I made these coloring pages somewhat recently, sharing them on Facebook a few months ago, but just recently added them to my site. These feature creature characters from my Creature Kingdom series — well, planned series. I have TheJourney of Digory Mole, and there are two others in the works, another illustrated story, Hyacinth Mouse and the Twirly Whirly Carnival and a longer book involving Digory Mole, a new sidekick, Willy Lee Otter, and lots more animal friends they meet along the way, including a group called the Busy Beavers Guild.
The coloring pages are not really illustrations from Hyacinth Mouse but they do feature some new characters that will be introduced in this book. I chose a couple of virtues as themes. Feel free to share with your children, grandchildren or other young friends.
Writer Lynn Murphy gives a completely different perspective on the classic Alice in Wonderland. Instead of Alice’s point of view, this story gives the point of view of all the other characters in Wonderland. Young reader Maddy falls into the story of Alice in Wonderland and then interviews all of the chief characters in turn. They all pretty much deny the Lewis Carroll version of the story.
As an Alice fan, I had mixed feelings about this one. I’m not entirely sure this is the version I prefer, if I have to choose only one. Even so, there were many things I enjoyed about this book, and many places that made me smile or laugh. This version of Wonderland has much of the “madness” taken out of it as well as the dangers while still holding on to some wonder and charm. I actually think it would be a preferable Wonderland to visit without worrying about having your head chopped off or more nonsense than you can handle.
I also appreciated that the writer was very familiar with the original, its classic illustrations and several of its more famous movie versions, making different references to these.
And though this is still a fantasy, there are also a few interesting true background facts thrown in such as how it is that hat makers were thought to be mad or in danger of becoming mad or how John Tenniel was inspired to draw the Mad Hatter.
All of the Wonderland characters that Maddy meets have long aristocratic names and have hidden talents and interests that are completely absent from the original version. The Mad Hatter’s name is Aldus Broderick Crookshanks McGillicutty-Smythe, and the White Rabbit enjoys oil painting. All of the characters are described in a unique way as to their appearance and manner of dress which doesn’t agree with either the Tenniel illustrations or Disney portrayals of the characters. They also express themselves in a way that seems appropriate to 1800s characters, although they are, apparently, aware of some modern trends and technology.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes.
“And, of course, I never miss the Zumba class the Mock Turtle teaches on Thursdays.” — the White Rabbit
When Maddy questions this, he says, “How else do you think we all stay fit enough for quadrilles and caucus racing?”
“I had argued with my mother that morning and then stubbed four of my toes on the front door” — The Caterpillar.
“Poor Carl, he is portrayed as a surly, unpleasant and unattractive sort of servant, when in reality, for a fish footman, he is rather handsome and keeps his scales clean. He never smells fishy either, which I assure you is a fine thing when your servants are of the fish variety.” — the Duchess
“Should you be surprised, having spoken to so many others, that there was no singing at the table of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat?’ Oh, it’s a song we all know, of course, but no one was singing it on that particular day.” — The Dormouse.
I’m so glad “Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat” is part of the Wonderland culture even in this version. The Dormouse interview might be my favorite part of this book.
Maddy tells the March Hare that kids today are not generally very interested in classic literature and, instead, enjoy Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants.
Finally, the Hare said, “What kind of writer names his character after unmentionables?”
I appreciate a lot of the nonsense in the original Alice as a kind of clever nonsense, but there is one scene in the original book which perplexes and bothers me, because it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose. That is the scene where a baby the Duchess is holding transforms into a pig. In this version of the story, what happens here is much more rational.
The croquet game in this book is still whimsical but without any abuse to animals, although I like to believe that the animals in Wonderland don’t mind participating in this silly version of the game. Also, all of the playing card characters get to keep their heads in Murphy’s version of the story.
At the conclusion, Maddy leaves it up to you which version you think is the true one.
In her afterword, Murphy explains that she is an art teacher at a K-12 school and that she was inspired to write the book after the school held an exhibition with an Alice the Wonderland theme. She discovered that many of the teachers and students did not like the book or Alice. Although she had always enjoyed the book, her mind began to imagine a different version of things.
