A Stroll Down Memory Lane

MBC recently had some surprising news for me; she reminded me that this year is my 35th birthday!  That’s right, it’s been 35 years since I popped into MBC’s imagination.

MBC often tells the story of how, in the spring of 1982, her mother-in-law, Dede Weldon Casad, suggested that she should create an armadillo character for children and write a series of books, using the armadillo to visit Texas sites and teach about Texas history and geography.

A few weeks later, MBC came face to face with an armadillo on the shores of Lake Bridgeport.  That encounter convinced her it was a sign……time to write about armadillos!  She visited the Grand Prairie Public Library and researched armadillos, aided by librarian Joan Dobson, and enlisted the help of two friends who were public school teachers, Ben and Juddi Gilmore.  She completed the manuscript of Bluebonnet of the Hill Country on her birthday, September 15…..so that date became my birthday, too!

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the beginning of the Bluebonnet Armadillo Adventure Series, MBC and I will be taking several strolls down memory lane, and sharing these with you.  We’ll be posting “the story behind the story” about each of the books.  We invite you to come along and share these special memories with us.

To kick-off our celebration, we have a special offer on this website.  The CD of MBC reading the first three original stories in the series, Bluebonnet of the Hill Country, Bluebonnet at the Alamo, and Bluebonnet at the State Fair of Texas, is offered at a reduced price, and includes a free study guide and bookmark.

Bluebonnet Audio CD

Bluebonnet Audio CD

MBC says this CD makes a great gift for teachers and librarians to use for story time in the classroom, and it’s also great for parents and grandparents to use for bedtime stories, as well as car trips.  Check out “Special Offers” on this website for details.  http://bluebonnetarmadillo.com/order-books/special-offers/

The original stories were illustrated by Pat Binder and published by Eakin Press.  MBC will be sharing more about these stories in future blogs; two of the stories have been revised and reillustrated.  The original Bluebonnet of the Hill Country and Bluebonnet at the Alamo books are now available only on Amazon. www.amazon.com

Bluebonnet of the Hill Country

Bluebonnet of the Hill Country

Bluebonnet at the Alamo

Bluebonnet at the Alamo

Bluebonnet at the State Fair of Texas is available from Pelican Publishing Company. www.pelicanpub.com

Bluebonnet at the State Fair of Texas

Bluebonnet at the State Fair of Texas

MBC and I are looking forward to our stroll down memory lane this year as I celebrate my 35th year.  Hope you’ll join our celebration, and remember…..”Keep reading and writing!”  Bluebonnet Armadillo

90 years of camping in the Texas Hill Country!

Waldemar StoryA remarkable thing happened this week!  Campers arrived in the Texas Hill Country for another fabulous summer at Camp Waldemar for Girls, which has been operating continuously since 1926. (www.waldemar.com)

Ora Johnson, the first woman principal of a major co-educational high school in Texas, had a dream of establishing a summer camp for girls on the banks of the Guadalupe River near Hunt, Texas.  Named for a Scandinavian word, Waldemar, meaning “Sea of Woods,” the camp opened in the summer of 1926.  Since that time, thousands of girls have attended, creating life-long memories and friendships.

From Ora Johnson, to her niece Doris Johnson, to Marsha and Meg Elmore, the camp’s owners and directors, Camp Waldemar has established traditions and legacies that are now a part of fourth-generation camping families.

MBC’s family first connected with Camp Waldemar in the 1940s.  Her grandmother, Mary G. Kelley, recruited campers from her home in Alexandria, Louisiana, chaperoned campers from La. to camp, was a counselor to the youngest campers and taught bridge for more than 30 summers.  Her mother, Nancy Kelley Oliphint, attended as a camper in the 1940s and was also a counselor.  Several other family members, cousins and nieces, also attended.

MBC was also a camper and counselor, and helped start the short-term camp in 1991. To this day, she cherishes her Waldemar memories and friendships. And, she claims she was first introduced to armadillos at Camp Waldemar, which you can read all about in “Bluebonnet of the Texas Hill Country.” (Can you figure out which part of the story is based on a true incident MBC saw at camp involving an armadillo?!)

