Author Meg Welch Dendler and I connected on social media some time back, so I am super-excited to feature Meg and her new middle-grade tale on my last post of 2017, Bianca: the Brave Frail and Delicate Princess. Please read on to meet Meg, learn more about her new tale, and find my review.
About the Book
Princess Bianca has never set foot outside the castle walls. Not once in her over-protected, pink, fluffy young life. But when a dragon is spotted in the land and fear spreads that the monster conquered the king and his brave knights,
Bianca realizes it is her duty to protect her kingdom.
But the threat to her people coming from beyond her safe castle tower is more dangerous and magical than she ever imagined possible, except in a fairy tale.
Bianca must prove she can be braver and stronger than anyone believes in order to find her father and save her kingdom.
Meet the Author
Meg Dendler has considered herself to be a writer since she won a picture book contest in 5th grade and entertained classmates with ongoing sequels for the rest of the year.
Beginning serious work as a freelancer in the 1990s while teaching elementary and middle school, Meg has over 100 articles in print, including interviews with Kirk Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. She has won contests with her short stories and poetry, along with multiple international awards for her best-selling “Cats in the Mirror” alien rescue cat children’s book series. At the Corner of Magnetic and Main is her first adult novel, but it won’t be her last.
Meg also works as an editor for Pen-L Publishing and gives talks around her area about writing, publishing, and editing. She’s a member of Cat Writers' Association, SCBWI, and the Ozark Writers League.
Meg and her family (including four cats and dog, Max) live in Arkansas.
Meg Welch Dendler‘s fractured fairy tale for middle graders follows an unlikely hero on her journey to save a kingdom and eventually discover her authentic self.
Along the way, she bumps into fairy tale characters who play against type, and that’s where the fun begins.
For instance, kindly witch Barb gives Bianca a gift of sardines instead of hexing the child. Fairies offer an atypical magic potion that Bianca graciously accepts but doesn’t understand its power until much later. And that dragon! I don't want to give away what it does, but this misunderstood critter warms my heart. The showdown between Bianca and the dragon is precious.
What parents will like
Dendler has a crisp writing style and dry humor. She uses fresh devices to move the plot forward. For instance, her narrative goes beyond internal thoughts when Bianca is alone. Dendler injects dialogue with her animal traveling companions, a memorable mule and cat, for narrative motion and humor.
Gracious me,” Nanny said. “What did you find on your journey?”
My favorite aspect of this tale is Bianca's stature as a strong role model for girls. She’s a princess who goes against type: Bianca doesn’t need rescuing, and she’s not pining away for her prince. Hers is a journey of self discovery you'll want every young girl in your life to emulate.
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This month on the blog,
I’m sharing cherished times
in a photo walk through my Christmas past.
I started by updating a piece about holiday traditions
I first published in 2017,
but honestly, nothing has changed much in four years.
(Well, except for Evil Covid!)
That’s a good thing to my way of thinking!
Please read on for a feel-good photo walk through five decades
to summon memories that may be ringing in your season, too.
Is it lighting the menorah? Hanging an ornament your child made on a Fraser fir? Baking Grandma’s special holiday cookies again? Planning a Kwanza celebration?
These joyous celebrations are the stuff of memories and become the traditions you pass down through the generations.
I wonder how holiday traditions start.
Maybe they develop based on where you live. For instance, I grew up in a coastal Connecticut town, an hour from New York City, that was a microcosm of diversity. My classmates had surnames that usually had an equal number of vowels and consonants. Their parents often spoke with thick accents of their native countries.
I enjoyed sleepovers next door at my BFF Elaine's house, where I learned about Hanukkah and devoured her mom's blueberry blintzes and latke.
I can't remember how we started, but Elaine, her brother (Michael Meatball, we called him. Don't remember why!), and their parents spent Christmas afternoon with us. While our parents chatted over coffee and dessert in the kitchen, we kids jammed our small living room to share Christmas and Hanukkah toys. How cool is that!
Other traditions develop organically. What begins as a good idea one year becomes something people clamour for the next.
