March 27, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No

My Perfect Picture Book is below - I promise! :) - I just have a little explanation for it first.

As some of you may know, I teach an online picture book writing class.

This week, we got into a discussion about subjectivity.

As a writer, how do you know if your story will appeal to agents, editors, and readers (both the adults who will read your picture book aloud and the children who will listen)?

There are some basic rules of thumb: your story should have a beginning, middle and end (i.e. actually BE a story), it should have an engaging character and/or plot, it should strike an emotional note of some kind, and it's best not to write about inappropriate subjects, use foul language, glorify violence etc... - pretty much common sense :)

But beyond a certain point, there's really no way to tell for sure who is going to like what.  If it appeals to you, if it touches a chord in your heart, if it highlights a truth in your life, chances are it will do that for other people too.  But there will always be at least one person out there who can find something to criticize.  And I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean it in a comforting way.  You can't please everyone, so write the best story you can and likely you'll please someone.  Probably lots of someones :)

My Perfect Picture Book choice for today is a case in point - an older book, beloved by many (me and my children included!) - that received the following review:

"Line drawings that look like doodles of cute kittens in gray, orange, white, and blue cannot save this lame tale of a contrary kitten... This is a story of manipulation at its worst. The language is flat, especially when read aloud. This reviewer says ``NO!''" Marianne Pilla, formerly at Allard K. Lowenstein Library of Long Beach, N.Y. Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Ouch!

But I don't find it manipulative.  I find it an endearing and true-to-life example of the way toddlers behave - naughty one moment, full of remorse the next, right back to their own agenda the minute after that, but not mean-spirited or malicious in their intent.

Subjectivity :)

I hope you like this book as much as the people in my house do! :)

Title: The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No
Written & Illustrated By: Ainslie Pryor
Re-issue March 1988, Viking Juvenile, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: behavior (contrariness), humor

Opening: "Have you heard the story of the Baby Blue Cat who said No?
Once there was a Mama Cat and her four baby cats.
Baby Orange Cat,
Baby White Cat,
Baby Striped Cat, and
Baby Blue Cat.
Mama Cat loved all of her baby cats very much."

Brief Synopsis: Baby Orange Cat, Baby White Cat and Baby Striped Cat all behave the way little kittens should, but Baby Blue Cat is feeling ornery.  No matter what his Mama asks, he says, "No!"  But when he pushes his Mama too far, he apologizes and behaves... until his contrariness gets the better of him again :)

Links To Resources: Teaching Children A VocabularyFor Emotions; make cards with different emotions pictured and/or written  - e.g. a smiley face and/or HAPPY - and play emotion charades by letting kids pick a card and act out the emotions for the rest of the class or family and see if the observers can guess; talk about behavior - have you ever refused to do something just to be difficult? Do you sometimes do bad things and then feel sorry? Talk about how to say you're sorry - resource HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  The "flat language" :) is fun to read aloud.  (Years later, we still use the phrase "and here's your delicious cupcake, YUM YUM" :) )  The "line drawings that look like doodles" :) are cute and engaging (right down to the smile on the fish sandwich :))  But mostly, anyone who has ever spent 3 minutes around a toddler will recognize and appreciate Baby Blue Cat's desire to have some control, and some opportunity to be independent of his mother and siblings.  As I mentioned above, he's naughty, but when he goes too far he's genuinely remorseful.  Mama Cat loves her baby cats very much, and it is clear that Baby Blue Cat loves his Mama Cat too :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see your fabulous picks for this week!

Oh, and P.S. The lovely Alayne Christian invited me to be part of her platform building series, so I will have a post on her blog tomorrow if anyone cares to stop by.  She deserves lots of visitors, and there are other (undoubtedly much better :)) posts in the platform building series already published from Julie Hedlund, Miranda Paul, and Tara Lazar, as well as more coming from Katie Davis and I think maybe KidLit411 - so definitely worth checking out the series!

https://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!


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March 25, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #167 - Adventures With My Step-Mom: The Magic Rocks (PB) PLUS The February Pitch Winner AT LAST!

The tension has been just unbearable, hasn't it?

You could just cut it with a knife!

I know you guys have barely managed to go about your daily activities, what with the wondering and anticipation and general angst over WHO WON THAT PITCH PICK!

I mean, seriously!  When have we ever had to do a pitch pick twice?  And even the second time I had to jump on Face Book at the eleventh hour and beg people who hadn't voted to go read and vote quickly in order to break yet another tie!

