Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lost Chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Published

A lost chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral for the tender minds of British children almost 50 years ago, has been published for the first time.
Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryThe chapter, in Saturday's Guardian Review, with new illustrations by Sir Quentin Blake, was found among Roald Dahl's papers after his death. It was chapter five in one of many early drafts of the book, one of the best-loved children's books, but was cut from the version first published in the US in 1964 and in the UK in 1967.
In the chapter Charlie Bucket – accompanied by his mother, not his sprightly grandfather – and the other children are led into the Vanilla Fudge Room, where they face the sinister prospect of the Pounding and Cutting Room.
The chapter reveals the original larger cast of characters, and their fates, as well as the original names of some of those who survived into later drafts. Dahl originally intended to send Charlie into the chocolate factory with eight other children, but the number was slimmed down to four. The narrator reveals that a girl called Miranda Grope has already vanished into the chocolate river with Augustus Pottle: she is gone for ever, but the greedy boy was reincarnated as Augustus Gloop.
Dahl was living in the US after working for British intelligence at the end of the war, a successful author for adults - his 1960 collection, Kiss Kiss, went straight into the New York Times bestseller list - and married to the film star Patricia Neal, when he began writing for a younger audience based on the tales he was telling his own children. James and the Giant Peach was published in 1961, and by then the first draft of Charlie – in which the title character falls into a vat in a sweet factory and becomes a chocolate figure – had been discarded after Dahl's young nephew said it was rubbish.
Roald Dahl
He abandoned the book after his four-month-old son Theo almost died when his pram was hit by a taxi in New York, and the following year his seven-year-old daughter Olivia died of measles.
When he resumed work, his agent, Sheila St Lawrence, suggested that the workers should become "something more surprising" and added that she wanted "more humour, more light Dahlesque touches throughout". Violet Strabismus, nee Glockenberry, would become Violet Beauregarde, Elvira Entwhistle would return as Veruca Salt, and the mint grass meadow, the chocolate waterfall and the Oompa Loompas would soon appear in later drafts.
The book sold 10,000 copies in its first week: "He lets his imagination rip in fairyland," the New York Times said.The book has never been out of print and the UK editions alone are estimated to have sold more than 30m copies. It has been filmed twice, with Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp as the Wonkas, become an opera, and is also a current hit West End musical which opened in June 2013 and is now booking into late next year.
Like his first book for children, James and the Giant Peach, it initially struggled to find a UK publisher. Dahl blamed the publishers' "priggish, obtuse, stuffiness."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Richard Scarry’s Best Lowly Worm Book Ever! is Making Its Entrance

According to Publisher's Weekly and Sally Lodge, Richard Scarry’s Best Lowly Worm Book Ever!, a never-before-published book starring this Tyrolean hat-sporting character, will be released by Random House on August 26. 

The author’s son, Richard (Huck) Scarry Jr., discovered the manuscript and sketches for Best Lowly Worm Book Ever! in his father’s studio in Switzerland several years ago. Huck, an author and artist in his own right, decided to complete and color the illustrations for the book, which, true to Richard Scarry tradition, playfully introduces childhood words and concepts.

Photo:  Marco Pasini
The studio search was prompted by Neil Dunnicliffe, Huck Scarry’s editor at HarperCollins U.K., who asked him if he was aware of any sketches that his father, who died in 1994, may have done for any unpublished books. “I agreed to have a look around his studio, and in no time I came across a large, gray cardboard portfolio leaning against one of the legs to his drawing table,” he explained. “There were quite a number of sketches inside, but little that would be ready to bring forward as a book, with one exception: a book about Lowly, with all the texts typewritten and taped in place with rough, thumbnail sketches of the layout. The book looked pretty complete.”
Emulating my father’s style, and above all his sense of humor, is always a challenge for me, but I think I got it pretty right this time.

