So, I drew a comic…

Date Night

Ditmars Mystery Theater

Many years ago when I was growing up my grandmother read me, my brother, and my sister pages from a book with no title and no author. We never bother asking about it because we were kids and assumed, wrongly, that every child had the same book. Years passed, we lost grandma, and grandpa fell ill.

We found pages from the stories grandma read in a manila envelope. Whether she left it in the desk drawer or grandpa put it there we never got the chance to ask.

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Having nothing to go on but words and titles from stories, Google offered few results. It took a few years before anything was found. I discovered the stories were from an author named Agnes Grozier Hebertson and the book was titled Sing Song Stories. There wasn’t much else and it was long since out of print.

It took another two years and the help of my librarian friend Sam Dailey to find a bookseller overseas with a copy. I am extremely grateful and hope these stories from my childhood help keep my grandparent’s memory alive and well.

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Book Review: Backstage by Jacqueline E. Smith

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Backstage

by Jacqueline E. Smith

4/5 stars

I’m easily distracted, but I could not put Backstage down. There were times when the narration could have been subtler and the antagonist more realistic, yet I loved the story. Much like in other books by Smith, the main characters have remarkable chemistry. Whether it is the adorable lead couple Sam and Mel or the hi-jinks of young boy band, Backstage left me wanting more. I can’t wait to see what drama (and new song lyrics) the next book has in store.

Book Review: Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015 by Maria Haskins

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Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015

by Maria Haskins

5/5 stars

There is something about a poetry collection that spans the entire length of your life. Maria Haskins has been writing as long as I have been alive and her talent is beyond seasoned. The passion, words, and emotion behind every poem are astonishing and mesmerizing. But perhaps her own words describe it best:

take me with you
take me even farther
away from the fire.

The Gnome Prince

I wrote a fairy tale for my students today. Enjoy.

The Gnome Prince

Gabriel was a poor gnome with a small garden. He grew it for a king and queen across the lake, but his heart belonged to a maiden. She rode by in her carriage each week to court. The gnome tried picking up the nerve to throw himself in front of her horses, but feared injury and the rising cost of healthcare. So, he decided to impress her another way: with corn. But how?

The answer came in the form of a magic toad. He granted wishes in exchange for red hats. Gabriel could wish for the most mesmerizing corn in the land and win the praise of his fair maiden. The gnome had but one red hat however handed down from his grandfather. He hated losing it, as it was precious, but how many chances do you get at true love? Thinking of her flawless hands, he could not resist, and the toad was more than happy to oblige. He greatly enjoyed his collection of red hats.

Gabriel became overjoyed at the prospect of impressing the maiden and planted corn late into the evening. When the sun rose, his neck burnt and sweat poured profusely. It was not so easy missing his hat, but the gnome did not give up. Every time the maiden rode by in her carriage his love for her grew stronger. After many weeks his corn was as high and beautiful as any in the land. The maiden could not help but stop and gaze upon it.

“Oh, Gabriel, did you grow this corn for me?” She asked.

“Why yes, milady,” he replied. The maiden knew his name! Gabriel looked longingly at her.

“But,” she told him, “You need not sell your hat or burn your neck for corn. I have always loved you. Why do you think I have ridden by these past months?”

The gnome smiled as they climbed into her carriage and rode toward the kingdom. They lived happily ever after.

The End

Book Review: Lurking in the Deep

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Lurking in the Deep

4/5 stars

Lurking in the Deep is an anthology of water and fear. I enjoyed most of the stories, but had favorites: The Water’s Edge, The Reluctant Seamstress, Wrath, and Dark Waters were by far the most frightening. I enjoyed the dark twists and original plot in The Reluctant Seamstress, whereas the beauty of The Water’s Edge was something to be marveled. My only criticism is that though the stories are individually good, it felt there was too much emphasis on dark creatures.