Bluebonnet of the Texas Hill Country

Bluebonnet of the Texas Hill Country

http://wildhorsestore-com.3dcartstores.com/Bluebonnet-of-the-Texas-Hill-Country_p_107.html

MBC also edited “The Waldemar Story: Camping in the Texas Hill Country,” written by her mentors Sue Van Noy Willett and Carolyn Carmichael Wheat. http://www.shop.campwaldemar.com/The-Waldemar-Story-Book4.htm

The book covers the first 70 years of Waldemar’s history; 20 years worth of tales have yet to be told.  And new memories are being made every day!

So, what is so special about summer camp? Former Waldemar camper, Sissy Goff eloquently describes the importance camp plays in a child’s development and formation in this blog:

http://www.raisingboysandgirls.com/raisingboysandgirls-blog/the-difference-a-camp-can-make

MBC and I celebrate summertime and camping. We give thanks for our family’s long association with Camp Waldemar.  Here’s to 90 more years of camping in the Texas Hill Country!

Keep camping! Bluebonnet Armadillo

 

Everything Old is New Again!

Bluebonnet of the Texas Hill Country

MBC and I are pleased to announce the publication of the latest book in the Bluebonnet Armadillo Adventure Series, Bluebonnet of the Texas Hill Country, published by Eakin Press, Fort Worth, Texas.

However, this “new” book is actually a revision of an “old” book, the first in the series. Bluebonnet of the Hill Country was published 33 years ago this month by Eakin Press, which was at that time located in Austin.  Several years ago, this book went out-of-print.

But this story is foundational to who I am and where I’m from. It’s always the first story MBC tells when she speaks at schools and libraries. We had many requests for this book, and missed having it available.

So MBC took the original story, made a few tweaks here and there, and even changed the title.  Benjamin Vincent worked his magic with the illustrations, capturing the beauty of my native Texas hill country, and behold:  everything old is new again!

This story introduces my beloved parents, Mommadillo and Daddidillo, and my sisters Normadillo, Irmadillo and Arvilladillo.  It includes several facts about armadillos (did you know we can walk on the bottom of the riverbed?!) Readers will learn how I got my trademark blue sunbonnet, and of my desire to become a camper.  Of course, that’s when the fun and unexpected adventures begin!

We are grateful that Eakin Press, now located in Fort Worth, published this book just in time to coincide with a very special event, the 90th anniversary of Camp Waldemar in Hunt, Texas. MBC was first introduced to armadillos at Camp Waldemar, and several of the scenes in this book come from her childhood memories. Congratulations to Camp Waldemar for providing quality camping experiences and a lifetime of cherished memories to thousands of girls over the span of 90 years!

The books can be ordered on this website, or directly from www.EakinPress.com or from www.Amazon.com  Books can also be ordered from the Camp Waldemar store http://www.shop.campwaldemar.com/Bluebonnet-of-the-Texas-Hill-Country-BOOK6.htm

Hope you’ll read this tale of how I got my start in the Texas Hill Country as “everybody’s favorite armadillo.” (Texas Highways)

Keep reading and writing….and may all your days be filled with bluebonnets,

Bluebonnet Armadillo

 

Beautiful, beautiful Texas!

It’s springtime, and here in Texas, that means the bluebonnets are in bloom!  I’m proud to bear the name of the Texas state flower, and also wear my trademark blue sunbonnet, which helps shade my eyes on these sunny spring days.

I guess it was all those rainy days, however, that helped us have such a bountiful, bluebonnet spring.  Everywhere MBC and I go, we are finding lots of bluebonnet flowers……as well as quite a few Indian paintbrush and other beautiful wild flowers.

As we travel down the Texas roads, enjoying the lovely spring colors, MBC is likely to break into a song, one she remembers from her childhood:

Beautiful, beautiful Texas, where the beautiful bluebonnets grow,

We’re proud of our forefathers, who fought at the Alamo.

You may live on the plains or the mountains, or down where the sea breezes blow,

But you’re still in beautiful Texas, the most beautiful land that I know.

This song was written by Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, who served as both governor of Texas and a U.S. Senator.

Here’s a link to the song, sung like no one else can sing it……Willie Nelson!

 

May all your days be filled with bluebonnets!

