Eighth Grade Movie

A Movie You Want to See This Weekend

Eighth Grade Movie

There is a movie you want to see this weekend about an eighth grade girl. It is aptly titled, Eighth Grade.

I’m thrilled!

Eighth grade is probably one of the toughest times in a person’s life, don’t you agree?

I’m guessing most of you reading my blog have survived eighth grade, too.

That’s why I wrote my middle grade book Bumbling Bea.

If you’d like more information about Bumbling Bea, check it out here: Bumbling Bea

Here’s a trailer from the film:

In my book, Bumbling Bea the main character, Beatrice is a lot like Elsie.   Both are the epitome of an eighth grade girl and I’m glad someone has finally shone a light on this awkward age.

Why is this such a difficult time in a young person’s life?

Think about it–everything is changing.



Hormones (or as a friend of mine says, “their whores are a moanin'”)

Image result for teen bullying

They aren’t little kids protected by their elementary teachers anymore.  They are only a few months away from high school which for them feels like adulthood is looming right around the corner.

And it is looming around the corner…

Society thrusts them into young adult hood too fast or we hold them back too much trying to shield them from the world.

Man, what a balancing act for all of us.

I’m excited to see how someone else addresses what it is like for eighth grade girls.

I wrote Bumbling Bea because I think eighth grade girls are forgotten.  If you haven’t read my book, here is a quick synopsis just to whet your appetite.

Beatrice thinks she has no acting talent but that doesn’t stop her from auditioning for the annual middle school play. Easy! Except Michiko, a new girl from Japan, shows up and ruins everything! So begins Beatrice’s diabolical plan to scare away Michiko. But Michiko has goals of her own with no plans to leave soon. Then there’s that “other” girl who is such a blabber mouth.  What’s a girl to do?  Plenty.

Bumbling Bea

This isn’t your ordinary middle school experience either.  My story is full of conflict from Beatrice and Michiko, to Beatrice’s parents impending divorce and Michiko’s problems with her demanding mother, to a first cruch, poison ivy, flag dinners, paper airplanes and crazy antics during the play performance.

I’m hoping to see “Eighth Grade” this weekend, but until then I’ll think about my experiences in eighth grade.

I know my life wasn’t as fraught with drama as Beatrice’s.

Times were different from now of course.

We didn’t have cell phones are sexting, but we did have note writing and lots of telephone talking. I remember cheerleading (the closest thing I could get to performing), piano practicing, pimples, my hair on sponge curlers, makeup and panty hose.  I had a boy friend for an entire year and I felt so special because of it. (There was LOTS of making out which I’m sure my mother was aghast by but never said anything.)

I was a Girl Scout, too so I was trying to walk the very slim line of being a good girl AND trying to be part of the crowd.  Even now I can feel the angst of that.

So remember, if you have time this weekend a movie to see is “Eighth Grade”.  Give yourself a little treat or take a childhood friend with you.  I’d love to hear from you after you see it.

Until then.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net


The Reasons You Want to be the String

The Reasons You Want to Be the String

Here are the reasons why you want to be the string.

Let’s talk about well meaning parents who take their parenting job way too far and drive themselves and their kids crazy.


Yes, folks,  we call these parents “helicopter parents.”

Here is a story for you:

My perfect granddaughter (only joking….sort of) is nearly two years old.  She is beginning to venture out on her own within the invisible perameters of her parents’ watchful eyes and ears. At this point, you might label my daughter and her husband as helicopter parents, but you are incorrect!  They are protectful and engaged.

My daughter, her mother, tells me my granddaughter is willfull (nah), headstrong (I haven’t seen it) and likes to be in charge (this could be a valid descriptor as she is a Leo and we Leos love being the boss.)

Can’t all two year olds be described that way?

Here is where my daughter is healthy–she lets my granddaughter experience the outcome of her choices–just a little bit.

For instance, if Mom warns you not to walk on the hot wood boardwalk around the swimming pool because it could hurt your feet and you do so anyway, you learn pretty quickly that hey, that wood is hot and maybe I shouldn’t walk on it.

It is when the guarding goes on for too many years and/or smothering the child becomes the norm that we have trouble.  

Sun Children Drawing Image Drawing Paint C

From a Parents Magazine article”What is Helicopter Parenting”,

“The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969  book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a  dictionary entry in 2011. Similar terms include “lawnmower parenting,”cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting.”

Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment  of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To                       Guide.

“They typically take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences  and, specifically, their successes or failures,” Dr. Daitch says. Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it “overparenting.” “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way   that is in excess of responsible parenting,” Dr. Dunnewold explains.”

Girl, Mother, Daughter, Mum, People

It is tough to stand back and watch your child struggle. We all struggle from time to time. That’s life.

How, then, do you remain an involved parent without jumping over the parental cliff?

As a mother of two grown daughters,drama teacher  and youth theatre director for thirty-eight years I have a few suggestions.

If you think you are a parent careening over the cliff, I suggest you:

  1.  Breathe, honestly take a few deep breaths and count between them
  2. Avoid knee jerk reactions to situations. Give time a chance to rectify the problem.
  3. Keep a sense of humor
  4. Remember this is a season in your child’s life–nothing ever lasts forever
  5. Find a friend or relative who can listen to you vent your concerns (make sure they know you are venting, too)
  6. Understand the situation your child’s teacher, director, coach or youth program leader is in and try see it from their perspective
  7. Get a hobby, a pet or discover a new interest of yours–you are still a good parent if you have your own life
  8. This one is a biggie! Think about your own childhood and do your best not to fix everything you thought went wrong then by doing it better this time around with your child.

It hurts to see your child hurting, I understand that. Honestly, it will hurt MORE in the long run if you step in and save your kid every time something doesn’t go the way you think it should.

Teach your child the value of rigor, challenge and strife.  There are some values to them, you know.  Whenever I am going through something difficult, I like to analyze the situation.

I say aloud, “Okay, this is not the first time in the world someone has goofed up on a job interview.  What can I learn from it?”

If I step back from the issue, mistake or challenge and analyze it, it makes the event less important and takes away whatever emotion or perceived value I have placed on it. 

If you don’t stop being overbearing, you will raise a neurotic child who becomes a dysfuntional adult who runs from challenges every time they are faced with them, be it a job interview, an audition, a auto accident, peer pressure, a romantic relationship break up or argument.

You want to raise a child who becomes an adult who is a healthy, contributing member of society. 

If you think about your own life, I bet you remember what the tough, awkward and uncomfortable moments taught you more than the good ones.  These challenges make you stronger and more able to withstand the next time something doesn’t work out for you.

I know a very talented, beautiful, promising young woman who auditioned for every production and was always the one who lost the lead role to someone else.  This occurred for years.

She didn’t give up.  Later, she went on to compete in the Miss America contest, won at the state level and was fourth runner up in the national contest.

That’s not too shabby.

I am aquainted with her parents.  They owned several apartment buildings and local shoe stores.  She learned a lot from them about how to be professional and business like.  Now she owns a thriving business. Life continued to happen to her of course, but she took it in stride.  She is exemplary single mother raising her daughter.

Parents should be less helicopters and more the string of a spinning top.  Okay, that’s kinda sappy but you understand my point. (I can hear you saying, “Deb said I should be the string, be the string….)

Image result for wooden top with string

You send your child out into the world and hope she doesn’t spin out of control and hit the wall too many times. You are there to pick her up or when her just needs some “fluffing up” as we call it at our house. (Yes, I actually fluff our daughters’ shoulders as if they were a flattened pillow.)

You want a life of supporting your child, and only “fluffing” them.  You don’t want  a life of constant regret or worry everytime something doesn’t work out for them.

Put away the helicopters and enjoy your kids.  It’s tough to do some days but in the long run, you’ll be glad that you did.

Have you ever had a moment of helicoptering?  I have.  I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

P.S.  Recently, I received an email from one of the queens of  helicopter parents who wanted to set the record straight about her son and an incident which occurred THREE YEARS AGO!! Get this:  she was writing me about something she was told third hand.  Third hand, people.  Oy!  The stories I could tell you…..

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Check out my post on the Ugly Santa, a family memory:  The Ugly Santa 

or a poem of mine about parenthood A Favorite Poem of Mine

Stage Properties A Lesson in Wonderous Creativity

Stage Properties are a Lesson in Wonderous Creativity

Stage properties are a lesson in wonderous creativity!

I created a new product this week, a lesson about stage properties. 

It is suitable for upper elementary and middle grade students. 

Stage Properties

You can find it at: Stage Properties Using Cooperative Learning

Those of us in drama education have a tendency to gloss over stage properties when we teach about them. I inform students if they like to make crafts, enjoy theatre and art they are going to love stage properties.

