Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Visiting the Wonderful Monatuge Library

Hello Everyone!

As you can see from the image beside this text, I've had a great time this week and it's all because of the awesome kids at the Montague Library and their super sweet Librarian!

Bringing Chapter Seven of "Beyond Imagination" I set out to spread a little bit of extraordinary-ness into everyone's day and was so pleasantly pleased to find lots of smiling faces and broad imaginations!

After reading to the children of the Montague Library Reading Program we had an awesome chat about special travels and how exciting they can be. I was so proud to find out that all our friends at the Library knew, just like Milo and Etta, that travels are very special and an opportunity to experience new things and make stronger bonds with our friends and family.

Later, everyone drew pictures of where Milo and Etta should visit next in the story! There was so many creative ideas that I left feeling super inspired for my next children's story! There were chocolate camels, a forest of candy apple trees, a King's castle, trucks and trains made of peppermint and licorice! It was easy to feel hungry for a treat or two after all those delicious ideas!

Check out a couple more photos of my visit below and don't forget that I'll be visiting the Souris Library on Friday August 16th!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Beyond Imagination - Chapter Six

It's no secret that I love art and colors, but this chapter put two of my other secret loves onto the page. I have a fondness for big, old houses (even if Milo would think they look a little creepy) and one of my very favorite animals is the badger. So there's definitely a big part of me invested into Chapter Six of the Summer Reading Program.

It's hard to imagine that we're already over half way through the story but it's exciting too because there's still lots more adventures and wonderfully wacky places and poppets!

Also, keep yours eyes on my Twitter and Facebook to see when I'll be making my Library visits this August!

