Saturday, October 31, 2015

Twas the night before PiBoIdMo

Got your badge? Got your notebook? Ready to go?

November 5th is the last day to sign up!
Last year I planned a month of meals for my family to give me more time to write, How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo. If you are interested in dusting off your slow cooker and joining me again this year, you'll find a downloadable menu here. If you just need some quickie dinner ideas, many of the recipes can be found on my Eat Write Pinterest board. For the full treatment, recipes and instructions begin with this post.

What tricks will you be using to carve out a bit more writing time?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

PiBoIdMo registration and calendar for 2015

It's that time of year  . . . Time for 
Picture Book Idea Month!

Don't miss pre-PiBo prep posts on Tara's blog.

Don't know about  PiBoIdMo?

Grab your badge, decorate your journal, sign up for enticing prizes, but most of all, get in the mindset to brainstorm 30  picture book ideas in 30 days.

Participating? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Surrounded By Books?

"Nothing is more important than an unread library."
—Austin Kleon*

Bookplate by Emil Orlik,
Courtesy Ex Libris Argentina

*Steal Like An Artist

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Listening To YA

If your family is like ours, we spend half our time in the car driving to our next obligation. Audiobooks are a fantastic way to "read" even on those days when your family is in perpetual transit. Normally we opt for unabridged narration, but here are a few of our teens' favorites by Full Cast Audio. They do full justice to the text and are a pleasure, be it on the first, or fifteenth time around.

Cyrano, Geraldine McCaughrean's brilliant adaptation
of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac

Disappearing Act, by Sid Fleischman

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

And just to prove why I generally prefer narration to performance, try The Graveyard Book, narrated by the author.

The Graveyard Book,
performed by Neil Gaiman
What's in your ipod?

Friday, October 23, 2015

PPBF: Falling For Rapunzel

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Falling For Rapunzel,
by Leah Wilcox and Lydia Monks
Falling For Rapunzel
Written by Leah Wilcox
Illustrated by Lydia Monks
G. P. Putnam's Sons Books For Young Readers, 2003
Grade K-3

Fractured Fairy Tales, Rhyming, Humor

Once upon a bad hair day, a prince rode up Rapunzel's way.
From up above he heard her whine, upset her hair had lost its shine.
He thought her crying was a plea and sallied forth to set her free.

Falling For Rapunzel becomes a comedy of errors in this hilariously twisted retelling of the classic Rapunzel fairy tale. When the prince happens upon her tower and calls up to the princess, Rapunzel can't hear him very clearly, so she obediently throws down an assortment of rhyming substitutes, starting with her underwear. There is a classic fairy tale ending, but perhaps not the one you'd imagined. Just when you think the story is over, Rapunzel says something even funnier, and follows with a surprising additional twist. No spoilers here. Just go buy a copy.

What I Love:
Oh. My. Goodness. If you love twisted fairy tales, or clever rhyme, of fun, fun, funny picture books, you have got to read this one. It also makes a great mentor text for writing in rhyme. The sentences are not too far-fetched. Each verse moves the story along. The author varies the structure, but not the rhyme or meter. Run to your nearest bookstore, library, or Ollie's and grab your copy.

Courtesy Purple Patch Parties
Incidentally, this is ALA's Teen Read Week. I reviewed this book because my 16 year-old will not part with it - ever. This is on her list of top five picture books of all time, and that's saying something.

1. You'll find a teacher's guide on the LessonPlansPage website including a readers' theater version, and worksheets on TeachersPayTeachers.
2. Create a rapunzel wig with instructions from CreateWithKiddos.
3. Twist your own fairy tales using hints from PiBoIdMo creator Tara Lazar.
4. You can find photos of amazing DIY cardboard towers and photo booths on Pinterest, but I couldn't find any tutorials. I guess you'll need a refrigerator box, some tri-fold presentation boards, and your imagination.
5. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Dianne

Reviewed by Tracy
Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Beth

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for October 23, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

IF: Stuffed

Thanksgiving is nearly here, but I'm thinking of a more cuddly kind of stuffed for this week's illustration Friday.

Joanne Roberts, pencil sketch
Illustration Friday: Stuffed

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

YA Recommendations

My son and daughter are both in their teens. Here are a few reads they passed along for ALA's Teen Read Week. These are books they've turned to often, and I've enjoyed them too. Why not share them with the young adults in your life?

Eon, by Alison Goodman
The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan

Dealing With Dragons, by Patricia Wrede

Peeled, by Joan Bauer

Which books are in your teen's library bag?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Teen Read Week 2015

The theme this year is
Get Away @ Your Library

Click through to the website for more details. What will you be reading this week?

Friday, October 16, 2015

PPBF: Sometimes It's Grandmas and Grandpas

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Sometimes It's Grandmas and Grandpas,
by Gayle Byrne and Mary Haverfield
Sometimes It's Grandmas and Grandpas
Not Mommies and Daddies
Written by Gayle Byrne
Illustrated by Mary Haverfield
Abbeville Kids, 2011
First U.S. edition, Macmillan, 2009
Grade K-2

Diversity, Family, Grandparents

"We cuddle a lot together, Nonnie and me."

Sometimes It's Grandmas and Grandpas is a quiet book told from the perspective of a girl who lives with her grandparents. The narrator tells about the different activities she does with her Nonnie or her Poppy. She explains why they are wonderful and briefly mentions how that is different from many of her friends who live with their moms and dads instead. The book includes links for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. It is based on the author's own experience as a guardian grandparent and her desire to find a book that reflects her granddaughter's home situation.

