Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Melissa Gilbert Cast for Season 14 of Dancing With the Stars

Today, ABC announced the cast for Season 14 of Dancing With the Stars. Headliners include, Little House on the Prairie star, Melissa Gilbert.

While I don't watch this show at all, I can't say I'm surprised. Gilbert got into shape dancing for Little House on the Prairie, the Musical. She should do well on DWTS. I was also excited to see Disney Channel star, Roshon Fegan in the line up. He's my favorite character from Shake It Up. I might have to record a few of these episodes to catch Gilbert and Fegan in action.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Article on Pa's Fiddle

Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder, Little House on the Prairie, NBC) shared this link on Facebook to an article that appeared yesterday about the Pa's Fiddle: America's Music PBS Special. Randy Travis and Ronnie Milsap are part of an all-star band put together by acclaimed musician/producer Randy Scruggs. They worked with Dean and Dr. Dale Cockrell, director of MTSU's Center for Popular Music to create this special tribute.

You can read the article at http://www.theboot.com/2012/02/22/pas-fiddle-pbs-show/

The picture above comes from: http://www.laura-ingalls-wilder.com/. This is the cover of a CD that includes some of the songs Pa played that were featured in Laura Ingalls Wilder's now classic Little House books. Though the site lists the CD as in Pre-release, it looks like it was released in 2011. I found a seller on Amazon that had one.

I'm excited about this PBS special. It is due to air in June during the network's pledge drive. According to the article, a new CD of this music will also be available on June 5th.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Almanzo!

I don't know how any of you ladies feel, but I think this is a handsome photo of young Almanzo James Wilder. This "Farmer Boy" from New York moved with his family to Spring Valley, Minnesota in 1875 due to crop failures. Almanzo would join his older siblings, Royal and Eliza Jane, on a trip into Dakota Territory, where the brothers and their sister took up claims near what would become De Smet, SD.

He would meet his future wife, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, in De Smet. They would survive the Hard Winter, during which Almanzo and Cap Garland saved the town from starvation by going off to find seed wheat to feed the town until the trains could get through in the spring.

Though Laura actually had her eye on Cap Garland as a potential suitor, Almanzo's Morgan horses captured her attention. Eventually Almanzo and Laura began courting. He would drive her back and forth to her first teaching job.

They were wed on August 25, 1885. Life wasn't always easy for the Wilders. They suffered tremendous loss. They would eventually leave De Smet, traveling to Mansfield, Missouri, where they would spend most of their adult years.

Laura captured Almanzo's love of farming in Farmer Boy. She portrayed his heroic nature in The Long Winter. In Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years, readers watched their romance blossom, and in The First Four Years, readers witnessed the harsh realities of the times in which the Wilders lived.

On Almanzo's birthday, we pay tribute to America's favorite "Farmer Boy." We are so glad we got a chance to know him through Laura's eyes. We are also glad to have talented actors who have brought Almanzo to life for us in their own unique ways.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Laura!

The years pass so quickly. Nearly two years after the end of the Civil War, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born in the "Big Woods" of Wisconsin. Growing up, she was jealous of her older sister, Mary, like younger sisters often are. An independent-minded--some would say feisty--girl, she was very much like her beloved Pa. After years of traveling by covered wagon, her father finally settled the family--now including younger sisters Carrie and Grace--in De Smet, SD. Laura enjoyed life in town and made many friends. While living in De Smet, she met her future husband, Almanzo Wilder.

The now classic Little House books chronicle Laura's life growing up on America's prairies. They share her triumphs and tragedies, her gains and her losses; a life lived through years of great progress across the country. On her birthday, we honor the life of our favorite pioneer girl and the books, movies, and television shows that continue to celebrate her legacy.

Dean Butler and MTSU Work with Country Music Greats on Pa's Fiddle Project

Just because I haven't mentioned my favorite Little House on the Prairie alum, Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder, NBC) lately, doesn't mean he hasn't been busy.

He recently worked with some of country music's biggest stars, staff and students at Middle Tennessee State University, and many others on the Pa's Fiddle Project for PBS. It's goal--to bring the old-time fiddle music enjoyed by Charles "Pa" Ingalls alive.

Here's a video that talks about the project. Please note that Pa's middle name is Phillip, not Paul, as the commentator states. I can't wait for more news on when this will air.

You can find out more about this project on MTSU's website.

Recent Award Winners in Children's Books

Coretta Scott King Author Award

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination and triumphs. (Ages 9 and up)

Kadir Nelson is an acclaimed illustrator whose powerful artwork is captured in numerous award-winning picture books, including the Caldecott Honor Book Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine; the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winner Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford; and his own We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball and Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. He lives with his family in San Diego, California.

Visit Kadir online at www.kadirnelson.com/.

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

A family silently crawls along the ground. They run barefoot through unlit woods, sleep beneath bushes, take shelter in a kind stranger's home. Where are they heading? They are heading for Freedom by way of the Underground Railroad. (Ages 4 and up)

Shane Evans has illustrated numerous books for children, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Shanna's Ballerina Show. He attributes much of his influence to his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and much of the United States. He is a firm believer in education and creative development for all people.

Visit Shane online at www.shaneevans.com.

Newbery Award

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his Utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air. (Ages 10 and up)

Jack Gantos has written novels for adults, young adults, and middle grade readers, as well as over twenty books for primary readers, including twelve titles chronicling the misadventures of Rotten Ralph. He lives in Santa Fe, NM.

Visit Jack online at http://jackgantos.com/.

Caldecott Medal

Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy's anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. In the tradition of his nearly wordless picture book Yo! Yes?, Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka's signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special. (ages 3 and up)

Chris Raschka has written and/or illustrated over 30 books for children, including The Purple Balloon, called "deceptively simple and beautifully direct" by Kirkus Reviews. His other books include Good Sports, an ALA Notable Book; the 2006 Caldecott Medal winning title, The Hello, Goodbye Window; the Caldecott Honor Books Yo! Yes?; and Mysterious Thelonius.

Theodor Suess Geisel Award

James is a very picky eater. His dad has to get creative—very creative—in order to get James to eat foods he thinks he doesn’t like. He presents James with a series of outlandish scenarios packed with fanciful and gross kid-friendly details—like pre-chewed gum as an alternative to broccoli and lumpy oatmeal that grows so big it eats the dog—in an effort to get James to eat. But it is eventually James himself who discovers that some foods are not so bad, after all, if you’re willing to give them a try. (Ages 6 and up)

Josh Schneider’s first book for Clarion, You’ll Be Sorry, was named a “Book That Provides Best Ammunition to Parents Weary of Warning Their Kids About Socking Their Siblings” by Publishers Weekly magazine. Josh lives in Chicago. He is very brave and can eat lots of scary foods (although he doesn’t).