Valentine’s Day may be past, but it is still February and you may possibly have an opportunity to pick up some discounted Valentine’s candy or just happen to have some left over. Here’s an activity you can do using conversation hearts that has a message about God’s love. You can do this with your kids at home or with children at Sunday school, children’s church, AWANA or Olympians. I’ve included the activity as a free printable download.
It’s a fill in the blanks puzzle using conversation heart candies where each of the answers corresponds with a conversation heart message. This was designed specifically for the Sweet Tarts brand candy hearts and the eight possible messages that they have: Cutie, XOXO, Love You, I Love You, Yes, Maybe, Kiss Me or Hug Me. It may seem strange that those particular phrases can fit into a Bible game, but you will see.
You may be able to sort through candies of a different brand and find ones with these phrases or even create little paper heart tokens with the phrases.
I will post the fill in the blank puzzle below in full. Scroll down to the bottom to download puzzle and answer key in PDF format.
Have children sit around a table. Give each child a copy of the puzzle sheet. Put a bowl of the Sweet Tart candies into the center of the table and some small paper plates by each child so they can take a handful of candy hearts to sort through. Have children race to put the candy hearts on the puzzle papers into the appropriate blanks.
Acknowledge the child who is first to put the hearts in the correct places. You will want to read the paragraphs aloud and possibly look up some of the Scripture references. You could even do a Bible Sword Drill activity with them. If you do this activity at church, give children little bags of candy hearts to take home.
Before you begin the game, explain a few things to the children.
Some candy hearts have several words on them. There will be a blank for each word, so “I love you” will be ____ _____ _____ and XOXO will be _____ _____ ____ _____.
Some phrases are repeated, so there isn’t just one of each phrase in the puzzle.
Be sure to look out for punctuation. The first sentence ends with three blanks followed by a period. Then, there is another blank, the start of a new sentence, followed by a comma.
Phrases: Cutie, XOXO, Love You, I Love You, Yes, Maybe, Kiss Me or Hug Me
______ (s) ________ . _____, He does. He says so many times in the
Bible such as in John 3:16. Reading certain parts of the Bible is
like reading a Valentine from God and getting a big __ _______ ____
from Him. I may not feel him ______ ______ or _______ ________, but I
know He loves me and you too. He shows His love and care for us in
other ways, by protecting us from harm, providing for our needs,
answering our prayers, comforting us and giving us peace and joy in
times of trouble.
thought Sarah was a __________. The Bible says she was very
beautiful. God thinks you’re a ________ too. You were made in God’s
image (Gen. 1:27) and “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalms
people let us down and leave us in doubt about whether they care for
us or not, and, sometimes, leave us in no doubt that they don’t care.
There is no _______ about God’s love for us. God says, “I have
loved you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) He loves us in
spite of our imperfections and sin and even before we believed in
Him. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)
wants us to love others too that our joy might be full! (John 15:11)
This includes our friends, our family and others. You may not often
say “___ _____ _____” to everyone, but say a quick “_____
_____” to your mom, and she will love it. If you give her some ___
___ ___ ___, she’ll like it even better.
person might sign a Valentine, “_____ _____” or “___ ______
_____” or even “_____ _____ _____ ____.” Some of Jesus’ last
words on earth were to encourage us to tell others about Him, and in
that way, we share His love with others.
God love (s) you . Yes, He does. He says so many times in the Bible such as in John 3:16. Reading certain parts of the Bible is like reading a Valentine from God and getting a big I love you from Him. I may not feel him hug me (kiss me also acceptable) or kiss me (hug me also acceptable), but I know He loves me and you too. He shows His love and care for us in other ways, by protecting us from harm, providing for our needs, answering our prayers, comforting us and giving us peace and joy in times of trouble.
