Tag Archive | Princess Ramona

Here Be Dragons

If you have read “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts,” then you know that this author has a soft spot for dragons… especially for dragons who realize that with great power comes great responsibility. In celebration of APPRECIATE A DRAGON DAY, January 16, here is a poem for our beloved endangered dragons:

Here Be Dragons

Do step lightly, brave explorers  HereBeDragons

On Komodo, and on Flores

Here be dragons


Basking boldly on the pink sands

Of these Indonesian islands

Here be dragons


Do step quickly if he sees you  komodopinksand

He will hunt you down and seize you

He’s a dragon


Forked tongue guides its destination

Gathering tasty information

Hunter dragon


Strange that such a massive creature  komodotongue

From its enemies needs shelter

Threatened dragon


There’s a chance that this Komodo

Still might vanish like the Dodo

No more dragons


Brave knights armed with information komodoprofile

Fight with heart and inspiration

Save the dragons!


Brave Knights of Science

Scientists are the brave knights of today’s world. They venture forth armed with research-backed information to try to save the last dragons of this earth. And the Komodo Dragons of Indonesia are, indeed, worth saving.

These giant reptiles can grow up to 10 feet or more (over 3 meters) and weigh over 360 pounds (163 kilos). True, they do not breathe fire or fly through the skies attacking cattle and villagers, but they are impressive hunters. They can run fast in short bursts up to 20 mph or 13 kilometers per hour. Komodo dragons knock the legs out from under their prey or rip straight into the belly. Their saliva carries a poison or toxin that has a blood-thinning effect on its victim causing the bite wound to continue to bleed. Although the intended prey may escape after being bitten, it usually dies sometime soon after the attack.

The long, deeply-forked tongue of the Komodo Dragon is very useful in tracking down the location of an escaped lunch. The Komodo flicks out its tongue and then draws it back into its mouth and brushes it along the roof of the mouth. If more scent molecules from the prey are detected with one side of the tongue, then the lizard will turn towards that side. It swings its head back and forth while it walks, all the while flicking its tongue in and out collecting scent information.

The Komodo Dragon, also known as the Monitor Lizard, is losing its space to live. It has to compete with humans for food in the wild; deer or other large animals. They will also eat things that have been dead for a while. They are not too picky.

Komodo Dragons mate and lay eggs, but interestingly enough, female Komodo Dragons are capable of fertilizing eggs inside their own bodies and laying those eggs without any help from a male. They may be capable of selecting the sex of the baby lizards as well. One female, Flora, who lived in Chester Zoo in England and had never been in contact with a male lizard, hatched out seven eggs, all of them male lizards.

Long live the resourceful Komodo Dragons!

How to Catch a Dragon…

For a fascinating story on Komodo dragon research check out this National Geographic article: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/komodo-dragon/holland-text

Princess Ramona Video Review

Natasha's ReviewA “Princess Ramona” fan posts her own audio review of the digital book!

“I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who likes humor, cute stories and magical things.”

“It’s just so adorable and I love how she’s so adventurous.”

“I like how it ends in friendship. In all the other fairytale stories, they fall in love and they slay the dragon, but I actually quite frankly like dragons… in the end, it’s friendship.”

This reviewer’s favorite verse in the book goes like this:

“The bored little princess began to explore

Each hummock and valley beyond the hut’s door

She climbed every tree and explored every path,

Returning each night for a scrub in the bath… which she didn’t enjoy.”

Princess Ramona in Tree


View the video by clicking the link below:



Princess Ramona in Tub

Second Author Visit at Waseda International School!

Waseda International School is a cozy, colorful and compact campus nestled in heart of Shinjuku ward just a short walk from Takadanobaba on the JR Yamanote Line. This past April, I embarked on another author visit when I was invited to Waseda International School to present for the second year in a row.  I arrived with 40 freshly-printed copies of “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts” which had been produced especially for this occasion. (First time ever for my digital book to be printed!)  FirstPrintedRamonaBook

In the rush to make the train, Baabara the lamb puppet got left behind. A substitute puppet was quickly crafted from a sock, googly eyes and yarn pom-pons. He filled in for Baabara in his own goofy way for the short introduction given to the preschool group for the first presentation. As we moved on to the main event, the little ones enjoyed the hikari-shibai of “Princess Ramona” projected onto a large screen that was low to the floor and on their level. This made it easy for the students to approach the screen and point out details that they discovered in the illustrations, which we could then zoom in on using the iPad touch screen. They enjoyed the grumpy knitting cat, for example, and the tiny knitting spider which they spotted in the corner of one of the illustrations. As young as these students were, and though many were English-language-learners, they still were able to sweetly verbalize the themes of the story and express their delight in the characters.

The second group of students were first-through-fifth graders and they were excited to see their own stories and illustrations projected onto the big screen. We had planned for this presentation several weeks ahead and the students had collaborated in their classes to produce a pourquoi tale with original illustrations. Early in the week, their stories and illustrations had been forwarded to me.Waseda_Own_Stories

I took their submissions and created a Keynote presentation that incorporated lessons in writing, editing, and book design. For the older students’ story, for example, they were shown their original version and then an edited version that eliminated unnecessary details in a shorter, snappier version. At the end of the presentation, I read a pourquoi tale I have been working on.

After the presentations, I met briefly with the fifth graders in their classroom to talk about their current language arts unit, poetry. We shared a few poems that we had memorized and with that, my time at WIS was almost over.

The PTA presented me with a bouquet of gorgeous flowers and I sat down to sign the stack of purchased “Princess Ramona” books. WIS had wisely prepared the list of names ahead of time which greatly helped the signing process. Most of the books were signed in time to send home with the students. Before I finished, one student came by to share a lovely little cake, as it was his birthday. I was so blessed and impressed by all of the staff and students at this school. Thank you!


