Monday, May 26, 2014

Content vs. Writing Technique

“Be daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.”*
― Joyce Carol Oates

From the Pratt Institute Collection

*Courtesy D Biswas on Amlokiblogs

Friday, May 23, 2014

PPBF: Casey Over There

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick for Memorial Day Weekend.

Casey Over There by Staton Rabin and Greg Shed
Casey Over There
Written by Staton Rabin
Illustrated by Greg Shed
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994
Ages 7 and up

Historical, Siblings, War

"When Aubrey was seven, his brother Casey joined the army.
"Aubrey thought Uncle Sam was a little like Santa Claus, only skinnier and taller and not so jolly. He made people think of America, the way Santa reminds people of Christmas. If Uncle Sam wanted you, you went."


Aubrey isn't old enough to go to war, but his older brother Casey answers Uncle Sam's call and enlists in the U.S. Army. Casey goes to France to fight in the Great War "over there" as the song says. Meanwhile, Aubrey is "over here" being a typical boy in early 20th Century Brooklyn and faithfully writing letters to his brother in Europe. When no reply comes, Aubrey writes to Uncle Sam asking for Casey's return, but the letter ends up on President Wilson's desk instead.

What I Love:
Casey Over There is a takes a look at life in New York during the war years and gives a glimpse into the hardships of the soldiers in the trenches. The use of letters sprinkled throughout the text makes the story very personal. The author skillfully weaves historical detail into the lives of the boys, and even teaches us a bit about our 28th president. The gentle storyline and young narrator's perspective make this book very appropriate for young readers. It is sure to generate a host of discussions. Greg Shed's nostalgic paintings bring life to the characters whether they are on patrol in no-man's-land or walking the beach at Coney Island.

via Martha Stewart
1. If you have the opportunity, don't miss the U.S. Navy Museum in Washington DC. You won't be disappointed.
2. Use the Fun Guide to visit Coney Island today, or take a nostalgic trip at Coney Island History, or the Coney Island Project.
3. Remember our Honored Dead from those in the UK, to the Medal of Honor recipients, to the little known exploits of African American soldiers during the war.
4. Delve into documents from the Great War from the Library of Congress.
5. Celebrate Memorial Day with a red, white and blue parfait, Star-spangled pie, or patriotic fruit kabobs.
6. Look for these other related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Another Rabin book with
illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline
Greg Shed illustrated a book
by Douglas Wood
Another look at early NYC

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Barbara
Reviewed by Patient Dreamer
Check out all the  titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for May 23, 2014, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Success as an Author

"You are not a failure if you cannot live off your books. You only fail by not trying." 

By Thomas Sturge Moore, courtesy the British Museum

Friday, May 16, 2014

PPBF: Abe's Fish

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Abe's Fish: A Boyhood Tale of Abraham Lincoln
Abe's Fish: A Boyhood Tale of Abraham Lincoln
Written by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
  • Sterling, 2009
  • Ages 4 and up; Lexile 580
word count 1263, 40 pages

Historical, Biography,
Sharing, Freedom

"Abe woke to the sound of the cabin door opening and closing. He jumped up, pulled on his pants, and ran outside.
'Where are you going?' Pa asked when he heard Abe approaching.
'With you!" Abe answered, trying to sound natural, like this was what he did every day."


This slice-of-life biography of young Abraham Lincoln explores the concept of freedom developing in the boy, Abraham. The story is taken from a true incident in which Lincoln shared his fish with a soldier. The book recreates Abraham's childhood and pieces together the moral principles which would guide him in later life. It includes a three-page author's note on other incidents in Lincoln's life and an extensive bibliography for further reading.

What I Love:
Abe's Fish is another good example of modern biographical picture books. It examinines one true incident, then supports the truth with historical detail, allowing the reader to connect with the main character through fictional details. It is spare and well-told.
I love anything by Amy June Bates. This book is beautifully illustrated: great characterization, compositions, and palette.

The Star-Spangled Banner
1. Explore the Land of Lincoln, Illinois, the Kentucky homestead, Gettysburg, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, or Ford's Theater.
2. Brush up on the War of 1812, when the story takes place.
3. You'll find a half a dozen kid-friendly sites for studying the Civil War at Civil
4. Download a free coloring book on the Emancipation Proclamation.
5. Construct a pretzel log cabin from Fun Family Crafts.
6. Look for these other related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

My review of Vinnie and Abraham
Read my review of Unspoken

an early reader review

Reviewed by Kirsten

Reviewed by Jarm

Reviewed by Wendy

Reviewed by Rhythm and his mom person
Check out all the  titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for May 16, 2014, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

IF: Voyage

Voyage, by Joanne Roberts

Here is my pen and ink sketch for the Illustration Friday topic, VOYAGE. 'Hope you like it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Children's Book Week, 2014

Order this year's poster art by Robin Preiss Glasser

What will you do to celebrate? 
Visit a local bookstore event or at the Plaza with Eloise?
Promote literacy in your neighborhood? How about sharing a book with kids at your local children's hospital?
Host a book party using some of these fabulously bookish ideas on Pinterest?
Get writing with these story starters by Mo Willems, Barbara Park, Lemony Snicket, and others?