Abraham thought Sarah was a cutie. The Bible says she was very beautiful. God thinks you’re a cutie too. You were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) and “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalms 139:14)
Sometimes, people let us down and leave us in doubt about whether they care for us or not, and, sometimes, leave us in no doubt that they don’t care. There is no maybe about God’s love for us. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) He loves us in spite of our imperfections and sin and even before we believed in Him. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)
God wants us to love others too that our joy might be full! (John 15:11) This includes our friends, our family and others. You may not often say “I love you” to everyone, but say a quick “Love you” to your mom, and she will love it. If you give her some XOXO, she’ll like it even better.
A person might sign a Valentine, “Love you” or “I love you” or even “XOXO.” Some of Jesus’ last words on earth were to encourage us to tell others about Him, and in that way, we share His love with others.
I reviewed four books in the Tortoise’s New Adventure series, written by J.D. Parsons and illustrated by Tere. These are the continued adventures of the tortoise who beat the hare in a race. Although not too fable-like, they do teach lessons about friendship and getting along.
This story is not too similar to an Aesop’s fable, but the author makes it clear that the titular tortoise is the famous tortoise who won the race against the hare. He doesn’t race in this story, but he does play soccer on the beach with some sea turtles. Children will learn the difference between tortoises and turtles — something some adults may not remember — and also learn a more important lesson about friendship and acceptance. It’s obvious that some children have a lot of difficulty with feeling different from others or others being different from them. One sea turtle is nervous with the tortoise at first, but the tortoise and sea turtles then accept each other’s differences and realize they can still have fun together. Illustrations are very charming and will please animal-loving children.
Teddy T. Tortoise meets Eddy the Elephant. Eddy recognizes Teddy as the tortoise who beat the hare in a race. Teddy recognizes Eddy as a circus elephant who is now in the wild. Illustrations show other African animals. Teddy is slightly anxious about the elephant’s large size, but Eddy is able to reassure him that “elephants are steady on their feet.” Teddy the Tortoise plays a game with each animal he meets in the series, and, in this book, he plays cards with the elephant, which the elephant claims to always carry with him. It’s a sweet children’s book, promoting friendship and kindness.
This time, Teddy T. Tortoise makes a new friend when he helps a cat down out of a tree. What kind of a cat is it? It is a tortoiseshell cat, of course. The cat then introduces the tortoise to what seems an unlikely friend for a cat … a dog. The cat states to the turtle that it’s not that remarkable for a cat and dog to be friends and that the dog was friendly all the time. “He’s just that type,” says the cat. They wander around near a koi pond, and, since this is a book about friendship, the cat is only interested in seeing and not in eating any of the pretty fish. The cat teaches Teddy a new game, cat’s cradle. What else would a cat play? The story promotes friendship and helping others.
This time, Teddy T. Tortoise is in the rainforest and meets a chameleon. The chameleon must be a little like a mood ring, changing colors with his mood. I enjoyed the pretty illustrations of the chameleon, because he was often in my favorite purple hues. The chameleon introduces the tortoise to various animal friends in the rainforest. Children can learn about different types of animals and where they live from this book, but, hopefully, they will also learn about getting along with others and good sportsmanship. The chameleon, tortoise, and other animals eventually play hide and seek, and, of course, the chameleon is very good at this game.
At the end of the book, children are challenged to find all of the heart shapes in the illustrations. Teddy has a couple of hearts on his shell, and, even as an adult, I had to look through the book again to find all of the semi-hidden hearts.
You can buy The Tortoise’s New Adventure series on Amazon. See the links below.
In this fall season, as people put out their pumpkins and scarecrows, it seems fitting that I should read L. Frank Baum’s Scarecrow of Oz, book #9 in the Oz series.
As a child, I made several attempts to read the classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
One of my older brothers was and still remains a big fan of the movie, and he had a copy of the book. This same brother gave me a record of the movie soundtrack one Christmas. As a child, I discovered a stash of my then college-age brother’s childhood books in a storage crawl space. That crawl space became my “fort” and my secret reading nook. (One of my friends became fascinated with how the crawl space led directly into said brother’s closet, much to my brother’s annoyance, but that is another story.)
