Posts Tagged ‘Ruby Winkle

Ruby Winkle, Psi

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Ruby Winkle, Psi. The adventures of a supernatural sleuth. Armed with her sixth sense, a beatnik bat and velocipede named Watson, Ruby Winkle investigates monsters, religious idols in toast, charlatans, aquatic werebats and everything else under the moon. The first book is coming soon!


Written by corvusblue

March 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

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The Striking Viking Story Pirates

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SVSPlogoPirates pillage, plunder and sail the seven seas but beware-these swashbucklers now steal your children and turn them into…storytellers! The Striking Viking Story Pirates is a non-profit group of adult actors who perform musical sketch comedy based entirely on stories written by kids. The Story Pirates offer an in-school creative writing and drama workshop series, called the Play/Write Program that has lead to the award-winning sketch comedy show performed every Saturday at The Drama Book Shop in New York City. The show features the group’s “Greatest Hits” comprised of the funniest songs and story adaptations performed in the outrageous spirit of Saturday Night Live.

The Story Pirates’ Saturday show turns The Drama Book Shop into a miniature Broadway boasting a photograph Wall of Fame dedicated to the kids behind the stories personalized by hand-scrawled autographs. The show is hosted by pirate puppet, The Striking Viking and begins with the catchy rendition of The Day My Head Got Stuck In a Bar Stool about a young boy who follows his dog’s lead which begs the question of “why would you do what a dog does” from his exasperated parents.

The adult cast is a hilarious ensemble that’s able to mix handcrafted costumes and at times, even genders, to 100_5345capture the unadulterated wonder of children’s imagination.  The Story Pirates appeals to the humor of both kids and parents alike as evidenced in the musical about the miracle of money sprouting on a boy’s head in “Money Head Allan”. The boy comically panics at his discovery while fleeing the clutches of money-grubbing Goldman-Sachs. The Story Pirates is highly entertaining and interactive allowing both the brilliance of the cast and the impressive talent of the children, to truly shine.

Story Pirates, produced by Jamie Salka, first introduced its program in 2003 and has primarily been showcased in the tri-state area. It has recently taken to the road in a national tour spanning ten states in three weeks. I caught up with Jamie shortly after he returned from the tour to learn more about the story behind the ‘Pirates’ and its treasure trove of kids’ tales.

Please tell me about how The Story Pirates came to be.
JS: Story Pirates grew out of a theatre company that me and my friends were apart of at Northwestern. Our goal was to create theatre for kids that didn’t feel like children’s theatre. We were trying to create something that was not only non-condescending but also something that was genuinely entertaining for both children and adults.

100_5350How did Story Pirates expand to now, a 100 story pirates?
JS: It just really started to build over the last five years. We started out with a cast of 12 actors and we started with a pilot program at a public school in Harlem. That was the first year. Last year, we were at over 100 schools around the country and it has steadily built over time.  We have not spent a lot of money on marketing. What happens is, one teacher has talked to another. One principal has called another. Parents come to see our show at the Drama Book Store and they call their relatives and they call their friends and  they tell them about it. It grows by word of mouth.

Tell me about how the workshops work. If a school contacted you, where you go from that point?
JS: The program we are most well known for is the public “Play/Write” program. The word “play” and the word “write”. It’s really a combination of those two things. When we go into a school, we present a three-part process. The first is a “greatest hits” version of our sketch comedy show, followed by a series of writing workshops, followed by two story performances featuring stories that kids have written in the writing workshops. The greatest hits show is a series of 8-10 of some of the funniest sketches we found from kids all around New York and all around the country. It’s intended to allow the students to get excited about their own imagination and the possibilities for stories that they want to write. It’s intended to inspire and entertain them and prepare them to create their own story. We try to capitalize on the excitement that the show built by teaching a series of writing workshops shortly after the greatest hits. The writing workshops can last anywhere from a series of four workshops over four days or four class periods to a series of 12 workshops over the course of a semester. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we can have a residency for an entire year. Then we have a culmination of all the writing that the kids have done and a celebration of the work we’ve created.

What are some of your favorite stories that kids have submitted?
JS: It’s almost a trick question. In my heart, I have loved every story that a kid has ever submitted to us. We really believe that 100_5359every kid has a story to tell and that every kid’s ideas are worth hearing. It’s our philosophy that Story Pirates is not a writing contest. I certainly have stories which I think have made terrific adaptations. There is a story called The Day That I Got My Head Stuck in a Bar Stool that is one of the quintessential Story Pirate stories that we perform at almost every school we visit.  It’s a story that we’ve been doing since the beginning of Story Pirates. It’s so funny. It’s our opening number and there are schools that we’ve been going to now for five, almost six years. When we go into these schools and perform the song, the kids are screaming the lyrics along with us and they’re dancing the choreography along with our actors.

