Everything is a Blur – Artists on a Limb

GravatarHello everyone, welcome back to Words on Art. 

We have chosen words to go along with Irene’s painting submission Venus. We had asked you to submit your words and captions and we’ve gone through the entries and have chosen a successful submission. Thank you to all who participated.  We would like to present Hernán’s words. Enjoy!

Thank you for your submission Hernán.

And just like that, you are gone
The emptiness is deafening
A harpoon has left a jagged hole in my chest
I am locked in a tomb.

Where has it gone wrong? What was said? Where did the end, begin?
It’s so quiet. I can’t see clearly, I can’t feel my arms, my legs, my soul.
I’m an emptied vessel, thrown out after use.
Everything is a blur.

For our next art piece, we are showcasing Jasmine’s sketch. Thank you for your submission! It is an untitled piece.


We are once again inviting readers to capture the essence of the art by submitting writing pieces (captions, poems, short narratives, etc).

To participate, please submit your words on art to wordsonalimb@bell.net. Please write Words on Art in the subject line.  If you have an art piece that you would like us to consider for our next showcase, please feel free to email us a picture.

Please note that the art pieces must be your own creation.

Looking forward to your next Words on Art.



Kings in the Corner

GravatarHappy Tuesday everyone. I would like to share a cool card game that I was introduced to this past weekend, Kings in the Corner. I played it with my children and was quite surprised how interested and engaged they were the entire time. In fact, they insisted we play again and again. I didn’t dare tell them how much they were learning at the same time (shhh, our secret).

Warning: Don’t be overwhelmed by all the instructions and rules. Once mastered, it is a relatively simple game to play. What’s more, it builds and reinforces many valuable concepts and skills including: focus and concentration, strategic thinking, numerical concepts (counting backwards, patterning), following rules, building social skills, turn-taking and having fun! Continue reading

Words on a Limb Interviews Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney is a successful cartoonist, producer and game designer in addition to being the bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid children’s series. His collection is a global phenomenon, selling 75 million copies, translated into over 30 languages, sold in 40 countries. But, as we will discover, it was not an overnight success.

Jeff grew up in Fort Washington, Maryland with an older brother, an older sister and a younger brother. From a young age he fancied authors Judy Blume, igdoofBeverly Cleary and J.R.R. Tolkien. Later, when he attended the University of Maryland, his creative juices began to flow. He created Igdoof, a character that became a comic strip for The Diamondback, his campus paper. After a move to New England in 1995, he began working on the Wimpy Kid idea during 1998.

His idea did not reach an audience until FunBrain posted an online version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid in 2004. It became an online success with 20M+ views in just over 3 years. The popularity of the story led to a printed version in 2007 by Amulet Books. The rest as they say, is literary history, including 11 follow-up publications and 3 feature films.

Around the time his first book was hitting the presses, he began work on designing the now wildly successful game website, Poptropica, that would provide kids with a fun yet educational outlet. The role-playing game design transports 6 – 15 year olds to a collection of fictional islands where they embark on quests that present them with challenges and thought-inducing obstacles.

Jeff went on to feature in TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009. All things considered, not bad for a kid from a town of just over 23,000. He presently lives in beautiful Plainville, Massachusetts with his wife, Julie and their two sons, Will and Grant.

We are happy to share with you a telling interview with the brilliant creator of the enigmatic favourite, Greg Heffley.

How old were you when you first created something you wanted to share? Was it a watershed moment for you?
I was in the fifth grade, and I had drawn a giant mural of dragons and warriors in colored inks. It was a big moment for me. I unfurled it for my class upside down as a joke, but it didn’t work. Everyone thought I just wasn’t that bright.

Continue reading

My Favourites – June 2014

GravatarHello again everyone. Summer is always a good time to discover new books to add to my home and classroom libraries. Here are some of my recent favourite additions.


Bella's Blessings

Bella’s Blessings
Brenda Stokes, Trisha DesRosiers (Illustrations)
Simply Read Books

When Bella Beaver is born, Grandma Beaver gives her a special gift, a blessing stone. Each year Bella receives a new blessing stone, and each stone guides Bella through the difficult situations she faces as she grows up. But can the last blessing stone help Bella face the biggest challenge of her life?

Anna May's CloakAnna May’s Cloak
Christiane Cicioli
Simply Read Books

When Anna May is young, her grandmother makes her a beautiful blue cloak. When she wears it, Anna May feels like a queen. Soon the cloak is too small for her–but Anna May never forgets her favorite piece of clothing. Snip, snip, snip…see how Anna May’s cloak is transformed as her family grows.

Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High JumperTouch The Sky
Ann Malaspina, Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)
Albert Whitman & Company

A biography of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, from her childhood in segregated Albany, Georgia, in the 1930s, through her recognition at the 1996 Olympics as one of the hundred best athletes in Olympic history. Includes bibliographical references.