Chapter Six

"Have You Seen My Missing Colours?"
Have you ever had that feeling that there's something right behind you?
Something that maybe you don't entirely want to see but know that eventually you'll just have to turn around and find out what it is.
Milo had that exact feeling and he didn't like it, not one little bit.
Maybe it was because Vance their Poppet guide had ran away as fast as his monkey feet could carry him...
The good news was that in the real world feelings like that just meant your imagination is running wild and it didn't mean anything.
The bad news was that in this world where nothing was quite right; Milo's sense really did mean something and before he could muster up enough bravery to turn around, Etta had already done so.
"Jumping Jackrabbits!" She said and the words came out like such an expression of shock that Milo couldn't help but turn around swiftly to see what made her so surprised.
Spread before them was acres and acres of grey landscape. The grass was grey, the leafless trees and thorny rosebushes were just as grey too. But most of all, there was a mansion of a house ten times taller than it really should have been that was the greyest of all.
With the landscape of colours from the forest behind them, everything looked even more dreary than it really was. Milo couldn't help but dislike it so much that he made a sour face.
"We're supposed to go in there?" He asked Etta, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear her say it just to be sure.
"Yup, we can't turn around now. Remember what the owl told us." Etta replied, taking a few little shuffling steps towards the big, spooky house.
A strange thing occurred as Etta crossed over into the gloomy landscape. Milo blinked over and over because he couldn't believe his eyes, but as Etta stood just a few feet away from him she had turned grey, just like everything around her! She looked just like that old cartoon his mother had shown him where a mouse captained a steamboat.
Running over to Etta, Milo found that he too had turned grey and was staring at his hands and arms in wonder.
"It's kind of creepy..." Etta said, looking back over her shoulder and swallowing hard.
"Yeah. I don't like it here. I wish we didn't have to go in there..." Milo replied, his little knees knocking.
"It's only scary because you haven't seen it the way it's supposed to be." A sage voice spoke just as two eyes peeked out from inside of a rose bush. Crawling out on all four of it's feet from the bush was a creature that had a cute little black and white face and had a body that looked like a forest animal. But of course...it was just another talking stuffed animal, a Poppet like all of the other creatures they had seen.
"You're a funny looking skunk!" Etta said, laughing a bit as the Poppet made it's way over to them.
"I am not a skunk!" The creature replied, turning up her nose. "I'm a badger and my name is Kate."
"Well whatever you are...What did you mean about not seeing things the way they're supposed to be." Milo asked, watching Kate as she looked worriedly at the mansion and then back to him and Etta.
"When a person is afraid of something it's usually only because they don't understand it or can't see it for what it is. Just like this place, it's only frightening because you can't see it properly like this..." Looking down ashamed, Kate the badger made sad huffing noise. "It's usually beautiful and colourful...I'm the one who's supposed to take care of this mansion but while I was taking a nap in the rosebush, someone stole all the colours away!" She sounded so sad and Milo was sure that if stuffed animals could cry, Kate certainly would.
Looking back around them, Etta seemed to be picturing something the way she held up her fingers like a frame. "It would look so cleverly charming with captivating colours!" She said.
Milo was tempted to ask her to say it again five times fast but hid his laughter and nodded in reply.
"We'll help you find them then!" Milo said, looking down at Kate and giving her an encouraging smile. He didn't quite notice it but knowing what the mansion was supposed to look like and wanting to help the Poppet had made his fear vanish.
"Oh thank you!" Kate said happily. "I'm usually particularly good at finding things; but it seems that I really do need help..." She admitted, leading Milo and Etta into the mansion where they would be able to search.
"Where are we supposed to find the colours anyways?" Etta asked, looking around at the endless staircases and doors that filled the house like a huge fun house maze. With the colour gone all of it's whimsical furniture looked a little strange but as long as the friends kept reminding themselves of what everything really was, it was okay.
The only thing now to think about was where they would ever find the colour thief in this great big place...
Maybe it wouldn't be as hard as it appeared though because looking at one of the staircases that wound like a spiral up into the house there was splatters of colours along the stairs.
It looked like someone had taken their paint set and dropped parts of it all along the way as they ran and so Milo, Etta and Kate followed that path.
It lead them to a long hall that stretched on with doors on either side that were all black and white and black and white and black and white.
But there came a dim light from the end of the hall, Etta seemed nervous to go after it and stayed back with Kate. The boy thought though, he considered smartly what the light could be and refused to be afraid of it, instead of worrying about what he didn't know he tried to understand it...
Which made the light grow stronger and stronger to his eyes until he could see something fantastic!
It was a rainbow of colors shimmering under the door! Milo ran for it in excitement, throwing the door open to find another badger poppet that looked just like Kate but the black stripes on her were white and the white ones were black.
Which was just plain confusing and silly...
"I found the colours!" He shouted, calling Etta and Kate to join in him the room.
"Amy!" Kate yelped out the name as she saw the other badger who was holding a crystal that was glowing with all the colours a person could have ever seen in their life and even more than that.
"You found me, sister!" The other badger poppet giggled wildly, hopping around on her hind legs. "Did you notice that I took all your colours away?!" Amy practically sang the words like it was a funny story or a joke.
No one was too impressed with Kate's sister's behaviour but when the badger came over to them and handed Etta the crystal it became obvious that she intended no harm.
"I'm sorry, it was just a game." Amy said. "You just have to break that crystal and everything will go back to normal. "Please forgive me."
"You're forgiven!" Etta said in a cheerful tone, taking the crystal and giving Amy a loving pat on the head before she turned and tossed the crystal to the floor. It didn't so much as break but instead slowly sank into the creaky floorboards like the house was absorbing it. As soon as the crystal disappeared, the floor started to turn pink and the walls green. Everything was gaining it's colours back like a light had been shined on them and a wave of paint had been washed over them.
Restored to it's original self, the house wasn't scary at all. It was the prettiest, finest and awesomest house Milo and Etta had ever been in!
"But where do we go now?" Milo asked, looking around the room and seeing only the way back out was the one they had taken to enter. The path on their journey had always been clear up until this point and it seemed like there was no where to go.
How could they get home without a path to follow?
"I think I can help you with that!" Amy and her sister Kate said exactly at the same time as they pointed to a funny looking orange and purple pinstriped grandfather clock in the room.

