Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Days to Enter October BookDare

Even Monsters Need Haircuts,
 by Matthew McElligott 
 Thanks again to Adam Lehrhaupt  for his #BookDare challenge. This has definitely been a challenging month!

In September, I forgot to post my reading list and be entered for the giveaway. Don't you do the same in October. Hop over to Adam Lehrhaupt's blog and comment on the books you've read this month which correspond with the categories below. If you missed this month's challenge, stay tuned. Adam posts a new list each month. Tweet your favorites and get a conversation started.

I usually try to coordinate the BookDare list with my regular MG/YA reads, but in preparation for Picture Book Month, I decided to choose picture books which fit the themes. It's a lot of fun. I hope you'll join us in November.

The Duckling Gets A Cookie!?
by Mo Willems

October Themes:
1. Halloween is in October. Read a book with a Halloween theme.
2. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Read a book with pink on the cover.
3. October 31 is Increase Your Psychic Powers Day. Read the book that you think I’m thinking of right now.
4. October 6 is Mad Hatter Day. Read a book with a hat on the cover.

And here are your October bonus themes:
October 9 is Moldy Cheese Day. Just mention your favorite cheese in the comments for an entry.
October 11 is Take Your Teddy B ear to Work Day. Read a book with a bear in it.
October is Cookie Month. Read a book with a cookie on the cover or in the title.
October is the beginning of Hockey Season. Read a book featuring this great sport.

Don't miss Adam's guest post on Tara Lazar's blog, November 15.

This month's fabulous prize:
Tea Party Rules, by Ame Dyckman
 and K. G. Campbell

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SkADaMo 2013

Hurry, hurry! Step right up! See the cutest monkey on the planet! Sketch a notebook full of characters! Watch your creativity grow!

It's time again for Linda Silvestri's Sketch A Day Month. Why should writers have all the fun? Linda challenges herself to posting a sketch each day in November, and invites everyone along for the ride. No pressure. No rules.

Her challenge is the perfect compliment to the PiBoIdMo or NaNoWriMo events, or just a great exercise for warming up each day.

Grab a SkADaMo badge and leave Linda a comment.

I participated in both Picture Book Idea Month and Sketch A Day Month last November, and I can tell you, it compounded my creativity. Besides, it's a blast seeing what crazy critters Linda comes up with each day.

What challenges have you set for yourself this fall?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Write For Children

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
Madeleine L'Engle

Friday, October 25, 2013

PPBF: The Wednesday Surprise

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Wednesday Surprise
Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Donald Carrick

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1989,
Fiction, ages 4-8, 540L

Reading, Confidence, Grandparents

"I like surprises. But the one Grandma and I are planning for Dad's birthday is the best surprise of all."

Every Wednesday, Grandma rides the bus across town to plan a birthday gift with seven year-old Anna. Anna's dad drives a truck, but he'll be home for his birthday on Saturday. Anna can't wait for Dad's surprise, but with all the other party preparations, it will be difficult to get enough practice before the big day.

What I Love:
A girl, a grandma, and a bag of books. This story of family and perseverance makes me smile and cry. Though over twenty years old, the story is as fresh as if it were published in the 21st Century. Donald Carrick's gorgeous watercolors enhance the detail of Eve Bunting's masterful text. Don't miss this charming story which comes to an unexpected, yet satisfying end.

Note: Sadly, this book was one of Donald Carrick's last. It was published the year he passed away.

Super Reader Bookmark
1. Houghton Mifflin offers a discussion guide for teachers. Here is a close reading lesson for common core standards, and an excellent synthesis activity to teach critical thinking using this book.
2. Make your own bookmarks and book bag, then head to the library, of course!
3. Whip up some bookish snacks.
4. Surprise a loved one with a pop-up birthday card or make one using Roberts Sabuda's templates.
5. Check your community center or library for opportunities to give the gift of literacy. Spend time reading with kids, challenged learners, or ***SPOILER ALERT*** ESL students.

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for October 25, 2013.
Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pre-PiBoIdMo Starts Tomorrow!

New to the challenge?
Tara Lazar has a new inspirational post every day for the rest of the month. Plus, read 30 days of guest posts from people in the industry.  Become an official PiBoIdMo participant and register to receive writerly prizes between now and Novenber 7. Get psyched and get ready to fill your notebook with picture book plots and ideas.