The Short GiraffeThe Short Giraffe
Neil Flory, Mark Cleary
Albert Whitman & Company

Geri is the shortest giraffe in the herd, which causes all kinds of problems when Bobo the baboon tries to take a photo. Can Geri stretch up tall enough to be in the picture? Or are the other giraffes looking at things from the wrong perspective? A very sweet story for pre-schoolers about difference and acceptance.

Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!
Kyle Mewburn (Writer), Ali Teo (Illustrator), John O’Reilly (Illustrator)
Peachtree Publishers

Every time Auntie Elsie comes to visit she gives Andy two big sloppy kisses. Kiss! Kiss! on the left cheek. Kiss! Kiss! on the right cheek. Yuck! Yuck! Andy says to himself.

Andy is a fast runner. But not fast enough to outrun Auntie Elsie. Andy is good at hiding. But Auntie Elsie always finds him. When he ducks down in a pig pen, she climbs right over the fence. When he climbs a tree, she follows right after him.

But then Auntie Elsie breaks her leg and stops coming to visit. Andy realizes he misses Aunt Elsie and her sloppy kisses. One day, a taxi pulls by the gate and out come two crutches. Now it s Andy s turn to get Aunt Elsie. Kiss! Kiss! Hug! Hug!

Kyle Mewburn s funny story of an overly affectionate aunt and her long-suffering nephew will resonate with readers, who will instantly recognize the bond of love that unites the two characters. Ali Teo and John O Reilly s colorful and quirky multimedia illustrations, which combine freehand drawing and photographic collage, exaggerate the humor of the story.

What Do Parents Do? (When You're Not Home)What Do Parents Do? (When You’re Not Home)
Jeanie Franz Ransom
Peachtree Publishers

Two children set off to spend the night at their grandparents. Throughout the course of the day, the young boys imagination runs wild as he imagines what his parents are doing while hes away. Jumping on beds, he thinks, or sledding down the stairs on pillows. Watching hours and hours of television, playing ball in the house, dressing up the dog, eating junk food, playing video games, and in general making one VERY BIG mess! The next morning when the kids come home the house looks tidy. It was pretty quiet, says Dad… but was it? Mom is hiding something behind her back. And those socks hanging from the ceiling fan. They werent there yesterday. Cyd Moores antic illustrations contrast the wild adventures at home with the more wholesome fun at their grandparents house. Jeanie Ransoms clever tale will keep young readers laughing long after the story has ended.

A Sack Full of FeathersA Sack Full of Feathers
Debby Waldman, Cindy Revell (Illustrator)
Orca Book Publishers

Yankel loves to tell stories, as long as they are someone else’s. He does not see the hurt that his stories cause, the way they spread and change. Then the rabbi hands him a bag of feathers and tells him to place one on every doorstep in the village. Yankel is changed by what happens and finds himself with his best story yet, one of his very own.

Dan Bar-el
Orca Book Publishers

Did you ever try to use an egg in place of a football? Or dress up a live quail in doll’s clothes when you didn’t have a doll? Or strap rag-dolls onto your feet in place of slippers? In Alphabetter, twenty-six boys and girls find themselves in twenty-six different predicaments when the alphabet refuses to cooperate with them. In the end, the solution turns out to be right on the next page, if only they can find it…
Did you find all the letters hidden in the pictures in Alphabetter? Some of them are very hard to find! These are the ones that we know about. Maybe you found others as well. Happy searching!

Must-Have Marvin!Must-Have Marvin!
Christy Ziglar, Luanne Marten (Illustrations)
Ideals Children’s Books

The second title in the Shine Bright Kids series, Must-Have Marvin! teaches children that people are more important than things. Marvin loves new thingshe especially loves finding the latest, greatest, most awesome new things! Soon Marvin finds himself focusing on a new robot that he wants, to the exclusion of his friends. He lets them down when they need his help and nearly loses their friendship. Through a chat with a wise neighbor and a second chance to help, Marvin learns the important life lesson that people are more important than things.

How to Clean Your RoomHow to Clean Your Room
Eileen Spinelli, David Leonard (Illustrator)
Ideals Children’s Books

A delightful adventure emerges as each little boy and girl goes about the task of cleaning his or her room–a chore no child likes! Eileen Spinelli spins a glorious tale as she inspires children to clean their rooms–not in a rush, but with the wildest imaginings and a tender touch. For the bedroom is where you laugh and cry, dream big dreams, and store your precious memories. This book could start a whole movement of children asking to clean their rooms!

Amber WaitingAmber Waiting
Nan Gregory, Kady MacDonald Denton (Illustrations)
Red Deer Press

“Amber makes a bid to catch her father’s attention.” Amber lo-o-o-v-e-s Kindergarten — painting, looking at books, tying her shoes, sliding when it snows. But the one thing she can’t control is being picked up on time. Her father is frequently late, so she must wait and wait and wait in the secretary’s office after everyone else has left. It’s so embarrassing.