Talk about closely matched!  I came THIS CLOSE to having to let random.org make the decision.  But luckily it didn't come to that.

So it is with great pleasure (and no small measure of relief) that I announce that the tie was finally broken and we do have a winner!

So who's following March Madness?

Are you all basketball fans?

Everyone's brackets still holding up?

Can you believe Villanova is out?  Where did THAT come from?

Okay, I can't keep this up - I'm just fooling with you.  I don't even watch basketball.  I had to ask my kids for a team name :)

So anyway, yeah.  The winner of the hotly contested February Pitch Pick is. . .

Kirsten!
with her pitch for Finley vs. The Fly!

Congratulations, Kirsten!  Your pitch is on its way to editor Erin Molta for her read and opinion!

And congratulations to ALL OF YOU!  My goodness what a close race!  You all did such an amazing job, and I truly am sorry I didn't have the nerve to ask Erin to read and comment on all of them because you all deserved it!  But you are all winners just for working so hard on your pitches and putting them out there for feedback and then polishing them up to the point where literally no one could decide whose was best! :)

Whew!  After all that tension (which no doubt burned off at least a million calories) I think we need a little Something Chocolate, don't you?

I was going to go with just a plain old-fashioned delicious chocolate eclair...
Image and recipe at Tender Crumb HERE
... but then I thought of you nutty chocolate-isn't-for-breakfast types, so I added the healthy version :)

Image and recipe at Tender Crumb HERE
Scrumptious, no?!  We are all geared up for an amazing day with a start like that! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Carrie who says, "I currently live just north of Cincinnati and am a step-mother to a hilarious and sweet eight-year-old boy. When I am not working as a pediatric social worker, I enjoy photography, running, and taking my best shot at this writing thing."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Adventures With My Step-Mom: The Magic Rocks
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Days had grown dull until Jude discovers magic rocks, one for him and one for his step-mom.  Only when connected, the rocks send them sailing through the sky together on an adventure full of twists and turns. 

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Carrie improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Carrie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to going outside in a t-shirt and shorts and not being cold.  I know it's going to happen!... though maybe not this week :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!!


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March 20, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Step Gently Out

Happy First Day of Spring!!!

Pay no attention to the fact that it's freezing cold and snowing!

SPRING is officially HERE!

We should definitely celebrate with spring-colored cake!  Help yourselves :)

Lemon Cake with Lavender Icing -
pretty AND delicious :)
In celebration of spring and getting outdoors, I have such a beautiful, beautiful book to share with you!  I hope you'll love it as much as I do!

Step Gently Out
Written By: Helen Frost
Photography By: Rick Lieder
Candlewick, March 2012, Fiction

Themes/Topics: nature, insects, taking time to look closely, poetry

Suitable For: ages 2-7

Opening: "Step gently out,/ be still, and watch a single blade of grass."

Brief Synopsis: (From the Booklist starred review) "Nature’s miracles are often small and hard to capture, but in a syncopated harmony of text and image, Frost and Lieder manage to depict tiny moments as seen through a bugs-eye-view of the world... Moving from day to night, the poem makes for a soothing bedtime lullaby that includes a reminder to children about the book’s small creatures: "In song and dance / and stillness, / they share the world / with you.""

Links To Resources: the back of the book includes lots of information on all the insects pictured - a resource all in itself.  In addition, here are some Insect Coloring Pages.  Try taking some photographs of your own.  Try writing a short poem about an insect.

Why I Like This Book:  I am always in favor of books that encourage kids to go outside and look closely at the real world around them, really observe it, think about it, be part of it.  I'm not an insect lover per se :), but this book is amazingly beautiful.  I cannot stress enough how absolutely exquisite the photography is.  Such detail!  I wish I could share every page, but that would probably be frowned upon :)  Here's one more little sample:


It's breathtaking, isn't it? and I think kids and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy looking at it, especially in combination with the poetic text which is as gorgeous in it's imagery as the photography is.  This book is a feast for eyes and ears and hearts!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!   And now everyone go out and enjoy Spring!  Just, if you live in my neck of the woods, put on your jacket... your hat... your snow boots... your scarf... your mittens... and then go frolic :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)


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March 18, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday # 166 - Freedom's Eve (PB) And The Continued Saga Of The Three-Way Tie

Long ago...

...in a galaxy far, far away...

PITCH PICK WARS!

What?

A little overly dramatic?

You think?