If that's not enough, I'll be posting Oldies but Goodies, picture books which were influential in my life (and may be in yours.)
Plus you'll find Quips and Tips from last year's guest posts.

Stop back any day in November to recharge your creative batteries. How are you gearing up for the event?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Novel Advice

With NaNoWriMo just weeks away, it's time for some writing tips from the experts.

Brett Wright, editor at Bloomsbury, on plotting: 

“Ask yourself, ‘What warrants a novel in your character’s life?’ If it’s a common what — like moving to a new house or dealing with a loss — it needs a fresh twist or it won’t stand out.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Loyal Friends

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” 
Ernest Hemingway

Bookplate 1901
Courtesy Pratt Institute Libraries

Friday, October 18, 2013

PPBF: Shoe-La-La!

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

by Karen Beaumont and LeUyen Pham
Written by Karen Beaumont
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Scholastic, 2011, Fiction, ages 3-8

Creativity, Individuality

"Party dresses, party hair  . .
Need new party shoes to wear.
Emily, Ashley, Kaitlyn, Claire!
Let's go find the perfect pair!"

A rhyming romp through a shoe store with a creative twist solution, this fluffy picture book has little nutritional value, but plenty of girlish heart.

What I Love:
Reminiscent of the Berenstain classic, Old Hat, New Hat, Shoe-La-La! celebrates individuality, creativity, and being a girl. Though I admit, my 9-year-old boy is just as enthralled by the energetic illustrations and tongue-twisting text.

Made with Crayola Model Magic.
1. Play dress-up and clean out your closet at the same time. When you're through, launder and donate to a local charity. Or take a trip to Salvation Army to start a new dress-up collection.
2. Buy a shoe decorating kit or make these fabulous clay versions from Crayola.
Courtesy HoosierHomeMade
3. I like these stylish high-heeled cupcakes from PinkPartyGirl.
4. LeUyen Pham's darling girls can be traced and made into paper dolls. It's a chance for your child to show her own brand of style. Be sure to have plenty of glitter, pom-poms, and ric-rak on hand. You can also use Sherri Osborn's basic, unisex template.

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for October 18, 2013.
Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Magic Tree House Buddies Week

Magic Tree House Celebrates Literacy

Read along with a friend as we promote literacy using the popular Magic Tree House series of chapter books. "Nearly 1,000 schools, libraries, and bookstores have signed up for the webcast, which will include a talk by Osborne and a live theatrical performance starring Magic Tree House characters Jack and Annie, who will sing a new Reading Buddies song," states Publishers Weekly. The event runs October 11-19. With plenty of support material available, this week is sure to turn even the most reluctant readers into bibliophiles. But it takes effort on our part. Author Mary Pope Osborne continues to concoct venues to attract young readers to the world of books. I especially applaud her move to donate the 28-title series to 4,000 students in the Newark area. Thanks to both Random House and Ms. Osborne for their dedication to literacy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

PPBF: The Most Perfect Spot

Today's pick
The Most Perfect Spot,
A most perfect picture book.
The Most Perfect Spot
Written and illustrated by Diane Goode

Harper Collins, 2006, Fiction
K-3, Reading Level 2.7

Cause & Effect, Humor, Pets

"One sunny morning, Jack made his mamma breakfast in bed, and a card that said, 'I know the most perfect spot for a picnic.'
So Mama put on her very best hat and they set off for Prospect Park."

So begins an eventful day in the lives of Jack and Mama, but not the day Jack has planned. Despite the best intentions, the pair are forced from one one calamity to the next, "who knows why?"   Readers do, as they follow the illustrated antics of a stray dog in the background of every scene. Jack eventually finds the perfect spot with a delightful twist.

What I Love:
Diane Goode has 55 books (and counting), and I know I've reviewed her work before, but I couldn't resist introducing you to this gem. Writers should give this book a close examination. It has the perfect (pardon the pun) balance of text and art. The secondary story, which takes place only in the illustrations, turns out to be central to the main story line. My kids love anticipating what will happen next from the clues in the artwork which often appear right before the page turn. They squeal when the text repeatedly says, "who knows why." They practically shout, "I do!" Readers love to predict the outcomes in this way, and that's what this sweet, simple tale is about. This story has a great "button," or ending after the ending.