This one-day lesson about stage properties (with fairy tales as the focus) is suitable for upper elementary and middle school students. It is engaging, fun and unique.

Students learn about stage properties, view video examples, take notes, team up with a classmate and use their imaginations!

Product includes:
Teacher’s Questions
Stage properties categories and the reasons they aren’t labeled as such
Short quiz
Cooperative learning assignment

Image result for backstage at the theatre stage properties
When I was studying theatre in college, the first back stage crew I signed up for was stage properties. 

Boy, I had a lot of learning to do!

The show was “Look Homeward Angel” which is a period piece set in the early 1900’s.  My job was to serve as an assistant of sorts to the cast.  I would hand them props or take them from them if they were in a hurry.  I prepared the set each night before the production, put the props away after the performance and kept them in good repair.

I hadn’t really given props much thought although I had been in charge of them in high school as well for “The Miracle Worker”.  That was high school, you know?  I lived in a small town in Kansas and we didn’t have the money or energy to do more than the basics.

But college was a whole different experience.

I always advise my students that if they want to go into theatre as a profession, stick to technical theatre because you’ll be hired more often than an actor.  Good properties people are hard to find.

They are resourceful, creative and inventive.  The American Theatre Wing has some super videos to inform us about thetre careers. Check this out: American Theatre Wing’s Stage Properties

Cool, huh?

Here is a post I blogged specifically about the importance of props in your production

Critical Steps in Choosing a Play or Musical: Stage Prop

When I graduated from college, I spent a summer as a stage properties mistress at the Okoboji Summer Theatre.  It was an incredibly difficult experience–ten shows in nine weeks. I can handle a lot, but this job nearly broke me.

In case you didn’t understand that, I said 10 SHOWS (different) in 9 WEEKS!!!


Image result for backstage at the theatre stage properties

Most productions have many props they need. 

Musicals and comedies have the largest number.

Usually comedies need strange things:

  • a Mickey Mouse hat to hold crackers on a “cheese ball”
  • two live afghan dogs, hopefully identical
  • a grand piano which is playable
  • matching living room furniture in beige
  • a large embroidered sampler held on a standing frame
  • a painting with a church steeple which looked rather phallic
  • a live cat
  • liver and onions (which the cast can eat on stage–we used dark rye bread for that one)
  • fruit pies impersonating the meat pies for “Sweeney Todd”
  • 8 breakable white water pitcher which could hold water for five minutes and then break on cue
  • bird puppets
  • steamer trunks
  • child’s rocking chair
  • 1940 roller skates

Plus, all the things which are made from scratch such as swords, daggers, child’s coffin,  and a grave marker to name a few.

See?  These are pretty fun and students studying theatre need to know about the subject.

So look into my Stage Properties product, will you?  I think it will help you and your students.

Stage Properties Using Cooperative Learning

Stage Properties

What are some stage properties you have created?

I’d love to learn about them.

Looking for other drama education products?  Check out my store at: Teacher Pay Teachers Dramamommaspeaks Store

There you’ll find units on storytelling, tableau, radio theatre, costume design, Shakespeare and new products each week!

Reviews of other Dramamommaspeaks products:

“This is a great very well written resource and very good for text comprehension! Thank you!”

“This is such a wonderful and creatively made resource!”

“Love this activity! What a great way for students to work together!”

Effective Teaching Methods

Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part Two

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check out part one, will you?



Plaid, Coaster, Bast, Colorful, Color

I have a second teaching method which works wonders with any aged kid–I guarantee it!


You may wonder what arts integration is specifically.  Simply put, arts integration is a method used to teach the core subjects infusing them with the arts–music, art, dance and theatre.

From http://www.tealarts.org/arts-integration.html

“Arts integration is an approach to learning in which standards based objectives from the visual and performing arts (the visual arts, music, dance, theatre and media arts) and one or more other subject areas are aligned, met, and assessed.

Image result for students participating in arts integration

It is important to know that arts integration does not supplant single subject art classes like band, dance, drama or drawing, but instead is used to design robust lessons that engage students in the processes used in the arts, such as creative thinking and active learning.

Done with diligence and purpose, arts integration helps students flourish, deepen their learning, and make meaningful connections between the disciplines. Studies have shown that art experiences result increased academic achievement, self-confidence, motivation, and improved social-emotional connections and behavior.”