Mallory Loehr welcomed the new Lowly Worm adventure to the house’s ongoing Richard Scarry publishing program. “The rebranding of Richard Scarry’s beloved backlist titles has been a huge undertaking and we are so pleased with the outcome,” she said. “This new Richard Scarry title is an even bigger reason to celebrate, and that it is about Lowly Worm, one of the iconic Scarry characters, makes the celebration that much more exciting.”

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lift Off to Literacy: International Literacy Day (September 8, 2014)

Lift Off to Literacy
Help Your Students "Lift Off to Literacy"

International Literacy Day (ILD) is going interplanetary to celebrate the power of literacy around the world!

For this year's celebration, "Lift Off to Literacy," the International Reading Association has partnered with NASA and Story Time From Space to inspire a literacy habit in your students.
Our mission begins September 8, 2014, the day the world celebrates International Literacy Day and the transformative power of literacy. How can you participate? Pledge to add an extra 60 seconds of literacy activities in your classroom for 60 days. It's that simple!

Not sure what to do for those extra 60 seconds? We've got you covered! Sign up at our ILD website ( to pledge your participation and receive an activity kit of 60 fun, cross-curricular 60-second activities; by signing up, you'll be entered to win an out-of-this-world prize pack from NASA!
Official Poster
In addition, find other FREE resources to motivate and engage your students, including:
  • The official ILD 2014 poster, designed by Dave Roman (graphic novelist of the Astronaut Academy series)
  • A 60-day log to track your activities
  • A sign to announce your class's participation and inspire other classrooms to join the mission
  • Pre-designed banners for your personal or class blog and social media accounts
Share your participation by using #ILD14 on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, or any other social media platform you use. Follow what others are doing and find related resources on our ILD 2014 Pinterest board. We look forward to seeing photos, videos, and stories from your classrooms!
Won't you join our 60-for-60 mission?
Sign up NOW at!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Interview with Joni Klein-Higger: Musician and Author

It is my great pleasure to welcome Joni Klein-Higger to the blog today.  A talented musician and author, she and I are in the same writing critique group.  Please welcome Joni to the blog.

1       You are such a multi-talented person. Please tell us about your early music; how you began and if your use of the skill is different today.

 Thank you for your kind words, Nancy.  For as long as I can remember, writing songs came naturally to me.  As a child I used to make up little songs, whether it be about tying my shoes, going to the ice cream shop or jumping rope—there was always something to sing about.  I wrote my first completed song in high school and continued writing throughout college. 

Immediately after I completed my BA at Ithaca College, two songs of mine got “picked up”—one by the 60’s girls group, “The Shirelles” and the other by singer, Eddie Fisher. Unfortunately the songs they recorded never made it to the public, but for the first time I realized I was a “real” songwriter.  From then on I took a variety of songwriting and musical theater workshops in New York City and had the opportunity to work with some of the finest songwriters and musical theater playwrights in the country.

Since then I’ve had various artists, schools and organizations perform and record my songs and one of my retro songs was featured in the movie, PETUNIA.  When I had children of my own, my focus went from writing pop, ballads, rock and country songs to writing children’s music and children’s musicals. 

As far as my songwriting skills go, I spent many years honing the craft of songwriting and continue to apply all those skills to what I do today.  The main skill I am concentrating on mastering these days is trying to keep up with technology.  The music world has changed drastically since I first started out in the music business thanks to computers and home recording devices.  While I raised my children, I spent a lot of time creating musical works but little time keeping up with technology, selling and marketing my work.  This technological dinosaur is finally starting to catch up to music world.

