Arlene is on the SCENE

Posts Tagged ‘Arlene On the Scene

Arlene, the Rebel Queen was recently included in the Bank Street College of Education’s annual list of the best children’s books. The Children’s Book Committee’s 2014 list included Arlene in the ages 9-12 category and marked it as a great read-aloud choice for teachers and parents.

Bank Street logoBank Street College of Education strives to guide librarians, educators, parents, grandparents, and other interested adults to the best books for children published each year. In choosing books for the annual list, reviewers consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes.

Bank Street College is a leader in the field of education. Its programs include a graduate school of education, a premiere independent school for children, a head start program, and a family service center. Bank Street is unique in that it melds the clinically grounded knowledge of professionals with the theoretical abstract world of the researcher, and then tests that theory in practice and that practice in theory.

We are proud to be endorsed by such a prestigious institution!

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tiche.1Forty-six schools, eight states, 6600 students. The third year of the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation’s School Outreach Program was our best yet! From our home state of Rhode Island, to our current homes in New York and Washington, DC, and on out to Chicago and Dallas, we met our goal of reaching more students, teachers and parents than ever.

Our school presentations deepen understanding of disability as difference, something that can be embraced rather than merely tolerated or accepted. With our sequel, Arlene, the Rebel Queen, we added the powerful message that every young person has the potential to change the world. In fact, perhaps the young are best suited to lead us to change! With the addition of our Team CMT Kids program, we provide the opportunity for students to join with us in our mission to one day cure Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). Be sure to check out our new video of highlights from this year’s presentation.

Having presented at almost 100 schools since first writing Arlene on the Scene, educators are beginning to spread the word on the classroom potential for the Arlene series. We’ve received positive reviews from the School Library Journal, our Teacher’s Guide for Arlene On the Scene has been revised, and many schools have taken advantage of discounted class sets. Both books will also be assessed this summer for their reading levels.

We believe that awareness is an integral part of HNF’s mission to support those living with CMT. We have found that our children’s books and accompanying school presentations have resulted in increased understanding and support for our friends and family members living with CMT, as well as all of those we know who live with all kinds of disabilities and differences. That would include just about all of us!

We look forward to next year, increasing our reach even further. Don’t forget to contact us if you’re interested in a free school presentation in your area.

Thank you letters–

thanl-you-letter-(1)  thank-you-letter-(2)

…the day is finally here. Meet Bill and Pete!

That’s right, you can finally read my very first book, Bill and Pete Go Into Space. I have to apologize for my handwriting and how the words are a bit faded.  Those of you who have heard me speak know that I wrote this story BillPete.cover02262013_00000long, long ago, in the ancient times before computers, Ipads, and Microsoft Word. Copyright date is 1978, and I was just a mere nine years old, about the same age as many of the students I meet.

When I posted it on the site this morning, I re-read it. Yikes! It doesn’t sound very good to me now. Kind of a space-age version of David and Goliath, with a little hint of my favorite show as a kid, PuffnStuff, although way less creative. And wow, there are a lot of mistakes! Spelling, grammar, punctuation. Guess I had more learning to do.

So I’m a little embarrassed to put it up here, but then again, maybe that’s a good thing. One of my main points when I talk to students is that when the environment around us is supportive, when we are all practicing our empathy, I can feel safe in sharing my true self, in embracing who I am. And I love writing. Sometimes I’m not that great at it. So?

You can click here to read “Bill and Pete Go Into Space.” Like I said, I personally don’t think it’s amazing. What it could probably use are some PICTURES! If you want to send me your drawings, I would love to see them. If you say it’s okay, I’ll post them online. You can email them to me at carol at hnf-cure.org, or click here to email me directly, and I can send you an address where you could mail me a copy of your picture.

Go Bill and Pete! 🙂

Wow what a fun time we had recently at Fallsmead and Arcola Elementary Schools here in Montgomery County, MD. I spoke to over 300 students at each school and had a blast. At Fallsmead, many of the kids had read much of the book, so they were really into the story and character. I received amazing letters from them, with so many great questions for me! I’d love to answer them all, but I’ll answer the most important one: yes, I’ll come back as soon as the sequel is out. I have to drop off a copy for your library! Then I can answer any other questions you have. Don’t forget, you can always contact me here by email.

I have to send a special thank you to the student at Fallsmead who taped coins to her letter to be donated to find a cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. I gave that right to the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation. Thank you so much!

At Arcola, the kids and I had a great time! Of course, I wished I had known it was pajama day! But it was great to meet all of you, with your great questions and enthusiasm for writing. You had great ideas for the sequel–and prequel! I can’t wait to come back and drop off a copy of the sequel in March. Let’s see if it meets your expectations!

There is a movement afoot to make disability rights and disability history part of the standard curriculum. I just came across an e-petition that is making its way around the United Kingdom. California recently passed the Fair Education Act which requires the history curriculum to include contributions made by people with disabilities. As with other minority groups who are sometimes misunderstood and mistreated by the majority, teaching everyone about the history of all groups will only enhance understanding and respect.