DOGOBooks is springing into summer reading with giveaways for young readers and their schools. Check it out!

75 Years of
Children's Book Week Posters,

by Leonard S. Marcus.

Peruse the 75 book week posters in Leonard Marcus's history of CBW.

How do you celebrate Children's Book Week? Add your link below.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Books and Chocolate

Happy Mother's Day to all. 

"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " Mem Fox

Enjoy your darlings, no matter their age. When was the last time you read them a story? 

Why not Mem's Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes for starters?

With Delightful illustrations by Helen Oxenbury

Friday, May 9, 2014

PPBF: S is for Sea Glass

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

S is for Sea Glass, by Richard Michelson and Doris Ettlinger

S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet
Written by Richard Michelson
Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
Sleeping Bear Press, 2014
poetry, grades 2-5

Poetry, Ocean, Vacation

A is for Angel

When we're at the seashore the first thing I've planned
Is to lie really flat with my back to the sand.

I'll hold my arms close, then I'll stretch them out wide,
Sliding up overhead and back down to my side.

I'll sweep my legs outward, then swing them back straight,
Like I'm opening and closing a fairy-tale gate.

And when I stand up, Mom will say that she sees
The sand robes and wings of the angel in me.

S is for Sea Glass is the latest in the poetic alphabet series from Sleeping Bear. This book has a poem for every letter, in keeping with a beach theme. The author explores natural aspects of the beach, like the waves in winter, nautili, and jellyfish. His poems poke fun at vacationers and year-rounders alike. He captures the taste of the spray and the restlessness one begins to feel when it's time to pack for the shore. Mr. Michelson includes several forms of poetry including free verse.

G is for Gull,
art by Doris Ettlinger
What I Love:
I didn't mean to pick another poetry book this week, but I received S is for Sea Glass when it was released in January and have been itching for the right time to review it.

There is so much to love about this beautiful volume. The poems are clever and playful, especially L.

L is for Lighthouse

I don't want to be president and live inside the White House.
I'd rather be the resident key keeper of this lighthouse.
Mom's happy she's a doctor and my dad, he loves to teach.
But me, when I grow up, I never want to leave the beach.

And what can't be said about Doris Ettlinger's vibrant illustrations? Sloshing watercolors that mimic the wind and sea. Bright whites and glaring gold of the sun on the sand. Romping dogs and children, she's included them all.

If you're on the east coast, stop into one of these booksellers to get an autographed copy.
 Fair Haven NJ - May 16, 3:30-4:30 pm at River Road Books
Clinton NJMay 17, 1-3 pm at the Clinton Book Shop
NYCMay 30, 12 - 1 pm, Book Expo America at the Javitz Center 
Holmdel NJJune 1, 1 - 2 pm at Barnes & Noble
Tinicum PAJuly 12, 12:30 - 2:30 pm at the Tinicum Arts Festival

Wreath by Sue Gray
1. Visit the author's amazing fine art gallery, online or in Massachusetts.
2. Take watercolor lessons at the Mill, the illustrator's home and studio in New Jersey.
3. Craft this wire wrap beach glass wreath and other treasures found on Completely Coastal.
4. Make your own edible sea glass with this rock candy recipe from We're Not Martha, or substitute 3/4 cup of water with corn syrup and pour into a sprayed foil-lined pan to make a sheet of hard candy.
5. Spring is a lovely time to visit your favorite oceanside retreat. It's nothing like summertime, but every bit as magical.
6. Here are 30 more ways to put some poetry into your day.
7. Enjoy these other books from Richard Michelson, Doris Ettlinger, and Sleeping Bear Press.

By Catherine Stier and Doris Ettlinger
By Carol Antoinette Peacock and Doris Ettlinger
By R. Michelson and Ron Mazellan
By Richard Michelson and E. B. Lewis

By Eileen Cameron and Doris Ettlinger
by Jerry Pallotta and Tom Leonard
Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for May 9, 2014 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

Monday, May 5, 2014

After Happily Ever After

“[A young adult novel] ends not with happily ever after, but at a new beginning, with the sense of a lot of life yet to be lived.”
-Richard Peck

ExLibris for D. Fangaresi