Bluebonnet Armadillo

 

Young Audiences of Northeast Texas

MBC and I are pleased to announce our affiliation with Young Audiences of Northeast Texas (YANE). Here’s the story:

Celebrated Children’s Author Brings Joy to Students

Mary Brooke Casad joins Young Audiences of Northeast Texas

            Mary Brooke Casad, author of the celebrated “Bluebonnet the Armadillo” children’s books, will make her first appearance as a Young Audiences of Northeast Texas teaching artist in early March.

            Casad’s program, “The Adventures of Bluebonnet the Armadillo,” features the journey of the title character as she travels throughout Texas and visits the state’s most important historical landmarks. From the East Texas Oil Museum to the Johnson Space Center, Bluebonnet comes from page to stage in the form of a delightfully sweet and shy puppet, who, along with Casad, shares the importance of history with her audience. Casad’s program also highlights the importance of reading comprehension, storytelling, and appreciation of the writing process.

            Casad joins a roster of over 30 teaching artists who perform for schools and organizations across the Northeast Texas region. Since 1997, Young Audiences of Northeast Texas has been using the arts to enrich the lives of students and enhance their education. In addition to performances, Young Audiences’ also provides arts integrated workshops and residencies to enhance learning across the curriculum, as well as professional learning opportunities for area teachers.

            Schools or organizations interested in booking Casad’s program or any other Young Audiences performance can call (903) 561-2787 or visit www.yanetexas.org

Looking forward to our visits with young readers and writers, Bluebonnet Armadillo

 

Connecting and empowering children

51eKXE72wjL._AA160_MBC and I just read a delightful new children’s book entitled “Elizabeth and Stella Meet ZOE.”

What’s that, you say?  YOU haven’t met ZOE?  This is a special empowerment movement that began in Africa to help orphans learn how to take care of themselves.  Through education, through community-building, through providing basic tools, through sharing God’s love, ZOE helps orphans become self-reliant in three years.  Approximately 28,000 children are participating in ZOE programs in Guatemala, India, Liberia,Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The new book, written by Melissa Harrell, was inspired by her 2012 Trip of Hope with ZOE to Kenya. Melissa tells the tale of two young girls:  Elizabeth from America, and Stella from Kenya.  The story shows that their lives are very different, but connected through the ZOE ministry.  Both Elizabeth and Stella discover they are able to make a difference through participating in the ZOE empowerment movement.

Amy Burkhardt Fetzer illustrated the book with lovely watercolor illustrations.  Young readers are sure to be inspired by this tale of generosity in action.

Proceeds from the sale of the book go to ZOE and can be ordered at:

http://www.zoehelps.org/zoe-inspired-childrens-book-released/

MBC and I like books that connect children across the globe and encourage and inspire them into action, especially in action that makes a positive difference in the lives of others.  We heartily recommend this book for our young reader friends!

As always, keep reading and writing!  Bluebonnet Armadillo

Learning about computers

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MBC and I are well aware that children today know a lot more about computers than we do.  It seems that they start their computer education at very early ages.  To help them along, Dede Casad has created several books to help acquaint children with computers in a fun and compelling way.

Henry the Hard Drive and his friends, Monica the Monitor, Kelly the Keyboard, Mortimer the Mouse and Pete the Printer are a fun way to introduce young children to computer parts and how they interact.  Three different picture books offer adventuresome tales!

For older children, “The Oracle of Eden” chapter book follows the wanderings of Gail and Toby as they explore the inner workings of the computer—from the motherboard to cyberspace—and then find themselves trapped in the adventure of their lives fighting Visigoth, the Villian Virus, and his minions before the Oracle of Eden comes to their rescue.

The illustrations for all four books were created by Rod Keitz, and the books can be ordered on Amazon, and are available in both print and e-book format.

Children are learning to read and write on computers, so what better way to introduce them to the world of computers than through the fun and fantasy of these tales?

As always, keep reading and writing!  Bluebonnet Armadillo

 

 

The day the new books arrive!

FacebookBanner_Basic  The day the new books arrive at MBC’s house is always a BIG day!  This week, three new books were delivered to the front door, but they were not books about me and my Texas travels.  While MBC hasn’t forgotten about me, she’s most recently turned her attention to a series of a different kind.