What I Love:
While I would not call this book perfect, I had to include it in the list because it is written with lots of heart, illustrated beautifully, and fills an important need. I love how illustrator Mary Haverfield chose to portray the grandparents. Nonnie is a jean-wearing, working woman. She may have white hair, but she is not a generic old-fashioned grandma. The text meanders a bit with no actual storyline, but it has some sparkle. For example, "Nonnie holds me tight and tells me in a whisper, 'We're two lucky girls.'"
"Poppys can twirl and spin just as good as daddies."
I was charmed by the simple acts of love shown through the family's everyday activities. I think readers from all family backgrounds will be too.

Courtesy Built by Kids
1. Why not celebrate the grandparents in your life, not just on Grandparents' Day. Try this clever craft from PaperVienz, 52 reasons I love you.
2. Make an "I love you" card from a child's handprint or send a huge hug by tracing around a child's arm's and head on a huge sheet of paper.
3. Find resources to assist modern grandparents at the American Grandparents Association site.
4. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Lonie

Have you missed any of my October PPBF reviews?
One Leaf Rides the Wind

If you have reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme, please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for October 16, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Joys of Parenthood

"When we’re very young . . . We fall in love with characters, and pore over every detail of their worlds. We hold our favorite books dear, and read them until we know them by heart. And when the time comes, we share them with our own children, which has to be one of the great joys in life." 
 -Sophie Blackall

Bookplate via Pinterest

*Via Picture Book Month 

Friday, October 9, 2015

PPBF: Boing

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Boing, by Nick Bruel
Written and illustrated by Nick Bruel
A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2004
Grades K-2

Growing up, animals

Boing, b
oing, boing, boing, boing. Watch me.

Mama kangaroo wants to teach her joey how to jump, but instead of "boing", she goes "blomp."
A frog, a grasshopper, a jackrabbit, and even a koala cheer the little one on. It isn't until they think to check in her pocket that the baby finds her "boing", with a marvelous pop-up ending.

What I Love:
A simple pick for today which, though light on text and story, makes for fun interaction for the littlest readers. My family always loved reading with sound effects and funny voices. This book offers the perfect opportunity. The repetition is great for pre-readers. One could also use this book for the subtle message of encouragement to keep trying or to look at a problem another way. In a humourous twist, the author includes a chance to review numbers and colors when (SPOILER ALERT!) baby kangaroo finally empties her pocket of the horde of treasures she's been carrying.

Courtesy Excellent Kids' Books
1. Use this book as an opportunity to move around. Jump like a grasshopper, a kangaroo, a frog, etc. Don't forget to include the animal sounds.
2. As mentioned above, this book can be used for color identification and review of numbers one to ten.
3. Sort and categorize the items in joey's pocket.
4. Play How Many Steps Before the Queen or hopscotch to go along with the counting and jumping theme.
5. Danielle's Place has a cute kangaroo planter craft easy for little hands to create.
6. National Geographic Kids is a great place to learn about Australia, and New Zealand's Science Kids site has pages on koalas, kangaroos, and other native creatures.
7. offers educational color-by-number sheets with frogs and other animals.
8. Check out all the Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for October 9, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Purpose of Fantasy

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”

Bales bookplate

*Via Beth Cato

Friday, October 2, 2015

PPBF: One Leaf Rides the Wind

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

One Leaf Rides the Wind,
by Celeste Mannis and Susan Hartung
One Leaf Rides The Wind
Written by Celeste Davidson Mannis
Illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
Viking, 2002, Grade K-3

Poetry, Japan, Counting


One leaf rids the wind.
Quick as I am, it's quicker!
Just beyond my grasp.

One Leaf Rides the Wind, by Celeste Davidson Mannis and Susan Kathleen Hartung is a beautiful counting book told in haiku.. As the little girl counts the plants, animals, and cultural features of her garden, we learn the secrets of what makes Japanese gardening so lovely. This book is a fabulous introduction to haiku for elementary students, though it could be used with upper grades as well.

What I Love:
Susan's illustrations are as lush and colorful as a garden. Celeste's perfect haiku reflect the calm evoked by the orderly elements of a Zen garden, a proper tea ceremony, or splendid Japanese architecture. Like a well-tended garden, these poems will encourage the reader to look carefully at the details of their surroundings as well as the beauty within.

Carp windsock
courtesy Crafty Classroom

1. You'll find teaching resources and lessons plans for One Leaf Rides the Wind from ReadWriteThink and TeacherVision.
2. Learn about the country of Japan with crafts from TheCraftyClassroom.
3. What's more traditional than origami Koi? Use the printed instructions found on WeHeartIt or a video from Bali Origami on YouTube.
4. CreativeWritingNow has great advice for writing your own poems, and Kidzone offers explanations as well as worksheets to help students get started.
5. Discover more about Japanese customs at
6. Learn the techniques for creating a harmonious garden at Garden Guides.

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for October 2, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Inktober 2015

Go to SVSLearn to sign up.
It's just $25.

It's that time of year . . . No not THAT one. Time for Inktober, Mr. Jake Parker's drawing challenge. Join us on the Inktober FB page, on Twitter at #Inktober2015, or follow along on the participants' blogs. 

Use it to build discipline and improve your drawing skills. Trust me, the challenge is well worth it. Leave your twitter handle in the comments if you plan to participate. See you there!

You can follow me on @BookishAmbition