!