Review from Barbara C. Burgess!

Barbara Burgess knows a thing or two about knights and dragons. She studied medieval English literature and did her graduate studies at McGill University, Canada; her thesis supervisor studied with C. S. Lewis at Oxford University. Ms. Burgess is a writer, editor, book reviewer, and teacher.

Barbara C. Burgess Barbara writes, “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts, is a beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated book. I stopped myself from adding the words “book for children,” because I think that people of all ages will love the book. How could they not? The pictures immediately draw you into the story; the Swedish artist, Therese Larsson, is a master of light and colour.”

“The tale, crafted by author Ruth Ingulsrud, recounts a story that is original, lively, and uplifting. It takes a real expert to use rhyming techniques in a manner that doesn’t sound forced. Ruth Ingulsrud has a magical way with words and her use of rhyme works. Children will love to hear the heroine’s story and learn how she feels for all the animals in her country and wants to save them from captivity. There are twists and turns to this story, which is very well-paced. I’d altogether recommend it for people who love to read—as a famous Renaissance poet once said—’words which teach by delighting.'”

Thank you, Barbara, for your wonderful review!

The Magic Manuscript

The Magic Manuscript

Barbara’s first book, The Magic Manuscript: Book One – Voyage to Eve Ilion, was published as a paperback and eBook in 2011 and has been earning excellent reviews. Her latest fantasy book is THE MAGIC MANUSCRIPT: THE NINE COMPANIONS. You can find her website at www.burgesswrite.com.

First Author Visit Ever!

In the spring of 2013, at the invitation of Waseda International School’s Paramita Basu, I embarked upon my first author visit ever. My presentation was split into two sessions. The first session was attended by a bouncy contingency of thirty-eight preschoolers. The second session was attended by the elementary students ranging in ages from 6 to 12. Besides packing my MacBook with Keynote presentation, my iPad with digital book loaded, I also brought along… (to help me weather all 45 minutes with the preschool set)… a sack full of puppets for the youngest students to play with and try out.

Meeting Baabara

Meeting Baabara

Waseda International School is located in downtown Tokyo, close to Shinjuku. I was met at Takadanobaba station and we walked uphill to the school where we got set up in the lively and welcoming preschool room. Somehow, all of the wiggly three to five year olds were gathered onto a corner rug where they sang a song about the parts of a flower with their teacher who had a beautiful voice.

The children got to meet Baaabara, the library lamb, who enjoyed meeting all of the children even though she didn’t manage to learn all thirty-eight names. Blame it on those very fuzzy, but adorable ears. While Baaabara took a little nap in the puppet bag, the WIS preschoolers enjoyed “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts,” which was projected from the iPad onto the large screen at the front of the room. BoBAuthorVisit2

As soon as the children realized that there was a dragon hidden in many of the illustrations, as soon as the digital page was turned, there was no continuing with the story until the dragon was found. The ability to zoom in on the details of the illustrations helped to hone in on the hidden dragon, much to the delight of the kids.

The older group enjoyed a Keynote presentation about the importance of reading… and the importance of knowing when and where to read. Reading with friends, reading with dogs, reading in trees… all good. Reading while driving, reading while pig wrestling, reading with a crocodile… not so good. The older students also got to see the entire “Princess Ramona” book and enjoyed the rhyming text of the story and the built-in dictionary. We stopped at various words to study the meaning which was especially helpful for the second-language learners.  A “lummox,” we discovered, is a clumsy, stupid person. They were happy to see that the lummox knight turns out to be a helpful and reasonable sort in the end.  You!ScreenShot

I was honored to be invited to Waseda International School to present “Ramona” to their delightful students. Special thanks to Paramita for the invitation and for arranging all of the many details! After such a positive experience and enthusiastic student response, I look forward to my next author visit.

Beloved Kamishibai in Japan


Kamishibai is a Japanese  traditional form of  storytelling that employs the use of large illustrated panels held in a frame that are, one by one, pulled aside by the storyteller to reveal the scenes in a story. Kamishibai literally means “paper drama” and the storytellers are adept at gestures, character voices and timing as they draw their audience into their tale. The kamishibai storytellers used to arrive at a town with their box theater mounted on the back, ready to set up shop and entertain with several stories. Children who bought candy and concessions from the storyteller would get the front row seats for story time.


kamishibai man

This form of storytelling originated in Buddhist temples as priests told stories with a message, much like the morality plays of Europe in the medieval times. In those days, the audience was often illiterate and theater was a compelling way to present stories. The ancient art of kamishibai became popular during the 1920s and is recently enjoying a revival in Japan as families flock to libraries and community centers where they can enjoy free storytelling and other fun activities that stimulate their children’s interest in reading.


CIMG6831         Kamishibai4
Recently, I was asked to give a kamishibai presentation at a beautiful children’s cultural center located on the grounds of Mitaka City’s Observatory or “Tenmondai.” For this event, some Japanese friends helped to print out large, full-color renderings of the illustrations, without the text, of “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts.” The printouts were then laminated so that the would easily slide in and out of the kamishibai wooden frame.

An amiable young man named Rin came along to help with the translation of the story. He did a fine job of interpreting the story and interacting with the children in the audience. “Truthful the Lion” was “on hand” to add comments and talk to the kids. After the story, several children were brave enough to approach the lion and talk directly to him. They understood that the lion’s Japanese was not fluent, but they didn’t seem to mind at all.


Our kamishibai was donated to the Mitaka Tenmondai Center with the text of the book in English on the back of each panel. These will be updated with a Japanese translation so that parents can share the story once more with their children in English and in Japanese.