Extended Blog Break

Hello Pop Goes the Page readers! A couple different happenings have converged in both my work and my life, and I’ll be taking an extended blog break for the month of April. I will definitely, certainly, happily, and enthusiastically return to blogging on Tuesday, May 1st.

Enjoy the emerging spring…I will return when those beautiful May flowers are blooming!

Literary Landmarks

Fiction writers are famous for creating elaborate new worlds. But sometimes a book location actually exists in the real world! We searched for real locations made famous by stories (but not the movie versions of the books – sorry Hobbiton, New Zealand). Even more exciting….Katie has actually visited one of the more exotic locations, as evidenced in the above photo.


EAST 104th & FIRST STREET, NEW YORK CITY

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief brought Greek mythology into the 21th century and introduced scores of eager young readers to Greco-Roman gods, demigods, deities and other fantastical creatures. But before Percy Jackson knew he was the demigod son of Poseidon, he and his mother lived in an apartment complex on the corner of East 104th and First Streets in NYC. Cue the monster attacks.

Screenshot from Google Maps


THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

While we’re in New York City, we also want to give a nod to the Met, which featured oh-so-promptly in From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The fountain is gone, but you can still scoot under the Tester Bed if you manage to sneakily stay after hours!


SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN

Curious souls beware of the Superstition Wilderness Area! Located near Apache Junction, Arizona, it is also the setting of Missing on Superstition Mountain. This impressive mountain looms over its desert domain, which offers numerous hiking trails and the legendary Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. In the book, the mountain wields almost supernatural powers, which many locals claim is true.


MORIN-JI TEMPLE, JAPAN

We discovered this location while researching folks tales for a Pokémon event! While there are several variations of the “Good Fortune Kettle,” the common link is the beautiful Morin-ji Temple in Tatebayashi City, Japan. This is where the famous transforming badger tea kettle, or kama-tanuki, still resides. It’s a short walk from the Morinjimae train station to the 15th century Zen temple, and along the way there are signs that tell the story of the charming kama-tanuki.


SHERWOOD FOREST

There really is a Sherwood Forest in England! About 4 hours north of London is Sherwood Forest County Park, located in Nottinghamshire. Not only can you explore the paths that Robin Hood tread, you can visit the star of the forest: the Major Oak. The Major Oak is a Quercus Robur, or English oak. It’s thought to be over 800 years old and, according to legend, its hollow trunk was used as a hideout by Robin Hood and his Merry Men.


MACHU PICCHU, PERU

If you haven’t read Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas, find a copy, fast! Machu Picchu has been on Katie’s travel bucket list since she was young, so having it included in Addison Cooke’s crazy adventures through South America was a feast for her reading eyes. Located near Cusco, Peru, the 15th century Incan ruins are found high on a mountaintop overlooking the Sacred Valley. Machu Picchu takes some effort to reach, but it is well worth the journey. Or you can build your own temple and search for treasure.


MADHYA PRADESH, INDIA

There is some debate as to where The Jungle Book is set, but some scholars believe it was in “Seeone,” or the Seoni region in Madhya Pradesh, India. Rudyard Kipling lived in India as a child, but never actually visited the purported home of Mowgli and his animal family. Madhya Pradesh hosts 10 national parks, including Kanha National Park, which is where you can catch a glimpse of wild Bengal tigers like Shere Khan.


PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA

Anne of Green Gables launched Prince Edward Island, Canada onto the international literary scene. Adopted home of the precocious Anne Shirley, readers delighted in her adventures in the fictional island town of Avonlea. Cavendish is the real town where you can find Green Gables Heritage Place and immerse yourself in the world of Anne and her life on the farm. Nearby Prince Edward Island National Park offers gorgeous red cliffs, sandy beaches and tall dunes.


CATSKILLS MOUNTAINS, NEW YORK STATE

Raise your hand if you wanted to run away with Sam Gribley and live in a tree! My Side of the Mountain had generations of readers wishing they could test their survival skills. And perhaps score a pet falcon. We also want to give a shout out to Hatchet’s North Woods, Longleaf‘s Conecuh National Forest, Halfway to the Sky‘s Appalachian Trail, and Backwater‘s Adirondack Mountains.


SNÆFELLSJÖKULL VOLCANO, ICELAND

Jules Verne was the master of taking his readers on epic adventures, whether it was under the sea or around the world in 80 days. In Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Verne’s characters follow the directions of a runic manuscript and descend into the Snæfellsjökull Volcano located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland. Katie made her own pilgrimage to the infamous volcano, but was not lucky enough to find the exact spot to enter the caldera and witness an epic dinosaur battle.