Book Review: Borrowed Wings by Regina Puckett

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Borrowed Wings

by Regina Puckett

5/5 stars

It’s no secret I have high expectations for children’s books. I think they should challenge the young and old alike to interpret and feel a broad range of emotions. Borrowed Wings by Regina Puckett hits this on every level. The cover is brilliant, grabbing your attention, and the story is no less fantastic. The artwork and story are supremely touching. I’m 27 years-old and the tale of a mother and son dragon brought tears to my manly eyes. But I’m also a teacher and see great value in the lessons taught about the importance of love and family. You will love this book no matter what your age. I only wish it had gone on forever.

Hedwig and the Owlery Pt. 9

This is the ninth and next to last episode of Hedwig and the Owlery. There is only adventure left in our journey after this.  It has been a pleasure writing and reading your comments. Today Hedwig faces off with Lord Voldemort over Surrey during the Battle of the Seven Potters. You can find the last episode here. And the first one here.

Hedwig and the Owlery

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Image Source: Flickr

The funeral for Dumbledore and train ride home was a blur. She had written her own eulogy for Hermes but hadn’t brought herself to read it. The other owls had coaxed small parts out of her:

“A testament to owning humans…”

“The love of my life…”

“My dream owl…”

Hermes’ funeral had been a modest affair compared to Dumbledore’s. Fawkes and Francis flew his body high into the mountains with Hedwig. When they finished reciting his last rites Hermes was dropped into the clouds below. Hedwig’s tears froze on her face and she hoped that they reached him somehow.

She wrote a letter to Percy under the guise of a Ministry official. It would be believed as many owls had died during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower. Still, the dishonesty was heart wrenching. She wanted to tell him the truth about their love and Hermes’ bravery. She wanted to tell everyone.

After the train ride, Harry and Hedwig were soon alone for the first time at Privet Drive. Harry could not speak owlish, but he saw the pain glow deep within her amber eyes. “We’ve both lost something irreplaceable tonight,” he told her. She wasn’t sure if he meant Dumbledore or he truly knew of her love with Hermes. They had grown closer than she cared to admit over the past six years. There were times he truly felt like her owner and less a pet. Yet still, she doubted he had deduced anything of their romance, or Dumbledore had told him. She had never told the headmaster, after all….

The summer blazed by in preparation for the task ahead. Hedwig did not think and feel remorse as badly when she kept busy.

The Battle of the Seven Potters over Surrey was Hedwig’s finest hour. Harry never realized, but she had perfected enchantments of her own. Killing curses and Full Body Binds did not miss the young wizard by chance. “Expelliarmus!” the owl yelled frequently as Death Eaters and Voldemort approached. It did not have the intended effect but greatly slowed his advance.

“Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort shouted. Harry’s wand preformed magic he did not know. Hedwig however was fully aware. She had practiced defensive magic with his wand while he slept. She held it in her beak, increasing its defenses. Now, through absorbing the skills of Voldemort and her owlish magic, the wand was more than match for danger. Voldemort was stunned as he should have been: he underestimated owls as most everyone else did. Harry seemed to put more stock in the magic of house elves than her.

Gold sparks connected their wands and Hedwig felt a spark of pride and vindication, if not anticipation for the end result. The plan had worked; others were hurt but she protected her pet in the face of great danger.

There was only one problem: Hedwig had to sacrifice herself for him: the rat-haired scamp she was once despised. He was her responsibility and despite everything she cared for him. The power of sacrificial love could save Harry as it had before. None of the Death Eater’s magic would be binding, though it was already too late for George and Mad-Eye Moody.

She flapped her wings and hooted loudly, drawing attention to herself. It would not be long now. Death might be easier than life. She could see her nest again and mother. Perhaps the suitors would come back and admire her plumage. Perhaps Hermes would be with her. Hermes… he was the hardest to remember. She thought of his eyes staring deeply into hers; the soft grip of his wings on her back… Soon, she might feel him, but it couldn’t be the same as before, when they had years and years ahead of them.

