I owe everything I am and everything I will ever be to books.
— Gary Paulsen
My historical verse novel, Blue Birds, has just been named the 2016 Jefferson Cup Award winner for Young Readers, which honors a distinguished biography, historical fiction or American history book for young people. It is also included in this year’s New Mexico Battle of the Books elementary list and is a wonderful addition to upper elementary classrooms.
Blue Birds is a story of the island of Roanoke, England’s first colony in the Americas. Established in 1587, this colony founded twenty years before Jamestown met an untimely end. To this day, no one is truly sure what happened to the 117 colonists who lived there.
Blue Birds aligns with New Mexico’s fifth-grade social studies and English language arts content* and Common Core Standards.** Click through to find a free Educator’s Guide as well as a Lost Colony Timeline.
The following presentations work well with classes or BoB groups who’ve read Blue Birds. Each presentation runs fifty-minutes long.
Poetry 101: This introduction to poetry helps kids understand poetry is accessible, fun, and not just about love and flowers. Students will learn poetry basics, experience a variety of poetry, and create color poems. (grades 3-8)
The Lost Colony: What Really Happened?: Learn about the real history behind Blue Birds and what might have happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. (grades 5-8)
If you would like to see all the presentations I have available, including several for younger grades, please refer to my Author Visits page.
In-School Events Rates
one fifty-minute presentation (small group or large):
- $250 (in Albuquerque only)
three fifty-minute presentations (small group or large), lunch with the author, and book signing:
- $600 inside Albuquerque’s sixty-mile radius
- $800 outside Albuquerque’s sixty-mile radius plus mileage and accommodations, if necessary
Online (Skype) Visits
An easy, affordable way for your readers to connect with me is through a virtual visit. Please click through to learn more.
School visits and Skype sessions aren’t only limited to schools and book clubs within New Mexico and don’t have to focus on Blue Birds alone. Stop by my Author Visits and Books pages to learn about other presentations and become familiar with my work.
Here’s to an excellent school year for your young readers. I’d love if you’d spread the word!
*History strand 1-B and 1-C, ELD standards 2 and 5
** CCSS 5.RL.3, CCSS 5.RL.4, CCSS 5. RL.5, CCSS 5.L.4, CCSS 5.L.5, CCSS 5.W.3, CCSS 5.W.7, CCSS 5.RI.9, CCSS 5.SL.1
My friend Jamie and I have dreamed about a Prince Edward Island adventure for years, so to see it finally come together this July was just plain magical. I flew into Connecticut and spent a day with her family (look at the gorgeous veggies those Martins grow!), and early the next morning Jamie and I jumped in a rental car and drove straight through to the Land of Maud.
You might remember I’m a tad obsessed with author L. M. Montgomery. I’ve read all of Maud’s novels, many multiple times. And I’ve committed to re-reading every ten years the journals she kept from the age of fourteen until her late sixties.
Jamie and I both agreed that though the drive was long, crossing the Canadian border and watching the gorgeous landscape grow more rural and hilly and somehow even more beautiful was the perfect introduction to PEI.
The island is rolling hillsides and lovely farms that stretch straight to red cliff beaches. We arrived at our rental — an nineteenth century farmhouse in South Rustico, PEI — during the sunlight’s golden hour.
There were four bedrooms to choose from. Look at mine!
Jamie and I spent the next day in Cavendish at Green Gables Heritage Place, which includes the home that inspired the setting for the Anne series. The home itself was owned by her cousins, the McNeills, and was was within walking distance of the Montgomery homestead.
It was a little strange knowing that while Anne Shirley was not a real girl, this house was set up to reflect her world. That red liquid in the cupboard is raspberry cordial — at least that’s what my imagination told me.
This was meant to represent Anne’s room. Less austere than the picture in my mind!
What’s fun is that Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Wood weren’t only places in the Anne books, they were very much a part of Maud’s real life. Here’s Lover’s Lane.
