Tag Archives: Maggie Stiefvater


24 Aug

Last night I had the strangest dream. As often is the case with dreams, many details are fuzzy, but I remember the big ideas. I was stung by a bee on my lip on a family trip with my parents ( I seemed to be teenaged). My lip swelled, I needed medication, but I was about to get on a bus to go somewhere without my family.

Where do these things come from?

Regardless of the origin or details, when I woke up I thought about books in which insect stings play a significant role.

First, there is A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith. A short classic, it tells the story of a friendship that is interrupted when one of the boys dies from a bee sting.


An allergy to stinging insects runs through the four books of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series. The first book opens with a prediction of  Gansey’s death. We learn later of his allergy to wasps, which weaves itself through the four books


In Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything the main character, Madeline, is allergic to nearly everything and must live inside a carefully sealed environment.


Serious allergies are no joking matter. We had a boy with a severe peanut allergy last year and we needed to take precautions at every celebration. There are nut free tables in school cafeterias. I recall visiting a school several ago that had songs posted all over the halls, reminding staff and students that the school was citrus free due to a severe allergy.

This leads me to one of my favorite movies of  1976.


We certainly took it seriously as we swooned over John Travolta, but, looking at it 40 years later, it seems awfully melodramatic.

All good cycles must come to an end

10 Jun

There are many literary cycles,  groups of stories focused on common figures, often (though not necessarily) based on mythical figures or loosely on historical ones. You can listen to the four operas of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 15 or 16 hours.

It took 11 hours, 53 minutes, over about a week, for me to listen to The Raven King, the fourth and final book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle.


Goodreads Summary: Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

The book didn’t quite start out as I expected and some new characters were introduced, but I quickly recalled what had gone on before and found myself drawn into the story. The ending was and was not what I predicted, since my predictions changed from chapter to chapter.And when the real solution appeared, it made perfect sense.

I am going to miss Adam, Ronan, Noah, Gansey,  and Blue. Although the ending leaves their futures open, I somehow don’t thing Stiefvater will return to these characters.

You can listen to all four books in The Raven Cycle in about 46 hours.


All four books are narrated by the actor Will Patton, whose voice is the perfect vehicle for the series, set in rural Virginia. If you are looking for a summer literary adventure, this might be a journey you will enjoy.

Semper ubi sub ubi

31 May

I took a year of Latin in high school. I would have taken a second year, but not enough people signed up. Mr. Glaessner, was my grade 9 french teacher as well as my  Latin teacher. He was a German, born in Czechoslovakia, and spoke several languages. On Fridays, we learned latin phrases and proverbs. Many were deep and meaningful (per ardua ad astra – through hardship to the stars) some were just for fun, like the title of this post. Translated it means “always where under where” but we knew it was a wise admonition: always wear underwear.

Yes, I am writing a post about underwear. There are two reasons for it really. we’ve had underwear on the brain in class lately because of our read aloud, Pip Bartlett’s Guide to magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater.


On friday we read a chapter in which Fuzzles infest underwear drawers of the good citizens of Cloverton. The kids laughed a lot and I love those read aloud days when you know you really have them. Reading this chapter was one of those days.

I also just read Polar Bear”s Underwear by Tupera Tupera.Polar Bear has lost his underwear and is on a mission to find them. With his friend, Mouse, he encounters several pairs, which are not his. Each of these pairs is first seen through a cutout.


On the next page, we discover the true owner of the underwear.


It is a bizarre book, but it works. I won’t tell you where Mouse & Polar Bear finally find Polar Bear’s missing underwear, but rest assured, they do.

Semper ubi sub ubi.

Fun with Magical Creatures

3 May

Friday Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce came to William Walker as part of their promotional tour of their middle grade novel Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures.


My class has really been into magical creatures this year. One boy draws and writes stories about dragons and many other students have created comics with characters who have special powers, like Fry Guy, a french fry who  encounters, then,  solves problems. Although they haven’t read this book yet (it will be our next read aloud) I knew they’d be interested once they got to the assembly, so we brainstormed good questions to ask before we went to the assembly.

Once we were there, Maggie and Jackson did not disappoint. They presented a lovely contrast, one dark, one fair; one looking at the bright side, one looking at the dark side.They had clearly practiced their presentation, which was fast-paced and engaging.

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Although they mentioned their book, they spent much of the hour-long presentation talking to the kids about how to create a magical beast.


Jackson posed questions to the audience while Maggie drew the creature they designed, the Snowplace Pole Deer.


Their goal was to inspire kids to develop their interests because you never know where they will lead. Jackson and Maggie nth told kids that, through writing, they are able to pursue interests they’ve had since childhood, just not in the way they imagined they would when they were 10 or 11 years old. And I think that is a powerful message.

Guess who’s coming to Walker

1 May

For the last few weeks I have been listening to Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle  books in the car.


They’d been on my “to read” list for a while, but Morris obligations and the HUB Challenge kept pushing them further down the list. Then, my principal got a call from Powell’s Books, which is just down the street, asking us if we’d be interested in an author visit from Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce who have collaborated on a middle grade novel. My principal asked me if I knew anything about these authors and I about burst. So, Maggie & Jackson are coming to William Walker Elementary School today.

They will be talking about Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures.


I will get my signed copy tomorrow, and will write more about their presentation over the weekend.

I will try my best not to go too fangirl, but if I do, I probably won’t write about that.

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