Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Girl in the Glass - Susan Meissner

I wasn't planning on posting again until the new year, but I just finished a book I was sent to review from WaterBrook Multnomah from their  Blogging for Books program. (I receive books from them in exchange for my honest feedback.) Since I should have gotten this posted a while ago, I thought I should share my thoughts before 2013.


THE GIRL IN THE GLASS
by: Susan Meissner
Published 2012

This is quite the book! I will admit, I'm not one to be well-versed in Italian art or the ancient families of Florence. Most of the descriptions found in the book were new to me. For those of you who have been to Florence or love the art, sculptures and architecture of its past, much of the book might pull at certain places in your heart.

That said, let me share the book description from the back cover.


Renaissance is a word with hope infused in every letter.

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?


The Girl in the Glass completely captivated me. It is filled with beautiful imagery and description and almost has a poetic quality to it. I was enthralled with the messy lives of the main characters, how they intersected, and how the truth and what you imagine are both possible in the same lifetime. As the main character, Meg's life was the messiest, and she was the first to admit it. I loved watching her character evolve and figure out just who she "was" and who should really wanted to be.  The ending was a bit unexpected, but most of it was what I hoped would eventually happen. It is a book that will make you take a step back and look at reality and dreams in an entirely new light. My favorite quote is from Meg on the last page of the book:
"And that what might be is worth risking to have."
If you are looking for a book to start the new year, this is one I would recommend. And for you children's book lovers, this is one adult book I think you'll love. 

Other links of interest:
I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah for my honest opinion. The views expressed here are my own. 

See you next year! I promise this really is my last post of 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a 
Merry Christmas
and a 
Happy New Year
 from my family to yours!

See you in 2013!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Writing Contest

The wonderful Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting her 2nd Annual Holiday Writing Contest. I didn't participate last year, but thought I would give it a try this year. It's been a while since I've written a short story, but it was fun to get in that mindset for a little bit.

Before I post my story, let me share a few of the rules of the contest from Susanna's blog.


Write a children's holiday story beginning with any version of "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh." You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version "[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind]." For example, "Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart" or "Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe" or "Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon..." You get the idea, I'm sure :) Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words. 

So without further ado, here's my story!

The Perfect Solo
(346 words)
“Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh.”
            Would the song ever end? If there was one thing I couldn’t stand, it was my sister practicing over and over for the school Christmas program. With the lead solo, she wanted to be perfect. Perfect. Yes, Tiffany was perfect in every sense of the word – perfect grades, perfect hair, perfect smile.
            Then there was me. Ordinary Chloe. I struggled with math, had frizzy hair and wore glasses. My part for the program – a dancing tree. Seriously? Couldn’t I have at least sung in the choir?
            Finally the night of the Christmas program arrived. My fellow dancing trees and I took our places and waited for our turn on stage.
            I felt someone tug on one of my branches. It was Tiffany. She mumbled something I couldn’t hear.
            “What?” I asked.
            She mumbled again.
            “I can’t hear you,” I said a little too loudly.
            “Shush, Chloe,” said Mrs. Turner, my teacher.
            Of course, why would Tiffany get in trouble? She tugged on my arm again, and I turned around.
            “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for your big solo?” I asked.
            “My voice is gone,” said Tiffany.
            “Gone?”
            “I think I practiced too much. I can’t sing!”
            I could see tears rolling down Tiffany’s cheeks. I didn’t wait to admit it, but I hated to see her cry.
            “Let me sing for you. I’ve heard you practicing so much, I know it by heart. I can sing back here and you can mouth the words. No one will know the difference.”
            “Really, you’d do that for me?” Tiffany wiped her eyes.
            “Sure, isn’t that what sisters do? Help each other out?”
            Tiffany smiled. “I’m so glad I have you for a sister.”
            We told Mrs. Turner our plan, and she agreed it was a good idea.
            After the show, Mom and Dad gave us both a hug. “I’m guessing there’s a story behind what happened tonight?” asked Mom.
            Tiffany put her arm around my shoulders. “I have the best sister in the world.”
            I smiled. “Me too.”


