Tag Archives: picture book

Bagel in Love

10 Feb

 

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Bagel in Love

written by Natasha Wing

illustrated by Helen Dardik

published by Sterling Publishing, 2018

Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Sweet tale of rejection, acceptance, and finally love. Bagel gets the brush-off from all the bakery pastries. He gets treated like day old bread by everyone from Doughnut to Pretzel and everyone in between. He feels totally crummy. His dreams of tap-dancing like Fred Eclair are dashed, until he meets a tempting little tap-dancing cupcake. They make a tasty pair winning the dance contest and each other’s hearts.

Oh, did I mention puns? You figured that out, huh? Between the  flat out rejection from the Matzo to the icing on the cake, you’ll be happy you found this scrumptious treat.

And hungry? Don’t get me started… had to search Pinterest for some yummy valentine pastries. Which is your favorite? Send me your recipes!

 

Sure, and if this isn’t enough… there’s glitter! The cover art and final page is fancy, sparkly, shimmery heaven for glitter junkies!

How I Got My Agent

5 May

 

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I am so thrilled to finally have this story to tell! It’s the one every writer yearns to tell. It’s the one that’s unique to every writer.

This one is mine.

After three years of writing and submitting to agents, I finally broke through the barrier. You know, the one between being someone who writes and being a writer with an agent.

I did a lot of the usual things aspiring authors do. I joined SCBWI. I continue to go to monthly meetings. I have attended several state and regional conferences and workshops.  I took online classes and webinars. I started three different critique groups specifically for picture book writers, two of which are still active. I joined several online writing groups. I became an administrator in one of those groups, the Debut Picture Book Study Group. I am active on several social media sites.  I purchased and devoured how-to books. And I got to know my local librarians and bookstore owners on a personal basis. I read, read, read picture books.

In short, I did everything I could to learn the craft.

And of course, I did my best to write good stories and submit to agents who were taking on new clients in my genre.

But I also did my best to make connections in the writing community. It was one of these fortunate connections which ultimately led to signing with my agent, Tina Schwartz of The Purcell Agency. I met Tina during a webinar on Writing Queries. We hit it off right away and I began working as her Literary Assistant. Tina was interested in my work. The first story I subbed to her was rejected, but the second pitch was a hit! She called me on Wednesday morning and made a verbal offer of representation. We spoke for a long time and she emailed a standard contract. Luckily for me, my son is an attorney so I emailed the contract to him for a quick look-see and an explanation of some terms of ‘legalese’.

The very next day I was on my way to Chicago for a writing conference. I was so crazy over the moon I could barely stay in my lane! My friend and critique partner (and passenger) was almost as excited as I was. And being the sweetheart that she is, she reread every single workshop and discussion offered as I drove  pondering which alternate sessions to attend in light of my new circumstances. We memorized the names of agents/agencies and editors/publishing houses we wanted to meet that weekend. I’m so happy we had decided to take the shoulder days on the conference. This extra evening gave me the opportunity to better prepare myself without feeling rushed the morning of the conference with new concerns in addition to a 5 hour drive. Then we focused on having fun and learning as much as we could. It was actually a nice reprieve from the constant preoccupation of possible representation. If my brain wasn’t overstimulated before the conference, it certainly was afterwards.

In the meantime, my son had redlined the contract with a few suggestions and I made a list of questions, questions, and more questions I wanted to ask Tina. (Remember those shoulder days? We stayed Sunday evening, had dinner with new friends and didn’t head home until Monday morning.) Monday, I relaxed, reviewed notes, discussed it with my son and husband and I called her on Tuesday morning with my inquires. We spoke for almost an hour, something I appreciate in an agent. She was very patient with me and answered all my questions and concerns. We negotiated the terms of the contract, and Tina re-mailed it on the spot. I printed it out. Signed. Returned a scanned copy. And celebrated!

Now, Wednesday again. One week after the initial phone call, Tina emailed me again. She has sent my manuscript to five publishing houses, houses I would not have been able to get into without an agent.

Unreal! I’m still pinching myself!

 

 

 

 

 

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”!

Maggie and Michael Get Dressed

14 Jan

 

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Maggie and Michael Get Dressed

written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

Henry Hold and Company

April, 2016

 

What’s not to love? A boy and his dog, morning routine, and colors! Denise Fleming has done it again, created funny endearing characters while skillfully infusing preschool life-lessons like making choices and self sufficiency.

Even a two year old can tell you that socks belong on your feet not in your mouth, but Maggie loves to chew things. Maggie is a good sport though and allows Michael to dress her before he dresses himself. And I bet no one is surprised that Maggie is found chewing on something when Michael gets home.