It was surreal as the blinding flash of green light hit her body. She felt both hot and cold at the same time. Her thoughts shifted from the shock of pain to Harry and then Hermes. She closed her eyes for the last time and felt Hermes holding her. She felt his tongue as the battle continued to play out. And as her body fell, it no longer mattered….

***

You can find the next episode here.

Hedwig and the Owlery Pt. 8

Welcome to the eighth episode of Hedwig and the Owlery. There are only two adventures left in our journey.  I will not say “do not weep” for not all tears are an evil. Tonight Hedwig fights dementors with Hermes. You can find the last episode here. And the first one here.

Hedwig and the Owlery

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Image Source: Flickr

Hedwig grew tired of Dumbledore’s inaction. Wizards and witches were disappearing left and right. Hedwig was determined her pet would not be one of them. She frequently patrolled the grounds, occasionally catching up with a dark wizard or two. They sneaked in regularly but with Hermes help they were dropped far off in the mountains. Whether trolls caught up with or not them they were never sure.

She had not been able to thwart Death Eaters entrance through the Vanishing Cabinet. The other wizards had distracted her and Malfoy had executed his plan to perfection. If only Buckbeak had flogged him harder his third year…. She would not have told him off as she did. In fact, she may have even cheered him on.

Hedwig knew she had to act. “I must go,” she told Hermes who had arrived to be with her earlier that night. “I’ll go with you,” he replied. She wanted to argue. She wanted him to be safe. “No, please, I can’t lose you…” Her amber eyes filled with tears. “It will be all right. Percy told me to look after, Ron.”

They flew out of the owlery toward the castle. Dementors had entered the grounds. Hedwig was not sure how they arrived but felt frightened nonetheless. Did they come from the Vanishing Cabinet too? It seemed unlikely, yet there they were, spreading fear and panic….

She became transfixed and forgot Hermes flew next to her. “It will be okay,” he told her gently. “We will act as each other’s patronus.”

They flew into the heart of the storm without fear. The Dementors were accustomed to the taste of human souls and could not understand what attacked them so viciously. Hedwig ripped the long cloaks from their shoulders as Hermes scratched their gaping face holes. It was agonizing and the wizards below felt nothing of despair.

“We’ve done it, my feathery beauty!” Hermes shouted and embraced Hedwig. She kissed him as she had at the Quidditch pitch. Their beaks and small tongues interlocked in bliss. It was utter and complete perfection. Hedwig did not realize something was wrong until their wings parted….

Hermes was in free-fall. She rushed to catch him with all the poise of a seeker. Had someone hit him with a spell? What dark magic had dementors worked in their last breaths? It couldn’t be real; they had beaten them together. Hedwig caught him before hitting the ground, but only just.

“What happened?” Hedwig asked.

“Someone shot a spell, I don’t know from where…”

“Hermes, are you hurt?” Hedwig could clearly see that he was.

“I’m injured badly. Can you get me to Hagrid?”

“I will,” she said. Hedwig dared not tell him what she already suspected. Flames rose high near the Forbidden Forest.

“Just in case,” Hermes told her as they began flying in the right direction, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Hedwig replied as her claws gripped him tighter. His eyes closed but she refused to accept it. “Wake up, Hermes. We’re almost to Hagrid’s. Wake up, please!” The flames from the hut already stung her eyes. It was too late. Hagrid fled into the forest as Harry chased Death Eaters. She couldn’t believe her eyes and knew despite her grief she must help the foolish boy. “Stay here, my love,” she said folding his wings over his heart. He looked peaceful in their last moment together. It was hard to leave him and become fierce against her enemies but her intensity did not suffer. Harry claimed to have seen Buckbeak attacking Severus Snape, but it had not been the hippogriff.

Hedwig thought of the memories torn away from her as she clawed and pecked Snape’s greasy hair. Whether or not he cast the curse, they were all responsible. Hedwig didn’t care if it made sense. After much blood loss and injury, Severus Snape soon reached the boundary and disapparated with the rest of the Death Eaters.

***

You can find the next episode here.

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