Author Archives: marion

About marion

I first wrote and sketched as a child growing up in Pittsburgh, PA and Brooklyn, New York. I received her first recognition for my creativity when I won the New York City Schools Art Award and participated in my first art exhibit in downtown Manhattan. I was fourteen and a half when I moved to Cyprus with my family. I experienced culture shock but I continued to write about and sketch the sights and sounds of another country and many other things. I am a creative person. I write children's and Young Adult fiction and nonfiction. I write historical and Coming of Age Young Adult novels. I also write picture books and art books for elementary school children. I am in the process of writing a fictionalized biography of a member of the Belgian Resistance who also fought for the US Army during World War II. I worked as a freelance editor for two local companies: College Prowler and SterlingHouse Publisher. I also worked as an assistant literary agent for Lee Shore Agency. I was attending Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Program at the time and the experience was invaluable. My course work toward my Master of Arts degree in turn helped me at work. As an assistant literary agent, I reviewed all incoming manuscripts, cultivated a relationship with the writers we contracted and marketed our books to book publishers for sale. I “freelanced” my editing skills which included working with the manuscript acquisitions editor, selecting book covers with the art department, writing the book jacket blurb, reading film scripts and executing general office duties as assigned. Oh, by the way, I edited books, too. I even utilized Adobe InDesign for the editing that I did for College Prowler. I’ve also reviewed published books and conducted research. I have published nonfiction articles and books online and in print. As an artist, I have exhibited my mixed media drawings and collages nationally and regionally and have worked as a freelance designer and calligrapher. I have a BA in Studio Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and a MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaways

Some  weekend getaways exist in the most populated destinations in the US.  Here are a few to consider.

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

I’ll Take Manhattan.  You can spend a fabulous weekend in New York City and stay either at the Marriott Hotel on Broadway,  which is right near the Theater District; or you can book a weekend at the Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park. Perhaps you would like to stay at the Mandarin Hotel and Spa where you can both be pampered for the weekend. No matter what your budget is; Manhattan is more than accommodating.

Manhattan has something to offer everyone but it is also considered one of the most romantic spots in the U.S.  Whether you enjoy dinner in your hotel suite or dine at any one of the five-star restaurants, the night is always young for lovers who seek solitude in a city that hosts millions of tourists each year.  Whether you take a carriage ride through Central Park, enjoy an opera or symphonic performance at Lincoln Center, or walk along Fifth Avenue during the evening hours; the city offers something for everyone.

cable-car-near-knob-hill-and-powell-street-san-francisco-california

CABLE CAR NEAR KNOB HILL AND POWELL STREET SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco. With its rolling hills, fantastic cuisine, and friendly people; San Francisco offers hotel stays that are sure to enhance your romantic side.  Among the most notable hotels are the Fairmont hotel, in the Nob Hill area; the Mandarin Oriental, which is known for its best views of the Bay and the city; or the downtown W San Francisco hotel that is close to cable cars, shopping, restaurants, and theaters.

Stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf and stop by Ghirardelli Square where you can pick up some of their famous chocolate before having dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants there such as McCormick and Kuleto’s, where the panoramic view of the Bay, as well as Alcatraz island; both of which give a stunning backdrop.  You may also wish to stop by O’Neill’s Irish Pub for an after-dinner drink. You may leave your heart here after departing this great city by the Bay.

m-m-world-las-vegas-

M & M WORLD LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas. Time will stand still at this resort destination.  With a myriad of hotels to choose from you can enjoy your time here without having to worry about time, because there are no clocks in the casinos.

With great weather year round (hot, but always dry), you can wile away the early morning hours at the hotel’s pool and enjoy the evening attending a fabulous show or visit lady luck at the casino.

Whether you take a stay at the Venetian Hotel and enjoy a romantic ride on a gondola; enjoy the Spa and Salon at the Hotel Bellagio; or marvel at the lush indoor gardens, aquarium, and the Secret Garden at the Mirage; Las Vegas is both affordable for any budget and is the perfect weekend romantic getaway.

