Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Top Ten New Informational Picture Books by Lorraine Brontë Magee

Even though today’s re-blog is aimed at elementary and middle school kids, I bet more than a few adults would like some of these books :-)

Nerdy Book Club

Last summer, I took a course at Lesley University called Exploring Nonfiction for the Elementary and Middle School Classroom. Through the course, I discovered that the world of nonfiction is one in which students become global citizens, amateaur historians, citizen scientists, and critical thinkers. As the literacy gatekeeper of my classroom, I made it my goal this year to connect my students with quality informational texts. As a brilliant blog series by Melissa Stewart tells us, informational books are just what our students are craving. Below, I’ve shared ten informational picture books that have captured my third graders’ interest this school year.

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe has helped my third graders think about their place in the world. Each page shows how kids from seven different countries get to school, eat dinner, or experience other day-to-day tasks. The author brilliantly includes pictures of the real…

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Seventy-Two

The Do-Gooder

Alexander M Zoltai


“I admire his commitment to purpose; but, I can’t stand him…”

Those words were said by the richest man in town, Jack Herrington…   I responded:

“Well, he’s never been disrespectful to me…”

“Sam Jaffe, you’re a tavern owner—what’s he got to be up in arms about with you? Give me another whiskey… Does he come in here?”

“Naw, I seen him around—shops and all…”

“Well, I just can’t trust a man goes out of his way to show off how holy he is…”

“Holy, Mr. Herrington? I’ve never seen him be that way…”

“Well… He better stay clear of me since that ruckus with the homeless folk…”

“What harm’d he do you, Sir? He took ‘em all in under his own roof…”

“I’m going to make sure the zoning board goes after him—illegal boarding-house or some such…”

“Why you got it in for him so bad?”

“Because… Any man does that much getting out of his own way can’t be trusted—it’s unnatural.”

“It’s only what the Church tells us…”

“The Church!? Bunch of hypocrites!”

“Mr. Hobsworth ain’t no hypocrite—he surly believes, deep down, what he does…”

“Ain’t natural—folks have to look out for themselves—what’s he going to do, help other folks so much he dies doing it?”

“And, what if he does, Mr. Herrington? What if he does?”

“You challenging me, Sam Jaffe!?”

“I’m just standing up for a really good man…”

“You poor fool… You’ll see who knows what’s right… I’m going to see him in jail or, at least run out of town.”

“Mr. Herrington, that just ain’t right!”

“You sure you want my business, Sam; or, you want my guns trained on you too?”

“Well… If it comes down to that, I’d say you’re the one can’t be trusted, not Mr. Hobsworth…”


“You heard me, Sir…”

“And, you’ve lost my business!”

Jack Herrington walked out of Sam’s tavern and began a campaign to deter folks from patronizing it.

Interesting thing about it all—folks loved Sam and Sam drummed up his own campaign to raise funds to help Mr. Hobsworth in his moral undertakings…

Mr. Herrington pushed hard, with lawyers, to subjugate the feared do-gooder…

The judge in the case wasn’t a patron at Sam Jaffe’s tavern—he wasn’t in the pocket of Jack Herrington—he wasn’t ignorant of the law and its purpose.

The richest man in town spent four months of house arrest for Vindictive Harassment…


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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An Interview With Writer Alexander M Zoltai


Alexander M Zoltai

Alexander M Zoltai is the author of the novel, Notes From an Alien; here is a link to his website:


Q: What is Notes From an Alien about?

A: Notes is the history of an alien family and the role they play in their worlds’ struggles to attain lasting peace and tranquility. It’s also about the final stages of a 500 year war between two planets that are in sharp contrast with each other; one a drippingly greedy Corporate world; one a completely superstitious Religious world. It’s also about a third planet that is, in its structure and function an Alien Being. So, there’s the ending of war, the beginning of peace, and the interaction of a number of different aliens. Ultimately, Notes is about what people can stand, how long they can stand it, and what they’d really rather have…

Q: What inspired you to write…

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Lucid Cleaning, or How I Learned to Write While Painting the Kitchen Cabinets

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

StacyMurison14_002FullBy Stacy Murison

It was too late. I had already unscrewed the hardware from the kitchen cabinets as well as the cabinet doors. I had painted the box frames. The primer dried uneven and gloppy in some places. I sanded. Worse. I sanded some more. Somewhat better. This was nothing like the This Old House videos on YouTube where painting the cabinets took only one weekend. My project was going on week number three.

I had only one thing on my mind this summer: writing. The hazards of my first year teaching three composition sections had been minimal, except for the volume of reading and editing of student work. All of that reading and editing (some 60,000 words almost weekly) left me only tiny fragments of brain space to compose and write my own essays. Summer was the payoff. Summer was when I would do ALL THE WRITING.

But my…

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The Power of Art by Renée Watson

Nerdy Book Club

I have always loved words.

When I was a child, I competed in spelling bees and I’d spend hours writing random words over and over just because I liked the way the letters looked together. I enjoyed reading, speaking, and writing words so much so that when I was seven, I wrote a 21-page story and was eager to read the entire page-turner to my mother after dinner. In middle school I was often asked to read the scriptures at church and I looked forward to Easter Sunday when we recited speeches in front of the whole congregation. By the time I was in high school, I was reciting my own words at poetry readings.

Words came easy to me.

But then, shortly after high school, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and for the first time I was speechless. I couldn’t talk about it or journal about it. But…

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