KLICKITAT STREET, PORTLAND

Beverly Cleary grew up in a northeast suburb of Portland, Oregon near Klickitat Street,  home of her famous literary character, Ramona Quimby. Ramona, Beezus, and Henry Huggins (along with Ribsy the dog!) lived at Klickitat and 28th Street, just a few blocks from Grant Park. Today, you can find the bronze sculptures of the gang at the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children.


KING’S CROSS STATION, ENGLAND

You KNOW this one was coming. Young witches and wizards heading to Hogwarts must pass through the invisible barrier to Platform 9 ¾. Today, even Muggles can view the entrance! There’s a special spot at King’s Cross Station in London where you can pose with a trolley passing into the brick wall. However, before you depart on the local version of the Hogwarts Express, don’t forget to stop by the official Harry Potter shop for a package of chocolate frogs!

Cooking with Mousie

cooking with mousieLet this Sous Chef Souris help you make delicious pies! Your miniature kitchen has everything you need for creative baking – mixing bowls, wooden spoons, cutting board, rolling pin, pie pans, fresh felt ingredients, and, of course, matching chef hats!

We read Tiny Pie, written by Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman. Illustrated by Edward Hemingway (Running Press Kids, 2013). It’s past her bedtime, but little Ellie the elephant is hungry. She’s too short to reach the kitchen counters or open the fridge, but she can peep through that interesting mouse hole in the wall. There, she discovers a mouse cooking show in progress inside, complete with cameras and studio audience. It’s tiny pies, big flavor, for Ellie and her new mouse friends!

You’ll need:

  • 2 small boxes (more on box specifics below)
  • 1 cooking show sign template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 4-5 clear plastic sample cups
  • A piece of tagboard or brown poster board
  • Small pieces of brown and red felt
  • 4-5 blue mini pom-poms
  • 1 drinking straw
  • 1 snippet of bubble tea straw (approximately 2″)
  • 2 miniature aluminum pie tins
  • 2 paper muffin cups
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Grey and white construction paper
  • 1 pink mini pom-pom
  • White poster board
  • 1 white facial tissue
  • 1 piece of white tissue paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

cooking counter

The cooking counter consists of 2 parts. Part 1 is a 6″ craft box work counter (that’s where the sign template goes – don’t forget to add your name to the sign!). Part 2 is the oven. We used a 4.5″ “White Cupcake Box” from Oriental Trading Company ($5 a dozen) as our oven. Why? That cute little window in the top! It makes a perfect oven door. Add a 2″ bit of drinking straw as an oven handle, and you’re ready to bake!

Inside the oven, we fashioned a little shelf out of tagboard (poster board works too), and and added some red mirror board heating elements:

inside ovenOn top of the cooking counter is some patterned paper, as well as 4 clear plastic sample cups. 3 of the cups were stocked with pie fillings: red felt apple slices, brown felt chocolate, and mini pom-poms blueberries. The 4th cup is the mixing bowl.

To give the mouse chef a little boost, we had to add a tagboard “stool” to the back of the cooking counter. You can see it in the photo below, along with some twisteez wire hooks we added to the sides to hang your utensils (you can also use paper clips).

back of cooking counter

Here are more kitchen goodies:

kitchen utensilsThe cutting board and wooden spoons are tagboard. The knife is a little piece of silver mirror board with a black masking tape handle. Those two white circles are polyester batting “pie dough” for the mixing bowl, and the rolling pin is a 2.25″ snippet of bubble tea straw with a 3″ piece of drinking straw threaded into it.

The pies are mini aluminum pie pans with a circle of fabric batting dough tucked in the bottom. Top if off with some felt or pom-pom ingredients. The crust is a trimmed-down muffin baking cup top.

the pieThe toilet paper tube mouse is sporting a chef hat made from construction paper and a bunched up facial tissue.

mouse chefYour chef hat is made out of cardboard and white tissue paper. Instructions for making it can be found in this post. It only occurs to me now, looking at the photo. This chef hat TOTALLY needs a pair of grey construction paper mouse ears.

chef hat for mouse chef story time When the kitchens were finished and the chefs were ready, we brought out our camera equipment (learn how to construct it here) and filmed a number of pie-themed cooking shows. Chocolate appeared to be the pie flavor of the day. And with good reason, amiright? Nom nom.

cooking show