Review of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Wow!! I don’t know what to say for a proper review, so here are my random thoughts.

My friend, Allison recommended this book to me several times so I figured I’d better read it. Allison is a school librarian, so I assumed this would be a nice children’s book. Lol!

I love when an author reveals a character’s backstory so carefully without giving away too much, but just enough that you can begin to guess what happened. I felt I knew what Eleanor’s tragedy was, and I was right…to a degree. But Honeyman had a gut-punch surprise for me at the end.

This book was amazing. The narration by Cathleen McCarron was spot-on, and I enjoyed the accents (I will actively search for more audiobooks with her as narrator). Everything about this book makes me want to move to Glasgow.

If nothing else, this is a story about perseverance and the power of true friendship to pull us through our darkest hours. In fact, I want Eleanor and Raymond to be my best friends. I HIGHLY recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I laughed and cried and felt all the feels. It is not neatly wrapped up, but it does leave you with hope for a brighter future.

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Review of Hazel’s Theory of Evolution

Full disclosure: I won a copy of an Advance Reader’s Edition from the author on Twitter.

Hazel's Theory of EvolutionMy heart ached for Hazel as she stressed about making friends in a new school, tried to maintain her relationship with her best friend from her old school, and struggled to not worry about her mom being pregnant following two miscarriages. With the first page, Hazel is an immediately likable character. Bigelow adeptly conveys Hazel’s “differentness” without being heavy-handed, leaving the reader to reach their own conclusions. The secondary characters are equally interesting and provide a nice supporting cast for Hazel. The ending is hopeful and satisfying, perfect for the middle-grade reader. Recommended.

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I am Only One Person

This poem is directly inspired by the Teachers Write! prompt on Jo Knowles’ blog, and in reflection on the tragic events of the past week.

One Person

I’m only one person, but I can…
at each passerby, every person in line
White or black,
Or any hue


I’m only one person, but I can…
for and with each family whose loss
Is their whole world
In a single moment


I’m only one person, but I can…
my blood, each part used
To replenish, sustain, heal
Bodies of humanity


I’m only one person, but I can…
my two children to love thy neighbor
Do what Jesus did
Accept, forgive, sacrifice.


I’m only one person, but I can…
Bear witness
to the pain I know others suffer
Because people are not listening
Nor believing it is real


I’m only one person, but I can…
for courage to fight for equality
And unity
For the world


I’m only one person, but I can…
I can…
I can…
I can…


(c) Wendy Scalfaro, 2016. Al rights reserved.


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A Little Nerdy Blogging Today

Nerdy Book Club Logo

I’m the guest blogger over on the Nerdy Book Club’s blog today. Please take a look. And while you’re there, check out some of the other posts as well. Very inspirational stuff.

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Valentiny Writing Contest Entry

A Fun writing contest, brought to you children’s author, SUSANNA LEONARD HILL.

Here’s my entry.


Tillie’s Valentine Surprise

Tillie the plant was grumpy, because she was just a plant. She sat in her pot, surrounded by other plants, beneath a dull light in a cool basement. There was nothing extraordinary about any of them. Tillie wanted to be extraordinary, but she was afraid she would remain just a plant. Her grumpiness grew.

One day, a little girl wrapped her hands around Tillie’s pot. She carried Tillie through the darkness and up some stairs. It felt warmer up here, and it was much brighter! The girl placed Tillie on a shelf beneath another light. It was warm and welcoming. Tillie snuggled in, happy about her new home. Her grumpiness began to fade.

Every day, the little girl watered Tillie’s roots, made sure the light shone directly on her leaves, and talked to her. At night, before the girl turned off Tillie’s light, she said, “I love you.”  Tillie’s grumpiness faded more.

One day, Tillie realized she didn’t feel like just a plant anymore. She felt…


“Oh!” the little girl exclaimed, and ran off.

Tillie worried, and turned grumpy again.

The girl returned. She drew a picture, and held it up to Tillie.

It was a picture of Tillie. She was a beautiful, red, heart-shaped tomato!

Tillie was not grumpy.



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Review of Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz

I really enjoyed this spin-off of the familiar Peter Pan story. Jocelyn Hook is a feisty, funny, and strong character. She doesn’t fully realize just how strong she is, or what is holding her back from achieving her goal, until the climax. A great book for middle grade kids, as a read-aloud or a read-alone. I’m looking forward to the sequel. Hook's Revenge Cover

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Review of The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla


This is not a book about death. Even though Jesse, one of the main characters has been given a death sentence, the book is not about him dying. It’s about how his best friend/girlfriend, Sam, helps him to live. It’s about how Sam suffers through pain, guilt, jealousy, and loss, but still manages to love with her whole heart. However, it’s also a book about learning to depend on others to guide us through our darkest times. In this way, The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla serves as a message, to teens especially, that it’s ok to seek professional help when tormented by negative experiences and thoughts. This book ripped my heart out. It will probably do the same to you. But I also think it will leave you with a strong sense of hope, and an appreciation for the love you give away.