Lake Istokpoga Lake Placid

SUN SETTING OVER LAKE ISTOKPOGA IN LAKE PLACID

Lake Placid.  Far away from the maddening crowd, you will find comfort and romance at the Mirror Lake Inn.  With gorgeous mountain and lake views, fireplace, and very large tubs, you will find food and lodgings more than satisfactory.  In fact, they are quite conducive to a romantic weekend.

Among the many things you might like to do is to take a walk to the neighboring town of Lake Placid, only two miles away. Here you will find shops along Main Street and you can stop at the Cottage for lunch.  Swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are some of the activities available at Mirror Lake Inn.

The calm and quiet ambiance of this Inn is the perfect weekend getaway destination for couples yet families can also enjoy the surroundings.

 

 

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Family Camping Fun

Family Camping Fun

While getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the reasons families choose to go camping, for kids – it’s the greatest adventure.   If you are planning a family camping trip this summer, here are some tips that will make sure your vacation is both a safe and fun experience.

FAMILY CAMPING WITH TENT AND CAMP FIRE

FAMILY CAMPING WITH TENT AND CAMP FIRE

Pre-camping preparation. If you have small children, you may want to select a tent that will accommodate all if you comfortably. On the other hand, if you are camping with older children, buy more pup tents to give them some sense of independence.

Another great tip is to practice assembling the tents in your backyard avoiding wasting time at the camp site.

CAMPER

CAMPER

  1. Selecting a campsite. Depending upon whether you decide to “rough it” or choose a campsite that is close to amenities, you can research the many campsites online that offer comprehensive information on the area. This will enable you to decide not only what equipment, clothing, and food you need to take, but the available hiking areas and points of interest as well. Ensure that the campsite you select is an official campsite area.  Moreover, when researching camping sites it’s a good idea to look for those areas that are on the high ground.  Thus, if it rains, your tent and equipment will not become water-logged.
CAMPING WITH CAMPFIRE AND TENT

CAMPING WITH CAMPFIRE AND TENT

  1. Make a checklist. This is very important so that you do not forget anything on your camping trip. Among the items on your checklist, some of the more important items you will need are:

* Cooking gear such as a frying pan, a few pots, a bucket, barbecue grill or stove, bags with a Ziploc, and cooking utensils.  In addition, food containers and canned goods are best.  It is also recommended that you prepare meals at home and package them in containers for the trip.  Also bring water, a can opener, hot water kettle and coffee pot, and a cooler with a block of ice.

* Packing proper clothing is also essential.  Depending upon the site, wearing light layers is a good idea as well as packing some sweaters and jackets for the evening hours.  Extra socks, hats, and gloves may also be warranted. If you intend to engage in some hiking, proper hiking boots are necessary.

* Sleeping bags, first aid kit, flashlights, cell phone, garbage bags, toiletries, sunscreen, ointments, a map of the area, insect repellent, games for the kids, and rain wear.

For a complete checklist on what to bring on a camping trip, there are many camping websites that offer a myriad of suggestions.

ARMY KNIFE

ARMY KNIFE

  1. When you reach the camp site, choose an area to set up the tents. Make sure there are no rocks or debris in that area.  Most campgrounds will post warning signs or instructions about specific animals and vegetation.
FIRE WITH LOGS

FIRE WITH LOGS

5.When preparing a campfire, set it up further away from the tents. After you have roasted the marshmallows, sang songs, and told ghost stories; douse the fire before going to bed.

Finally, enjoy the entire camping experience.  Sleeping under the stars, communing with nature, and relishing the time spent with family will not only bring a family closer together, but the memories of this experience will last forever.

 

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Best Family Beach Vacations

Best Family Beach Vacations

The best beaches are along  the Atlantic and Pacific Coast.  Here are a few ideas you may wish to consider for your next family beach vacation.

PANORAMA MIAMI

PANORAMA MIAMI

Florida.  From Ft. Lauderdale to Miami Beach, Florida is a prime resort area for family vacations.  With perfect weather and miles and miles of beaches, this area is affordable, diverse, and has a variety of water-sports, restaurants, and a myriad of activities for children. Cocoa Beach is only an hour away from the Kennedy Space Center and Disney World.  In addition, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is one of the best in Florida.