MBC and her brother, Clayton Oliphint, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Richardson, Texas, co-authored the three books—Citizens of Hope, The Road to Amazing, Get in the Game—as a part of a Christian discipleship study, The Basics. The three-part series explores the basics of Christian identity, practice and service.

Designed for busy people, both new and maturing disciples, the books are written on a practical and personal level.  Each chapter is based on a scriptural passage, and is illustrated with real-life stories that help connect faith and action. Chapters are followed by a “reflect” session that gives readers an opportunity to write about the scripture passage, the major points of the chapter and their “take-away:” what they will most remember about the chapter.

The books can be used for small groups, Sunday School classes, all church studies, or for personal devotionals.  Leader Guides are also available for each of the three books to assist group facilitators and class teachers. Published by Abingdon Press, all six books are available at:  https://www.cokesbury.com/forms/search.aspx?txtSearchQuery=the%20basics%20series

I’m excited for MBC in this new writing endeavor.  However, I am happy to report that she has also been working on another book for the Bluebonnet Armadillo Adventure Series!  Check back on this blog in the next few weeks for an announcement about a new Bluebonnet book, coming soon!

In the meantime, remember……”Keep reading and writing!”  Bluebonnet Armadillo

 

 

 

Sleep tight….the Marines are on duty!

518XI4kctBL._AA160_One thing that makes MBC and me super happy is reading the books of authors who grew up reading the Bluebonnet Armadillo Adventure Series!  The latest one, “Goodnight Marines,” was written by Major David R. Dixon, and illustrated by Phil Jones.

Inspired by the popular children’s book, “Goodnight Moon,” this beautifully illustrated book highlights symbols of the U.S. Marine Corps that give both a historic and current view.  It’s a marvelous way to introduce children to the proud Marine traditions! The story centers on a young boy whose Marine father is serving in Afghanistan, which makes the book especially meaningful to children whose parents are serving in the military.  All children should receive a greater appreciation of those who serve to keep us safe.  The soothing, bedtime tale offers reassurance through strong ties of love and security.

“Goodnight Marines” is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Goodnight-Marines-David-R-Dixon-ebook/dp/B01A7YG0C0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1452301011&sr=1-1&keywords=goodnight+marines

MBC was thrilled to consult with Major Dixon as he began his journey of writing, since she’s a life-time friend of his mother, Bunny, and has known him all his life. And not only has Major Dixon just published a book, but he and his lovely wife, Jackie, became the proud parents of baby Juliette TODAY!  Congratulations to all the family!

We can’t wait to see the pictures of Major Dixon reading “Goodnight Marines” to his own daughter!

Keep reading and writing……and Semper Fi!

Bluebonnet Armadillo

 

 

 

 

 

Raindrops on noses!

 

 

51itjBlk4+L._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_We’re getting a lot of rain here in East Texas!  Which makes Pamela Haskin’s book, “Max, the Boy Raindrop” a very timely read.

Max is a shy raindrop who finds the courage to jump from the clouds by holding hands with his friend, Tony.  Max first lands on a man’s nose! But thanks to Tony, he learns that “the sun always helps us get home,” so that he can continue to have more adventures (rivers and waterfalls!) before it’s his turn to encourage other shy raindrops.

Pamela is both author and illustrator.  The illustrations were entirely created by paper shapes, showcasing Pamela’s artistic talents that she also uses in creating cards.  Published by Westbow Press, the book is available on Amazon.  AND….this book received the 2014 Writers’ League of Texas Book Award as the Discovery Prize Winner.  Congratulations, Pamela!

Now, MBC met Pamela last year when she was a featured speaker at a writer’s workshop.  Pamela liked MBC’s armadillo puppet (that would be me!) who was shy and whispered in her ear.  So she created a Max the Boy Raindrop puppet to use for her author/illustrator presentations.  MBC and I were thrilled and honored to learn we were the inspiration for this.

Yes, the “Max, the Boy Raindrop” book will be under MBC’s Christmas tree to encourage some young readers she knows to “keep reading and writing.”  Hope you’ll consider adding this book to your library, too.

Merry Christmas! Bluebonnet Armadillo

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