I hope you enjoyed it! Have a Merry Christma
s!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Writing Goals and Review

The beginning of December has just flown by!  I realized I still needed to post the outcome of my November goals. Having you out there to encourage me and keep me accountable has been great!  So, here we go...

  • Start and complete PiBoIdMo 2012 - Check! I filled my notebook with 30 ideas!

  • Finish the novel writing class I'm taking with the Institute for Children's Literature by completing revisions of my middle grade novel in preparation to begin the querying process. - I'm not done with the class, but I'm making progress. More on this in a moment.
  • Complete a rough draft for November for the 12x12 in 2012 challenge. - Unfortunately, I did not complete a rough draft, but that ties into the above goal.
While I was revising my manuscript last month, I still felt like something was missing. I still needed a little something more to make my story really mine.  As I revised I continued to refer back to a critique I had received over the summer with many helpful suggestions and questions that needed plot answers. I also spoke at length with an author friend who helped me to see what I really needed to do to help make my story more personal. After really thinking it through and making some tough writing decisions, I decided to rewrite my manuscript, changing it from third person to first person. Major decision to make!!

If I was going to do this and succeed, I knew I needed to make some choices. I want to complete my story and with my writing time really crunched right now, I've decided to totally focus on my middle grade and put picture books on the back burner. I know, I know, I just came up with 30 more pb ideas, but my middle grade needs to come first. So, that's my plan.  This also means that starting in January, I won't be posting much on Perfect Picture Book Friday. Hopefully I will be back at some point, but middle grade comes first right now.

I'm happy to report that my new revision is going very well. I feel like I'm really into my character with the first person perspective. This month has been hard to find writing time, but I'm still plugging away and writing when I can. Someday I hope to report that this major revision is complete!

This isn't my last post of 2012, but I don't know how much I will be around the rest of the month. For all my blogging friends, I won't be stopping by much the rest of the month, either, but I'm looking forward to seeing you again in the new year.

I hope you are all enjoying the month with family and friends.  For as busy as December is, I just love this season!  Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Fourth Stall

The book I'm sharing with you today was recommended to me by a fellow writer. She raved about it, especially the first person voice of the main character - a sixth grade boy.  I'm happy to say that I absolutely LOVED it too!

THE FOURTH STALL
by Chris Rylander
Walden Pond Press 2011

From Goodreads:
Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

As I said I absolutely LOVED this book. The two main components - baseball and a mystery/thriller for middle graders hooked me right away. But, don't think this is a hardcore read, humor was woven into the story line as well, making the book well-balanced and real. Reading a book from the perspective of a sixth grade boy and seeing everything from his eyes really pulled me in. At some points, I would revert to my own thoughts as a mother - how could his parents let him do that, or how could they not know what was going on, but then I would remember that maybe they were aware, but the whole point of the book was to see things from Mac's eyes, not an adult's. Definitely not a perspective you read much in middle grade. I loved the relationship between Mac and Vince and seeing how they dealt with the problems they needed to solve and how those problems impacted their bond as friends. 

At the end of the book was the first chapter of the sequel - The Fourth Stall Part II, which I can't wait to read soon!

For more middle grade recommendations, please see the list to the right on my blog. Have a great week!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Christmas Tugboat


Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.

Today’s book I received in the mail yesterday. I was the lucky winner of a copy from Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog Cynsations. Thank you so much Cynthia!

THE CHRISTMAS TUGBOAT

Written by: George Matteson and Adele Ursone 
Illustrated by: James E. Ransome

Clarion Books 2012
Fiction for ages 4 to 8

Themes: Christmas, family, educational

Opening and brief synopsis:
Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake to the ringing of my dad’s alarm clock.