Don’t ya love it?

Remember in elementary school when you got to draw a picture about some scene in the book you were reading?  Or write a poem about a moment in history? Yeah, it’s like that.

When I was in my forties, a vocal music teacher friend of mine and I  wanted to pursue a masters in education but not in curriculum and instruction (a masters many educators receive.)  She did some research and ran onto the Lesley College which offered a Masters in Education focused on Creative Arts Learning (aka arts integration.)

This was an off site campus location and the professors came to us once a month for eighteen months while we studied the various elements of the arts and how to integrate them into the classroom.

Image result for art and math

My friend and I were ecstatic about the program! At the first class, we noticed there were several teachers lacking confidence and timid about their creativity. Well, that changed for the better by the end.  They fared as well or better than we did from the learning. Isn’t that great?

As I mentioned in part one I am now teaching college level students.  Since I was getting my feet wet with the material this first year, I hesitated to use arts integration to teach these college kids.  That was a mistake.

This fall, if I end up teaching for the college I will use arts integration right from the beginning.

It’s novel, it’s obviously creating, it’s very engaging and it’s fun.

Here are a few ideas for arts integreation in core subjects.

Students can:

  1.  Write a script depicting a particular time in history and act it out.
  2. Create a monologue of a famous person and perform it during an open house.
  3. Pen a poem about a country they are studying
  4. Draw and illustrate a picture demonstrating how the body works.
  5. Mold something from clay of a certain culture
  6. Create a rap about the U.S.’s fifty states and capitols
  7. Use movement to demonstrate the various types of clouds, how a typhoon is different from a tornado or the tetonic shifts in the ocean.
  8. Make a dance to accompany a piece of music from a time period which was studied.
  9. If you have musicians, ask them to play a piece of music to compliment the learning.  If the students are studying western expansions, a student could play a country western piece for example.
  10. When studying shapes, cut different ones for collages using basic geometry.  This helps teach and reinforce undrstanding of shapes.  Then as a group, incorporate them into a collage on a classroom wall.

As you can tell, the ideas are numerous.

Utilizing the arts in your classroom gives you energy, too.  Because every project will be creative, your intellect will be challenged.  This is essential for the teacher who plans to teach for many years.

Think about it–would it be more exciting to see what your students create and learn about a concept or merely you regurgitating material……for twenty-five years?

So, there you have it!  Try arts integration in your class or email me if you need help, I’m always willing to suggest ideas to interested teachers.  Rememeber, we are all in this together.

If you’d like more advice on teaching, check out these posts:



Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Announcing: My Teacherspayteachers Product Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale

Summer is here which means, at least this summer, I am busy creating products for my Teacherspayteachers.com store. You can find my products at: Teacherspayteachersstore

I am now selling my lesson plans and units on Teacherspayteachers.com.  This has been a goal of mine for several years. I kept procrastinating because I figured no one would be interested in my products in drama education.

Nay nay, I say….(I heard a comic say that once and it cracked me up!)

So far, I have available eight products to purchase for grades second through ninth. This last one, Sedna, an Innuit Tale is probably one of the most involved.

I adapted multicultural stories when I taught in a middle school for twelve years. There was simply very little material for class plays and that is what I needed. Desperation is the mother of invention.

Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale is a fifteen minute play suitable for upper elementary and middle school students. A drama class, reading group, Social Studies will find this very useful.

My husband, a retired instrumental music teacher with lots of composing experience, created a song remniscent of the Inuit culture’s music.This will be a terrific co-teaching experience, too! I can see a drama teacher and vocal music teacher working in tandem on the piece. Such a great opportunity for learning. You know?

Included in the product is:

  • warm up
  • procedure or rehearsal schedule
  • six page script
  • stage properties list
  • sound effects list
  • original song reminiscent of the Innuit culture
  • recording of the melody with the accompaniament
  • source list with suggestions for masks and dances,
  •  properties list

The Sedna story is very dramatic and exciting.

Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the sea. According to most versions of the legend Sedna was once a beautiful mortal woman who became the ruler of Adlivun (the Inuit underworld at the bottom of the sea) after her father threw her out of his kayak into the ocean. Sedna’s fingers, which her father had to cut off to keep her from clinging to the side of the boat, are often said to have turned into the first sea mammals.

The other details of Sedna’s story are told differently in different Inuit/Eskimo communities– sometimes she provoked her father’s rage by attacking him or violating cultural taboos, while other times her father was selfishly trying to save his own life by sacrificing Sedna.