I was lucky enough to score an Advanced Reader Edition this week when my friend and critique partner returned from the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards in Boston. Michael and Maggie will be available to everyone in April this year. I’m sure it will quickly become another Fleming classic!

 

Babies Ruin Everything

14 Jan

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Babies Ruin Everything

written by Matthew Swanson

illustrated by Robbi Behr

Imprint, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

July, 2016

 

Swanson and Behr are co-creators of over sixty books and their lives together which include their three children. Their depiction of a less than enamored sibling is a comical twist on the traditional ‘I’m a big sister now’ story. The mischievous protagonist with a genuine conflict gives new meaning to the word brotherhood. Definitely not your sweet run of the mill story, but you’re going to love this feisty little girl who calls it like it is!

Big Sister is upset when her baby brother arrives. Her whole life is turned upside down and no one seems to care. The baby has overtaken her room and even her club. He doesn’t know how to act at parties, stand on one foot, or throw a frisbee. Then she starts to see the value of having a baby brother. She begins by teaching him everything she knows and together they manipulate their parents into submission.

I read an Advanced Reader’s Edition. Get in line now to pick up your own copy this summer!

Bridging the Generations

14 Nov

When writing for children, especially picture books, we need to remember the adult as well. We’ve often heard, it’s the adults who are the gatekeepers to children’s literature. Will they read this book repeatedly? Will they purchase this book? Today I want to add one more, Will they find themselves in this book? Today I did just that.

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Little Tree is a book about holding on and letting go. It’s a book about facing an unknown future. It’s a book about growing up.

It’s written for children. It’s written for adults. I’ll bet, it’s written for you.

For a summary of the story and suggested activities for Little Tree look HERE.

I met Loren Long, author and illustrator of Little Tree this morning. He was kind and giving with his audience. He shared his story of a little tree with us. It’s a story of watching his firstborn embark on his school career. Not once, but twice. He retold how frightening those experiences were for him as a parent watching his son go off to kindergarten… and then to college. And, we got to meet his son the college student and inspiration for the story, and see what a wonderful relationship they have and watch them work together on a piece of art for the bookstore.

 

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Here’s a picture of Loren sharing my favorite page:

“As his last leaf floated to the ground, for the first time Little Tree felt the harsh cold of winter.”

The artwork is stunning. And the text reminds me that when you finally let go of something that’s been holding you back, it can be cold and scary. But in the end, you know you that in order to grow… you must first let go.

Think back to the times it was hard for your little ones to let go… let go of their binky, let go of diapers, let go of their afternoon naps, let go of your hand in the school parking lot. It was a cold and scary time for them. You were there to dry their tears, give them comfort, help them through it.

And think of the times it was hard for you to let go and watch them grow. I think about the times when they fell and scraped their knees, when they boarded their first school bus, when they wanted to be dropped off at the mall without me, when they got their hearts broken for the first time, when they moved out of town. It really did feel like a harsh cold winter. I thought my heart was dying. But each time they came back to me taller and stronger… more of who they were and less of who I was. And it felt good.

See, what I mean about writing across generations? Loren Long has done that beautifully. I hope you pick up a copy for yourselves and feel the splendor of letting go as a wonderful thing.

 

 

 

Flashlight

12 Dec

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Flashlight written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd (2014)

One night, a boy takes his flashlight camping with him. After reading a book in his tent, the boy goes outside in the dark. As he walks, he shines the light on the many things hiding in the darkness all around him. He sees a boot lying in the grass, bats flying in the air, mice in the grass, an owl in the tree, skunks behind a tree, sticks in the pond, and a beaver in the dam. The farther he goes into the woods, the more his flashlight reveals to him. At one point, the boy stumbles on a rock and his flashlight is picked up by a raccoon. As all the other animals look on, the raccoon shines the light on the boy. The other animals each take a turn shining the light on the boy. Bit by bit, the boy is revealed to the animals. Eventually the light is shone on the boy’s tent. He returns to the tent and his book, and a family of mice hold the flashlight for him so he can read.

Lizi Boyd tells this story without words and with loads of imaginative, fun, light/dark artwork. In addition to the flashlight illuminating the story as it unfolds, there are tiny peepholes on each page foreshadowing the next page.

I can’t wait to share this picture book with a very inquisitive and not-sleepy granddaughter at bedtime. I know she’ll love exploring this little boy’s environment from the darkness of her own bedroom.