From the jacket flap:  Early one chilly November morning, a young girl wakes. Her dad is a tugboat captain, and today she and her mom will accompany him on a very special journey. They’ll travel by tug past the Statue of Liberty, around the tip of Manhattan, and up the Hudson River to fetch the giant Christmas tree that will stand at Rockefeller Center in New York City!

Why I like this book:
This wonderful tale describes in great detail the exciting journey on the tugboat. Through the eyes of the girl, the reader is taken right along amid the adventure of such a special job. The paintings/illustrations are beautiful and capture the spirit of the book. What an amazing experience for a young child, as the book is based on the author’s experience with his own family.

Resources:
Show children pictures of this year’s Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and then share the book describing the tree’s journey to New York City.
Click here for a coloring page of a tugboat.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books and resources listed by theme and title, visit her blog.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

I have some giveaway winners to announce!


The winner of CLEMENTINE AND THE FAMILY MEETING is

ROSI!

The winner of IVY + BEAN NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS is

AKOSS!

Please email me with your mailing address, and I will get the books right out to you.  Congratulations to you both! 

Since I won't be posting again this week, I would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Every Cowgirl Loves a Rodeo


Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.

EVERY COWGIRL LOVES A RODEO

Written by: Rebecca Janni 
Illustrated by: Lynne Avril

Dial Books for Young Readers 2012
Fiction for ages 4 to 8

Themes: honesty, kindness, friendship

Opening and brief synopsis:
Every cowgirl needs a blue ribbon. So when I heard the county fair was comin’, I signed up.

From the jacket flap:  There are games to play, animals to pet, and rides to go on. But, of course, Nellie Sue is really looking forward to the Bike Rodeo. She hopes that practicing will make her and her two-wheeled horse good enough to win against the reigning champion and Rodeo King, A.J. Pickett. But when a nearby goat gets loose and threatens to ruin A.J.’s turn, Nellie Sue knows that it’s her job as an honest cowgirl to help out.

Why I like this book:
This is the third book about Nellie Sue and horse, Beauty. Really Beauty is her bicycle, but Nellie refers to everything like she is a cowgirl and she lives on a ranch. It is cute to see what she says and what the illustrator is really showing. (This is true in all her books.) For this book, I love that no matter how important Nellie wants to win the Bike Rodeo, she thinks of her friend first. It is a great lesson of friendship and thinking of others first.

Resources:
A variety of Nellie Sue activities can be found on Rebecca Janni's website. Kids can act out the book on their own, just like Nellie Sue.  Nellie Sue's imagination can spark theirs as well!

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books and resources listed by theme and title, visit her blog.

And for those of you who missed it, check out my post from Monday where I'm giving away TWO middle grade books!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mid-Month Update

At the beginning of the month, I shared my goals for November with all of you.  With today being November 15th, I thought I would check in and see how the month is going.  Also, putting it out there makes me accountable to you all!

Here are my goals for November:

  • Start and complete PiBoIdMo 2012 
  • Finish the novel writing class I'm taking with the Institute for Children's Literature by completing revisions of my middle grade novel in preparation to begin the querying process.
  • Complete a rough draft for November for the 12x12 in 2012 challenge.

And here is my progress so far:
  • I'm a few days behind, but have quite a few ideas in my PiBoIdMo notebook.
  • I've completed all the major revisions I wanted to make in my novel, have turned in the first half to my instructor, and am finishing up the end.  I'm also getting a critique from a fresh set of eyes, so we'll see if anything else needs to be adjusted.
  • This one I haven't started yet, I think I have the idea I want to work with, just need to get it flowing on paper.
So, I'm doing okay.  I have some work to do this weekend to make sure I don't get too far behind for the month, but I'm feeling confident I will get everything accomplished - although Thanksgiving might complicate things a little.

So, how about you PiBoIdMo'ers and 12x12'ers?  How is your month going?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Clementine AND Ivy +Bean PLUS a Giveaway!

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday features two series for early middle grade readers - the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker and the Ivy + Bean books by Annie Barrows. Continue reading to find out more, as well as how to enter to win a book from each series!

