Saturday, September 30, 2017

InkTober 2017

Are you ready for the InkTober 2017 Challenge?

  1. Grab pen and ink
  2. Draw Stuff (Use or don't use the official prompt list)
  3. Post it somewhere
  4. Hashtag your art #InkTober and #InkTober2017
  5. Love every minute

And Jake Parker will never tell you not to do digital ink. And no, I'm not a traditional media snob.
But this is an ink "challenge" so it's about drawing in "ink."

I don't get mad when people challenge themselves to use digital ink. But I don't understand them or their self-righteous ire.

I don't post centaurs during #mermay. I don't post black and white work for #colourcollective, and I don't post klingons during the #HobbitADay Challenge (Okay, I made that one up, but I'm considering it for my InkTober theme.)

So, yes! Let's celebrate your drawing successes during the month of October...but if you want to be a participant, then step away from the ipad, baby.

If you're still being your defiant, digital-ink little self, you can get free stuff from Autodesk Sketchbook in conjunction with this year's InkTober challenge.

Friday, September 29, 2017

PPBF: We're All Wonders

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

We're All Wonders, the picture book companion
to R. J. Palacio's Wonder.
We're All Wonders

Written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio
Art directed by Isabel Warren-Lynch
Based on illustrations by Tad Carpenter

Borzoi Books Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
Ages 4-8, 32 pp

Differences, Individuality, Self-Esteem

I know I am not an ordinary kid.

Sure I do ordinary things. 
I ride a bike. I eat ice cream. I play ball.

I just don't look ordinary.

I don't look like other kids.

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
Based on the best-selling middle grade book, Wonder, We're All Wonders spreads a simple message from MC Auggie's point-of-view: We are all wonderfully made. No two people are identical. Though some kids like Auggie have facial differences, every person is precious. The text encourages readers to look at another's similarities and build connections from there.

What I Love:
Anyone who has ever encountered another person with a difference so stunning that you've struggled with the proper reaction will want to read and share this picture book.

Under the urging of her publisher, the author turned her book into a picture book, choosing to do the illustrations herself in ProCreate, to get her message to an even wider audience. This is one of those stories you need to prepare kids for future interactions. We all hope we will do and say kind things, but until we walk a mile in someone's shoes (or ASK what should and shouldn't be said) we never know quite how we will respond.

A sweet, simple story with a powerful message.

1. The movie version of the middle grade book, Wonder, comes to theaters November 17, 2017.

2. You'll find great interviews with the author on Brightly, NPR, and Publisher's Weekly.

3. Get involved or give to Choose Kind, the charity inspired by the original Wonder. PW shares more info.

4. On Mondays, I blog Middle Grade book reviews with the MMGM gang. Many of them have reviewed Palacio's MG version of Auggie's story. Here are links for our fearless leader Shannon Messenger, and a handful of my other MMGM reviewer friends: Heidi, the Geo-Librarian, Cindy, Pam, and Sue and her kitty.

5. Bible Study Tools has compiled a list of 40 verses which teach kindness and Bible Reasons has another dozen on being God's unique creation.*

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Jennifer
Reviewed by Erik

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Rhythm

Reviewed by Maria
Reviewed by Julie

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 Friday, September 29, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*I do not necessarily endorse the ministry listed, but recommend the content of the link provided.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The First Key to Writing

"You write your first draft with your heart and you rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is to write, not to think."
—Mike Rich*

Crow and quill bookplate by Julius Diez

 *from the film Finding Forrester

Monday, September 25, 2017

MMGM: Three Times Lucky

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

Book #1 in the Mo and Dale mysteries
Three Times Lucky

Written by Sheila Turnage
Illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Penguin Random House, 2012
Ages 10+, Lexile 560L
320 pp, 62000 words


Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt. Almost before the dust had settled, Mr. Jesse turned up dead and life in Tupelo Landing turned upside down.

Reasons to love this book
  • Stunning cover art
  • Intriguing title
  • Map of Tupelo Landing
  • Curious character names (girls: Moses, Skeeter; boys: Lavender, the Colonel)
  • Absorbing voice ("Dale swore, his voice soft as a breeze through the reeds. Dale started swearing last year. I haven't started yet, but the way things are going, I could at any moment.")
  • Immediate dilemma (Not just the opening paragraph, but the constant questions which come to the readers mind by page three.)
If you're not hooked by the writing on page two, read on to page ten. Forgive my cheek, but if you're still not riveted, call me a liar and move on to another book, or better yet to the television, because you don't have an ear for fabulous storytelling. 