Penguin Cha-Cha

30 Nov

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Penguin Cha-Cha written and illustrated by Kristi Valiant (2013)

Julia loved sit high in a tree and watch the Saturday shows at the zoo. One day, when a dancer lost her boa, Julia noticed a sneaky flipper snatch it away. She followed the penguins back to their cove, but she found no sign of the hats, fans, or bows. So she decided to disguise herself as a penguin and see if she couldn’t get to the bottom of this mystery. But she was disappointed when the penguins all stared at her  like frozen penguin popsicles. She even tried to elist the help of a dancing hippo, but the penguins didn’t budge. Giving it one last shot, Julia dressed up and taught the penguins how to dance the cha-cha. Suddenly she heard the sound of penguins dancing… ‘Tap, flap, cha-cha-cha. Tap, flap, cha-cha-cha.’ They danced all day long.

Kristi Valiant has brought to life the behind-the-scenes antics of dancing penguins. Her words and pictures tell us the story of those sneaky birds and their dancing secret. And if you watch carefully, you might see the tricky monkeys swipe the magician’s hat for their own.

I adore the whole idea of graceful dancing penguins. They seem so clumsy on land when we see them normally. I wonder what they are hiding and why. Share this book with your little budding dancers, and I bet you’ll find that penguins aren’t the only ones hiding their talent behind a frozen facade.

Chicks and Salsa

27 Apr

Chicks and Salsa

written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Paulette Bogan (2005)

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Rooster has a plan. The chickens are tired of feed, the ducks are tired of fish, and the pigs are tired of slop. Rooster convinces them to prepare a Mexican feast with chips and salsa, guacamole, and nachos. Fiesta – Ole! Unfortunately for them, the farmer and his wife have the same idea and have used all the garden vegetables for their dinner. But have no fear, Rooster doesn’t give up so easily… he’s now reading a French cookbook – Ooh la la!

Aaron Reynolds and Paulette Bogan work together to concoct a spicy international feast for the reader. Pick up a copy to enjoy today. And just in case it whets your appetite for your own Mexican feast, there are recipes at the end of the story for Hog Wild Nachos, Quackamole, and Rooster’s Roasted Salsa. Ole!

Three Hens and a Peacock

26 Apr

Three Hens and a Peacock

written by Lester L. Laminack and illustrated by Henry Cole (2011)

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Lester Laminack has done it again! This story is wonderful on so many levels. It’s funny and teaches a lesson about jealousy and appreciation without being didactic. The peacock is new to the farm. He’s beautiful, fancy, and showy. And when he struts by the side of the road, customers stop to buy eggs, tomatoes, corn, or milk. The hens are jealous of all the attention he gets when it’s them doing all the useful egg-laying work while he gets the glamorous job. In a hilarious change of roles, the hens dress up and strut their stuff by the road while the peacock squeezes himself into the coop to lay eggs. No one is successful and everyone is exhausted and frustrated by their efforts to be something they’re not. Eventually, they realize that in their own ways, everyone does what they do best, and they return to their own duties on the farm.

Henry Cole’s illustrations are exciting and vibrant. They bring this story to life. I love the details of expressions he uses on each of the characters. You can’t see from the cover, but in addition to the three hens and the peacock, there is an old hound dog and a couple of cows who are priceless. His illustrations are so comprehensive, that even the youngest child could ‘read’ the story independently without knowing a single letter or word.

I was fortunate enough to meet Lester Laminack in the summer of 2008, at a literature conference for teachers. He was an amazing speaker with more personality than one room could contain. I see that in this book as well. At the time, I bought Saturdays and Teacakes (2004), a much more quiet story, and his teaching guide Cracking Open the Author’s Craft: Teaching the Art of Writing (2007). I used both in my classroom and in my own work with great success.

Meg the Egg

25 Apr

15773439Meg the Egg written and illustrated by Rita Antoinette Borg (2012)

Meg is a frightened little chick who is afraid to hatch. Her siblings Peg and Keg have already hatched, but Meg refuses because she is afraid of all the sounds she hears outside her eggshell. Meg’s Mum is worried that the farmer will throw her into the rubbish heap, so she hides Meg and sits on her until she is ready to hatch. All night, while everyone else is sleeping, Meg lays awake listening to the sounds of Howls who was far away, but came closer and closer. Suddenly Howls comes right into the barn, grabbing Mother Hen, and tipping over the nest. Meg’s eggshell cracks and she sees Howls dash out of the barn with Mum. Peg and Keg are too frightened to help, so Meg has to save Mum by herself. She rolls through Moos’ muck, Oinks’ mud and Quacks’ feathers, right into Howl’s dark cave just as he is about to eat Mum. Meg convinces Howls to eat her instead. But the muck and mud and feathers that stuck to Meg’s eggshell, stick to the roof of Howl’s mouth like peanut butter and he spits her out. Meg and Mum are able to escape Howl’s cave and return to their nest in the barn where everyone settles back down to sleep… everyone that is except Meg, she can’t sleep because of the farmer’s snoring. But Mum reassures her, gives her a kiss, and Meg sleeps through the night for the first time.