Both of these series are great for kids who are ready for longer books, but still enjoy see pictures of the characters. The characters are familiar and readers love to have friends like Clementine, Ivy and Bean.


First up - CLEMENTINE AND THE FAMILY MEETING
by Sara Pennypacker with pictures by Marla Frazee 
originally published in 2011 

From the back cover: 
Clementine is having a nervous breakdown. The FAMILY MEETING! sign is up in her house, and she just knows she's in trouble for something. Has she been too mean to her little brother? Too sloppy? Eating too much junk food? Try as she might to find out what's on the agenda, her parents won't reveal anything before the meeting. As far as Clementine is concerned, the agenda should be something like: "We're getting a gorilla." But no, it's something entirely different. And different doesn't always mean good! 

This is the fifth book in the series and shows the sibling perspective of adding another child to a family. With Clementine, you always know you're in for a laugh! 



Second - IVY + BEAN: NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS 
by Annie Barrows with pictures by Sophie Blackall 
published in 2011

From the book jacket:
Ivy and Bean need some money. Ten dollars, to be exact. Never mind what for. Okay, it's for cheese. Two bags of lowfat Belldeloon cheese in a special just-for you serving size. Don't ask why. Ten dollars! How are Ivy and Bean going to make ten dollars? Should they babysit? Diapers! Yuck! Should they wash the car? Probably not. Should they write a newspaper about Pancake Court and sell it? Yes! Great idea, and easy, too. All Ivy and Bean have to do is snoop around the neighborhood to get some news. Wow. It's very interesting what you can find out when you look in your neighbors' windows. It's even more interesting when the neighbors read about it in the newspaper. 

This book is the eighth book in the series. October 13, 2012 was Happy International Ivy + Bean Day, and in honor of the special occasion  many bloggers were giving away copies of the books and other fun prizes. I was lucky enough to win two hardcover copies of Ivy + Bean books.  One I have for you and one I'm donating to the library at my boys' school. For tons of fun stuff about Ivy + Bean check out www.chroniclebooks.com/ivyandbean/.

Now for the giveaway.  I realized recently that I've been blogging for over a year. It has been fun sharing books and writing with you, and I look forward to many more posts. I'm so thankful for those of you who stop by, especially those of you who are followers. It means so much to me to know that you enjoy reading my posts!  So to celebrate you, I'm giving away not one, but two books this week. One of you will win a paperback copy of CLEMENTINE AND THE FAMILY MEETING and another lucky person will win a hardcover of IVY + BEAN: NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. Two of you win a great book for yourself or a young reader you may know. They would both make great Christmas presents, too!

To enter, please leave a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. this Saturday, November 17. For those of you who follow the blog, you will get an additional entry. If you follow via email, please let me know in the comments. (US and Canadian entries only, please.)

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I'll announce the winners next Monday. For my favorite MMGM links - please see the list of links to the right. Have a great week!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

I have a winner!  Using random.org, the winner of  Recipe for Trouble: The Cupcake Club by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk is:

* * * JOANNE ***

Congratulations, Joanne!  I will be emailing you shortly for your mailing address.

Thanks everyone for stopping by.  Now back to writing! :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Picture Book Month and PiBoIdMo 2012


Today's the day!  Not only is November designated as Picture Book Month, but November 1st is also the first day of Picture Book Idea Month aka PiBoIdMo.  
I'm so excited to start November!  I've made a decision to get some serious writing done, as well as lots of ideas written down for the future. My goals for the month:
  • Start and complete PiBoIdMo 2012 (My ideas will be going into my brand new journal that I received for completing Susanna Leonard Hill's Summer Short & Sweet writing challenge.)
  • Finish the novel writing class I'm taking with the Institute for Children's Literature by completing revisions of my middle grade novel in preparation to begin the querying process.
  • Complete a rough draft for November for the 12x12 in 2012 challenge. (I haven't completed a draft for the last few months and need to get back in gear.)
Sounds like a lot, I know, but I figure since I'm putting this out there, I'm accountable to all of you to complete my goals.

