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The Dark Cloud of Rejections

29 Jun

This has been a whirlwind month of joyous events. I have celebrated graduations, retirements, weddings, Father’s Days, birthdays, and anniversaries. I am surrounded by family and friends. I feel loved every single day. Even little activities like critique meetings, lunches, shopping, movie dates, and coffee with friends, fill me with delight.

Then I received back to back rejections on submissions.

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Gloom. Melancholy. Dejection.

Choices.

1. Grouse. (Not my style.)

2. Wallow in misery. (That sounds more like me.)

3. Reappraise the situation. (After a brief period of mourning.)

So I did a little shopping around and found a new umbrella. I kind of like this one. Bright. Cheery. Metaphorically speaking, just what I need. th

Now, under the protection of my bright, cheerful, metaphorical umbrella I can analyze the facts. Both of the rejections were polite, friendly even. Both were addressed to me by name. Both thanked me for sharing my work with them. Both reminded me that other people in the industry might be interested in representing me. Both wished me luck on my publishing journey. Neither suggested I quit writing. Neither recommended I reevaluate of my goals. Neither advised me to tear up my manuscript and never contact them again.

Look… the clouds are passing. I have renewed energy and a positive attitude. I will wait to hear from others on the submissions that are pending and I will spend the day working on my new project. But before I do, I might just take a minute to splash in the puddles!

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Summer Reading Lists

22 May

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Summer is just around the corner! Keep your kids reading and growing this year. Looking for some titles for summer reading? The first place I recommend is your local public library. That’s not to say you shouldn’t support your local bookstores, but free is good and supporting a library keeps libraries in business which is good for everyone not just those who can afford to buy books.

Now, by all means, if you love, love, love a book and just have to own it… buy it! Books make great gifts. So whether it’s an end-of-the-year school gift, a birthday gift, or just thinking-about-you gift find one and share it with someone special this weekend.

Another idea for parents who are decluttering their lives and helping their children do the same is to weed out your bookshelves. While trimming down your closet, take a look at that overflowing bookcase. What books has your child outgrown? Donating books to local organizations helps put great books into the hands of children who may not have access to children’s literature and clears the shelves in your house for more appropriate books for your child.

Now, get yourself signed up for a summer reading program. Most libraries, and some bookstores, offer summer reading programs for children of all ages. If you can’t find something in your neighborhood, check out the All-Star Reading Program offered by my library, the Cincinnati Public Library, and the Summer Reading Challenge programmed by the New York Public Library. You can always modify and adapt a program to meet your needs at home.

And while you’re on the lookout for great new books, consult The Association for Library Service to Children, ALSC for their recommendations for the 2015 Summer Reading Lists by age categories or the 2015 list from Horn Book which is also categorized by reading levels.

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So what are you waiting for? Find the books that are just perfect for you and your child and read, read, read this summer!

Little Surprises

20 May

Sometimes you find lovely surprises under a pile of papers. Several months ago a friend gave me three paperbacks written by someone she knew and asked me if I could review them. Of course I took them with every intention of reading and reviewing them right away. But things got in the way and they got buried on my desk. Well, I found them today and just had to sit right down and finally read them. The books are part of a series of nautical stories inspired by wooden boats in the Great Lakes region. Each book tells the story of one of the wooden boats.

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Pegasus is a boat with painted wings. More than anything, Pegasus wants to fly like a bird. Then one day a storm blows through and Pegasus is freed from the dock. But instead of being excited about being alone in the water, Pegasus is lost and afraid. Finally, he makes friends with some herons who made a loud racket in the water drawing his owners to them. They tied a rope to him and pulled him back to the dock. Pegasus realized how lucky he was to have his friends and owners.

Larry is a small boat. His owners love the smooth ride he gives, but sometimes he wishes he were a faster, shinier, sportier, boat. One day while on the river, Larry hears the distress call from one of those sportier boats. His engine failed and he was floating aimlessly. To make matters worse, a huge barge was coming downriver and the sports boat was in the way. Larry hurried over to help. His owners threw a rope to the owner of the sporty boat and towed him safely into the marina.

Chris is an old wooden boat who finds himself in a boat shop talking to a mouse who is the captain of the shop and the other boats left there for repair. When a man in overalls comes to repair Chris, Captain Cuddy (the mouse) stays with him and keeps him calm. Chris learns that the man in the overalls only wanted him for small jobs. He thought Chris was a junker, not worth fixing. Finally, someone came to the dock who wanted to buy Chris and restore him to his original beauty. It turns out that someone was Donny, one of the children whose father owned Chris originally. Chris was so happy to be back home with someone who loved him.

