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November-December 2020     #2

November 20, 2020


Greetings & Salutations!


Welcome to the second issue of The Simpsonian Muse. I am your scribe, Martha Seif Simpson, Author and Children's Librarian. As the header says, this monthly newsletter will feature:

·       News – Mine as well as other interesting tidbits

·       Views – A few photos from my world travels

·       Stuff you Can Use – A mish-mash of activities, crafts, story-stretcher ideas, or whatever I am excited about sharing


If you missed last month's newsletter, you can click the button on the left sidebar to catch up. Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I hope you will find something to inform and entertain you.



  ~ NEWS ~


The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has a holiday book promotion site to help readers shop for children's books published from 2018-2020.

You can click here to access hundreds of fiction and nonfiction books for kids and teens, and even a few resource books:  SCBWI Bookstop


To head straight to my picture book, Esther's Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim, click here:  Esther's Gragger Bookstop page


But wait, there's more!


This year I am serving on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries annually since 1968, the committee recognizes outstanding picture, middle grade, and young adult books that authentically portray the Jewish experience. The winners, honor books, and notable titles will be announced in January during the 2021 American Library Association's MidWinter Conference.


For more information about the STBA, including lists of previous winners, click here: Sydney Taylor Book Award



Picture Books

Bike & Trike by Elizabeth Verdick & Brian Biggs

Trusty but outgrown trike is about to be replaced by a spiffy new two-wheeler with training wheels. But even a fancy new bike can learn from a beat-up old trike.


The Oldest Student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora

This simple biography is based on the true story of Mary Walker, a former slave who finally found time to learn to read at age 114.



Middle Grade


Twilight Hauntings (Enchanter's Child, Book 1) by Angie Sage

I reviewed this book for School Library Journal in their February 2020 edition. Here's a recap:


The King's Enchanter gave up his baby daughter in order to save her. Ten years later in the city of Luma, Alex knows nothing of her true parents, only the drudgery of doing household chores while her stepmother and foster sisters boss her around. She does have two comforts--her younger brother Louie and her hexagonal cards that can foretell the future. But Luma has banned magic and when one sister betrays her to the Sentinels, Alex and Louie must flee. They escape to a forest but are pursued by deadly Twilight Hauntings including river snakes, stinging butterflies, a giant Hawke, and the suffocating Gray Walker. Meanwhile, the ex-Enchanter Hagos Ravenstarr forms an alliance with the Hawke's former Flyer, Danny. They start searching for the magical items needed to destroy the Hauntings; the same quest Alex also undertakes. This thrilling novel has it all - intriguing characters and terrifying monsters, friendship and betrayal, good intentions and misunderstandings, fearsome attacks and daring escapes, plus family dramas of various sorts. Fans of fantasy and adventure will snap this up and eagerly await the sequel.




Did you know that November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month?

And December is National Pear Month?


According to Chase's Annual Events and the 2020 Every Day's a Holiday Calendar, other noteworthy dates in November and December include:


November 18 – Married to a Scorpio Support Day (I'm a Scorpio!)

November 19 – World Toilet Day

November 20 – Name Your PC Day

November 23 – TARDIS Day


December 4 - National Sock Day

December 7 – National Cotton Candy Day

December 15 – National Cupcake Day

December 16 – National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

December 20 – National Sangria Day

December 23 – Festivus

December 27 – National Fruitcake Day

December 31 – Make Up Your Mind Day


Celebrate appropriately!





Last month, I showed you some photos of Neuschwanstein Castle from the bus tour my husband and I took in 2018.


We also stopped in Heidelberg, Germany on that vacation and visited another castle. This one was quite different, as you will see. It was one of those walled-in fortress types, with several connected buildings. Some were in various states of ruin, and other parts had been re-purposed as museums and for other uses.




Heidelberg is a university town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the river Neckar in south-west Germany.


This is a postcard of Heidelberg with a good view of the castle on the hill above the city. Note there is a lower fortress wall as well as another one that surrounds the courtyard. The entrance is at the far top right of the photo and we walked along that section of the wall.




We took the funicular to get to the castle. Europe has lots of these electric trains that are designed to go up and down mountains.




Here I am outside the entrance to the castle courtyard.




Along the parapet on the outside edge of the courtyard. See the right corner point near the railing, by the tree and the crumbling tower?





Here's a photo taken from that vantage point, looking down on the city and the roof of another building within the fortress.




This is another view of Heidelberg that I took from the parapet. You can see the main square of the city below and the river beyond.




This is the plaza inside the castle walls with many connected buildings. My husband, John, is standing in the center.




A closer look at the buildings on the left…




…and on the right.




The building on the right has an Apothecary Museum.




There were several rooms where different apothecaries (pharmacy counters) throughout history were displayed. Here are 2 of them.




Look at all of those drawers, urns, and other assorted containers!




Another building had a cellar which supposedly contains the world's largest beer barrel. This is Germany, after all!


Next month, we visit another part of the world.





The month before Hanukkah is Jewish Book Month. And with Hanukkah beginning on December 10, this is the perfect time to make sure everyone knows about my picture book, The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah.


Since this newsletter is part of my website, you can click on the right sidebar to get to the page dedicated to the book. You will find links to a coloring page, a crossword puzzle with an answer key, and book discussion questions.


This month's Stuff You Can Use introduces a new activity to go along with the book – a dreidel maze. You can print it out to enjoy even if you haven't read the book. (But I hope you will want to read it!)


You can find the full-page version of the maze on the page for The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah.


Happy Hanukkah!




I hope you enjoyed this issue of the Simpsonian Muse. If you know someone who would be interested in reading it, please forward this issue and tell them to subscribe.


Until next month, remember to infuse your muse!


~ Martha