With that said, I may not be posting as much this month for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday or Perfect Picture Book Friday or making the rounds to comment on other blogs. I do have a couple giveaways in the works, though, so make sure to stop by occasionally.

For those of you participating in PiBoIdMo, I'm sure I will see you around Tara's blog and the Facebook page.  For those of you who haven't signed up, but want to, there's still time. 

Best of luck for everyone's writing goals for November. I will post back to let you know how my goals are going and if I completed all three.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Recipe for Trouble: The Cupcake Club and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! So glad to have a book to share with you today.  And today is special as I was asked to be a part of the Cupcake and Crushes blog tour for the second book in The Cupcake Club series by Sheryl Berk and her 9-year-old daughter Carrie Berk. And now for the fun part! Sourcebooks Jabberwocky has offered to give away a copy of Recipe for Trouble: The Cupcake Club to one of my readers.  So, let's get started!

RECIPE FOR TROUBLE: THE CUPCAKE CLUB


By: Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky October 2012

From the Publisher:

The Peace, Love, and Cupcake Girls are ready for a new school year, but are they ready for the, well, drama? When Lexi lands the role of Juliet in the upcoming performance of Romeo and Juliet, she couldn’t be more excited, but when she finds out the leading man opposite her is her secret crush, Jeremy, the PLC gang sets its sights on match-making.

Things go quickly awry, though, when Jeremy throws away the “Bake Me I’m Yours” cupcake Lexi anonymously gives him. That’s not all! It seems that Jeremy has a few odd habits. For one, it turns out he doesn’t eat any desert during lunch period. Then they notice that he keeps a stash of nuts with him at all times. Not to mention his over-frequent visits to the nurse’s office. What could be up with Jeremy?

A little hunch that Jeremy might be diabetic inspires the PLC gang’s hardest cupcake challenge yet: a spaghetti and meatball cupcake. It’s the only way for Lexi to win Jeremy’s stomach (and his heart!) but can they make the perfect diabetes-friendly, hunger-satisfying spaghetti cupcake successfully?

This is the second book in the series and even though I haven't read the first book, I was able to follow the characters just fine. This book is perfect for girls who enjoy reading contemporary fiction.  And girls that love to bake will LOVE it!  The Cupcake Girls really know their cupcakes. Another group that might enjoy reading this series are older reluctant reader girls. Even though Lexie and her friends are in the fifth grade (4th grade in the first book), they act much older, enough so that older girls wouldn't feel the story was talking down to them.

The book also features a few cupcake recipes in the back, as well as Carrie's tips for saying "I Love You" with cupcakes. 

For more with Carrie, check out this link to watch her bake Smurf cupcakes, and here's a link with an interview of Carrie sharing about the first book in the series.

And now for the giveaway! If you would like to be entered to receive a copy of Recipe for Trouble: The Cupcake Club just leave a comment on this post.  Follow my blog via email or blogger and I will give you a bonus entry! Contest will be open until Friday, November 2nd at 11:59 pm. Good luck!

Thanks for stopping by today! For my favorite MMGM links, please check out the list to the left on my blog. Have a great week!

I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for my review. This post is my own opinion.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Being Frank


Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.

BEING FRANK

Written by: Donna W. Earnhardt
Illustrated by: Andrea Castellani

Flashlight Press 2012
Fiction for ages 4 to 8

Themes: honesty, perspective, kindness


Opening and brief synopsis:
Frank was always frank. 
“Honesty is the best policy,” he said.

From the jacket flap:  "Honesty is the best policy.” That’s Frank’s motto. He tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing by the truth. But Frank’s overly frank comments tend to annoy his friends, his teachers, and even his mother – and now Frank is honestly unhappy. He decides to visit his confidant and pal, Grandpa Ernest, who has a history of frankness himself.

