How to Make a Robotic Hand in 10 Easy Steps

Simple Saturday has returned - new and improved!

Check out this video inspired by Kersten Hamilton's most awesome Gadgets and Gears series. The robotic hand activity featured in the video below is part of the guide created for her newest book in the series, Ire of Iron Claw,  which will hit the market in July.  In the meantime, start reading the book that started all the buzz, The Mesmer Menace. While you're at it, check out the cool educator's guide that was created to compliment that book!

Y'all, this series is PERFECT for the bright child who owns a love of language, suspense, drama, and science! Just thinking about it makes me want to do a little hand jive!

Featured Guide of the Week - Not in the Script

Amy Finnegan’s Not in the Script (Bloomsbury, 2014) is a swoony, dreamy, delightful romp into the world of teen screen stars. Cleverly told in alternating points of view, I found characters Emma Taylor and Jake Elliot to be perfectly cast for their roles in the wildly popular television series, Coyote Hills.

Emma is stellar – on and off of the set. She’s an awarding winning actress in search of authenticity in life and, most especially, in love. Jake, a model of Abercrombie hunkiness, decides to step off the runway to join Coyote Hills television cast. His motive? His mother is disabled and he desires to be closer to her. (Who wouldn’t fall in love with a gorgeous guy led by a tender, loving heart?) Enter dastardly ego-charged leading man Brett Crawford; self-centered Rachel, the manipulative bestie; and paparazzi with piranha-like appetites and, my friend, you have the makings of a deliciously angsty drama!  

The Educator’s Guide reads like a Screenwriting 101 course. In it, students are presented basic formatting structure and terminology of scriptwriting. They are then led through a series of character analysis, plotting, and storyboarding activities. The culminating project is a book trailer starring the cast of Coyote Hills. Lights! Camera! ACTION!

Not in the Script is a fun read – the perfect balance of steamy and sweet. Feel free to download the Educator’s Guide to get a sense of the creative writing possibilities Emma, Jake, and Brett inspire!

Featured Guide of the Week - Girl in Reverse

It is no wonder why NPR included Girl in Reverse (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014) as part of their Best Books in 2014 list. Folks, this is so much more than a gorgeous cover (Isn’t it stunning, though?). Friends, author Barbara Stuber created a masterpiece. It’s powerful and tender, poignant and thoughtful, unbelievable and unforgettable. Historical fiction at its best. I swear.

Here’s a short synopsis of this great book pulled from Simon & Schuster’s website: Being adopted isn’t easy—especially when you’re seen as a national enemy. When Lily was three, her mother put her up for adoption, then disappeared without a trace. Or so Lily was told. Lily grew up in her new family and tried to forget her past. But with the Korean War raging and the fear of “Commies” everywhere, Lily’s Asian heritage makes her a target. She is sick of the racism she faces, a fact her adoptive parents won’t take seriously. For Lily, war is everywhere—the dinner table, the halls at school, and especially within her own skin.

Barbara gave me many themes to work with in this book– poetry, history, family, the need to belong, isolation, friendship, and more. These topics are explored in the Discussion & Writing Prompt Guide through discussion questions and in-depth writing prompts for grades 6 to 12. In addition, there is a list of linked research topics that add even more depth to the reading experience.

 And, I must say that partnering with Barbara on this project was a delightful experience. She’s generous and kind. It’s no wonder she penned such a remarkable book as this one. I’m honored to not only have created a guide for her, but to call her my friend.

 Smart NPR. They know a good thing when they see one, right?

Yay, Barbara!!!! I'm so very happy for you!