To deal with her frustration, Amber concocts a world in which she sends her dad to wait for her — on the moon — while she has all kinds of wonderful adventures. This, she knows, would teach Dad a lesson he’d never forget, and all the dads from around the world would, like him, turn up on time to collect their children and embrace them. Back in the real world, Dad at last shows up and Amber makes a bid to catch his attention, to let him know what it feels like to be left alone in school — and finally, maybe, he gets the point.

This delightful picture book combines the work of two extraordinary talents.

179061How Smudge Came
Nan Gregory, Ron Lightburn (Illustrator)
Red Deer Press

Cindy is developmentally challenged and no pets are allowed in the home where she lives, so she must hide her new-found puppy in her room until she can find someone to care for him.

I hope you enjoy these new additions as much as I have. I would love to hear your new book discoveries. Please feel free to share them in the Reply box below. Thanks as always!


Why Does the World Cup Matter So Much?

ecuadorI was walking down the street with my girlfriend when I noticed a guy in a Greek National team jersey. He seemed a little downtrodden. I knew why – his team had just been eliminated from the World Cup in Brazil. I smiled at him, and gave him an empathetic sorry man, tough luck today look. He returned my smile, accompanied by a what are you gonna do shoulder shrug. It was an intriguing connection since we had not met each other ever, yet I knew exactly how he felt because my country had been eliminated a couple of days before. We passed each other and I heard him wisely indicate that
“It’s only a game”.

It is indeed, only a game. However, it is a game that an estimated 3.6 billion viewers will tune in to this time around, up from 3.2 billion in 2010 – that, by the way, is about 51% of the global population. Which begs the question: what is the other 49% doing? In North America, it begs another question: Why does the World Cup matter so much? Why does absolutely nothing match the passion for the beautiful game?

My encounter with the sad Greek friend, I believe, has a lot to do with it. Football (or as Americans call it soccer, ugh) is the most played and watched spectacle on earth; and the World Cup of football is the single-most momentous global event, period. Some might argue that the Olympics should be since more countries are generally represented. But I ask you, do you notice a sea of nation’s flags during the Olympics? Not likely. The street-side flag merchants feverishly sell their wares only when the World Cup comes around, and to a lesser extent the Euro (The European Football Championship). Why do you think this is?

Here it is, in a nutshell. In Canada, during the Olympics, people generally cheer for Canada. We are fairly interested in how well our country, or adopted nation, is doing. During this time, we are all Canadian. Also, people are watching events they only care about once every four years. But when you talk about the World Cup, there’s a greater fascination with it because more people around the world watch football every week of every month of every year. When the big tournament finally rolls around, people begin to identify with their country of origin, a nationalistic fever rises up. Ethnic groups that were proud to cheer for Canada during the Olympics, suddenly discover their roots. Furthermore, even if your nation did not make it through the grueling 2 year World Cup qualification period, you will find a country to raise your voice for. That is the magic of football. It unites us all, under the umbrella of a global spectacle.

I was lucky enough to see Ecuador make it into the World Cup this time around, in a tough group, no less. But for 2 weeks, I was Ecuadorian, and staunchly so. That’s right; I was out on the street, waving my flag, in my nation’s jersey, shoulder to shoulder with other compatriots when they defeated Honduras. Then, I was proportionately devastated when they could not score just one more goal against the mighty French to see themselves through to the next round.

These emotions are unmatched. It is a frenzy that spreads across all borders. When your team is eliminated, as undoubtedly most are, you simply lick your wounds and continue to cheer the spectacle. Why? Because as cliché as it sounds, football is more than just a sport. For 51% of humanity it is the ultimate cultural expression. When you see TV coverage of stadia, bars, streets and homes all around the world, you see women, men, children, grandparents, people from all walks of life, uniting to express their cultural pride for their colors. Cars honk to acknowledge your allegiance, people give you high fives in the supermarket when they see you in your nation’s jersey, and people share your pain walking down the street when your colours are defeated – the ultimate cultural expression.

Football is also a language of its own. You can drop a ball between two people anywhere in the world, and they know what to do. I’ve actually experienced this unique pleasure when I travelled through Europe. Wherever I visited, I picked up a little football souvenir and on several occasions, kicked it around in airports and train stations with people I had never met in my life, regardless of the fact that we did not share a language. That is powerful.

In fact, I was fortunate enough to watch Italy win the 2006 World Cup in Italy, if you can imagine. I watched the final in front of a massive screen on the streets of Avellino. When the last penalty went in and the blessed Azzurri were proclaimed world champions, I was embraced by hundreds of euphoric fans. What followed was an incredible, jubilant, yet peaceful celebration in the quaint little avenues of the small Italian town.


