Author Kathleen Burkinshaw With a Discussion Guide for THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM.

One of the most timely and heart-wrenching middle-grade books I’ve recently read is THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw.  It is my pleasure to feature the Discussion Guide for this book that should be in every classroom.

 

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM       

Discussion Guide: By Kathleen Burkinshaw

1.Do you have relatives who were teens during WWII in the U.S.?  What were there worries or fears at that time? Were they similar to what the Japanese children felt? If different, how were they different?

2.Did you or someone you know have to deal with a new step family.  Was it difficult to meld the two households together? What made it easier? Did anything that made it easier surprise you?

  1. Yuriko, like many of us, hated change. How would you have handled the news about her family secrets, if it happened to you?
  2. Why do you think the author chose THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM for her title? What do you think it signifies?
  3. Cite specific examples from the book that show how protective Yuriko was of her Papa. Why do you think Sumiyo came to mean so much to Yuriko? How or when does this change occur?
  4. What aspects of Japanese culture were revealed in THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM?
  5. Which cultural details interested you the most? Which details surprised you the most of life in Japan during the war?
  6. How do you think the time period that THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM took place influenced Yuriko’s personality?

9.What did you know about Hiroshima Japan during WWII, before reading THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM?

10.Does reading THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM change your view on using nuclear weapons in the future? Why or Why not?

11.List the Statistics of Hiroshima and state which surprised you the most? Which surprised you the least? Why?

Kathleen Burkinshaw would love to hear from you. You can email her through her contact page on her website: http://kathleenburkinshaw.com/#contact

For more information on what nuclear weapons could do if used today visit:

www.ICAN.org

Also, for more information on Hiroshima bombing please visit the Kids Peace Station of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum:

http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/kids/KPSH_E/top_e.html

Instruction on how to make an origami crane, now a symbol of hope and peace:

http://www.origamiway.com/origami-crane.shtml

revised 9/2017

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A Book Festival to Remember

Saturday, May 5, 2018, I had the joy of participating in the annual West Deptford Book Festival held at the Riverwinds Community Center.

https://patch.com/new-jersey/westdeptford/calendar/event/20180505/334125/west-deptford-township-book-festival

Here are some photo highlights of the day:

2017-05-05 00.42.10 West Deptford Student summer theatre group sang songs for the spectators.

2017-05-04 21.44.39

It was fun sharing the day with PB author Patricia Lugo, and watching the kids dance to a band, get balloon critters, and face painting.

2017-05-04 21.14.20      2017-05-04 23.47.47

Sold a few books, and met many nice people.  Thanks to all who participated and attended.

YA Author Jeffry Johnston Presents: Curriculum Guides For His Popular Novels.

YA Author Jeff Johnson is my guest today to tell you about his books and teacher resource materials.  Here’s Jeff:

FRAGMENTS (Age 12 and up): A 2008 Edgar award nominee for Best Young Adult Mystery by the Mystery Writers of America, and a 2008 Quick Pick For Reluctant Young Adult Readers selection by YALSA.   FRAGMENTS cover

From the cover copy: Ever since the accident, Chase feels shattered. He can’t remember that night, and everyone’s treating him like a broken freak. He just wants things to go back to normal. So when he starts getting flashes of memory, he’s relieved. He’s sure once he remembers everything, he can put the crash behind him and start over. But then the flashes reveal another memory, Chase starts to panic. He’s desperate to leave his ugly past behind. But if he wants to put the pieces together once and for all, he must face the truth about who he is … and what he has done.

No discussion guide was created for FRAGMENTS.

THE TRUTH (age 12/13 and older): A 2017 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers selection by YALSA, and a 2017 In the Margins Book Award Winner by Library Services for Youth in Custody (LYSC).     Thr Truth cover.png

From the cover copy: When Chris wakes up in a dark basement tied to a chair, he knows that he’s trapped – and why. Eight nights ago a burglar broke into Chris’s home. Eight nights ago Chris did what he had to do to protect his family. And eight nights ago a thirteen-year-old runaway bled to death on his kitchen floor. Now Derek wants the truth about what really happened that night. He wants proof that his little brother didn’t deserve to die. For every lie Chris tells, he will lose a finger. But telling the truth is far more dangerous…

Here is a link to the Discussion Guide Sourcebooks had me put together for THE TRUTH: https://cdn.sourcebooks.com/assets/downloads/discussionguides/TheTruth-DiscussionGuideFINAL.pdf
NDC-L-TruthAuthor-0203          Besides my two YA novels, I have also published close to 40 short stories. I have written hundreds of articles on various subjects including feature articles on theatre, and I worked as a theatre and film reviewer. My next YA thriller, FOLLOWING, is due out Feb 5, 2019 from Sourcebooks.

Hug a Tree…And Celebrate Arbor Day.

We take trees for granted, so having a day that reminds us of their wonder and life-giving presence should be celebrated. Tomorrow – April 27, 2018 is ARBOR DAY.  Here are some fun facts about trees:

The tallest species of trees in the world include the Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Coast Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Australian Mountain Ash.

The Giant Sequoia is not only tall, it is also wide. Because of its amazing size, some believe that the Giant Sequoia is the largest living organism in the world!

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Trees produce oxygen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They purify the air we breathe. If it weren’t for trees, we wouldn’t be alive!

For more tree facts visit: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/plants/trees.html

For fun, printable worksheets about trees visit: http://www.kidzone.ws/plants/trees.htm

There are lots of picture books that honor trees.  Here’s one I especially enjoy.

THE LITTLE TREE by Muon Van (Creston Books 2015) The Little Tree

Visit this blog on Monday, 4-30-2018 for my poem honoring the Oak Tree.