VIEW OF THE SEA

VIEW OF THE SEA

Myrtle Beach.  Among the many favorite activities for children include: Ripley’s Aquarium, Le Grande Cirque, a show quite famous for its acrobatics and other circus performers; and Myrtle Waves Water Park.  For older children, a definite must-see is the NASCAR Speedpark.

The number one choice for  family beach vacations in the U. S. Is Myrtle Beach. There are many dining options, shopping and historic sites to see.

BENCH CHAIR AT THE BEACH

BENCH CHAIR AT THE BEACH

Hamptons.  One of the most affordable vacations for beach-loving families is East Hampton, New York.  The best place to stay is at the East Hampton House.  The rooms are available in one and two bedroom units that contain fully equipped kitchens and/or kitchenette.  Moreover, you have privileges at the nearby beach that are available to all guests.

Although this vacation spot does not offer food, it does have an indoor gym and offers morning coffee there as well.  But, across the street is a deli that has an array of items on their breakfast menu and is very affordable.  In addition, there is a Chinese restaurant across the street as well as a take-out barbecue, and deli.

The grounds are impeccable and there is a very large pool (one for the kiddies, too) where you can lounge in the sun.  A tennis court is also on the premises.  Every room has its own balcony with lounge chairs and a table.

If you live in the New York area, it is a 90-minute trip by car.  The East Hampton Inn is centrally located – five minutes from town, restaurants, shopping, and a movie house.  You can even take a short trip to Montauk and visit the historic lighthouse or spend time at the beach there.

SEA SHELLS & STAR FISH

SEA SHELLS & STAR FISH

Hawaii.  Of course, nothing can compare to the beaches that are in Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.  No matter what island you choose, Hawaii has the most pristine beaches anywhere in the U.S.  Moreover, there are black-sand beaches on the island of Maui as well as a myriad of activities for the entire family.

SUN SETTING

SUN SETTING

San Diego.  Shifting to the west Coast, your family might enjoy a stay at the Beach Cottages.  This site offers many amenities such as water sports, biking, as well as an amusement park.  For the kids, San Diego Zoo and Sea World are not far from the Beach Cottages.

Centrally located to restaurants and shopping, Beach Cottages is an affordable vacation spot where the family can enjoy the sun, the surf, and other amenities available.  In fact, you can book a studio that offers a fully equipped kitchen.

SUNRISE

SUNRISE

Redondo Beach.  Located on Santa Monica Bay, this report haven is perfect for family beach vacations.  Here you can enjoy water sports, fishing bicycling, kayaking, as well as fine restaurants shops located not far from the Santa Monica Pier.  There are many hotels across the street from the beach or within walking distance.  Each has its own set of amenities geared towards families.

 

 

 

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Top 5 Kid Friendly US Destinations

Top 5 Kid Friendly US Destinations

Although there are a multitude of destinations considered kid-friendly, here are the top 5 you may want to consider on your next family vacation.

EPCOT

EPCOT

  1. Disney World. This  family vacation has been the source of great joy for adults and kids alike.  Whether you stay several miles from the theme park or enjoy the on site amenities, this vacation affords you an endless array of activities designed for the entire family.  From Epcot Center to Sea World; from Disney Village to Universal Studios; Water parks to Wildlife parks; there is always something to do at this world-famous resort.

Moreover, many online travel sites are offering special packages to Disney World as well as Southwest Airlines and others.  In addition, you can save  money by selecting hotels that offer free stays for children, as well as free meals for the little ones. This is one destination where you can easily book a trip based on your budget and stick to it.

RANCH

RANCH

  1. Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. From Alaska to Wyoming, there are a multitude of dude ranches perfect for a family vacation.  But, one of the most notable is the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado, about 20 miles from Rock Mountain National Park.  Here, your family can engage in an array of activities including: horseback riding, hay rides, nature walks, and a host of amenities provided by the ranch.

This dude ranch is perfect for families who love the outdoors as well as enjoy visiting such historic sites as Fort Collins, Old West Museums, and Cheyenne (where you can buy tickets to the world’s largest rodeo held from July 17 to the 26th).

