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Author, Author!

20 Oct

This has been an exceptional month in author visits for me. In the past four weeks I have met and learned from three of the best in the industry. Conventional wisdom dictates that that aspiring authors read, study, and write in the genre they want to learn. For me, one of the best ways to learn has always been to go directly to the source, in this case the authors.

Lisa Yee visited the Joseph Beth Bookstore on September 21st. Lisa writes primarily in the Middle Grade/Young Adult genres. She is funny, witty, and full of life lessons. And her books mirror that. Although MG/YA is on the older end of the kidlit spectrum, there are many crossover skills for the picture book writer as well. Know your audience. Immerse yourself in their language, struggles, and joys. Identify what makes them tick. Give them what they need. Lisa’s new DC Super Hero series does all of that and more. Personally, my favorite things about her are her past Disney life and her huge Winnie-the-Pooh collection.

 

 

Pat Zietlow Miller was in Cincinnati for school visits on October 4th sponsored by The Blue Manatee BookstoreI was lucky enough to meet up with her and bookseller, Alia Jonesfor dinner downtown on Fountain Square the night before her school events. We had a great time together. We introduced her to Graeter’s Ice Cream and I got my squash signed, so win-win! Pat is the author of five picture books. I met Pat last spring at an SCBWI conference in Chicago. She is a wonderful speaker and an amazing person. Her first book, SOPHIE’S SQUASH, has a sequel which just came out this fall SOPHIE’S SQUASH GOES TO SCHOOL. Pat knows what it takes to be a friend and her children’s books resound with the message of friendship and dreams. Another one of my favorite Pat Z. Miller books is WHEREVER YOU GO. The positive message is so Pat!

 

Jacqueline Woodson is an author, poet, and winner of a the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and an ALA Notable Award  in addition to many others. I was lucky enough to meet Jacqueline at Joseph-Beth this week on the 18th where she was talking about last year’s award winning BROWN GIRL DREAMING and her newest book ANOTHER BROOKLYN. Jacqueline is also the author of several picture books which I adore, one of my favorite being THE OTHER SIDE. Listening to her read and speak is such a joy. If you haven’t had the chance to hear her, you really need to treat yourself to a copy of her audiobook. The biggest piece of advice I took away from Jacqueline’s presentation is to empower yourself. 

 

So, off I go. With Lisa’s Supergirl, Pat’s Squash, and Jacqueline’s Brown Girl Dreaming I am fortified to take on my challenges and write, write, write. See you soon!

 

Paying It Forward, Starting In My Own Community

12 Feb

Author, Lauri Fortino is paying it forward with proceeds from her debut picture book. Check out her blog and support her mission or your own community in your own way.

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Little Man Asleep_Peddlers Bed Scene from The Peddler’s Bed illustrated by Bong Redila (Ripple Grove Press, 2015)

RM Logo

Even before my first children’s picture book, The Peddler’s Bed, was published, I knew I wanted to help people. But how? After the book was released, I began to research non-profit organizations that might be a good match. And although there are many extremely worthy causes out there, it didn’t take long to realize that the best match was right here in my own community: The Syracuse Rescue Mission.

Since 1887, the Syracuse Rescue Mission has been helping people in need by providing food, clothing, and shelter. Though they have evolved over the years, adding more services, programs, and locations, the values of faith, hope and love continue to form the foundation of their mission.

This is what the SRM is all about: Putting an end to hunger and homelessness for men, women, and children in…

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Groundhog’s Dilemma

19 Jan

25508197 Groundhog’s Dilemma

written by Kristen Remenar

illustrated by Matt Faulker

Charlesbridge, 2015

 

Groundhog has one job. And he does it well. Every year on his special day, Groundhog leaves his home and checks the weather. If he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter, if he doesn’t there will be an early spring. Every year Groundhog’s friends gather around to hear his weather prediction. Every year, half of them are happy and the other half are not. But Groundhog calls it like he sees it.  Then one year his friends each decide to try to influence his prediction with gifts and bribes.

No celebration of Groundhog’s Day would be complete without Groundhog’s prediction. Every kid (around here at least) wants to know if he should trade in his sled for a skateboard or if he should leave out his hats and mittens for another six weeks.

Can the groundhog really predict the weather? How will Groundhog keep all his friends happy. A little dose of honesty goes a long way, and Groundhog learns that calling it like he sees it has its advantages.

This is Kristen Remenar’s first picture book and her husband, Matt Faulker’s thirty-ninth picture book. Together they have produced a pretty good one here. Like Groundhog says, “I just call it like I see it”!