Of course, my version of Sedna isn’t quite so gruesome, but creation myths can be very dramatic and Sedna follows suit with other mythological fables.

If you are interested in purchasing Sedna, check her out at:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SEDNA-AN-INNUIT-TALE-A-FIFTEEN-MINUTE-PLAY-3828901?aref=42bwyx2n

If you are interested in other products of mine, click here to see a few:



Do you need a story dramatized but don’t have the time to do it yourself?  No problem.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com and we’ll talk!  I’d love to help you.

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Never Whistle in a Theater

Don’t Ever Whistle in a Theater. Here’s Why

Don’t ever whistle in the theater.

We theatre people are a superstitious bunch.  I am.  I can scare myself merely walking to the bathroom in the dark at my own home.  (Ridiculous, I know.)

It only makes sense if you think about it– we have HUGE imaginations if we are any good at all on the stage.   There are certain things we simply do not do or say…

Never Whistle in a Theater

1. Never Whistle on Stage:

I was chastised once for whistling on stage.  (I whistle if I can’t sing at the moment.)  The history of this superstition was news to me.  Many years ago, stagehands were out of work sailors. Ships used ropes.  Theaters used a similar amount of ropes. Set pieces and people were raised and lowered in by rope, sand bags and fly systems.

Have you ever worked the rigging system of a theater?  It’s tremendous, especially counter weight systems which are still pretty common.

Whistling was used to cue other men backstage to raise or lower ropes. So if you were onstage and whistled you might face a sand bag to the face. Luckily, we now have headsets.

2. Break a Leg

We never wish each other good luck. Instead we say, “Break a leg”. What? I knew it was of historical significance, but apparently there are several possible origins. One thought is it came from ancient Greek Theatre when audience members stomped a foot to show appreciation of a strong performance. (Must have been pretty dusty.)  During  the times of Vaudeville theatre, actors wished each other “Break a leg”, because if they made it on the stage past the curtain legs, they expected to be paid. We aren’t certain where this superstition originated, but we continue to wish each other a break of the leg.

ballet dancers

3. Bad Dress Rehearsal Equals Good Opening Night

As a director and actress, I’ve experienced many a bad dress rehearsal.  If you’ve been involved in any amount of productions you will, too.  A bad final dress rehearsal is sign for a good opening performance. A good director paces the production to hit their peak at opening night.  Everyone knows this.

It could be nerves of the cast and crew’s impending performance which makes for shaky dress rehearsals. They know what’s coming.  I know one director who has no dress rehearsal and takes the night  off right before the show opens. (He merely has it a day earlier.) Yikes!

His thought is performers are much like racing horses at the gates.  With a night off prior to the opening night, it allows everyone to rest up, cogitate on their personal notes from the director and simply focus.

Maybe he’s hoping to ward off a bad dress rehearsal.  Frankly, I’m all about sleep. I would rather have a longer dress rehearsal on a Tuesday night and a shorter one on Wednesday night so everyone can get some rest before a show opens on a Thursday night, than to stress out everyone with a extended dress rehearsal on a Wednesday.


4. Flowers Gifts:

It is expected for performers to be given flowers especially on opening night.   Once this honor was given only on directors and leading performers, but it is common practice nowadays to show support and appreciation from family, friends, and fans.

So when is this bad? It is believed that receiving flowers before a show is as equally bad luck as saying break a leg. I never knew this!

I never allow my cast members to accept flowers on stage at the end of a curtain call.  Tacky, tacky.   Many years ago, we didn’t have florist shops.  So, in order to obtain flowers nice enough for a gift and for a cheap price, people stole from graveyards.

The superstition comes in when you give performers flowers that are associated with death before a show closes that you were bringing about the death of a show. Flowers were given after the show closed to symbolize the death, or end, of a production.

5. The Ghost Light

Let’s face it– a dark theater is a scary and treacherous place. There are lots of things to trip over, bump into, fall into an orchestra pit or damage set pieces easily.  Most of the time the light switches for the backstage, or work lights is difficult to find even when other lights are lit.

While it might fend of pesky ghosts from playing tricks on shows, it also helps protect the unlucky few who are rummaging through the dark.

In an Equity theatre, the ghost light was the physical alert that you are no longer on the job. When a stage manager puts out the ghost light, he is signaling rehearsal or the performance is over for the evening and consequently no one will be paid after this moment.