I remember the first year Mama and Grammy Chris started baking holiday cookies right after Thanksgiving. Because we gobbled up those sweets almost as fast as they came out of the oven, we generated the need for an endless stream of fresh-baked cookies. Mama and Grammy Chris happily complied.
Another natural evolution: picking out our tree from the church lot and hauling it home to decorate.
We draped tinsel, strand-by-strand, over the branches (throwing tinsel in clumps was not allowed). Topping our masterpiece with an angel was always last. Making sure the dog didn't tip over the tree was constant.
Ooo'ing and ahhh'ing over outdoor Christmas decorations was another family tradition that started as Dad drove us home through quiet streets after the 7.30 children's Christmas pagent. We kids couldn't get enough of that magical Yuletide sparkle. In fact, Mama told me the first words I ever spoke were at Christmastime, when I was nine-months old and said, "Lights. Pretty, pretty lights."
Come Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to run downstairs to see what Santa brought, BUT I had to wait until my youngest sibling was awake. As oldest child, I almost felt sorry for the little ones I dragged from warm beds on many Christmas mornings.
Season of Changes
This joyous season is tinged bittersweet this year since we lost Dad in February and Mama before him in 2011. Reality smacks me. Our parents and grandparents are gone. Most aunts and uncles, too. Some cousins. Hub's little brother, taken far too young.
I take comfort remembering they still surround us in our Christmas traditions.
As unofficial family historian, I keep track with short notes about the provenance of our Christmas decorations tucked inside each one.
When we unwrap the set of gold pine cones, we remember Paw-paw Pete, who gave them to us to hang on my first tree with Hub. Or those glass-blown ornaments Hub’s parents give us each year that hold pride of place on our tree every season.
I even have Grandma Ethel's teeny Depression-era glass balls, tucked proudly into the small wooden sleigh handcrafted by Grandpa Jerry in the 1950s. These nest by the delicate crystal tree Mama gave us on her last visit to North Carolina in 2008.
And those glue-smudged, kid-made ornaments crafted with such effort and love! I can't bear to toss ‘em, even though they’re aged and worn (below, middle).
Two of my most precious treasures are the gifts Mama Marg gave to all her four grown children in the 1990s. The sea-faring New England village (above, left) symbolizes our love of the ocean and our childhood growing up on the Connecticut coast. Another year, she sewed four fabric crèches for each of us (above, right).
These gifts tug at my heart when I pull them from the attic. Profound sadness from missing loved ones mixes with joy in feeling their presence.
But we still channel Mama and Granny Chris in cookies we bake. My sugar cookies are never as tasty as theirs, so I switch to easier drop-chocolate concoctions.
We’re also perfecting our version of Hub's Mom's to-die-for peanut brittle. We're blessed she still cranks out yummy batches for the family each Christmas.
As much as I love drawing from the past, Hub and I have started our own tradition. We sprinkle a gazillion Christmas villages throughout our home, their glow warm and welcoming on long December nights.
We finally stopped buying these lighted Yuletime miniatures because we ran out of room to display more!
Recently, we combined our villages into one huge display on the dining room table.
Of course, it must be circled by Hub's toy train. Yep, we gladly eat, balancing dishes on our laps or trays, during the holidays. Food takes second place to watching Christmas trains.
I also started another tradition ... taking a break from writing and social media the last two weeks in December to be with family and friends.
This season, I’ll focus on gentling my heart and wrapping my soul around how our family has changed:
Missing more dear ones.
Reconciling that my siblings and I have reached "eldest member status" in our family’s orbit.
Wondering how it all went by so fast.
Embracing our next generation, who are now grown with little ones and new traditions of their own to discover.
Most important, feeling grateful that friends and family are healthy and safe during our second Covid December.
From our home to YOURS.....
all the warmth and goodness
of the holidays
and much joy celebrating YOUR traditions new and old.
... Travel safe.
... Stay well.
... Catch you in the new year!
I love this crazy busy time of year and would also love to hear about yours. Hey, if you celebrate a holiday or just enjoy this time of year, what's your favorite December tradition? How did it start? What are you looking forward to this holiday season? Please share in the comment section.
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