Friday, December 16, 2011

The Secret Language of Stories

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December 12, 2011
The Secret Language of Stories - Carolee Dean

One of the topics I frequently discuss in The Secret Language of Stories is the idea of a character moving from the familiar, ordinary world, to a new world full of adventure and surprise. Tortilla Sun, by New Mexico's own Jennifer Cervantes, is a perfect example. Twelve-year-old Izzy is not happy when she finds out that she will be spending the summer with her grandmother in an iTortilla Sunsolated village in New Mexico while her mother goes to Costa Rica. Nana proves to be the perfect mentor as she teaches Izzy about folk remedies. Izzy learns how to make tortillas and gather herbs, and finally begins to unravel the mystery of her father's death. This heartfelt, multicultural tale is for grades four and up. If reading the novel with a class, I suggest exploring the recipe for tortillas below.

2   cups baking mix
¾  cup warm water

The recipe for BAKING MIX may be found in our December 5th issue of Spellbinders, or at the bottom of this page.

tortilla doughAdd just enough warm water to form the dough into a ball. Knead on a lightly floured service about 20 times. Cover with the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.

Form the dough into golf ball size circles. Roll out with a rolling pin into a circle about 6 inches in diameter.

Heat a griddle or large cast iron skillet over medium heat or set an electric skillet at 450 degrees. Before heating, pour in about a teaspoon of cooking oil. Spread across pan with a paper towel and discard the excess oil.
 tortilla in skillet
Cook tortilla on one side until air bubbles appear. Then turn to see if opposite side is browned. If so, turn and cook the other side. Stack cooked tortillas in a clean dish cloth.

Makes 10 small, thin tortillas. For thicker tortillas, double the amount of dough for each.  

If using this recipe with a class, the recipe may be doubled or tripled. Let each student roll out his or her own tortilla. If they are small, several may be cooked at once time in a large electric skillet.

Top with butter, honey, or Nutella®.


1        five pound bag (or seventeen cups) of unbleached flour
9        tablespoons (a little over ½ cup) of baking powder
2        tablespoons of salt
3        one cup containers of Crisco shortening (one pound)

Put all ingredients except for shortening into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Cut the shortening into small pieces and then add to the dry mixture. Use two large knives to cut the shortening into the mixture. You may use a pasty blender, but it will get messy. Put the contents into an airtight container. This recipe makes about 21 cups of mix. A plastic, one gallon ice cream container (cleaned and dried and minus the ice cream) will hold about 18 cups of the mix. Store in a cool, dry place and use within 2-3 months.

 Black Stripes
Meet the Spellbinders
Carolee DeanCarolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the public schools as a
Comfort Paperback Cover
speech-language pathologist. Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association) reading list. She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random
Take Me There Cover
Acts of Haiku."

To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to my website.

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Kim Bio PhotoKimberley Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well Circle of Secretsas two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013. She lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative Diary", a highly successful writing Healing Spellworkshop and has been a speaker at many conferences. Please visit her website to download free Teacher's Guides and Book Club Guides. 

Follow me on Twitter 

Caroline Starr Rose
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Back in New
May B
Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time.


Saturday, January 14th, 2012
Launch Party for May B.
Caroline Starr Rose's Debut Novel
Alamosa Books
8810 Holly, Suite D
Albuquerque, NM  87122

Sunday, April 29th, 2012
9-5 Preconference Session
Author's Panel at the
International Reading Association Conference
Chicago, Illinois
"Rekindling the Reading and Writing Fire"
Join us for this all day session
featuring 11 authors including
all 3 Spellbinders
Carolee Dean
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Caroline Starr Rose

Tuesday, May 1
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
International Reading Association Conference
Chicago, Illinois
"The Secret Language of Stories: Beyond Story Grammar"
Carolee Dean 

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Spellbinders | 3 YAF Authors | Albuquerque | NM | 87181

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