And Marybeth and I were thinking the same thing! As you’ve read in previous posts, we’re currently editing the sequel to Arlene On the Scene. It should be available next spring (we’ll keep you posted!). One of the things we wanted to include in this book is a taste of disability rights history, so that students will be encouraged to research this topic and learn more.

Check out the sneak peek from Arlene, Rebel Queen below! (It’s unedited; please excuse any mistakes!)

Here’s the background: Arlene and her classmates were assigned a project in which they had to research a law that changed our country. Arlene read about the Americans With Disabilities Act. Of course, for her report, she did things a little differently. You know how Arlene loves to rap…

But first, after lunch, it was time for Jessie and me to do our presentation thing.  And my thing is poetry.

I smiled at the class, then went right into it.  By the end, they were all clapping out a beat for me!

“Let me tell you ‘bout a girl named Jennifer Keelan

You know she can’t walk, she got around by wheelin’

She made the prez and politicians feel a funny feelin’

When they watched her climb a hundred steps, all while kneelin’

At the top she gave a paper to some pol-i-ticians

Saying we got rights in spite of a disease or condition

Her picture made the papers, but in the late edition

And she forced the president to make a quick decision

Before the ADA was passed, it was a-okay

To treat disabled folks like they should just be locked away

But now malls, halls, clubs, buses, and cafes

Have to open up the doors that once blocked our way.

The words ‘We the People’ aren’t a mystery

We have rights, freedom and of course, liberty.

By making civil rights include disability

The ADA marked its rightful place in history.”

 

I’m ready to edit!

I get this question at pretty much every school I visit: Will there be a sequel?

I LOVE this question, because it allows me to shout: Yes! Yes there will be!

I’m working on it now, as I said in the last post. Very hard work, this editing. But for me it’s fun. I get to let my imagination go wild!

The students at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Maryland have offered up their help with the storyline for the sequel. Throughout the year, I heard great ideas from students, especially my buds at Washington Oak in Rhode Island (yes, I still have those scraps of paper you wrote your ideas on). But my friends at JDS actually wrote the first few chapters as a writing assignment!

Oh, they’re great, really great! So many ideas–talk about imaginations going wild! And I love all the cool stuff you put into your writing. I saw metaphors, imagery, hyperbole, just like we talked about. Many of your wrote about camp or the beach, with great details, proving that when you write what you know, it comes out very vivid! Some of you included other characters from the book too. Carlos made several surprising appearances. Some of you had Arlene falling in love (hmm, little early for that maybe? :)), and many showed Arlene in a real way dealing with her leg braces. You all certainly seem to understand the message of the book–gotta live it, but not let it take over everything!

I will gather all your papers and sit down at my computer to finish the sequel this summer, I promise! Stay tuned right here for some sneak peaks early next fall.

To my friends at JDS–thanks for all your ideas and hard work! Keep my email and write me! Let me know how your summers go and what’s happening next year. I’d love to come back and see you!

Feels like school’s basically out already for the summer, doesn’t it? In our house it does! It’s sunny and 90 degrees here in Washington, DC! So I thought it was a good time to wrap up the second year of our School Outreach Program, see how we did.

Well, we certainly hit our goals! The first year we visited 23 schools, and this year it was 30. And we ventured off the east coast! We went to Los Angeles and had a great time there. We spoke to 4000 students in all, talking about important issues, such as disability, self-image, the value of diversity, and the power of writing. With each presentation, students and teachers learn about Charcot-Marie-Tooth and the mission of the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation to support those living with CMT. And with each presentation, we highlight the importance of empathy, true understanding of each other’s strengths and needs, so that our classrooms can be bully-free and comfortable places for kids to let their true selves shine.

We ended this fantastic year with a visit to a great school nearby, Olney Elementary. There we encountered something that made us think of foreshadowing. All you third, fourth and fifth graders reading this, if you don’t know what that is, go look it up before you read on. [Insert my lame attempt to whistle…] You done? Ok, yes, foreshadowing. At Olney, we met this great group of kids who call themselves the Recycle Rangers…

Carol got to meet Olney Elementary School’s Recycle Rangers!

…and this made us think about foreshadowing (when an author gives you hints about what’s coming later in the plot). Turns out one of the main parts of the sequel to Arlene On the Scene is that Arlene and her friends start a recycling group at her school, just like Olney Elementary’s Recycle Rangers. So we asked them lots of questions. Authors have to do their research, even when writing fiction!

The sequel is our summer project. We’ve finished a draft, but as anyone who has seen our presentation knows, now the real work begins–the editing! Yes, this will take a while, but hopefully we’ll be able to get the sequel out sometime next year. Working title [insert drumroll]: Arlene, the Rebel Queen. Please, comment away! Olney kids gave it a thumbs up, but tell us honestly–does it grab you?

And don’t forget to contact us and get on the schedule for next year! Presentations are completely free of charge, thanks to the support of the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation, and we also donate copies of the book to the library of each school we visit. We’re only limited by the challenges of time and geography, so just let us know and we’ll try to work out a trip to your local school!


Free Teacher's Guide! REVISED for Common Core!

Teachers: Print script from "Rebel Queen" for classroom.

Download Extension Activity here

If you've heard of Bill and Pete, click here

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Arlene On the Scene is proudly sponsored by the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation.

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