Beyond Imagination - Chapter Five

When I started to develop the Summer Reading Program for this year, it started with a series of images or almost painting in my mind that gave me the areas that Milo and Etta would visit. And honestly, before Milo or Etta even exsisted, this place that they visit in Chapter Five was an image in my mind.

Because of that, this Chapter was very special for me, making it a lot of fun to write and work with that initial concept and shape it into a part of this story which had grown so special to me.

Chapter Five

"The Forest of Giant, Giants"
After traveling across the ocean in a folded paper boat, it would seem that this adventure couldn't get anymore un-ordinary than it already was. But standing on the store with a forest of giants in front of them only proved to Milo and Etta that they were in a world beyond imagination and that defied any possible limits.
"If you squint a lot they kinda look like trees..." Etta said in a tone that was neither convincing nor certain.
"Not really." Milo replied solemnly before looking over his shoulder to ask for advice from Rupert the seal Poppet who had crossed the ocean with them.
But the Poppet was gone!
And so was their boat!
"I guess we can't go back now..." Milo groaned a bit. He wasn't very excited to go romping through a forest of gigantic people. "What if one of them steps on us?" He asked Etta, looking as uncertainly as a boy his age could possibly look.
Looking out at the crowd of people who made up the forest, Etta pouted a bit as she thought. They couldn't see who these people were because their heads were high above the clouds and she doubted that they would ever hear her or Milo; even if they shouted and threw a tantrum. So there was no sense in that.
"Well, they just won't." Etta concluded. "We're really small and they're really big which means we're super fast and their pretty slow. So we can make it through without getting stepped on if we're smart about it."
Well, Milo was smart. Or at least he thought he was smart. So maybe things wouldn't be so hard as they looked. Nodding at Etta he went up beside her and held onto her hand. He was nervous but didn't want to really say it so he would just hold her hand as they entered the forest. "Okay, we can do this..." He finally said, stepping forward with his friend into the shade of the giants.
From the inside, the forest looked impossibly more fantastic than it had from the shore. All the giants wore long pants so that they even covered some of certain ones' shoes; which gave the illusion of endless trees made from fabric instead of wood. A lot of them were plain colours like beige, navy, black or grey but there some that were cute and even hilarious! Pinstripes and plain stripes, flowery and frilly, pretty and preposterous. It made the place look very cheery compared to the overpowering exterior of the forest and that did wonders to banish Milo's fears.
Etta wasn't nervous in the least either, she was skipping between the giants and pulling Milo along as he tripped and bounced behind her.
"Wow, this is really fun!!" Etta shouted, causing an echo throughout the forest that made all of the giants start shifting. Both friends gasped right away and were sent flying as they tried to avoid a giant foot from stepping on them. They had been holding hands but had to let go of each other to both run away from the gargantuan shoes which made noise like thunder coming out of the ground.
When the giants finally settled down and the noise went away, Milo and Etta stood beside one another very still and very quiet. And in the silence of the forest, there came a noise that sounded familiar and strange at the same time.
"Did you hear that?" Etta whispered so softly that Milo had to strain to hear her.
"Yeah...it sounds like something I've heard before..." He replied. "Kind of like when I went to the zoo with my mom and we saw...the monkeys!"
And as true as can be the sound coming from a distance was the 'ooing', 'ahhing' and 'eeing' of a monkey. It didn't matter whether you've seen them in person like Milo or on television as Etta had before; there was no denying that it was a monkey.
"It doesn't sound very happy either." Was Etta's observation. "We should go see if everything is okay..."
Milo wasn't entirely happy about this since all he wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as his legs could carry him. But there was someone in trouble and so he agreed and the two of them pushed on towards the monkey in the distance.