What are some things that you’ve learned about children since you started Story Pirates?
JS: The lesson that we keep learning is how smart these kids are. How powerful their imaginations are. How sensitive they are to the world around them and how original they are as writers. When you take kids seriously and give them an opportunity to really express their words and ideas, it is amazing how far they can go.

100_5344Tell me a bit about the Ranger’s Apprentice National Tour.
JS: We were approached by Penguin Books Young Readers Group. They had seen our show and were trying to put together an authorless book tour. The Ranger’s Apprentice is a wildly popular young adult book series and the author, John Flanagan, is in Australia. We wanted to do a different book tour so instead of bringing John out from Australia, they asked Story Pirates if we would create a show based on the Ranger’s Apprentice book series. We said that we would take the assignment on the condition that we could create a show that was really interactive-that was based on participation from the kids in the audience. The kids would be really shaping the show. We ended up creating a piece that is very much based on the first book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series but is never the same from show to show because the kids in the audience create the experience.

The Ranger’s Apprentice series starts off with a section about tests and challenges that these young apprentices are put through in order to figure out who will be their mentor and who they will apprentice for. We created a show where kids from the audience volunteer and that our brought up on stage and subjected to challenges where they either have to prove their strength or prove their intellectual ability in front of an audience. It really honors the kids in the audience. Any kid who is watching and, particularly the kids who are brought up on stage to go through the tests and challenges, are appreciated in front of a big group of people for their own ideas.

Thanks to Jamie Salka and The Story Pirates for inviting me to one of their fabulous shows and to Optivion for the fantastic photos!

Written by corvusblue

October 30, 2009 at 6:33 am

Super Kawaii Mama Introduces Ms. Ruby!

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Blog hostess and vintage fashionista, Candice DeVille, showcases her love of the past with Super Kawaii Mama. This lovely blog features everything from kitschy kitchens to candy couture all with a kawaii (or uber cute) sensibility. Ms. DeVille also comes to your beauty bluster aide with her quick tips on make-up and hair. Super Kawaii Mama also offers a vintage fashion gallery which not only displays an enviable wardrobe but it also features Ms. DeVille modeling the clothes in whimsical settings. Each setting is evocative of the very genteel era of the clothing itself. Ms. DeVille recently sports a crinoline 1940’s inspired  party dress while daintily smelling flowers in a garden. Super Kawaii Mama is a lovely ode to all things cute and reflective of a time period that exuded playful (and fashionable) innocence. Ms. Ruby Winkle now makes makes her own debut at the lovely Super Kawaii Mama abode.

Written by corvusblue

August 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Will Work for Fear: Interview with Author Amanda Noll

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9780979974625I Need My Monster is authored by Amanda Noll and complimented by the unique illustrative style of Howard McWilliam.  I Need My Monster puts a spin on scary when Ethan discovers that the devoted monster under his bed has decided to go fishing. Fearing the loss of sleep without his fearful friend, Ethan turns to interviewing a list of monster substitutes. Unfortunately, each monster proves to be inadequate-their fangs are too long, their slobbering too silly. their claws too clumsy.

Amanda Noll captures our dual fascination with creatures by making them both absurd and frightful as emphasized by McWilliam’s topsy turvy fish-eye perspective. Ms. Noll provided her own debacle with monsters in the following interview:

1) Do you remember the first story that you wrote?

No. Like most people I did some writing in high school but I did not begin writing earnestly until my mid twenties.

2) What are your influences?

I love science fiction and fantasy. My personal bookshelf is full of McCaffrey, McKinnley, Croggon, Westerfeld, and Collins. I was raised on Dr. Who and adore the series.

3) What inspired the story I Need My Monster?

One night, after my neurotic 3 year old daughter, got out of bed again. I wished that she was afraid of monsters. At the time she was afraid of almost everything, but monsters did not phase her one bit.

I know this is a poor reflection on my parenting skills, but I was desperate to get some rest, our fourth child was still an infant.

I think the lack of sleep plus the desire for her to stay in bed spawned the idea that if she did have a monster, he was doing a lousy job, or maybe he was gone. The story evolved from there.