Okay, well, how about:

Two weeks ago...

... er, right here in the exact same place where we are right now...

(but don't think that just because we're all still here in the same place we are couch potatoes, or joined at the hip to our computers, or that we haven't gotten up for two weeks because we are taking the writer's commandment of butt-in-chair far too seriously and no those are NOT potato chip crumbs in the cushions)

...PITCH PICK THREE-WAY TIE!

I think the second version inspires the same goods bumps of anticipation as the first, don't you?  And I feel sure it's only a matter of time before George Lucas/Lucasfilms/Disney produces the blockbuster hit Pitch Pick Wars :)

Anyway, there we were, voting out little hearts out, and lo and behold a three way tie resulted.  Quel horreur!  What to do?

Many of you suggested random.org... which I almost did... but it seemed so, well... random... and the pitch pick is supposed to be based on merit.

Others suggested voting between the three that were tied... but I felt bad for the 4th one who was the only one not in the tie, and I didn't want anyone to feel bad.

So here's the plan:

We shall have a new vote on all 4.

If by chance we get another tie, I'm giving the pitchers fair warning that it will go to random.org.

I'm hoping this is fair, and that you guys don't mind voting again too much.  I have a special treat to reward you with right after!  So ready, set, VOTE!

#1 Kirsten - Finley VS. The Fly PB ages 4-8

When a pesky fly fixes his eye on Finley’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the game is on. Armed with a magazine, vacuum cleaner, and sink sprayer, Finley is determined to deliver a final blow to the buzz. But when Finley serves up the final swat and the fly lands — splat — on the sandwich, Finley wonders whether he’s really won after all.

#2 Kathy - King Of The Boards PB ages 4-8 (formerly Son of Boogie)

Dean dreams of matching his father's expertise on the boards–skateboards, surf boards, snowboards - but his flip flops at Half Pipe Park, and he wipes out at the beach. Monstrous moguls and an ice storm stop him cold on the slopes. While chillin’ at the ski lodge, Dean discovers a different board he rocks- a game board. KING OF THE BOARDS is a 332 word picture book that champions perseverance and finding your own groove.

#3 Robyn - Barebones The Skeleton PB ages 4-8

When BAREBONES loses his click-clack, he has to find it before the sun goes down, or he'll lose his Halloween job. With a little help from his pumpkin friend, he searches through water and wind trying to uncover where he lost it. Where he finds it is truly a musical surprise. 

#4 Joanne - The Animal Crackers PB ages 3-6

Meet the newest member of The Animal CrackersElephant wants to join his animal friends' jazz band, but every time he tries his trunk at an instrument, it ends tragically. After destroyed drums, harmonica havoc, and a tuba torpedo, Elephant discovers he's had music in him all along: it's as plain as the trunk on his face. 

Please vote below for the one you feel most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta by Friday March 20 at 9 PM EDT (when we will all be enjoying the first day of spring!!!)

Today's pitcher requested "a supremely rich chocolatey dessert... With peanut butter... Ooh, and caramel bits" for her Something Chocolate.  I know she's feeling a little anxious, so I did my best!  Plus, I promised you all a reward for voting a second time!

So here is an assortment - a smorgasbord of chocolatey peanut buttery caramelly deliciousness!  I feel sure there's something here for every taste (except maybe those of you who have the misguided sense to eat fruit, yogurt, and/or granola for breakfast... but don't worry, we love you in spite of your weird taste in breakfast :))

For the cake lovers: Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte
From Lemon Sugar - recipe HERE
From Lemon Sugar - recipe HERE

For the bar lovers: Peanut Butter Caramel Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Bard
From Mom On Timeout - recipe HERE

For the bonbon lovers:  5 Ingredient Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles
From Minimalist Baker - recipe HERE
(and these, believe it or not, are vegan and gluten-free, so really, health food :))
Thank you all for voting again - I hope you enjoy the treats! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Pamela who says, "I have a  love for reading and using music to increase descriptive language, which prompted me to create a music and literacy program called MyLMNOP (Language & Literature-Music-Naming-Oral language-Phonemic Awareness). Children love learning new vocabulary from books with beautiful, visual language. But I couldn’t find exactly what I needed. “I’ll write my own picture books, get them published this year (2005), and use them in my program.” Cut to 2012..writing courses (Making Picture Book Magic) webinars, retreats, and revisions of (fiction & nonfiction), poetry, and even Middle Grade drafts and I discovered it would take more than a year for me to meet my goal as writer extraordinaire. Thank you for helping me become a better writer."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Freedom's Eve
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: Ten year old Eve-Lynn grumbles about her name and spending her last day of the year observing Watch Night, “In an old barn with a bunch of old relatives.” She comes face to face with her namesake, Lil’ Eve. Through the eyes of her 102 year old aunt, Eve-Lynn learns to appreciate the history of her name and the significance of Watch Night. A nighttime vigil honoring her people, who watched and waited for the dawn of freedom. The first Watch Night of December 31, 1862, known as Freedom’s Eve.