My experience was topped off when I reached Rome, just in time to witness the conquering team arrive on a bus to the centre of the city. The chanting was hypnotic and the atmosphere was intoxicating. What an unforgettable phenomenon I witnessed that night!

You see, the biggest patriotic act that most people engage in is cheering on their team during the World Cup. It reaches people who have no interest in football otherwise. It touches them at a profound level because it is their country and their people being represented in the eyes of the rest of the world. That’s my country! The power of national representation is, by no means, unique to football. But the World Cup manages to elicit a more passionate, fervent and almost religious-like following from more fans around the planet than any other event, including the Olympics. The tournament has a way of enabling citizens to puff out their chest; of giving them license to say this is our team and having great pride in their nation, and no other sporting event does that because no other sport truly embraces so many people from every corner of the globe. It is the ultimate economic equalizer. It is enjoyed in the poorest as well as the richest nations on the planet. It removes all obstacles and boundaries. Case in point, legends like Pele and Maradona used football to escape abject poverty. Magnates have built vast empires on the power of its fanaticism. The beautiful game is talked about in the most desolate favelas of Brazil just as it is in the wealthiest lunch rooms of Wall Street in New York.

So why have so many people embraced this sport? There are several reasons, but here is the key one: it is the simplest and therefore most accessible game to play. No need for special equipment or confusing rules. Simply kick the ball. You can use tin can, a coconut, rolled up sock, I used to play with tennis ball before my parents bought me my own shiny new football. Find a couple of shirts or jackets, or anything for that matter, as posts, a couple of friends and you have a game. You can play anywhere – on grass, on pavement, in the school or office hall, in the rain, mud or snow, indoors or outdoors, on the beach. This, by the way, is a distinct indulgence for me – sun shining, bathing trunks, beachBBQ going, drinks in the cooler and kicking around a size 3 football in the warm sand with your friends. I bet this is what heaven is like. In fact, when people walk by on the beach, the best ice breaker is to pass them a football – 99 times out of 100, they will smile and pass it back, they may even join. You just made a friend.

Next time you are wondering why planet earth suddenly stops spinning for a month, every four years, you’ll know why. It’s simply the magic of the beautiful game.

Words on a Limb Interviews Sylvia Stewart

Sylvia Stewart grew up in the (then) Belgian Congo. She spent 21 years as an Assemblies of God missionary in Malawi, East Africa, with her husband, Duane. While there, she taught some writing workshops, which are now bearing fruit. She started writing Kondi’s Quest to weave a story for the children of Malawi. In 1992 Sylvia and Duane were asked to go to Ethiopia to found a Bible College. They spent 11 years there, doing mostly Bible College ministry. Sylvia taught college-level English to students who had never taken a grammar class before. Sylvia is the mother of four children who grew up in Africa. Her eleven grandchildren are the delight of her life. Sylvia’s book was a 24-year project. Through the eyes of a Malawian girl, Kondi’s Quest shows middle-school readers that God’s love and presence is with us, even in very hard times.

We are very pleased to introduce you to Sylvia and her story:

About writing …

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
English was my favorite subject in school. Writing essays was easier for me than for my classmates. I don’t remember writing stories as a child, but I would “tell” myself stories as I lay in bed at night. I guess you could say I’ve been writing most of my life.

What book(s) has most influenced your writing?
The Nancy Drew books captured my fancy even before I was a teen. Later Zane Grey, D.E. Stevenson, Miss Read, and Mary Stewart taught me how to turn a phrase and make a story come alive.

When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in the morning, but that doesn’t often happen. I prefer no interruptions, but I don’t often get that either. I prefer silence for my writing time, but usually I write in the middle of the house with life going on around me. Soon I will have my own “Just Write” cabin on the back of our property. Bliss!
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Three Lessons My First Year in Teaching Taught Me

GravatarA young woman walks into a school, dressed in a tailored suit, just loose enough to mask her anxious composure. In one hand she holds a resume, in the other a leather portfolio.

“You can do this. You can do this,” she chants to herself, while quickening her steps, fighting an impulse to run back to her car. She heads straight to the office, looking for the principal. Minutes later, a tall bearded man steps out of the adjacent office and extends his arm.

“Hi, I’m Craig,” he begins and the young woman’s shoulders relax as she looks into his warm eyes. Phew, she can breathe again. “Yes, I received your resume this morning,” he explains. “We’ve actually just finished interviewing for all the positions we have available.” The young woman’s spirit sinks; but is reignited as he continues. “I have to say, though, I love your assertiveness and determination. How would you like to stay for an interview?” A smile breaks on the young woman’s face as the principal proceeds to call in other staff members to join in on the interview.

So began my journey as a primary grade school teacher. Continue reading