The Last Christmas Tree

30 Nov

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The Last Christmas Tree written by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Pascal Campion (2014)

Wedged between two large trees on the Christmas tree lot, as one small tree that was a bit bent and missing a few branches. But no tree in the lot had more Christmas spirit than this one. The littlest tree shook with excitement at being chosen to go home and covered with lights and ornaments. But no one stopped to look at it. Still the little tree kept hoping for just the right person to come by and take him home. The lot got emptier and emptier, and still no one noticed the little tree. Finally, after all the other trees were sold, a sign hung on this little lonely tree. It said, ‘FREE’ and still it sat alone in the cold. Then just before dawn it was scooped up and flown overhead to a place far away. And when it arrived, it was decorated and placed in front of a fireplace.

Stephen Krensky and Pascal Campion worked magic on this book. It’s sure to become a classic. The story is told so simply and poetically. The art work is endearing. But the big surprise comes at the end when the reader sees through the artist’s work, who takes the last Christmas tree home. Hint: The stockings over the fireplace have the initials D-D-P-V-C-C-D-B on them. Ho-Ho-Ho!

I absolutely fell in love with this book the very first time I read it, about 2 minutes ago. And I plan on getting a copy for each of my grandchildren this year.

Maple and Willow Together

24 Nov

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Maple and Willow Together written and illustrated by Lori Nichols (2014)

This is the follow up to the delightful story Maple published earlier this year. Maple was Lori Nichols debut picture book. You can read my review of Maple HERE.

In this book, Maple and her little sister Willow do everything together. They play together, sleep together, and even have their own special language together. But one day, Maple gets angry and Willow gets angry and they are sent to their rooms alone. The girls don’t like being alone, and make-up across the hallway. Pretty soon they are playing outside together and sleeping together in the same bed.

Lori Nichols has done it again! This second book is just as warm and loving as her first book. The relationship between the sisters is so real. And the artwork is beautiful. It shows how sisters can be each other’s best friends even when they don’t always get along.

I love this story and I think you will too. I can’t wait to share it with my granddaughter who just became a big sister last month!

Mercy Watson

31 Jan

DSC08555In keeping with my Kate DiCamillo theme this week, I want to review her Mercy Watson series.  Kate DiCamillo, author of Newbery Honor Winner Because of Winn-Dixie, and Newbery Winner of The Tale of Despereaux also wrote this enchanting chapter book series for young readers ages 6-8.  The second book of the series, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride was the winner of the 2007 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award.

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I’m glad I waited until I had all six books to read at once.  Although you don’t necessarily have to read them in order, I found it to be more fun to read like that because Kate DiCamillo builds on each character in each subsequent book.  Of course there is Mercy Percy, the butter loving – adventure loving pig, and Mr. and Mrs. Watson who would do anything in the world for their darling, dear, porcine wonder.  In the first book we are introduced to the Lincoln sisters, Eugenia and Baby, the Watson’s elderly yin and yang neighbors. Eugenia has an opinion on everything, and in her opinion pigs should not live in houses. She spends the next five books trying to convince everyone that her opinion is correct.  And then there’s Baby, who secretly likes Mercy Watson even though she always agrees with her sister Eugenia… it’s just easier that way.  Throughout the series we meet Ned and Lorenzo, the fire fighters who are called out for every crisis; Officer Tomilello who has the quirky habit of asking and answering his own questions out loud; Leroy Ninker, the little thief who really wants to be a cowboy and later becomes the reformed conession man at the drive-in theater who still really wants to be a cowboy; Frank and Stella, the neighborhood children who befriend Mercy; and Animal Control Officer Francine Poulet whose nose looks remarkably like a chicken’s beak.

Kate DiCamillo expertly weaves these characters in and out of the series always putting Mercy Watson’s love of butter at the center of her conflict and in every resolution.  How could one not adore a character who unabashedly follows her dream into wacky wonky misadventures?

Leave it to Chris Van Dusen to paint the story pictures so vividly on each page.  Each character’s personality and motivation is captured in their faces and their body language.  Chris Van Dusen extraordinary illustrations will leave you begging for more.  You might be interested in reading some of his other works as well.  Look for the Mr. Magee series of early readers and several other titles including The Circus Ship which looks amazing and is on my reading list!

You can learn more about Kate DiCamillo here. http://www.katedicamillo.com/index.html

You can learn more about Chris Van Dusen here.             http://www.chrisvandusen.com

Storyline Online

22 Jan

I was browsing pinterest this afternoon, just following a whim, and found a treasure trove of children’s literature read by actors and actresses on You Tube from Storyline Online, a part of the the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Before I knew it, I had spent over an hour listening to some of my favorite books being read by some superb people.  You’ve got to hear Rainbow Fish read by Ernest Borgnine, Harry the Dirty Dog, read by animal lover Betty White, My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother read by one of my favorite redheads Melissa Gilbert, and Stellaluna, read by Pamela Reed.  And I also must admit, there were several titles I had never heard of.  My new favorite is To Be a Drum, read by James Earl Jones.  Who could pass an opportunity to hear James Earl Jones read anything?  Not me!  I’m so glad I did.  This is a fabulous book about slavery and freedom.  Take a minute or two, or sixty, and browse this site for yourself.  I’ll bet you find a new favorite too!

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