1. Middle Grade Mafia posted fabulous Q & A sessions with Sheila Turnage and Gilbert Ford. You can view another author interview on KidsReads. Plus everything you ever wanted to know about cover illustrator Gilbert Ford on the All The Wonders podcast.

2. For previous MMGM reviews of Three Times Lucky, see the GeoLibrarian, Night Writer, Michelle Mason, and Shannon Messenger reviews.

3. Follow Mo's further adventures in The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing and The Odds of Getting Even.

Book #2, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
Book #3, The Odds of Getting Even

4. Looking for books with a similar vibe? I highly recommend anything by Sarah Weeks particularly Pie or So B. It. Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead also has the same startling voice and mysterious elements. Find MMGM reviews for Liar & Spy on Always in the MiddleSo I'm Fifty, and blogs by Michelle Mason and Melanie Conklin. Also give Green Glass House, by Kate Milford  a try. Reviews by Dead Houseplants, Reading Nook, and Completely Full Bookshelf.

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for September 25, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

2017 Hobbit Feast

Sorry I can't give you the recipe because
I can't remember where I copied it down from. 
For our Hobbit Day feast I planned eggs and hash for breakfast.

Second breakfast was bacon and potatoes.

We had freshly baked blueberry scones and lady fingers for Elevensies.

Luncheon was honey ham on bakery rolls with carrots, celery, tomatoes, and hummus.

I bought Fancy Yancy cheeses for our afternoon snack along with a selection of crackers.

Sam was an expert at cooking rabbit stew and PoTayToes! So I opted for Welsh Rabbit, smashed potatoes, and roasted vegetables (from Farmer Maggot's, of course.)

I laid out lady fingers and cream, apple cider, and fig newtons for a light dessert.

Mike Hendry’s ultimate Welsh Rarebit recipe
Courtesy Llansantffraed Court Hotel
Man was never built to eat like a hobbit. Today I plan to spend the day hiking to Mordor to work off the excess calories.

Eating was interspersed with sketching and reading, games, and our youngest son's first viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001.
Themed Monopoly by Hasbro and 
Ravensburger's LOTR version
of King's Gate
Prancing Pony dartboard made by
 the Noble Collection

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

PPBF: I Like Old Clothes

Happy Hobbit Day!
Tune in tomorrow for the gastronomical triumphs from our Middle Earthly feast.

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

newly illustrated I Like Old Clothes,
by Mary Ann Hoberman and Patrice Barton
I Like Old Clothes

Written Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Patrice Barton

Alfred A. Knopf
originally published 1976, New illustrations 2012
Ages 5-8, 32 pp

Childhood, Differences, Individuality

I like old clothes,
Hand-me-down clothes,
Worn-outgrown clothes,
Not-my-own clothes.

This book was originally published with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast

The main character tells how she loves receiving used clothes even though other people might not like old clothes. This is more of a concept book. The MC likes to imagine where the clothes have come from and in the beautifully circular ending, where they are going to next. She likes hand-me-downs because she can play without messing them up, or dress up, or remake them into something new.

What I Love:
This sweet circular "story" by Mary Ann Hoberman has been reissued with new illustrations. I love how Patrice Barton introduces a gentle, vintage vibe into her illustrations without being sentimental.
I love the creative ways the MC uses her clothes. I appreciate the book's ability to deflect embarassment over consignments shopping and an upcycled life-style. The book is perfectly suited to today's environmentally-conscious parents who take advantage of the used clothing that comes their way. The illustrator uses a nice variety of collage-style back grounds and vignettes with plenty of character appeal.

I generally flinch when a past illustrator's work is cast aside, but this new edition is worthy of the timeless text. It's so cute!

Ingenious cookie packages from Cake Central
1. Reading Rockets never fails to disappoint with their author interviews in text or video format.

2. View a delightful sketch interview with illustrator Patrice Barton on the Texas: Austin SCBWI blog, or the traditional kind with Kathy Temean's indepth Q&A with lots of pictures!

