Blogs

Three Amazing Endangered Animal Rescues!!

I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my new book with National Geographic KIDS: Rhino Rescue! And more True Stories of Saving Animals. The three animals featured in the book are Honey Girl, A Hawaiian Monk Seal, who got tangled in fishing line while she hunting for food in the ocean; Kuzya and Borya, two Amur tiger brothers from the Russian Far East who lost their mother at 3 months old; and a mother and baby white rhino named Kass and Draegon who were part of a daring airlift to move rhinos away from poachers in South Africa to a new home in Botswana. 

Rhino Rescue Kikds book written by Clare Meeker
Photo Courtesy of NOAA

I loved doing the research for this book.  First, I tracked down Amur tiger expert Dale Miquelle who lives many time zones away in the far east of Russia. He directs the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russian program  and helped rescue Kuzya and Borya.  I went to the Island of Oahu in Hawaii to research the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Did you know that there are less than 1200 of them left in the world and they are only found in Hawaiian waters? It was exciting to interview NOAA Marine Mammal Veterinarian Michelle Barbieri and scientist Tracy Mercer who helped rescue Honey Girl and nurse her back to health so she could be returned to the wild in record time. Last, and largest in animal size, was Kass and Draegon’s story.

National Geographic Explorers-in-residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert are the founders of Rhinos Without Borders  an organization whose mission is to save the endangered South African Rhino from extinction. Over 1,000 rhinos are slaughtered each year by poachers who sell the rhino tusks for money. The Jouberts came up with a bold plan to move Kass and Draegon and up to 100 rhinos to a safe wilderness home in a secret location in Botswana. Why Botswana? You’ll find out when you read Rhino Rescue!  

Available NOW at your local book stores or on Amazon.com

 

Calling All Parents, Teachers and Librarians

Calling all parents, teachers and librarians: Olive and Max are back!

I’m so excited to report that my National Wildlife Federation magazine series, “The Backyard Adventures of Olive Opossum and Max Mole ,“  has been republished as an ebook series on schoolwide.com

Each story in the series is built around fun facts about different animals that live in Olive and Max’s backyard. With humor and quick thinking, Olive and Max are there to help their animal neighbors solve problems as they hunt for food, shelter, and raise their young. Both illustrations and actual photographs of the animals are included to bring the nonfiction parts of these stories to life.  

SchoolwideSchoolwide.com offers all 26 of my stories as part of a huge library of free ebooks for download in the classroom to paying subscribers. It also provides webinars and other products and services. as part of its mission to improve students' reading, writing, and learning by supplying the tools teachers can use to teach effectively.  

Schoolwide Executive Editor Susan Tierney reports “Our first webinar series, The Guided Reading Webinar, is proving very successful right now and we anticipate more to come. There is so much you can do in the classroom with Zing as well, like the Personalized Learning Upgrade for example, which allows for classroom management, personalized interaction with students, and assessments."

Olive and Max Online eBookKids will love the interactive format, too.  They can actually hear the sound of the page turning as they read the story.  A glossary at the end of each story gives them fun facts to share what they learn with friends. 

Please check it out and let me know what you think

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Judy Blume

Childrens Author Clare Meeker speaks about Author Judy BloomIt was a love fest for Judy Blume at Town Hall in Seattle tonight. Seattle Arts and Lectures brought celebrity children’s book author Judy Blume who has a new novel for adults called In the Unlikely Event which is based on a true event from her childhood. It was a totally entertaining interview with Nancy Pearl and Judy who looks as young as ever and will forever be that courageous writer who wrote from the heart with great humor and taught us that nothing is taboo to write about when you have a good story to tell. 

I was fortunate enough to take the first small-group writing workshop Judy Blume ever gave at a writers conference in Key West, her winter home, a number of years ago. I had just left the practice of law to be home with my children and had published my first children’s book when I took her 4- day class. Here are a few of the pearls she gave us:

- Keep a notebook when you’re writing a book for snippets of information and character description
- Write from the heart. 
- Don’t think about the audience when the story is first being created, but you will need to later to get it published. 
- You can’t write the universal book. It only the specific story that will work. 
- Begin your story on the day when something different happens.
- Criticism should be honest but only helpful. 