Why I like this book:
I just love that Frank goes to his grandpa for advice – how cool is that? I don’t want to spill the beans by saying if the advice helps or not, but let me just say that this book makes me chuckle and the illustrations are the perfect wacky fit. The lesson Frank learns is appropriate for kids AND adults!

Resources:
Flashlight Press has an activity/resource page for BEING FRANK on its website. You can also take a peek inside and check out the wacky illustrations.

I would like to give a big thank you to Flashlight Press for sending me a review copy of BEING FRANK. This entire post is my own opinion.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books and resources listed by theme and title, visit her blog.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Write On, Mom! Guest Post

Today, I'm being featured on author Jenny Lee Sulpizio's website.  She hosts a weekly blog series, "Write On, Mom!" that shares how mothers who are also writers balance motherhood while being an author.  It is a fun interview, and I hope you'll stop by!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Oh, Nuts!


Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.

Before I begin, I do have to give a shout-out to the DETROIT TIGERS! They are going to the WORLD SERIES! Much excitement could be found in my household last night!

Now on to today's book pick...


OH, NUTS! 
Written by: Tammi Sauer 
Illustrated by: Dan Krall

Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers 2012
Fiction for ages 3 to 8

Themes: be yourself, cause & effect, animals

Opening and brief synopsis:
Cutesy, Blinky, and Bob lived at the zoo.
They whooshed through grass,
darted up trees,
and zipped over branches.  But…

From the jacket flap:  Meet Cutesy, Blinky, and Bob. They live at the zoo, where they dream of stardom. But does anyone pay attention to chipmunks? Nooooo. All the zoo-goers are busy gawking at gorillas and clicking cameras at koalas. Oh, nuts! Something must be done. Something big.

Why I like this book:
First, it is by Tammi Sauer.  Need I say more? Probably not, but I'll give you a few other reasons to check this book out. Chipmunks named Cutesy, Blinky and Bob - the names alone show this is a funny book. These chipmunks are quite the characters and you feel their pain that no one pays any attention to them. The ideas they cook up to get noticed are hilarious, and the lesson they learn once they get the attention they “think” they want is a great one for kids to see, especially in a funny, did I just learn a lesson, context.

Resources:
Check out the book trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBPZfPH8tM.
Get a sneak peek of the book at Dan Krall’s website: http://www.dankrall.com/OhNuts/source/ohnuts.html
Many facts and pictures of squirrels can be found at the National Geographic website or a variety of coloring pages can be found here.

Have a great weekend! 

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books and resources listed by theme and title, visit her blog.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - A Warm Winter Tail

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.

Today’s book is by fellow Michigan-SCBWI member and writing friend, Carrie A. Pearson. After my introduction, I have a Q/A with Carrie and will announce the winner of her blog tour giveaway.

A WARM WINTER TAIL

Written by: Carrie A. Pearson
Illustrated by: Christina Wald

Sylvan Dell Publishing 2012
Non-fiction for ages 3 to 8

Themes: compare/contrast, migration/hibernation, animals

Opening and brief synopsis:
How do humans keep warm in the winter, Mama?
Do they wrap their tails tight
‘round their bodies just right
as heaters to chase out the chill?

From the jacket flap:  Do you ever wonder how animals stay warm in the winter? Well they wonder how humans do too! In a twist of perspective, wild creatures question if humans use the same winter adaptation strategies that they do. Do they cuddle together in a tree or fly south to Mexico? Take a look through an animal's eyes and discover the interesting ways that animals cope with the cold winter months throughout this rhythmic story.

Why I like this book:
I love the word choices Carrie uses in each refrain. The different animals come to life as they compare what they see as human characteristics to their own. The illustrations are so realistic and really add to the book.

Resources:
This book is a resource all on its own. The back four pages contain an entire educational section with fun facts, activities and more.
The Sylvan Dell book site showcases the book trailer and even more resources.