The Haunted Wood, just beyond this gate, led from the McNeill homestead to the Montgomery’s.
No house remains at the Montgomery homestead, but it’s not hard to picture young Maud’s love of nature developing on this land.
Maud’s childhood school (no longer standing) was near the Haunted Wood and within walking distance of her home. From its window she could see Cavendish Community Cemetery where her mother lay — where she is now.
Here’s a sweet token we found alongside the grave.
That evening, we drove to Charlottetown and saw Anne and Gilbert: The Musical.
It’s a blend of Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island with a few liberties thrown in and was beyond fabulous. Jamie ended up downloading the music, which we listened to during the rest of our stay. Perhaps now that I’m back home, I’ve been known to break into “Mr. Blythe” while making dinner.
On our second day we drove to Lower Bedeque to visit the Leard House, where Maud boarded while teaching at the school across the road.
Fans of the journals and the recent Maud biography, The Gift of Wings, know this house well. While Maud lived here, she and the Leard son, Herman, had a secret romance. Both were engaged to other people. Eighteen months later, Herman died. Maud, who by then had broken her engagement and was living back at home, was distraught but could never truly mourn him as she would have if their relationship had been public. Doesn’t this remind you a bit of Una’s inability to fully grieve Walter’s death in Rilla of Ingleside?
The Leard House opened to tourists just a few weeks before we arrived. Visitors can walk through the upstairs room where Maud boarded and eventually will be able to spend the night there. The downstairs has been converted into the Fable Tea Room.
Jamie and I might have been a little silly about the whole Leard House thing. Evidently, when we arrived, I told the woman who answered the door, “We’re here for Herman,” which entertained Jamie to no end.
Here’s Maud’s room.
And here I am, ridiculously posing with Herman. (At Jamie’s suggestion! I claim no responsibility for this goofiness!)
Downstairs we pored over old copies of Kindred Spirits magazine while eating an amazing lunch (I recommend the lobster roll).
Oh, Maud. You certainly did have a lively time in Bedeque!
The Fable Tea Room tables were covered with various pages from Anne books.
The Lower Bedeque Schoolhouse was a couple hundred yards down the road. Our tour guide was a charming college student who was working his way through the journals himself.
On our way back to Rustico, we stopped in Clifton / New London at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace museum.
That evening we had dinner at Dalvay by the Sea, which was the White Sands Hotel in the Anne of Green Gables movie.
As we were leaving, Jamie and I pulled off the road to capture one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen.
On our last day we visited Park Corner, a 110-acre farm which belonged to Maud’s cousins, the Campbells, and the place she felt most at home. While the Campbells still live here, the house is also open to the public as the Anne of Green Gables Museum.
Park Corner served as inspiration for The Story Girl and the Pat of Silver Bush books. If I remember correctly from the journals, it’s Maud who first referred to the Campbells’ house as Silver Bush.
We took a carriage ride past the real Lake of Shining Waters and down to the shore.
Maud was married at Park Corner next to this mantle, where avid fans sometimes hold their own weddings!
After Park Corner, we stopped at the Blue Winds Tearoom, where we were welcomed by this beautiful tangle of flowers.
The building has no direct Anne or Maud connection, but Terry, the owner, is a true Anne expert. She moved to PEI from Japan many years ago because of her love for the series. I recommend trying the New Moon Pudding, which is a recipe found in Maud’s journals and is similar to lemon meringue pie.
From there, Jamie and I visited the Cape Tyron Lighthouse, where the model for the lighthouse in Anne’s House of Dreams once stood. This new lighthouse doesn’t have a lightkeeper’s quarters as the first one did, but it’s easy to imagine Captain Jim there.
I was in the midst of third-round edits for Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine while on our trip and worked throughout our stay in this sweet room at “our” farmhouse.
On our final morning, we packed up our things and waved goodbye to our dear temporary home. Until next time, Prince Edward Island!
Thank you to Prince Edward Island Tourism for making our trip extra special.
Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!
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