Rita Antoinette Borg has created an adorable barnyard world for a frightened but brave little egg named Meg. This story is sure to show little ones that although there are many things in this world to be afraid of, there are also many reasons to be brave and overcome those fears.

I love Mum’s patience with Meg, allowing her the space and time she needed to develop. Mum’s faith that Meg would be just  fine was repaid in Meg’s determination and ability to save her Mum from Howls. What a wonderful message!

The Monster Who Lost His Mean

24 Apr

The Monster Who Lost His Mean

written by Tiffany Strelitz Haber and illustrated by Kirstie Edmunds

(2012 – debut picture book)

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See that sweet little green monster on the cover? That’s Onster, the monster who lost his mean when the M in the word monster went missing. Without his M, Onster wasn’t mean anymore. The problem is that he is no longer accepted in his monster world. The other monsters tease him and refuse to associate with him. Onster tries looking for his M, but he can’t find it anywhere. Onster tries to pretend being mean, but he just can’t pull it off. Finally Onster accepts his newfound identity and finds acceptance with his new friends.

Tiffany Strelitz Haber’s story is just right for little ones. It tells Onster’s tale in rhythm and rhyme without losing the essence of the story. And Kirstie Edmunds’ illustrations are so detailed that children (and adults) will be scouring each page with Onster searching for the missing M.

Tiffany Strelitz Haber second book, Ollie and Claire will be out soon, and I’ll be first in line to get a copy.

Henny

23 Apr

Henny, written by Elizabeth Rose Staton (2014)

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 Henny is an adorable chicken who just happens to have been hatched with arms instead of wings. At first Henny is worried about having arms. She worried about being right- or left- handed, she worried about needing deodorant, getting tennis elbow, and even whether she should wear long or short sleeves. But that doesn’t stop this  unusual bird from fitting in. Henny realizes that her arms are a special gift. She’s able to give Mr. Farmer a hand, twiddle her thumbs, carry a purse, hail a taxi, balance herself while ice-skating, or even fly (in a plane of course)!

The text is rich and the illustrations are clean and simple. What a perfect combination!  Pick up a copy today… you won’t regret it!

Looking for Easter

18 Apr

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On one of my jaunts to the library to pick up books I had on hold, I stopped at the Easter display for new titles.  This one is a few years old, but it’s the first time I had seen it. And it is oh so sweet, I just had to share it with you.

Looking for Easter (2008) is written by Dori Chaconas and illustrated by Margie Moore. It tells the story of a little bunny who is looking for Easter.  As he goes through the meadow, he ends up helping his friends Beaver, Woodchuck, and Mouse. And each friend gives him something for Easter- a basket, grass and strawberries which he ends up giving to his friend Robin whose nest has blown away. Bunny is afraid that he has given away Easter. He goes back home for many days until his friend Wren comes for him to show him Easter. Bunny follows Wren to Robin’s tree where he sees Beaver with two babies, Woodchuck with four babies, Mouse with eight babies, and Robin with three babies. Bunny learns that Easter is not a basket with grass and treats, it’s new life.

The story is charming. The message is simple. The illustrations are lovely. I hope you get a chance to read it this year with your special little ones.

Fingerprints on the Table

16 Feb

A little something to think about on Presidents’ Day…

“Upstairs in the White House there is a long table.  The FINGERPRINTS of all who touch it are part of its story…”

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The table is the White House Treaty Table.  It was commissioned in1869 by President Grant as a conference table for himself and his seven advisors who formed his cabinet.  Each seat has its own drawer with a lock and key.  In 1898 it was used for the signing of the peace treaty with Spain ending the Spanish-American War.  Since then it has been known as the Treaty Table and another Cabinet Table was built when the president’s cabinet grew to nine advisors. Over the years it has been moved and used by presidents for various reasons.  In 1929 President Coolidge signed the Pact of Paris peace treaty on that same table.  In 1961 First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had the table returned to its original place, and in its honor that room became known as the Treaty Room.  As more and more treaties are signed on that table over the years, it collects more and more fingerprints of the men and women who work for peace in our country.

This is all information which I did not know before this week, before I read this picture book, written by my OLLI instructor, Connie Trounstine.  I am proud to have an autographed copy of this book in my library.  Connie is a wonderful person, author, and instructor, and I am very lucky to have met her.  I encourage you to pick up your own copy of Fingerprints on the Table for yourself and for your children.

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Happy Presidents’ Day!

Peace!

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