6. The Scottish Play

The last superstition is a wild one. What is the “The Scottish Play” you ask?  It’s William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Many of us believe mentioning this name or even quoting lines from this show will bring disaster upon ourselves and our production.

History abounds for this superstition.  For instance, several famous actors (Charlton Hester and Constantine Stanislavski) suffered catastrophes during or after a production of Macbeth. That’s a new one for me.

Also, it is said that Abe Lincoln read this play the night before his assassination.

Today, people associate its utterance to technical things going awry, actors forgetting lines, props and costumes mysteriously vanish, a freak storm closes the theatre, and a bunch of other freaky weird things.

If you want to rid yourself of the curse, you must turn around eleven times and ask for forgiveness of Dionysis, the god of theater.  This sounds ridiculous, but I don’t want to take the chance that it could be true.

So, here’s my question:  What happens when one is performing Macbeth or directing it?  You have to recite the lines then.  Maybe it only works if you aren’t performing it?

Whatever.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not taking any chances…

Please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

I’d love to hear from you!

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Announcing: Bumbling Bea The Play –Act one, Scene one

Here is the play adaptation of my book, Bumbling Bea.

I’m one of those people who do what they say they are gonna do.


I am adapting Bumbling Bea into a play!  (I feel we need trumpets blaring and hi-steppers stepping….This is HUGE people.  )

marching band

Now you would think this would be an easy feat for me considering how many years I have directed plays.

 Nay, nay I say. ( I heard this on the radio one day and it cracked me up.)

I’m stalling, I know.

Directing plays since the dawn of man does make my job easier.  It’s a laborious process, however.  It takes me about two hours to adapt four to eight pages of the book version. Then I poop out.

Note:  This is the first draft of the scene.  I haven’t given you a cast list, or description of the set.  For those of you who are familiar with the book version, I think you’ll be able to easily follow the play.  At least, that’s my hope.

BB the play


Here it is the play adaptation of Bumbling Bea:

 Act one, Scene one.  Enjoy!

Bumbling Bea Act One Scene 1B

Note #2:  I’m seeking beta readers for the play.  Would you be interested in helping?  Just think–someday when it is published you can say you helped make it into the terrific play it is destined to be.

I’m a fan of the play version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Bumbling Bea the play is loosely patterned at it.

Also, this is family fair.  I expect to see youth theater and community theaters producing it.

I honestly think Bumbling Bea will have much success in play form.

Daring words coming from the cautious me.

Are you looking for a new play to workshop?  I’m very interested in working with a drama class or youth theatre program and crafting Bumbling Bea, the play.

I have experience in working with new plays.  About twenty-nine years ago, I co-developed a national playwriting contest for youth theatre plays.

I know what is needed and I know how to make it happen.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

Information on this website may be copied for personal use only.  No part of this website may be reproduced, stored, or transmissed in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copy right Act, without the prior written permission of the author.  Requests to the author and publisher for permission should be addressed to the following email:  dhcbaldwin@gmail.com





Meet Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest

Have you met Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest?

There are many authors who need a boost.  Here is one with a darling book I know you and your children would enjoy reading, Jaden Toussaint the Greatest. One of Marti’s stories includes Jaden being in a play.

A play, you say?  Hmmmm.


Jaden Touissant 2

Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest
Making smart cool again.
Series Title: Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest
Author: Marti Dumas
Genre: Illustrated Chapter Book/Middle Grade Fiction (Ages 5-10)
New Orleans children’s book author Marti Dumas’ has released a new book in the
popular Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest series.

Each book has debuted at #1 on
Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for children’s chapter books.

Jaden Touissant

Jaden Toussaint, 5-year-old scientist and all around cool dude, wants to become super famous. The problem is that his parents won’t let him upload his amazing animal facts videos to the internet. He’s working on a plan, when a perfect opportunity presents itself:
his class play. Jaden and his friends soon learn that being upon stage is not easy for everyone. Jaden Toussaint’s positive problem-solving techniques are entertaining for children and the adults who read with them, and give children a fun, positive role
model for their own big decisions.

Marti Dumas is a mother, teacher, and author from New Orleans. She is a contributing writer on education and parenting for Think504.com and other publications. An expert in childhood literacy, Marti has worked with children and teachers across the country for the last 15 years to promote an early love of reading both in and out of the classroom. Her most recent book, Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest was a #1 New Release on Amazon.com.