3. Take kids on a shopping spree to the local consignment shop for school clothes, play clothes, dress up costumes, and clothes for crafting. Use the time to review making change and budgeting.

4. Blogger Marilyn Rodrigues posts about the ups and downs of the hand-me-down lifestyle while Recycle Now has suggestions for less-than-quality donations.

5. Teach kids about charity by donating to actual charities like Salvation Army and World Wear Project. Note that Goodwill is a for-profit business and Boxes like Planet Aid can be highly suspect. Do your research.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Jennifer
Reviewed by Erik

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Rhythm

Reviewed by Maria
Reviewed by Julie

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 Friday, September 22, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hobbit Day 2017

Wouldn't it be fun to do this 3D Middle Earth Map puzzle together?

Celebrate Bilbo's 174th birthday (and Frodo's 96th). Give gifts. Have a party. Eat a lot. Enjoy life because September 22 is officially Hobbit Day.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt compiled a Merry list of ideas for the occasion including a Dwarvish rune alphabet and an event hashtag.

Hobbits traditionally give gifts to others on their birthdays. Stock up on the One Ring from ThinkGeek, that is, if you have the willpower to give them away freely.

Kick back and reread your favorite Tolkien passages. Set the mood with soy candles from Frostbeard Studio in The Shire or Oxford Library scents. After all, Tolkien spent a lot of time in both places.

Check back Saturday for photos of our Tolkien marathon for which I've planned hobbit-themed food and games.

Tenna' san'
Aa' menealle nauva calen ar' malta*

*Thanks to the Grey Company

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Messy Writers

 "I am quite convinced you only started writing books as an explanation for your ‘creative environment.'"*

Bookplate by Josef Sattler
Courtesy Pratt Institute Libraries

*Via Juliet Clare Bell on Writing For Kids While Raising Them

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It Be Talk Like A Pirate Day, Matey!

Here be some picture books fer pirates. They be especially good fer those of us what can't read.

Are Pirates Polite? by Corinne Demas,
Artemis Roehrig, and David Catrow
Pirates at the Plate, by Aaron Frisch and Mark Summers
The Pirates Next Door, by Jonny Duddle
That scalawag Jonny Duddle has books fer cabin boys, too.

Jolley-Rogers #1 the Monsters Gold, by Jonny Duddle
And fer all you dandy land lubbers who can make out more of those infernal scribbles, ye might be liking the books below.
The Jupiter Pirates #1, Hunt for the Hydra,
by Jason Fry and Jeff Nentrup
The Dagger Quick #1,
 by Brian Eames and Amy June Bates
Airborn #1, by Kenneth Oppel and Larry Rostant

If ye be ready for stronger meat, waylay some litrate teen to read you these beauties.

The Pirate's Son, by Geraldine McCaughrean
Mad Kestrel #1,
by Misty Massey and Shelly Wan
Lady of Devices #3, Magnificent Devices,
by Shelley Adina

Friday, September 15, 2017

PPBF: Blue Sky White Stars

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Blue Sky White Stars, by Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson
Blue Sky White Stars

Written by Sarvinder Naberhaus
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017, Ages 4-8
68 words, 40 pp.

America, Flag, Diversity, History

Blue sky
White stars

In spare, poetic language, author Sarvinder Naberhaus compares the colors of the American flag to the history of the nation, highlighting the similarities and differences of the land, its people, its past, and its future.

What I Love:
This beautiful depiction of our diverse heritage is an open door for adults to discuss a multitude of issues with the kids in their lives. Facing pages use the same text, or occasionally a play on words, to equate the symbols of the flag with touchpoints in our history. These key moments define us as Americans and give readers a big-picture of the diversity which binds us together. At times as stirring as the National Anthem, this book weaves a word picture. It hints at struggle through images of  covered wagons, veterans, protesters, graduates. It spotlights our blessings with pictures of fireworks, natural wonders, past times, and space exploration. Both author and illustrator have included back matter and poured their patriotism into every page. This is a book which needs to be experienced to be understood. Breathtaking.

1. I love the website Sarvinder set up which is specifically dedicated to Blue Sky White Stars. It has additional behind-the-scenes  information and plenty of resources for teachers and students.

