Monthly Archives: October 2015

5th Annual Halloweensie Contest – BOO-YAH!

5th Annual Halloweensie Contest – BOO-YAH!

It’s the end of October and writers know what that means.  Halloween-sie time! At this time of the year author Susanna Hill hosts a writing contest. Participates submit a short story using 100 words or less in poetry or prose that must use specific vocabulary, for a chance to win prizes. This year the words are haunt, dark, and costume. Read my entry below, then click here to check out Susanna’s page for some delightful stories created by some amazing kidlit writers and writer-illustrators.

anigh02                                 BOO-YAH!

“What are you working on Boo?” asked Spooky.

“Tweaking this Fright-O-Meter I created after the haunt contest last year.” she said. “It measures scare responses.”

“Such a dark day losing to those deadbeat zombies.” said Spooky. “Let’s go to the mall to test it.”

Boo set the instrument to super scary. They used chain clangs, shrill shrieks, and windy woos to frighten shoppers. The machine flashed.  Her invention worked.

“We’ll lose again over my dead body!” said Spooky.

Boo could see his spirit lift.

On Halloween night, they scared the pants off every human in costume winning 1st place. BOO-YAH!

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Halloween PerfectPictureBookPair 2

Halloween PerfectPictureBookPair 2

A #WeNeedDiverseBooks Perfect Picture Book Pair for Halloween!

Halloween PPBP

Title:  Los Gatos Black on Halloween
Written by: Marisa Montes
Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (August 22, 2006)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a spooky bilingual Halloween poem that introduces young readers to spooky Spanish words. 

Amazon copy: Under October’s luna, full and bright, the monsters are throwing a ball in the Haunted Hall. Las brujascome on their broomsticks. Los muertos rise from their coffins to join in the fun. Los esqueletos rattle their bones as they dance through the door. And the scariest creatures of all aren’t even there yet!

Title:  Bone Dog
Written/Illustrated by: Eric Rohmann
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Bone Dog is a touching story that deals with the reality of death when a pet nears the end of life and makes a promise to his best friend.

Amazon copy: Gus doesn’t feel like doing much after his dog Ella dies. He doesn’t really even feel like dressing up for Halloween. But when Gus runs into a bunch of rowdy skeletons, it’s Ella–his very own Bone dog–who comes to his aid, and together they put those skeletons in their place. A book about friendship, loss, and a delightfully spooky Halloween.

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Written by: Chris Barton 

Illustrated by: Don Tate

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 7 and up

Themes/Topics: US History, Reconstruction, Civil Rights, Mississippi politics, racism, slavery, perseverance, hope, courage, inspiration

      Born: 1847 – Died: 1939
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Brief Synopsis: The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a picture book biography about the inspirational life of a man born enslaved, freed as a teenager after the start of the Civil War, and 10 years later elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives during Reconstruction.

John Roy’s father, Patrick Lynch, was an Irish overseer, his mother enslaved on the plantation where they lived. Patrick planned to save enough money to purchase and ”own” his family since by law he could not free them. But in 1849, when his son was a mere a toddler, Patrick became ill. He entrusted a friend to free his family in case of his death, but instead this man sold them to a new owner.

Opening pages:  John Roy Lynch had an Irish father and an enslaved mother. By the law of the South before the Civil War, that made John Roy and his brother half Irish and all slave.”

Why I like this book: Let me start by saying I am a genealogy addict which involves a lot of historical research. And for that reason, I love this book!

Barton does a phenomenal job recounting the life of this extraordinary man who overcame so much hostility and oppression to become a justice of the peace and a state representative in Mississippi during a time when laws marginalized people of color. The author’s research is impeccable. The use of primary documents gives us a sense of the man John Roy was and brings readers into the world in which he lived. Barton does not sugarcoat the history nor the inhumane treatment a select group of people suffered. He does give us a history of how one man was able to rise above the fray despite insurmountable obstacles.

The watercolor illustrations by Don Tate carries the lengthy story helping young readers digest these harsh periods in US history.

This book is well done all around and for this reason it is a must read for all ages, not just kids. Many citizens have not learned the history presented in this book. The historical note, timeline, author’s note and illustrator’s note are supplements that add even more to this remarkable story. And of course it is a treasure because -#weneeddiversebooks that are this well researched and written.

“When every man, woman, and child can feel and know that his, her, and their rights are fully protected by the strong and generous and grateful Republic, then we can all truthfully say that this beautiful land or ours, over which the Star Spangled Banner so triumphantly waves, is, in truth and in fact, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

John Roy Lynch

United States House of Representatives 1876

Congressional Record, vol. 2, Part 5, 43rd Congress, 1st Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1876), pp. 4782-4786.

Resources:

Click here to find more books and facts about John Roy Lynch.

Click here for the educator’s guide.

Click here to see the book trailer.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month 2015

PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month 2015
The most wonderful time of the year for picture book writers is almost here.

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PiBoIdMo or Picture Book Idea Month created by author Tara Lazar, is an annual writing challenge scheduled during the full month of November. Beginning on the first day of the month, participants will receive daily inspirational blog posts and writing exercises by picture book authors, illustrators, and editors. The only thing that would make this event more awesome would be the chance to win prizes. Wait. What? Yes, there will be prizes!

 

The goal is to generate 30 ideas to deposit into a writer’s picture book idea bank. We all know the first step in the process of writing a picture book is coming up with a story idea. And we often hear what Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea.” If that is true, how are we supposed to come up with something original that an editor or agent will consider book worthy? One way is to spin and twist old ideas to create new intriguing combinations.