4) What advice do you offer children’s book authors who are just starting out professionally?

Don’t wait until you retire to start writing! It really does take 7 – 10 years to see your first book in print. If you plan to write as a second career, start now.

Also, it’s important to write books that are current. Don’t try to write the kind of story you grew up with. Publishers don’t want dated material.

Monkey Doodle Dandy

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MDD-LogoMonkey Doodle Dandy is as fun as its name implies with a moniker  that is reminiscent of a sugar-charged ten year old tearing through the yard with oblivion. The toy design duo () behind Monkey Doodle Dandy equally achieves the same level of exhilaration with their charming properties and illustrations. My interview with Kurt offered  a taste of the cute and scary ingredient that makes up current toy appeal as well as the upcoming licensing of Monkey Doodle Dandy’s own cute creations, Squaredy Cats and Squarey Monsters. Congratulations, Kurt and Elaine!

1) How and when did you and Elaine first start Monkey Doodle Dandy?
Elaine went to FIT’s Toy Design program, and worked for The Idea Factory then Tara Toy after completing the program. I was working as the art director at a Brooklyn publishing group, and desperately needed to be more creative, and do something more rewarding. I sold some panel cartoons for several years, but never enough to make a living. I did some freelance work for some of the project managers at Tara Toy while Elaine was there, and finally left my job to freelance design for various companies. Elaine left Tara Toy, and took a temporary position at Fisher Price. I continued to freelance, and we discussed the possibilities of freelancing together once her position at Fisher Price was to end. At that point I was learning some of the necessary skills and specifics for toy design, andPostcards 4x6taking freelance work from some project managers at Fisher Price as well. We decided it would be a good idea to incorporate, and brainstormed a company name we thought would be fun. Soon. We were both working from home, and through word of mouth we managed to get enough work to survive, and enjoy what we were doing.
2) What are your influences?
My favorite art to look at is usually something that mixes cute and frightening. Charles Addams is my favorite cartoonist, and I love Jhonen Vasquez’s work, and all he’s done to influence the direction that mainstream gothic art has taken. I love to look at anything that looks horror related, but manages to stay “safe” by being cute. It’s become more commercial, but I’m okay with that because my style has grown to incorporate the young style that exists in modern toys while what I am inspired by has done the same thing. We watched independent brands like Emily the Strange, Ruby Gloom, Teddy Scares, and Skelanimals grow each year at licensing events, and wished we’d done more to promote the GirlMonsters.
SqMonstersSampleImage3)What would be an ideal project to work on?
Ideally I would want to collaborate. I feel like we work in a bubble sometimes. Mixing up with other creatives is really important to generate new ways of thinking. My favorite thing to do is when I get to illustrate with a solid direction and assignment, but no boundaries. When no license is involved, I get to draw what’s in my head instead of what’s in the style guide.
4) What advice do you have for artists/illustrators just starting out?
My best advice to artists just starting out is don’t be afraid. You probably have know for several years you want to be an artist. Don’t fall into the trap of getting stuck confusing your work ethic with your passion to be creative. If you don’t like the work you have move on. Put what you WANT to do in your portfolio, not necessarily what you CAN do or do best. The only way to be happy being an professional artist is if you are doing what you want to do, and finding a way to get paid for it.
I must say, I enjoyed finding the answers to your questions a liberating experience. Something all artists should consider is finding a group to discuss your work with. We all need critique, and the opportunity to spill our brains into words so we know what’s happening up there. We think so visually, we rarely get a chance to understand it in literal language.SqCatsSampleImage

Mama’s Money Rave

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Mama’s Money Saver is a blog hosted by the Queen of Giveaways-the lovely Ms. Cherise. Mama’s Money Saver combs the best of Etsy shops and features wares that appeal to craft savvy and thrifty Moms. Cher kindly featured Ms. Ruby Winkle.

Written by corvusblue

June 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Kids Book Review

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Kids Book Review is coordinated by children author, Tania McCartney. As the title implies, contributors review children books and illustrators. The blog also features interviews with both illustrators and authors through a series of thoughtful and interesting questions (As an American, I am now familiar with the Aussie slang word, ‘squiz’). RSD cover jpeg website

Tania McCartney is also the fabulous children book author of Riley and the Sleeping Dragon.  Tania is an inspiring individual and author who graciously posted an interview with lil ol’ me.

Written by corvusblue

June 11, 2009 at 2:37 am