J. Dowling submitted red, white, and blue cookies to Better Recipies
2. Uma Krishnaswami (one of my FAVORITE authors!) posted an interview with the author in which she asks questions picture book authors want to know.

3. Sarvinder's newest book, Lines, came out August 22!

4. Fellow PPBF blogger Maria Marshall previously reviewed this book, complete with multiple interior images and an author interview. Patricia Tilton reviewed it for Independence Day, but Blue Sky White Stars is so moving, I thought it deserved a spotlight for Patriot Day. If you haven't read it to the book store today!

5. There are hundred of resources you could use with this book. It can open discussions about history, citizenship, civil rights, heritage, or even poetry. Here are a few links to get you started.
  • PBS consolidated key points in the history of the American flag. Military1 lists 11 protocols to respecting your nation's flag. Why don't they teach these in school anymore?
  • History Bits compiled a guide to the western migration in America.
  • Today's Christian Woman has an article on teaching kids to be good citizens and Bible in A Year studies three Biblical passages which deal with citizenship.*
  • The Library of Congress has posted a teachers' guide to challenges immigrant Americans face.
  • Explore America's national parks on the National Geographic site.
  • History for Kids focuses on civil rights and provides links to many leaders in the search for equality.
  • Learn more about the exploration of the moon on NASA's educator's page.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Wendy

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Leslie

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Pat
Reviewed by Julie

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 Friday, September 15, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*I do not necessarily endorse the ministry listed, but recommend the content of the link provided.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

MMGM: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

Books 1-13, A Series of Unfortunate Events
These covers are out of order!?!
A Series of 
Unfortunate Events

Written by Lemony Snicket
Cover by Brett Helquist
HarperCollins, 1999
Ages 8-12, Lexile 1010L
Avg 263 pages, Avg 41000 words

Misfortune, Misery, Despair, Orphans

"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and they had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair. I am sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes."

A Series of Unfortunate Events follow the misadventures of three orphans as they unravel their parents mysterious past and their uncertain future. All the while they are pursued by a villain-to-end-all-villains, count Olaf. Though the later books were a bit plotless, and the ending was somewhat unsatisfying, the grim humor, inventive storytelling, and iconic Snicket style from dedication to jacket blurb are worth turning every page.

And now random tips:
Definitely start with The Bad Beginning. Read them in order. Don't skip the front and back matter including the dedication, the jacket blurbs, and the author's note. Seriously.
The Wide Window remains my favorite. The Grim Grotto my least. Hang in there. I thought the books lost a little steam by book 8, but 9 is hilarious.
You may want to take breaks in between. I found some of the humor loses its charm if you do all 550K-odd pages in a row.
Don't miss out on all the companion artwork by Brett Helquist. Also stop at his Etsy shop for some Baudelaire prints (some never before published!)
The cds are no substitute for the paper versions because many of the jokes depend on visual cues, but I do recommend the cds once you've read books 1-13. The author narrates his own audiobooks. His creepy deadpan isn't for everyone though, so the publisher rerecorded the series read by the unparalleled Tim Curry. (Have a handkerchief handy for his interpretation of Mr. Poe!)

1. Our illustrious host, Shannon Messenger reviewed this series on her blog.

2. Want more Lemony Snicket madness? He has written plenty of other amazing books. I reviewed his fabulous picture book, The Composer is Deadillustrated by Carson Ellis.
Kitty Cat at the Library reviewed All the Wrong Questions, the first book in a different series. All the Wrong Questions has a different voice, but the same quirky bent, this time with a noir twist.

3. Other MMGM bloggers recommend
Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey, cover by Iacopo Bruno
Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Terry Fan
The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield, by John Bemelmans Marciano, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A Whole Nother Story, by Dr. Cuthbert Soup, illustrated by Jeffrey Timmins.

Deadweather and Sunrise,
The Chronicles of Egg #1
Reviewed by the Hopeful Heroine
Reviewed by Jenni Enzor

The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield
Reviewed by Always in the Middle
A Whole Nother Story,
Reviewed by Shannon Messenger

Visit the Friday Drive-In review of  A Series of Unfortunate Events.
View all the Summer Drive-In reviews for 2017.

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for September 11, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Have you reviewed any Lemony Snicket books? Please leave your link in the comments below. Feel free to leave your other MG recommendations, too. Thanks!