Approaching the source of the noise, Milo and Etta saw that there was a monkey who had been trapped by a giant stepping on the tip of his long tail.
"Hey! Over here!" The animal called to them in a squeaky sort of voice that only a monkey could have.
Once they had reached the exact point where he was, it was no surprise to find that this was a Poppet, just like the rest of the animals that had met them on their travels.
"Vance is stuck! Vance in stuck!" The monkey told them frantically.
"Vance?" Etta asked, looking around to see if she could find someone else who was also trapped.
"I think he's talking about himself..." Milo said, looking seriously at the Poppet.
"Boy is right!" Vance yelped. "Vance is stuck!"
"Then we'll get you free!!" Etta proclaimed heroically.
"But how? If we shout the whole group of giants will move again..." Milo pointed out in a discouraged way.
Etta thought hard about what they could do and how her parents would get her to move when she decided to play a rousing game of stay in one spot forever and ever.
"Tickling!" She suddenly shouted, recalling how her father would often have to tickle her to make her move and ignoring Milo's protests she dashed over to the giant.
Ticking the giant's ankle, Etta giggled for effect but those giggles quickly turned into wild laughter as the foot of the giant lifted and she held onto it tightly. From where she was, Etta could see that the Poppet had gotten away and so, focused on making sure she didn't fall off of the wiggling foot.
"Be careful Etta!" Milo screamed up to her.
But she was having too much fun! "This is great!!" Etta shouted back. "YAY!" She cried in joy as the giant tried to shake her off. It all felt like a very fun ride at an amusement park, the kind that most people were nervous to ride except for the very brave or very reckless. Well Etta was made up of equal parts bravery and recklessness and so this was the perfect combination.
The giant was determined though and Etta couldn't hang on much longer. So with one last shake, Etta went soaring in the air and plummeting to the ground much quicker than anyone really should fall. But luckily they had made a new friend in the monkey Poppet and he was the one to break her fall. Landing on Vance was just like falling on a pillow and Etta was giggling gleefully when Milo came running over with concern all over his face.
"Vance saved girl!" The monkey said proudly as he stumbled around, dazed from having someone fall on top of him. It seemed that maybe she had knocked some of his stuffing out too because there was a tear in Vance the monkey's arm with fluff sticking out of it.
"Etta you're okay!" Milo cried, grabbing onto Etta and hugging her tightly. He had been afraid that she would get hurt or that they would get separated, it had never felt so good to have this crazy, giddy, noisy girl around. They were true friends after everything they had been through.
"Can I do it again!?!" Etta said excitedly as she returned Milo's hug. "It was so much fun!"
Milo shook his head and laughed as he wiped some tears out of his eyes. "No! Of course not, don't be silly." He told her.
They might have stayed there hugging for a bit longer but Vance was quickly running around them like a crazy monkey. He really already was a crazy monkey but when he was making himself dizzy by running in circles he seemed even more dotty.
"Giants are restless!" He told them, tugging on Milo's sweater and then on Etta's sock. "Run! Run!" And without saying anything else Vance ran and with such nervous monkey noises that Etta and Milo just had to follow him.
It turned into a mad dash as the giants stirred, each one walking together like one person in the opposite direction of Vance, Milo and Etta. The three had to jump, somersault and even hop from one giant foot to another in order to get out.
And once the trio had escaped from the giants and turned to look back at where they were going, they saw that all the giants were walking slowly and steadily towards the ocean where each one eventually stepped inside. No matter how deep it had been when Milo and Etta were looking inside the giants were even taller than that so even when the crowd was crossing the ocean, their heads were still in the clouds.
"Boy, girl and Vance made it!" Their Poppet friend said hopping up and down and waving goodbye to the giants.
"We really did it!" Etta said happily, looking at Milo who didn't seem to be watching the giants but was looking down at his shoes like he didn't want to turn around.
And for a good reason too, Milo had the strangest feeling that something spooky was behind them.