SEA SHELLS

SEA SHELLS

  1. Hawaii. While Oahu has always been a popular destination, it is Maui that attracts family vacationers more than any of its islands.  The reason is that it offers a variety of activities such as whale watching (seasonal); Lahaina, a famous whaling village; and Maui Ocean Center, home to the largest aquarium in Hawaii.

Your family can also take a ride on the Sugar Cane Train, circa 1890; visit Oheo Gulch to marvel at the spectacular waterfalls; spend a day at Iao Valley and view the Iao Needle; or visit the black-sand beaches at Waianapanapa in East Maui.

For fabulous weather, magnificent sunsets, and beautiful beaches; Maui is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy spending quality family time.

NEW YORK SKYLINE

NEW YORK SKYLINE

  1. New York. Probably the most exciting vacation spot for families is New York.  The “Big Apple” has something for everyone; from Broadway to Rockefeller Center, you will never run out of things to do here.  Among the many sites to visit is Radio City Music Hall where you can take in a show; Madison Square Garden; the Empire State Building; the Village; 42nd Street, the Theater District; museums; shopping, fabulous cuisine; the list is endless.

Spend a day walking along Fifth Avenue and stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; take a tour of NBC Studios; spend an afternoon in Central Park and visit the zoo there; go to the South Street Seaport or take in a matinée performance on a Wednesday afternoon.

Whether you stay uptown or downtown, you will always be near to the many historic sites and sounds that form Manhattan.  Moreover, your kids will enjoy all this city has to offer.

M & M WORLD LAS VEGAS

M & M WORLD LAS VEGAS

  1. Las Vegas. The city that never sleeps offers a range of attractions for kids.  This is why it is among the top family destinations in the US today.  Moreover, it is an affordable vacation because the hotel packages and meals will fit any budget.

Among the many attractions offered for families include: M&M’s World, the Lion Habitat at MGM, Adventure Canyon, Game Works (a video game-playing wonderland), Sports Park, Circus Circus rides; Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage hotel; Shark Reef; New York, New York’s roller coaster; Madame Tussaud’s; Lake Mead; Children’s Museum (the largest of its kind); and Adventuresdome, the largest theme park in the U.S.

Many of these attractions are free and are well worth visiting.  Don’t forget the Flamingo Habitat at the Flamingo hotel or the spectacular water fountain show across the way at Caesars Palace.

For great fun and awesome rides and venues, Las Vegas is a wonderful choice for your next family vacation.

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Quilling: Caterpillar

Quilling: Caterpillar
Caterpillar

Caterpillar

Caterpillar

(4) 24” quilling papers of different colors

(2) 12” quilling papers of two of the colors used for the body of the caterpillar or choose contrasting colors

Glue

Scissors

Ruler

 

Glue the tips of the four quilling papers at one end. Curl slightly.  Leaving 1 ½” begin to fold the rest of the papers like an accordion. Fold tightly as you go along.

Leaving another 1 12” use your finger to make the antennae of the caterpillar.  Curl the tips.

Take the two 12” strips different colors and glue the tips. Curl into a tight coil. Use the one color first and then add the other or wind them together. When finished winding, glue the tips and glue below the antennae. Glue the caterpillar to cardboard or cardstock.

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QUILLING: Heart

QUILLING: Heart
Heart

Heart

 

Heart

(2) 24” pink strips of quilling paper

(2) 24” white strips of quilling paper

(2) 24” strips of red, orange, cream, dark pink quilling paper each

Additional strips of paper in different colors

Scissors

Ruler

Glue

 

Cut two strips of 24” pink quilling paper in half. Cut two strips of white quilling paper in half. Alternate the colors.

Make a big loop and glue the four tips together. Let dry. Fold the loop so that it comes to a point, forming two loops. You now have a heart shape. Glue this center so that the heart shape holds.

Take two 24” strips of coordinating or contrasting quilling paper and coil tightly, first one color and then the other. Glue the tips.

Make 3 – 5 closed coils of various sizes. Begin to alternate two strips of different colors and coil them tightly. Glue the tips. Then coil three strips of different colors tightly. Glue the tips. Make big and small coils by adding more quilling strips if necessary to alternate the size of the coils.