Now, go outside and hug a tree!    tree hugHAPPY ARBOR DAY!

YA Author Joshua David Bellin’s New Book: ECOSYSTEM Blog Tour.

Today it gives me great pleasure to be a part of popular YA author JOSHUA DAVID BELLIN’S blog tour for his new futuristic thriller: ECOSYSTEM. I read the book and couldn’t put it down.  Here’s my review:

“ECOSYSTEM by Joshua David Bellin is a YA “cautionary tale” for our times.  Welcome to the Ecosystem. A future where the natural world of plants and animals are in charge. The Ecosystem has turned against humanity. Humans are confined to the rocks and dead places where no life blooms.  To survive, the Sensors – those chosen and trained to see, feel, hear, and know what the wild world is up to- venture into this hostile world, risking their lives to hunt for food and water to feed the village. Sixteen year old Sarah is raised and trained to become a Sensor. She journeys into a world where a false move or misstep will kill you. When Sarah’s own apprentice Sensor-in-training disappears into the Ecosystem, she ventures into it to rescue her.  The further Sarah goes into the forest, the more she realizes that it may take more than skill and knowledge to get out alive. This page turner will give you a new respect for the forces of the natural world. I’ll never look at plants or animals the same way again. A five star tour-de-force.  Can’t wait for a sequel.”

Details on how to enter the drawing for a copy of ECOSYSTEM are at the end of the post.

ECOSYSTEM: A New YA from author Joshua David Bellin

 

 Ecosystem cover.jpg

Seventeen-year-old Sarah is a Sensor, gifted with the ability to survive within the sentient Ecosystem that swept away human civilization centuries ago. While the remnants of humankind huddle in small villages of stone, Sarah uses her psychic connection to the Ecosystem to travel freely in the wild in search of food, water, and fuel. Sarah doesn’t fear the Ecosystem—but she hates it for killing her mother when Sarah was a child. When she hunts, she hunts not only for her people’s sustenance but for revenge.

Then Miriam, an apprentice Sensor, is lost in the Ecosystem, and Sarah sets out to rescue her. Joining Sarah is Miriam’s beloved, Isaac, a boy who claims to possess knowledge of the Ecosystem that will help their people survive. The harrowing journey to find the missing apprentice takes Sarah and Isaac into the Ecosystem’s deadliest places. And it takes Sarah into the unexplored territory of her own heart, where she discovers feelings that threaten to tear her—and her society—apart.

A thrilling fantasy adventure from the author of Freefall and the Survival Colony series, Ecosystem is the first book in a YA trilogy that includes The Devouring Land (2019) and House of Earth, House of Stone (2020).

Joshua David Bellin author photo

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher by day, he is the author of three science fiction novels for teens and adults: the two-part Survival Colony series (Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls) and the deep-space adventure Freefall. His new book, the YA fantasy Ecosystem, releases on April 22, 2018 (Earth Day). Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

Links:

Website: http://www.joshuadavidbellin.com

Blog: http://theyaguy.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheYAGuy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393959.Joshua_David_Bellin

Ecosystem on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39663460-ecosystem

Ecosystem buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Ecosystem-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07C2HDF9G

Ecosystem tour banner

Ecosystem blog tour link:  http://theyaguy.blogspot.com/2018/04/ya-guy-announces-ecosystem-blog-tour.html

Rafflecopter code: Enter to win a copy of ECOSYSTEM:

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6d6990c330/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”6d6990c330″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_vfuvngkf”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Flavors Feature Earthy Delights by Marilyn Ostermiller

Spring awakens fruits and vegetables from their slumber, providing us with local produce that’s crisp, colorful and bursting with flavor. Locally grown asparagus, sweet peas, scallions and rhubarb are the seasonal treats I most anticipate when visiting farmers markets or pick-your-own farms.   asparagus

 If you’re looking forward to spring produce, check with your state Department of Agriculture for an approximate arrival date. The list New Jersey posts is an example. http://www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/availability.html

 Fresh radishes, strawberries or spinach is a treat, but it’s also fun to incorporate them in your cooking. I especially like to prepare a quiche for spring brunch or lunch that incorporates asparagus, green onions and mushrooms. Recipes for spring quiche abound. Basically, you prepare a pie crust, or — my personal favorite — buy it frozen. Then find a basic recipe online that incorporates a mild grated cheese, eggs and milk or cream. Chop a cup or more of spring vegetables and saute for about five minutes. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of a mild shredded cheese on the bottom crust of a 9-inch pie shell, add the vegetables, pour the egg mixture over it and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until the mixture sets. Let it rest for five minutes, slice and enjoy warm. A simple salad and crostini or soup fill out your meal.  getPart

 About the time rhubarb is ripe, I start thinking about a pudding my great aunt from Denmark fed me when I was a child. This recipe comes close to the flavor and texture I remember. The Danish name for it is Rabarbergrod.

                rhubarbClean and cut 1 pound of rhubarb into small pieces and cook together with 2 1/2 cups of water 7 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add 2/3 cup granulated sugar when almost done cooking.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed first with a little cold water. Heat and stir until thickened and clear. Stir a few times while cooling. Makes 4 cups. Add a few drops of red food color for a brighter color. Serve chilled.

 Despite their bright colors, it isn’t always easy to convince children to try fresh vegetables. A book that some parents found helpful is Little Bento: 32 Irresistible Bento Box Lunches for Kids by Michelle Olivier. It’s a collection of recipes that offers bite-sized combinations of fruit and vegetables by season to prepare for school lunches. Published by Sonoma Press, it is available at Amazon.com

 Please consider leaving a comment about your favorite spring fruit or vegetable and how you prepare it.

Marilyn Ostermiller

 Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.