Support the SPCA in the Philadelphia area.
1. Why not plan your own picnic, indoors or out, depending on the weather?
2. Get your readers to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Pets there always need a walk or a little TLC.  Too young? Sponsor a drive for supplies: food, towels, toys, newspapers. Phone the shelter in your area for their specific wish-list.
3. Do a little research into the setting for this book. Read about the history of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, the fashions, or automobiles in the early 20th century. Visit a museum to see history first-hand.
4. Play a game of consequences or stretch your students' story-telling ability by suggesting a story starter and taking turns adding a calamity/ escape plan. Write down all the twists and turns. You can even try illustrating it!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for October 11, 2013.
Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Prickly Poem

Hedgehog cactus, by Ron Niebrugge
Laura Purdie Salas, poet and picture book author, regularly hosts a 15 Words or Less poetry challenge on her blog.

The prompt featured on February 7, 2013, elicited this charming response from Cathy Ballou Mealey:

The blossom of the hedgehog flower

makes dainty-footed insects cower.

They turn away and grimly mutter

“I’m sure that nectar’s spiked and sour.”

Has the creativity from either of these wonderful poets sparked your imagination? Drop them a line and make their day.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Difficulty of Writing

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
Thomas Mann

Courtesy Pratt Libraries

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Star Wars Reads Day

October 5 is the second official Star Wars Reads Day. Join the celebration at a public gathering in one of 13 states, or create your own event with these great activities. Bake some alien treats with the cook book below, or do some intergalactic shopping at my favorite site ThinkGeek. But be sure to browse your local library for a Star Wars title or two or three. May the Force be with you, always.

The Rising Force, book 1,
by Dave Wolverton
Many licensed books have copy which makes the editor in me cringe, but you can find plenty of Star Wars fare to encourage even the most reluctant readers. Here are of few of my recommendations.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda,
by Tom Angleberger
Star Wars Legacy Vol. 1,
Dark Horse Comics, graphic novel,
by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema

The Phantom Menace,
Lego Star Wars
Star Wars Science Fair Experiments,
by Bryan Dean, Scholastic

Star Wars Concept Art, 10-15-13
by Doug Chiang, Joe Johnston,
Ryan ChurchErik Tiemens
Wookie Cookies,
a cook book, by Robin Davis

Friday, October 4, 2013

PPBF: A Visitor for Bear

Today's pick

The award winning A Visitor for Bear,
by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton
A Visitor for Bear

Written by Bonny Becker
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Candlewick Press, 2008, Fiction
ages 3-7, pre-school-grade 2, Lexile 430L

Friendship, Sharing, Disagreement

"No one ever came to bear's house. It had always been that way, and bear was quite sure he didn't like visitors. He even had a sign.

Mouse is determined to come for tea, and Bear is just as determined to eat his breakfast alone. Despite Bear's discouraging sign and his cranky attitude, Mouse decides they must share a meal. Mouse's resourceful attempts to change Bear's mind will have readers begging for this title again and again. Candlewick Press describes it best as a "slapstick comedy of manners."

What I Love:
Who can resist Kady's homey illustrations? Bonny's text is perfectly balanced. Readers will delight at the anticipation of where Mouse will pop-up next. According to Marsha Diane Arnold, this is a great example of a character-driven picture book. A little examination will reveal Mouse's manners to be nearly as rude as Bear's. Yet we love Mouse. We think it ungenerous of Bear. We support the underdog. At the same time root for Bear to have a change of heart.

Note: For all you PB writers, this book is 56 pages! The story goes, Candlewick kept adding pages during the editing process to be sure the pacing of the book was perfect. Will wonders never cease?

1. Candlewick provides a downloadable activity kit, which includes adorable finger puppets.
2. Feeling crafty?  Twiggle Magazine provides a simple bear craft for pre-schoolers. I couldn't decide between Rob Ives's paper mouse hug or Canon's at Creative Park.
3. The book begs to be acted out with make-shift costumes and cardboard-box scenery.
4. Readers can create their own themed breakfast to share, with healthy bear toast, from This Little Project, and candy mice from InspirationForHome.

5. This book is an excellent opportunity to talk about manners. Emily Post has useful tips for kids.
6. Read the other titles in the series: A Birthday for Bear, A Bedtime for Bear, and The Sniffles for Bear.

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for October 4, 2013.
Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

World Reading Day 2013

Celebrate World Reading Day by turning off  your tech and tuning in to a good book. Need some suggestions? Here is the New York Public Library's list of top 100 children's books published in the last 100 years.

Well, what are you waiting for?