Push through the center of the larger coils by to form a pyramid shape. Keep the other coils flat to add variety to the heart.

Glue the heart to card stock or cardboard of contrasting or coordinating color.

 

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QUILLING: Flower

QUILLING: Flower
Flower

Flower

 

Flower

(3) 24” strips of orange quilling paper (for the center of the flower)

(1) 24” strips of brown quilling paper (for the center of the center of the flower)

(4) 12” strips of yellow quilling paper (for the petals)

(4) 12” strips of orange-yellow quilling paper (for the petals)

(4) 3 ½” strips of orange-yellow quilling paper

(3) 12” strip of brown quilling paper (for the petals)

Cardstock or cardboard

Glue

Ruler

scissors

 

Tightly coil three 24” strips of orange paper and glue the tip. This is the center of the flower.

Using the 12”strips of yellow paper, make a small loop and secure the tip with glue. Continue to make a loop slightly larger than the first, securing the tip again. Repeat this pattern until there is no more paper to make a loop. Be sure each loop is bigger than the last one and glue the tip each time you make a loop.

These will be the petals of the flower. Continue with the rest of the yellow strips until you have four completed yellow petals consisting of open loops.

Continue this pattern with the orange-yellow strips until you have four completed flower petals. In the end, there will be a total of eight petals.

Make petals with the 12” strips of brown paper making the loops smaller.

On cardstock or cardboard, trace the flower’s center lightly with pencil. Arrange the yellow and orange-yellow petals evenly around this circle and glue down. Glue the brown petals randomly around this circle.

Glue the center of the flower down.

Take one end of the 3 ½” strips of orange-yellow quilling paper and curl the tip. Do this for the remaining strips of 3 ½” orange-yellow papers. Glue the other end randomly through-out the petals.

NEXT WEEK: Heart

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QUILLING: Octopus

QUILLING: Octopus
Octopus

Octopus

Octopus

(3) 24” strips of light blue quilling paper

(3) 24” strips of medium blue quilling paper

(3) 24” strips of dark blue quilling paper

(4) 3” strips of purple quilling paper

(2) 3” strips of light blue quilling paper

(2) 3” strips of medium blue quilling paper

(2) 3” strips of dark blue quilling paper

Piece of card stock or board

Glue

Ruler

 

Begin a tight coil using the light blue paper. When finished, glue the tip. Then wrap the medium blue paper tightly; glue the tip. Wrap the dark blue paper tightly and glue the tip.

For the eyes: tightly coil two of the purple strips separately and glue on to the face of the octopus.

For the tentacles: Bend one end of the strip of paper and make a wide curl with your finger. Curl the opposite end.  Glue the bent end to the octopus. Repeat for the remaining strips. Place four on either side of the head.

Push the coil out from the center to give the octopus a three-dimensional look.

Glue on card stock or colored cardboard.

NEXT WEEK: FLOWER

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QUILLING: Techniques, Tools and Definitions

QUILLING: Techniques, Tools and Definitions

 

QUILLING PATTERNS

QUILLING PATTERNS

Quilling (also known as paper-scrolling) is a paper art whereby multicolored strips of paper are shaped, scrolled and pasted to produce various shapes and objects. Assemble and grouped together, they form a work of art. Historically, paper quilling dates back to ancient Egypt.

Buy or paper strips make them from paper that is flexible. Other considerations are weight and thickness.

3mm width is the standard and preferable width. Larger works may need 6 mm width while 1.5 mm is preferable for embellishments and smaller pieces.

Thick colored paper or watercolor paper is referable for the background. When using colored paper, organize the background color so that it contrasts or blends with the colors of the composition. The paper that is thick, smooth and stiff is ideal.

Tools:

Slotted tool – This is used for scrolling the strips; insert paper strip into the slot and roll or use the handle for bigger coils.

Small bamboo knife – Use it for smoothing and scrapping the paper strips.

Straight pins – These help fix shapes of the designs.

Glue – Use it for pasting strips, etc. on the background.

Curved tip tweezers – Use them to grip, place and fix small pieces or strips.