Now some time with Carrie!
1. A Warm Winter Tail is your picture book debut. Congratulations! How long did the process from idea to publication take for you?
Thank you! The idea came to me in the long cold winter of 2008. I wrote, revised, wrote, revised and submitted to Sylvan Dell in April 2010. They bought the book in May 2011 and began working on it immediately. The fact that the book is on the shelves now is warp speed in the publishing world!

2. Did you always intend for the book to be non-fiction or did you consider a fictional story?
I've always considered this to be a fictional story because of the anthropomorphic qualities of the animals. But I wanted the adaptation strategies to be accurate and was careful with my research so this would be the case. The book has been fully vetted by people in the natural sciences through Sylvan Dell Publishing and I am happy to say there was only one minor change to make as a result of their review.

3. I read in the author bio in the book that your idea started with an encounter with a whitetail deer. How did you pick the other animals found in the book?
I chose each animal to represent a different adaptation strategy. For instance, gray squirrels' adaptation is to snuggle together in dreys (nests) and borrow the body heat of another to stay warm. I hoped that the images created by my words and Christina's amazing art would resonate with readers and live in their memories after the book had been read.

4. A follow-up. You live in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Are many of the animals found there?
Yes, all of the animals in the book live in the Upper Peninsula and most in the woods near my back door. I am incredibly lucky: I see one whitetail deer a week on average (usually more), hear coyotes howl (which freaks out my dogs!), see bear droppings on the trail (yikes), and even watched a mama and baby moose swim across a pond last spring. The woods are a busy place!

5. Do you have any future projects you're working on?
I'm working on a companion title about how animals stay cool in the summer (equally fascinating and even less written about this topic). I've written a MG historical novel that I am querying now and have several picture book manuscripts in various stages of development. I have more ideas than I can ever hope to finish! Blurbs about my manuscripts can be found on my website at www.carriepearsonbooks.com

Thank you, Carrie, for sharing with us! Now I'm happy to announce the winner of a signed copy of A Warm Winter Tail and a stuffed animal featured in the book.  The winner is

**** ANGELA VERGES ****

Congratulations!  Please email Carrie at carrieapear (at) aol (dot) com for details on receiving your prize.

Last but not least, be sure to stop at Debra Diesen's blog on Monday, October 15th for the final interview of the blog tour.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books, visit her blog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Bear Has a Story to Tell


Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.
  
BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL
Written by: Philip C. Stead 
Illustrated by: Erin E. Stead

Roaring Book Press 2012
Fiction for ages 3 to 8

Themes: patience, friendship, animals

Opening and brief synopsis:
It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy.

Bear is getting sleepy, but before he falls asleep, he has a story to tell. He tries to tell his friends Mouse, Duck and Frog, but they are all too busy preparing for winter. Will Bear be patient enough to wait until Spring? And if he does, will he remember his story that he wants to share?

Why I like this book:
In the same vein as A Sick Day for Amos McGee (see my post from last fall), Philip and Erin Stead have created another wonderfully quiet book with characters children will love. Last fall I attended an evening with the Steads and learned about their creative process, especially how Erin illustrated Amos McGee. The time and effort she puts into her illustrations just amazes me!

Resources:
A book trailer can be found here
Lesson plans and activities involving hibernation can be found here and here.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books, visit her blog.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Warm Winter Tail Blog Tour

My fellow SCBWI-MI children's writer, Carrie Pearson, and her debut picture book, A Warm Winter Tail, are going on tour.  You, are invited to come along on a tour of some great kidlit blogs and help celebrate the launch of this wonderful, fun-u-cational picture book. Like any good road trip, you'll meet some new people and catch up with old friends. And what's a road trip without a souvenir? If you visit each blog and leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a signed book and a plush animal featured in the story. 