Judy Blooms book. Author Clare Meeker

 

Writing Workshop at Whittier Elementary School

For many years, I have taught writing in the Seattle public schools as part of Seattle Arts and Lectures’ award-winning Writers in the Schools (WITS) program. I typically spend two months working in an elementary or middle grade school with one grade level guiding them through the process of writing a story from idea to finished book complete with a colorful cover and chopstick binding. This year, I worked with third grades at Whittier elementary.

Here is a blog post about Teaching Story Structure using one student’s work as an example: https://salwits.wordpress.com  

Clare Meeker Childrens Author and the Third graders at Whittier elementary
(Above: Ms. McGrath’s third grade class with their finished books)

Clare Meeker Children's author and the last day of the writing workshop when students share their finished stories.
(Above: The last day of the writing workshop when students share their finished stories.)

 

Soccer Dreams Featured in King County Library System's LET'S READ Campaign!

I’m excited to share this video which features my Soccer Dreams book as part of King County Library System’s most recent Summer Reads! program. This great program brings books and special programs to kids in underserved communities throughout King County and I’m proud to be a part of it!

 

 

In-School Field Trip on Teamwork is a Winner

Clare Meeker in School field tripsA few months ago, I was contacted through my website by a PTA mom inviting me to do an In-school field trip on teamwork  for third graders at her daughter’s elementary school.
I was delighted to learn that Team Building was part of the third grade curriculum and that when she googled "Team building." my website came up.  

Together, we organized 3 teamwork-related activities for 110 third graders starting with a photo-illustrated slide show presenting 10 Tips on Teamwork based on my interviews with the Seattle Sounders FC coach and team for my children’s book, Soccer Dreams: Playing the Seattle Sounders FC Way. This included several volunteers from the audience who donned professional goalie gloves and dribbled a Fredy Montero-signed soccer ball to help demonstrate a basic teamwork strategy that the Sounders FC use, The Triangle Formation. 

For our next activity, we made soccer balls out of plastic bags and newspaper tied with nylon string. This, I explained, is the kind of ball that is used by kids all over the world to play soccer. No fancy shinguards. Even shoes are optional. All you need is a ball. 

Clare Meeker class in school field tripsOur third teamwork activity which took place in the classroom was a one hour writing and performance piece. Each student worked with a partner to create a Buddy Poem. First they interviewed each other to find out something they had in common - for example, they both like sports, or music. or video games. Then they created three stanzas, each coming up with every other line. I am always amazed how quickly they get engaged in the project and how excited they are to perform their poem in front of their classmates. Here is an example of a 3-some buddy poem from Ms. Shannon’s third grade class:   

We Are All A Little Crazy

I like to smack the ball in tennis. 
My imagination runs like paint over an open canvas. 
I like riding my horse through the meadows. 

We are all a little crazy.

I like to jump on my trampoline
My mind is like a gizmo where the wheels, gears and trinkets of my ideas are still turning.
I like to wash my horses in the rain in the barn. 

We are all a little crazy.

I love to play everything outside. 
My pencil flies across the paper as words are sewn together to create a beautiful story.
I love to ride across the jump cones in the rain int he wind. 

We are all a little crazy. 

 

Clare Meeker in school field trips are awesome fun.

Fun times with Clare Meeker, Children's Author and her in-school field trips

Here was a great note from Christine Strandell, Clyde Hill PTA: "Thank YOU for taking the time to come to our school two days in a row! You did a phenomenal job keeping the kids interested during the assembly yesterday. They truly had fun during the soccer ball activity too. I personally enjoyed your writing segment. I think the kids liked having the close contact with you; you made them feel special and their writing was also made special by you, which was evident by some of the writing I saw take shape and was shared. "

Fall 2014 Hugo House Class: Polishing Your Children’s Book Manuscript

Clare Meeker's Class "Polishing Your Children’s Book Manuscript" at Hugo HouseFall is a great time to pull out that manuscript draft and polish it up for submission to a publisher by the end of the year.  My six-week class will help you meet your goal in a nurturing and generative workshop environment. All genres are welcome, from picture book to young adult novels. The class will run on Thursday evenings from 7-9pm at Hugo House, a writers cooperative on Capital Hill in Seattle, starting September 18. Read more… 

You have a story in progress and maybe even a finished draft. How do you polish it for submission to a publisher? We’ll focus on strengthening story structure, dramatic tension, voice, and character development. Discover the right amount of detail and description to include for your target age group and the themes that will deepen your story and give it broader appeal. Students will submit one story in progress to the class and receive constructive feedback on their work from the instructor and classmates. For more information or to register, please contact Hugo House at 206-322-7030 or click here.