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Exploring Doodling Again

Teachers Write never ceases to amaze and surprise me. Today on Kate Messner’s blog,  guest author Elizabeth Dahl explains how she became a writer, and how doodling while writing helped her with that process. She challenged us to give it a try. I have to admit, this is one of the hardest exercises I’ve tried this summer. I was an art major way back when, but quickly changed my major when I realized I could not compete with those more talented than I am. When I set out to doodle today, I couldn’t do it… at first. Then, just like with writing on that blank white page, I started and before I knew it, I was lost in the creative process. What I produced is not extraordinary by any means, but it was fun to do! So much so, in fact, that I plan to doodle as much as possible from this point on. Who knows, maybe I’ll one day illustrate a book (yeah, ok).

Anyway, here are my efforts from today. What do you think?

(c) 2015 W. Scalfaro. All rights reserved.


IMG_20150727_164619018 IMG_20150727_164624707


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Learning More About My Characters

Kate Messner’s guest on Teachers Write today is Heidi Schulz, and she teaches us about Creating Compelling Characters. Here are two brief interviews with my protagonist and a supporting character.

LILY: More than anything, I want to be reunited with my mother. This never changes, but I realize that I can’t wait for her to figure out where I am. I have to do something to help her get back to me. However, I learn that something may be preventing her from finding me, so I have to go search for her. I’m afraid that, even if she has a job now, she still won’t be able to take care of me, and that I’ll have to stay in this orphanage until I’m 16 and am forced to live on my own. I would sacrifice anything to have my Momma and me together again.

SISTER MARY ROSE: I want more than anything to teach all children the love of Jesus, and how to live in order to glorify Him. However, Lily is teaching me that children must feel loved themselves, before they can understand Jesus’ love. Secretly, I wish I had never lost my family when I was around Lily’s age, and this makes me want to do what I can to help her be reunited with her mother. I’m afraid that she will be heartbroken that her mother cannot support her. I would sacrifice anything to protect Lily and the other children.

This was a great exercise for helping me get to know my characters a little better. I plan to “interview” all of my characters in my novel.

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Exploring Setting from Different Points of View

Author Elana K. Arnold presented the Tuesday Quick-Write on Kate Messner’s blog today. She had us shift points of view and describe the same setting. Here are my descriptions. They’re very rough. I have not worked extensively on any of them, and have not spent time editing them.

A description of my surroundings

I live on a corner, where one street is busy and the other is a side street. We have weeds – which we call alien plants because they grow so quickly – bordering the property line on one side. The birds love these weeds because they can hide in them. Our neighbor behind us mows his law a couple times a week, and is precise about where his (unmarked) boundary is. He’s planted a shrub – possibly a lilac – on the side. Across the street is a young motor head. He fixes cars in his driveway. His next door neighbors hate him and spy on his constantly. We all jockey for a parking position on the street because no one likes these neighbors.


The same surroundings, now from the POV of a lost six year-old child. 

I don’t know this neighborhood. How did I get here? The streets are strange. There’s a dog barking somewhere. I hope I don’t see it, or if I do, I hope it’s friendly. Should I go to someone’s house and tell them I’m lost? There’s no one outside, so I don’t know if anyone is home. There’s a motorcycle parked in front of this house. Cool! My mother said never to go near anyone with a motorcycle because they make bad decisions. Some houses have nice yards. Oh, there’s the dog. He’s a huge, black, furry dog! And he’s barking a deep booming bark. I’m not going near him! Now I see a lady with two kids. Mom always said that if I got lost, to find another mom and ask for help. I’ll go ask because she looks nice.


The same surroundings, now from the POV of a housecat. 

Ah, I love it out here. I think I’ll just creep under these bushes and wait for the birds. It’s dark and cool under here. What’s that? Oh, a bug crawling over the stones. I’ll just watch for a while. Maybe give it a good sniff. I’ll try smacking it with my paw. Here come the birds. They don’t know I’m here. I’ll watch them preen and chirp. Hey! They’re flying away! Oh, it’s the woman and her two kids. They scared the birds away. I think I’ll take a nap now.


The same surroundings, now from the POV of aa fifteen year-old whose parents are divorcing.

I’ve always hated this place, now I hate it even more. Dad’s leaving. Figures. I have to stay here with Mom. Not that it matters. She’s never here anyway. NONE of my friends live around here. Dad used to take me everywhere because he works from home. From this home. House. It’s not really a home. And this neighborhood is not really neighborly. Bunch of old people, or people with little kids. They always look at me funny, like they’re afraid of me or something. Like I’m gonna hurt anyone. I’m too puny anyway. All I have is this stupid skateboard. That doesn’t get me very far. And the stupid sidewalks around here are all cracked and broken. There’s parts where the tree roots have pushed sections of sidewalk up. I have to stop when I get to them. Or I could ride in the street, like I see everyone else doing. Mom would have a fit if she saw me do that. Too bad. I’m going down this person’s driveway. The yard is up so high that the apron of the driveway is a ramp. I put my earbuds in and crank up Eminem. I’ll get a good start on that and just ride down the street, away from this house.


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