The talented hosts and itinerary follows:

Monday October 1st: Robin McCoy at http://www.inspiredbysavannah.com/2012/10/book-blog-tour-warm-winter-tail-by.html 

2nd: Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre at http://www.literaryrambles.com/

3rd: Sue Heavenrich at http://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/

4th: Tiffany at www.tiftalksbooks.com

5th: Anastasia Suen at http://asuen.com/blog/ 

Monday 8th: Nancy Shaw at www.nancyshawbooks.com (just a rest stop here -- no comments)

11th: Wendy Lawrence at www.thefamilythatreadstogether.com

12th: My stop on the tour as part of Perfect Picture Book Friday. I'm excited to announce the winner of the signed book and a plush animal!

15th: Debra Diesen at http://jumpingthecandlestick.blogspot.com/ 

So put on your travelin' pants and let's go. Hope you can join us!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Baseball Great

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Today I'm featuring a book I haven't read, but my middle grade son has.  I will be sharing his thoughts.

BASEBALL GREAT
by: Tim Green
Harper 2010

Baseball Great is the first in a three-book baseball series.  The next two books are entitled Rivals and Best of the Best.

From the back cover:
When the school paper calls him "Grant Middle's best hope for its first-ever city-wide championship," Josh feels like he's starting to get noticed-in good and bad ways. Seeing Josh's talent, his father drags him out of the school baseball tryouts and gets him in the running for the Titans, the local youth championship team coached by Rocky Valentine.

All Josh really wants to do is play ball, but now Rocky wants him to gulp down protein shakes and other supplements. Suspicious, Josh and his new friend, Jaden, uncover a dangerous secret-and catch the attention of one many who will do anything to keep them from exposing it.

Now, let me say that my son is a very picky reader. Finding a book that keeps his attention and keeps him reading can be a challenge. Here are a few of his thoughts.

What did you like about the book?
Book about baseball
Kind of like a mystery


What kept you reading?
I wanted to find out if they would catch the person that was supplying the baseball team with steroids.

How many stars would you rate this book? (5 is highest)
5 stars

Any final thoughts?
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.


Thanks for stopping by! For my favorite Marvelous Middle Grade Monday links, please check out the list on the right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Be Still My Soul - Joanne Bischof


Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof
On sale October 2, 2012

Welcome to my first post for Blogging for Books, a program through WaterBrook Multnomah. On the occasional Wednesday, I will be posting my thoughts on books I receive from them - sometimes for children and sometimes for adults. I receive books in exchange for my honest feedback. 

My first book that I randomly picked, Be Still My Soul, not only kept me up late at night when I wanted to read “just one more chapter” but also brought tears to my eyes throughout the last chapters. I owe that to the amazing storytelling abilities of Joanne Bischof and her keen sense of details and her character’s emotions. I’ve come to know Joanne in the last few weeks through the blogosphere and can honestly say that she is quite an author and a kind soul. Stop by her website and find out more about her and her writing.

Be Still My Soul is the story of Lonnie and Gideon, two young residents of the Appalachian hills in the early 1900's. Brought together by a first kiss and an unplanned and unwanted marriage, the two begin a life together. Their marriage is one that is filled with uncertainty by Lonnie, anger by Gideon and the lack of love by both. But as Gideon determines to find a fresh start, they journey far away from home, only to discover an older couple who sees in them what no one else could. Only time will tell if Lonnie’s faith and Gideon’s fresh start can bring their hearts together as one.

Be Still My Soul truly is a story of forgiveness and redemption. The trials and joys that Lonnie and Gideon face are very realistic and their reactions to what life throws in their paths are what makes this book such a page-turner. Joanne doesn’t mince words and shows exactly how cruel and harsh the world can be, but at the same time also shows how the hard times help us grow and mature and come to a fuller understanding and appreciation of the good that happens in life as well.

I can’t wait for the next chapter in Lonnie and Gideon’s life, and luckily I won’t have to wait for long. The next book in the Cadence of Grace Series, Though My Heart is Torn, will be released this spring.

Currently two different giveaways are running where you can enter to win a copy of Be Still My Soul.  Click on the book in Goodreads and enter the giveaway drawing or visit Joanne's Author Facebook page and enter to win her giveaway package.

Other links of interest
Thanks for stopping by today!