Needle tool or toothpick or other applicator – Use them to apply glue on paper strips.

Scissors – They are used for trimming and cutting.

Paper shears – Shears are used for special effects’

Utility knife –  A utility knife is used to cut.

Tweezers – They are used to hold paper while quilling or gluing.

Ruler – This is used to measure the paper.

Dowels – Dowels are used to help make various coils (fingers work, too).

Markers, watercolors, paints and brushes – These materials and tools are used for coloring and/or designing your papers.

Board/card stock – These are used for pinning or gluing the coils in place.

Techniques

Smoothing  – Hold one end of the strip between your left thumb and index finger. Use your right hand to smooth the strip with the bamboo knife with your right thumb on top. This will create a curl. This can also be done by using only your right thumb and finger.

Scraping – Using the bamboo knife, scrap the strip very hard between your thumb and knife or scrape hard with your thumb and index finger.

Scraping and smoothing require using different strengths. Smoothing is the preparation before shaping, scraping and scraping is part of shaping.

Bending – Bend the strip with both hands to create a curve.

Scrolling – Use a slotted tool or small cylinder to scroll the strip to form a coil.

Pulling – Stack several strips and glue one end. Use one hand to loosely hold the middle of the stack and use the other hand to pull the strips into different lengths to create a shape.

Pasting – Pasting fixes the processed strips to form basic shapes and for mounting those shapes on the background. Proper placing and mounting of the last composition is important for overall effect.

Pinching – After scrolling the strip, use your finger to pinch the coil. This creates many variations and shapes.

Pressing – Use thumb and index finger to press the strip or coil to form a shape.

Stacking – Stack several “elements” to crate layering and three-dimensional effects. Add more layers as needed.

Adjusting – Adjust basic components, strips, shapes and compositions to create the best effect.

 

NEXT WEEK : MAKE A QUILLED CATERPILLAR

 

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Just Loved Reading: Paper Boy by Vince Vawter

Just Loved Reading: Paper Boy by Vince Vawter

Just Loved Reading:

Paperboy

Middle Grade Fiction

Vawter, Vince. Paperboy. New York: Delacorte Press, 2013

Words in the air blow away as soon as you say them but words on paper last forever.” (Paperboy, p 21)

Memphis, Tennessee, 1959. The protagonist in Paperboy can’t say his name without inhaling big gulps of Gentle Air as his speech therapist taught him. (We learn his name in the last chapter and that his first name and his last name start with the same letter.) Some words are easier to say than other words depending on the first letter of the word because some letters are easier to pronounce than others.

He calls his best friend Rat because it’s easier to say than his real name, Art.

He throws a mean ball, though – it’s the one thing he knows he’s good at –  in the opinion of his team. He feels at home on the baseball mound but not everywhere else in his white suburban world.

He takes over Art’s paper route for one month even though he knows it will be hard for him to communicate with the customers on collection day. He knows he’s taking on a challenge. But the people and the events that he encounters, the hidden family secret he uncovers and the surprising new friends he makes during that month and on that paper route changes his attitude life forever.

And that is just the beginning.

WHY I LOVED READING THIS BOOK:

The protagonist is one of the most likable, sympathetic, inspiring children in children and Young Adult literature that I have ever read about. I wanted to hug him. Other readers may want to hug him, too. He never stops thinking of ways to overcome his stuttering but confesses his loneliness because his stuttering sets him apart from other kids. In spite of everything, he doesn’t give up or feel sorry for himself. Instinctively, he lives one day at a time but tries everyday to overcome his “affliction.”

The reader will root for him through every step of his journey from trying to collect money to witnessing a knifing to becoming friends with a deaf boy and a retired sailor to discovering a family secret. This boy is a hero because of the way he handles himself in these situations with the kinds of people he encounters and the decision he reaches about his family’s past.

In the author’s note, Vince Vawter, a stutterer, quotes James Earl Jones, who overcame his stutter and became a renowned actor: “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.” Like the author, the hero in Paperboy realizes that although it is hard for him to speak, he is better at writing words (and throwing a fast ball).

Paperboy will lift up your spirits.

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