I think, at the time, I was disappointed with the differences I noticed between the familiar movie and the less familiar book. For instance, it is fairly well known that the ruby slippers are actually silver slippers in the book.
As an adult, I gave it another try and bought the full set of Oz books on my Kindle for $.99.
Even if you’ve only seen The Wizard of Oz movie and have not read any of the books, you will remember that the one thing that the scarecrow fears is fire. In this book, Baum seems to emphasize that nothing short of fire could really destroy the Scarecrow.
In this story, the Scarecrow stands up to King Krewl, a wicked king who rules over Jinxland. Jinxland is part of the Quadling country in Oz, but the land is divided from Oz by a Great Gulf and mountains. For this reason, King Krewl feels he can rule, although Jinxland is technically part of Oz and under the rule of Queen Ozma.
It seems that all that is needed to keep the Scarecrow a living being is for his head to remain intact. He stands up against King Krewl and is stabbed with spears. These only make holes in his clothing. Later, as he escapes Jinxland in the company of some characters new to this book, he is nearly drowned in a waterfall. The other characters discuss whether it’s actually possible for the Scarecrow to drown, and most think he can’t.
He can be weighed down with water. He can have all his straw tossed out because it’s “full of polliwogs and fish eggs” and get new straw, but, even in this condition, without any of his stuffing, he is still able to talk. His intact head is put on the shoulder of another character in order that the Scarecrow might be able to see and lead the way.
Although the Scarecrow is the hero and namesake of the story, he really doesn’t come into it until Chapter 13. At first, we are introduced to new characters from the outside world, a girl named Trot …
and her friend Cap’n Bill …
They enter magical lands through a whirlpool and, at first, have adventures in magical lands outside of Oz, including the land of Mo, where it rains lemonade and snows popcorn, already buttered and salted. It sounds a bit like Cloudy with a Chance ofMeatballs, doesn’t it?
Baum also introduces a new unusual creature called an Ork. I found this interesting because it sounds similar to Tolkien’s Orcs, although spelled differently. Then, I remembered I first heard this word as the name of a planet in the old Mork and Mindy TV show … Mork from Ork. It’s interesting to me that there are three fantasy uses of this word that are unrelated to each other.
The Ork is a strange bird-like creature with four legs like a stork’s legs, wings “like an inverted chopping bowl” that are covered in tough skin instead of feathers and a plume of red feathers on top of its head. It also has a strange tail like a propeller. Perhaps, because I’m not familiar with a chopping bowl, my mental picture did not match W.W. Denslow’s illustration.
The Ork brings Cap’n Bill and Trot into the Jinxland part of Oz, but first they eat some berries that cause them to shrink in order that they might be carried in Trot’s sunbonnet and not weigh down the Ork. They carry with them the antidote berries to make them grow back to their regular size once they reach their destination.
The Ork then finds his way back or Orkland but returns with a flock of Orks to save the Scarecrow from getting burned at the stake by King Krewl.
There is also a love story in this Oz book.
The gardener’s boy, Pon, is hopelessly in love with King Krewl’s daughter Princess Gloria. Gloria has another suitor, an old man named Googly Goo, who pays a witch to cast a spell on Gloria to freeze her heart so that she can not love Pon.
There is an interesting description of this spell, how Gloria turned transparent except for her heart which was frozen in icicles. It made me wonder how modern movie makers would depict or animate the scene. Under the spell, she is cold towards everyone, including Googly Goo.
Later, the Scarecrow forces the witch to undo the spell and does some magic which shrinks her size and turns her into an ordinary old woman without any special power. I wish there had been a different way of overcoming the evil, for instance, Pon himself being able to melt her heart.
There are places in the story where Baum seems to be simplifying the complications in favor of the good characters being successful and, even by a modern standard of writing, seeming to make the mistake of telling rather than showing what could be an exciting conflict, summarizing bits of action that could make the story more exciting. Even so, I enjoyed it.