Author Website: www.MartiDumasBooks.com
New Orleans, Louisiana Author Email: info@MartiDumas.com

I highly recommend you look for Marti’s books!  I think you’ll enjoy them.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

I’d love to hear from you.

author's signature

If you are interested in my middle grade award winning book, Bumbling Bea, here are some recent reviews.  Check it out here:  New Book reviews on Bumbling Bea

You can purchase Bumbling Bea here:  Bumbling Bea at Amazon

National Haiku Day Bumbling Bea Style

April 15 is National Haiku Day. I’m going to honor national haiku day Bumbling Bea style.

You gotta wonder who thinks up these national days….


When I think of Haiku, I think of gorgeous flowering trees in Japan.

I’m sure there are poets who write them without thinking like I do.

I did a little researching and found Creative.Writing.Now. com.  It’s a website founded by writing teachers about writing.  One of their pages is about haiku poetry.  

The following are typical of haiku:

  • A focus on nature.

  • A “season word” such as “snow” which tells the reader what time of year it is.

  • A division somewhere in the poem, which focuses first on one thing, than on another. The relationship between these two parts is sometimes surprising.

  • Instead of saying how a scene makes him or her feel, the poet shows the details that caused that emotion. If the sight of an empty winter sky made the poet feel lonely, describing that sky can give the same feeling to the reader.

In honor of National Haiku Day, April 15 I created a few haiku about the characters of my award winning book, Bumbling Bea. There are several acknowledgements to the Japanese culture in the story so it only seemed fitting.

 My haiku aren’t about trees, flowers and clouds, but they are about the nature of human beings.  (Get it, get it?)

Bumbling Bea

Beatrice about Michiko:

Laughing and bowing

Her voice strong and dramatic

I wish I was her.

Bumbling Bea

Michiko thoughts about her mother:

You loudly scold me

Stretching, growing up I cry

This life’s mine not yours.

Bumbling Bea

Peter’s reflection about the  Michiko sabotage:

Devil leaves of three

Softly touch innocent skin

Oozing mounds erupt.

Bumbling Bea

Bumbling Bea would say:

I take over you

blurting outrageous things

Always regretting them.

Mr. Brace quips:

As father I’m bound

To family duties

Begrudging all.

Mrs. Brace to Mr. Brace:

Can’t you see I’m sad?

It’s hard to forget

Happy days, sweet nights.

BB chapter 16

The Cast’s thoughts:

Performance is super

Michiko adds spice and flare

But what’s with the freeze?

Lost?  You won’t be once you read my book.  Check it out here:


Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net


Student Survival: The Importance of Pleasure Reading for a Kid

So, let’s talk about pleasure reading for a kid.

Recently, I was looking for a  pleasure reading book to purchase for my upcoming trip over seas. I was having a difficult time finding one. I saw a child who was nearly eating a book while he read it–in the time I looked over one aisle of books, he read three (all right, they were short, but still…)



Some people are selective about the genres they read.  I usually gravitate toward books with quirky characters in ordinary appearing plots. I say “ordinary appearing” because it is always intriguing to find the characters going somewhere else than you expected.

However, I am known to cheat and read the last chapter of a book if a. the story is moving too slowly for me or b. I’m dying to know what happens. When I was a child, my mother would scold me for doing so–still haven’t kicked the habit.  Sorry, Mom.

I worry about kids’ reading preferences. It seems many writers write for whatever trend is popular the time. A few years ago, it was zombies and time travelers. Not every child wants to read fantasy or graphic novels.  That’s why I penned Bumbling Bea.  If you haven’t picked up my book, you might want to try it.  I promise you, it isn’t your run of the mill plot! Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/n5at3oh

I ran on to an article concerning this concern and I thought you’d be interested, too.

Indie Book

Promoting the Pleasures of Reading: Why It Matters to Kids and to Country

June 10, 2017

Advocacy, Inquiry, Literacy, Reading, Teachingpleasure reading

by Lu Ann McNabb

This post is written by member Jeffrey Wilhelm.

Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and Why We Should Let Them was this past year’s winner of the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in English Education.

The research findings that we report in Reading Unbound have profound implications for us as teachers, for our students, and for democracy.