2      What prompted you to begin writing books?

 Let me start by stating if anyone would have told me years ago that I would become I children’s book author, I would have thought they were crazy.  I was not a strong student academically in elementary school and high school, had little interest in reading and had no desire to write other than writing songs. I stumbled onto writing children’s books in 2003 when I was a Girl Scout Troop Leader.   My Co-leader was in charge the business and organizational aspects of the troop, and I was in charge of creating fun activities to help the girls achieve their badges.  Lucky for me, the girls chose to earn a literature badge, so I created an activity that involved each girl creating their own picture book.  The “blank books” order came in a package of 12 – let’s see, 12 books, ten Girl Scouts, two troop leaders, two books left over—my first picture book awaited me.  I decided to write and illustrate a book about my beautiful Girl Scout troop (which included my daughter, Sara, who later illustrated covers for two of my published musicals), and entitled it “A Rainbow Of Friendship.”  FYI, it only took ten years of revising that Rainbow Of Friendship manuscript, until it finally got picked up by Guardian Angel Publishing—it should be released by the end of this year.

The first book I actually had published was based on a children’s song I wrote called “Ten Little Latkes,” a Chanukah song I wrote for one of the preschools I was teaching at.  My latke song was picked up by Hachai Publishing, and with the help of Hachai’s wonderful editor, Devorah Rosenfeld, the song was turned into a children’s picture book called, Ten Tzedakah Pennies, released on Hachai Publishing in 2005. To this day this book is still used in many Judaic preschool curricula throughout the world.
3.      You have been successful in combining the printed word and music to make musicals for kids. Please tell us a bit about that.

In musical theater, each song needs to be an integral part of the story and story movement while establishing time, place and characters.  Because the children’s musicals I write are designed to be performed by elementary-school- aged children (not “for” them,) I try to keep the production time between 30 and 45 minutes, make the songs a reasonable length so the kids can easily sing them and try to incorporate fun melodies so the performers will enjoy singing the songs over and over again.

I also try to include an ensemble dance number so the performers can move around  during the musical, preventing stage boredom. For example, in my recently released musical, Recycle – The Musical, I have a dance number called “Rock and Roll With Me” that is a fun 50’s dance designed to combine the rock ‘n roll energy of the ‘50’s decade along with dance movements that are fun for the kids to do; as for story movement, this song introduces the modern day kids to the 1950’s kids while establishing a new setting and bringing new elements to the story—time travel.

Joni and fellow author Eileen Goldenberg
4     What’s next for you? Any more musicals or books for kids?  Can you tell us about them?

It has been an exciting year for me, Nancy.  My rhyming picture, Rainbow Of Friendship, illustrated by talented author/illustrator Eileen Goldenberg, should be released sometime within the next few months. It is the story of a red girl who moves from the comforts of her red town to Rainbow Row City, only to discover that friendship comes in many colors, shapes and sizes.
Eileen Goldenberg will also be illustrating I Have A Voice, a children’s picture book I co-wrote with Dr. Flora Zaken-Greenberg, PhD, that addresses Selective Mutism, an anxiety disorder that affects a child’s ability to speak. This manuscript was recently signed with Guardian Angel Publishing, so it probably won’t be release for another year or two.

And finally, another children’s musical, RED, which I co-wrote with the amazing Jane Tesh, should be released by the end of this year.  It is the story of Little Red Writing Hood, who turns Fairy Tale Land upside-down with the help of her magical pencil.  

5     How can you be reached to purchase your books or musicals?

If anyone is interested in purchasing any of my books, musicals or songs, they can find me at and will have access to all of my published works.

Thanks so much for interviewing me for your blog, Nancy. I am honored to be a part of it!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Eighteen Quotes for Writers from Hemingway

July 21 was the 115th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth. In his lifetime, Hemingway had a lot to say about writing.   Brian Klems, online editor of Writers Digest posted 18  quotes for writers on his blog,   I thought I would share them with you.  As an aside, my favorite quote is number 9. Without truth, a novel is incomplete.   Which is yours?
1. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.
2. If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.
3. For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

4.That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best – make it all up – but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.
5. Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.
6.  My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
7. When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
8 .Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.
9. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
10. There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
11. To F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.”
12. Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.
13. All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.
14. A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.
15. It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.
16. To an aspiring writer: “You shouldn’t write if you can’t write.”
17. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.
18. My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.