Clare Meeker Hugo House Class: Polishing Your Children’s Book Manuscript

Photo caption: Special guest Elizabeth George talked about Character Development in my Spring 2014 Hugo House Story Structure class. 

 

Buddy Poem Shout-Out

Clare Meeker Workshops Buddy Poems

Buddy Poems are a great way to jump start student writing in the classroom, especially for third graders and up.  As the name implies, students are assigned a buddy and collaborate on writing a three-stanza poem and refrain about something they have in common. Buddy Poems are writ-ten and performed to a beat.  Like hip hop music, they are created to be a performance piece. The workshop can be completed and shared in an hour. The quick time deadline is part of the magic that makes this workshop successful. 

How to create a buddy poem:
1)    Each buddy interviews the other to find out what they have in common, what they like to do. 
2)    Come up with a one-sentence refrain about about what you have in common.
3)    The refrain sets the beat or rhythm of the poem. It also can be the title. 
4)    Taking turns to come up with every other line, create 3 stanzas that describe and support your refrain. 

Here are examples from a writing workshop I did with 3rd Graders at Penny Creek Ele-mentary School in Everett, Washington this past spring:

We Like Peregrine Falcons
They look like eagles, without a white head.
Diving for their prey, whipping speeds of 200 miles per hour
Their sharp talons grab their prey.
 We like Peregrine Falcons.
You don’t see them in Washington State
They like to nest in high buildings
We both saw them on Wild Krats, a TV show that is realistic fiction.
We like Peregrine Falcons.
A raptor following you,
Their prey being pigeons.
Sharp talons accosting you out of the sky at speeds that will break your arm.
We like Peregrin Falcons. 

Fantastic Football
Throw the ball
making touch downs
doing exercises
tackling opponents
Fantastic football
Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers
Miami Dolphins
San Francisco 49ers
Fantastic Football
Russell Wilson
Golden Tate
Marshawn Lynch
Percy Harim
Fantastic football

We Like Reading
I like reading mystery
Scary, weird, and good endings
History and language
Real, true, and Sign language

We like Reading

Science, art,
Crafts, you can learn
Technology and religion
How humans are built
We like Reading
Jan Brett
Gertrude Chandler Warner
Clare Meeker
E.B. White
We like Reading
Dogs and cats 
The Box Car Children
The everything sign language book
We like reading.

 

Amazing sea otters capture our hearts.

My friend Mary Willard sent me this email from Alaska recently:
 
“I was camping at Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and the National Park Visitor Center there had your book Lootas Little Wave Eater for sale. It made me happy. We saw sea otters in Glacier Bay National Park and again yesterday on a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park out of Seward. They are so precious! One of the sea otters yesterday had a couple of gulls by it and something orange on its belly. As we got closer we saw that it was eating a Pacific octopus! Slurped those tentacles right down.”
 
 
Lootas Little Wave Eater at National Park Visitor Center in AlaskaWho can resist this adorable mug? The Lootas book tells the story of a one-month old sea otter pup whose life in the ocean off the coast of Alaska took a sudden drastic turn when her mother was accidentally killed by a fishing boat early one foggy morning. Sea otter pups cannot swim or feed themselves until they are at least a few months old. 
 
 
Lootas was rescued by the fisherman and flown the same day to the Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage. Within a week, they found a new home for her at the Seattle Aquarium where she was hand-raised by marine mammal specialist and now Aquarium director C.J. Casson and his staff. Sixteen years later, she is alive and well and a grandmother, too. You can watch Lootas and other members of the Aquarium’s sea otter family here on the Otter Cam.
 
 
How much does a sea otter pup eat? Sea otter pups need to eat a third of their body weight every day to stay healthy. So if a pup weighs 6 pounds, how many pounds of octopus, fish, sea urchins or shellfish would she eat?  What is Lootas’ favorite food? Crab legs on ice, of course!  
 
 
Otter Sea Lootas Little Wave Eater
 
 
 
 
 
 

Why Plot?

The Thinker: Thinking, "Why Plot". By Clare MeekerFor some writers, the thought of outlining the plot of their story sounds like a joy-killer. They’d rather take their idea or feeling and see what happens as they write. Others might say they don’t need a plot at all, like a friend suggested in a story she called, ”The Still Bunny.”  I prefer to plot first before I write and here’s why.

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