In our book, we argue that pleasure reading is a civil rights issue. Why? Because fine-grained longitudinal studies (e.g., the British Cohort study: Sullivan & Brown, 2013; and John Guthrie’s analysis of PISA data, 2004, among many others) demonstrate that pleasure reading in youth is the most explanatory factor in both cognitive progress and social mobility over time.

pleasure reading

Pleasure reading is more powerful than parents’ educational attainment or socioeconomic status.

This means that pleasure reading is THE way to address social inequalities in terms of actualizing our students’ full potential and overcoming barriers to satisfying and successful lives.

We think that our data explain why pleasure reading leads to cognitive growth and social mobility.

The major takeaway for teachers is to focus on pleasure in our teaching. Pleasure has many forms: play pleasure/immersive pleasure, when you get lost in a book—this is a prerequisite pleasure and we can foster it in various ways, such as teaching with an inquiry approach, using drama and visualization strategies, etc.; work pleasure, where you get a functional and immediately applicable tool for doing something in your life; inner work pleasure, where you imaginatively rehearse for your life and consider what kind of person you want to be; intellectual pleasure, where you figure out what things mean and how texts were constructed to convey meanings and effects; and social pleasure, in which you relate to authors, characters, other readers, and yourself by staking your own identity.

Kids (like all other human beings!) do what they find pleasurable. You get good at what you do and then outgrow yourself by developing new related interests and capacities.


Play pleasure develops the capacity to engage and immerse oneself, to visualize meanings and relate to characters. It is the desire to love and be loved. Work pleasure is the love of getting something functional done. Work pleasure is about the love of application and visible signs of accomplishment. Readers engaging in this pleasure cultivate transfer of strategies and insights to life.

Inner work pleasure involves imaginatively rehearsing what kind of person one wants to be. As our informant Helen asserted: “It’s not really learning about yourself, it’s learning about what you could be . . . .” and “Characters are ways of thinking really . . . They are ways of being you can try on.”

Inner work is the love of transformation—of connecting to something greater, of striving to become something more. When our informants engaged in this pleasure, they expressed and developed a growth mindset and a sense of personal and social possibility.

 pleasure reading

Intellectual pleasure is pursued for the joy of figuring things out; it develops the capacity to see connections and solve problems. Our informants developed resilience, grit, and proactivity through the exercise of this pleasure. Erik Erikson argued that staking one’s identity is the primary task of early to late adolescence and that this is achieved through evolving interests and competence.

Social pleasure involves this human developmental project because it involves relating to authors, characters, other readers, and the self in ways that stake identity. Social pleasure is the love of connection—to the self, others, community, and to doing significant work together.

This pleasure develops social imagination: the capacity to experience the world from other perspectives; to learn from and appreciate others distant from us in time, space, and experience; and the willingness to relate, reciprocate, attend to, and help others different from ourselves.

In other words, it promotes cognitive progress, wisdom, wholeness, and the democratic project. In fact, all of the pleasures were found to do this.

Our data clearly establish that students gravitate to the kinds of books they need to navigate their current life challenges, and that many ancillary benefits accrue in the realms of cognition, psychology, emotional development, and socialness. So much so that we developed the mantra: Kids read what they need!


This finding led us to be more trusting of kids’ choices and to ask them about why they chose to read what they did, and eventually to championing these choices. We likewise found that each of the marginalized genres we studied (romance, horror, vampire, fantasy, and dystopia) provided specific benefits and helped students navigate different individual developmental challenges.

Our data also establish that young people are doing sophisticated intellectual work in their pleasure reading, much of it just the kind of work that the Common Core and other next generation standards call for. So making pleasure more central to our practice is not in conflict with working to achieve standards.

girl reading

Standards and all the other significant goals described here can be achieved if teachers value interpretive complexity as much as they do textual complexity, if they create inquiry contexts that reward entering a story world and doing psychological and social work in addition to more traditional academic goals, and if they provide opportunities for choice and meaningful conversation.

Given the benefits of each pleasure, we are convinced that pleasure reading is not only a civil right, it is a social necessity of democracy.

That is why we urge you to promote pleasure reading in your classroom and school, and it is why our book is filled with practical ideas for how to do so while promoting each of the five pleasures. It is monumental work—and it is work we must undertake with the greatest urgency—particularly at this moment in history.


What are some of your favorite genres to read? Perhaps you have a child who might enjoy reading my book, Bumbling Bea simply for the fun of it.  I think they’ll enjoy it!

Check it out here:  https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516988757&sr=8-1&keywords=Bumbling+Bea

I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net