 

Here are a few great examples:

 

Fractured Fairy Tales
Little Red is a fairy tale figure skater who needs to win a paired skating competition. She needs a partner. The other characters are taken. But there’s one with big eyes, sharp teeth, and furry paws available.  Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar
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Bullying
Ginny Louise is a new addition to a class of troublemakers who is so cheerful she is unable to find fault in any of her cranky classmates. And that ultimately changes their bullying attitudes.  Ginny Louise and the School Showdown by Tammy Sauer
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Rivalry
Leftovers Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast engage in a race around other foods in the refrigerator to get to that last drop of maple syrup.  Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk
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Bedtime
Little pirate Ned will do anything to avoid bedtime. He convinces Papa Pirate there are things he must do before settling in for the night.  Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime by Marcie Wessels
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Determination
Percy the Pug finds the perfect puddle but the puddle pigs who inhabit it won’t share. Puddle Pug by Kim Norman
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Each one of these books started with an idea, perhaps a random thought, or a “what if” question. Reading and listening to interviews about authors often give us the story behind their story idea. And you will be surprised how, when, where, and under what circumstances those ideas came to them. That is what PiBoIdMo is about. Finding out what works for others may just work for you too.

 

There will be days during the month when ideas just won’t show up. Like they’re playing a game of ”keep away”.

 

And you’ll feel like this.

 

Hang in there.

 

Other days you’ll be thrilled when they come.
Here’s my PiBoIdMo Pledge.
  1. I will register on Sunday October 25, 2015 by entering my name in the registration blog post.
  2. I will assemble all necessary tools to be available 24/7 for 30 days of November.
  3. I will read every post, comment daily when possible, and complete the exercises.
  4. I will record all my ideas, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  5. I will not beat my head against the computer, but I will do a jig when I think of a story idea.
Hope to see you in November, on Tara’s blog or on the PiBoIdMo Facebook page!

 

Books by the Banks Book Festival

Books by the Banks Book Festival

Books by the Banks Book Festival proved once again to be a blast! On a beautiful Saturday in the Queen City authors, illustrators, writers, and readers of all ages gathered at the largest annual literary festival in Cincinnati.

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My favorite part of this year’s event was watching picture book author-illustrators showcase their talent inspiring kids with their art. Crazy talent! Watch author-illustrator Jeff Mack below share how he draws the characters of Bear and Skunk from his picture books Who Wants A Hug and Who Needs A Bath? His advice – start small!

And Tad Hills, well known for his books about the dog Rocket (and has a real dog named Rocket) demonstrated how to create art using the letter “M” a young audience member drew. This was definitely ”art in action”!

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In addition to meeting some awesome creatives, there were sessions offered for those interested in learning more about the craft and or the business aspect of writing and publishing. A special moment for me was meeting Tim Bowers, the illustrator of the picture book Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny At Bedtime. Me matey, Marcie Wessels is the author.

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These Ohio SCBWI mighty girl authors Mary Kay Carson, Kathy Cannon WiechmanMichelle Houts, and illustrator Christina Wald showcased their publications and talent!

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The King Cake Baby and I walked the halls of the convention center again meeting many picture book characters who came to the event.

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Until next year! Keep reading, keep writing, or both!

 

 

 

National Gumbo Day: First You Make A Roux

National Gumbo Day: First You Make A Roux
Today is National Gumbo Day! Hooray!
For anyone who grew up in Louisiana before the internet, learning to make a gumbo was a right of passage. Somebody, whether it was your mama, papa, marraine, parrain, mami, papi, grand-mère or grand-père made sure to pass on the family recipe. It doesn’t matter if you learned to cook a gumbo with fowl, seafood, or z’herbes, everyone learned to start the dish the same way – first you make a roux.  Roux, pronounced “roo”, is a mixture of fat like butter, lard, or oil and flour.  Used as a thickening agent, roux also adds flavor to a gumbo. The second thing learned is to never leave the skillet because it’s not that hard to burn a roux.
This week Louisiana lost one of her native sons, Chef Paul Prudhomme. So, in honor of both he and this delicious day, allow the Chef to teach you how to make a roux. It doesn’t matter if you like it light or dark, that’s the first step.        
See my post from last year here for a bit of history on gumbo. Bon appétit!
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np3uGcdQNUw

Elephants Make Fine Friends by Colter Jackson

Elephants Make Fine Friends by Colter Jackson
Elephants Make Fine Friends is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday! 

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Written/Illustrated by: Colter Jackson 

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (August 2015)

Suitable for ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: friendship, recognizing differences, empathy, acceptance, elephants

Brief Synopsis:  Ella has elephant problems. She sent her elephant away although they are best friends because of their differences. Elephants don’t fit in bathtubs or at the dinner table. They make big messes. Then Ella realizes watching the moon rise or reading books or going to the movies is just not the same without her best friend. When Ella reunites with her elephant she learns humans make fine friends too.

Opening pages:  “Ella’s best friend is an elephant. They went everywhere together. And did everything side by side.”

Why I like this book: This story is such a tender yet powerful story of friendship. It helps young children see that although differences exist and are even expected between two friends, it’s the similarities they share that matter. The illustrations are warm and inviting.

Resources:  Click here to land on the book Facebook page.

Click here to land on Colter Jackson’s website.

Click here for more stories about friendship from The Measured Mom.

Click here for more stories about friendship from No Time For Flash Cards.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here to go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.