In Like a Lion

5 Mar

UnknownTrue to its reputation, March is coming in like a lion. But right around the corner, spring is ready to pounce. This weekend we will move forward one hour. Next week we are looking forward to warmer temperatures and melting snow. The following week we will look for four leaf clovers, leprechauns, and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. And before you know it, we’ll celebrate the official first day of spring with singing, dancing, and frolicking in the streets. Let’s look back just a few short months. What good has come out of this past winter? Has being homebound brought you closer to loved ones? Helped you organize your closet or deep clean at least one room? Given you the time to focus on your craft? Forced you to eat home-cooked meals? Provided solitude for meaningful meditation? Inspired you to learn something new? Offered a creative outlet? For myself, I’ve polished two manuscripts and sent them out to five industry professionals. I organized another critique group. I’ve started a number of new writing projects, one which is very promising. I’ve been invited to be one of the administrators on the Debut Picture Book Study group on Facebook. I completed last year’s picture book review challenge, Celebrate Every Day with a Picture Book.  And I embarked on this year’s challenge to keep up with new picture book publications, which includes reviewing picture books and offering some fun kid-friendly activities for each one on my new page, 2015 Books Alive!

 Check out some of these titles on my new page.

Little Elliot, Big City

30 Dec

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Little Elliot, Big City written and illustrated by Mike Curato (2014)

Little Elliot was an elephant who was different from everybody else. He lived in a big city, where he had to be careful because he was so little. The one thing Elliot wanted more than anything, was a cupcake. But he was too small to reach over the top of the counter and so he was never even noticed. Then one day, Elliot found someone who was even smaller than he was, a mouse. And the mouse had even bigger problems than Elliot because of his size. Elliot was able to help the mouse by lifting him up. And the mouse was able to help Elliot when he was lifted up over the top of the counter at the bakery. Now Elliot finally got a cupcake… and something even better, a friend.

Mike Curato first picture book is treat for the eye and ear. His artwork has the perfect balance between vintage and modern. And his story has mass appeal for children and adults alike.

Little Elliot’s sweet innocence and sweet tooth will capture your heart. It has mine!

Wimbley the Wonder Boy

2 Nov

One of the best things about having a blog is making friends and connections from around the blogsphere. One friend I have made this year is having her first book published in less than two days! She sent me an advance reader copy to preview before its release date. And, I am honored to share it with you today…

Wimbley the Wonder Boy

wimbley-cover

written by Angela Hawkins and illustrated by Holly Blackman (2014)

Wimbley has an active imagination. He wonders about so many things. He wonders about everything from where do crayons go after you flush them down the potty to what really happens when you call 911. But his biggest wonder is how long his mother will love him. ‘Now and Forever’ she assures him!

Angela has captured the questioning mind of a child. She also set this story in one week’s time so that while children wonder about things like Wimbley does, they also follow the progression from Monday to Tuesday and so on to Sunday. She voices the same worries many children have, but through this format also leaves room for children to discuss things they wonder about as they read this story with their parents or caregivers.

Holly Blackman uses simple drawings that look like crayon drawings of a child to portray the childlike innocence of these questions. Wimbley’s world is easily identifiable to a young child, making the transition from his world to their own seamless.

 I like the connections between real-life questions young children have and the pages of this book. It is fun to read and share with a child, especially as a springboard for discussing their own worldly questions.

Wimbley the Wonder Boy will be available on Amazon starting Monday, November 3, 2014.

If you would like to follow Angela on wordpress. You can find thislittlebirdie HERE.

Imani’s Moon

21 Oct

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Imani’s Moon written by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell (2014)

Imani was the smallest child in her village. The other children teased her, but her mama told her stories at night which lifted her spirits. One night Mama told her the story of Olapa, the goddess of the moon who won a mighty battle against the god of the sun. That night Imani dreamed that she fought with Olapa and protected the people of the earth. The next day, Imani was determined to touch the moon but she fell from a tree. The following day, Imani built a pair of wings but she crashed into a tree on her first flight. The day after that, Imani watched warriors jump and decided to jump to the moon herself. She jumped all day and into the night, and with one final jump she landed on the moon. Olapa praised her and gave her a moon rock to take home with her. That night, Imani told her mother a story, her story, about a girl who believed she could touch the moon.

JaNay Brown-Wood tells the story of a little girl with big dreams. Set in Africa, in Kenya, in a village of the Maasai people, Imani’s story is told. Rich in language and culture of the people, Imani learns that you must believe in yourself if you want to accomplish something as wonderful as touching the moon. And JaNay Brown-Wood, believed she could write a book for children, and she did! This is her first picture book.

Hazel Mitchell brings Imani’s world to life through her beautiful illustrations. The innocence of Imani’s spirit, the faith of her mother, and the doubt of the unbelievers feel as real as if they were standing in front of you. Hazel Mitchell gives even the animals, human qualities and gives the readers rich details in each scene.

I love this new picture book! It speaks so gently and eloquently to the young reader. It gives children a story in which faith and determination are equally important in reaching one’s goals.

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