So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Pamela improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Pamela is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the phone conversation with the head of Lucasfilms/Disney which I feel sure will occur at any moment.

Oh!  Hey!  Is that the phone???  :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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March 13, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Soon

I seriously do not know where this week has gone!  Wasn't it just Sunday afternoon?!

And here it is Perfect Picture Book Friday again!  Where does the time go?  I think there's a time thief around here somewhere.  I'm going to have someone look into that at once.  I can't afford to be having entire weeks stolen right out from under me! :)

But for right now, I have the cutest, sweetest book to share with you.  I dare you not to fall in love with this baby elephant :)  His name is Raju... in case you were wondering :)

Title: Soon
Written By: Timothy Knapman
Illustrated By: Patrick Benson
Candlewick Press, February 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: patience, family relationship (mother/son), adventure, bedtime

Opening: "Very early one morning, Raju and his mother set out on a great adventure.  It was cold and dark.  They walked for a long time.  "When can we go home again?" asked Raju.  "Soon," said his mother."

Brief Synopsis:  A little elephant and his mother go on an adventure which the little elephant is not sure about.  "When can we go home?" he keeps asking.  But when the adventure is complete, all he wants to know is, "When can we go again?"

Links To Resources: discuss what you think the qualities of an adventure are, and what you would like to do for an adventure; talk about ways that your mom and/or dad makes you feel safe; go on an adventure walk; make up your own adventure story.

Why I Like This Book:  First and foremost, oh! I love the art!  Soft pastel colors, the cutest baby elephant you ever saw, and such expression in the elephants' faces and body language.  The story is sweet and tender, the mother leading her baby on a special outing, keeping him safe from every danger along the way (crocodiles, snakes, tigers) and in so doing teaching him how to keep himself safe.  In the same vein as The Camel Who Took A Walk (1967) (reviewed HERE for PPBF), there's not a lot of rootin' tootin' action, but the story is just lovely, and perfect for bedtime.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what wonderful books you've chosen this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


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March 11, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #165 - A Pup Called Freelance (PB)

So I was going to tell you the story of how Buddy became a bobcat, but I'll have to put that on hold.

Because, Dearies, you are not going to believe it!

Something happened that has never happened before.

Remember when I said good luck voting on the pitch pick last week because all the pitches were so evenly matched?

Well, we had a 3-way tie for first place!

I am not making this up!

So I don't know what to do.  Although Erin has very kindly agreed to comment on 2 pitches when we've had ties twice in the past, I think 3 is a little unfair to ask.

But I also hate to ask you all to vote again... what if the numbers come out exactly the same?

So I need your advice.  How should we handle this unprecedented state of affairs?

Please wow me with fabulous solutions in the comments! :)

To heighten your brain power (for wowing me and for helping today's pitcher) how about Something Chocolate?  (as if we really need an excuse :))

Death By Chocolate Icebox Cake
Recipe at Life, Love and Sugar HERE
Really.  Breakfast doesn't come any better than that :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Maria, whom you will remember from January with her pitch for The Trouble With Homework.  Maria is an educator with the best job in the world – she works as a Fire & Life Safety Educator for a municipal fire department! When she isn’t teaching others how to be safe, she can be found writing under a pecan tree, playing with her dogs and cats, or cruising around town with the top down searching for inspirational ideas or the next big story.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: A Pup Called Freelance
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: Hard headed, stubborn, mind of his own - those are just a few of the ways the little, tan puppy was described.  That is why my dad and the other firefighters gave him the name, “Freelance.” 
 Freelance was so mischievous that he was destined for the pound, but his heroic actions during the night changed all that and earned him a place in our home forever!
So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Maria improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Maria is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to hearing whatever excellent solutions y'all come up with for the pitch pick conundrum!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! :)


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March 6, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between A Soldier & His Service Dog

Well, guess what?

After a (very!) brief foray into the 20s, we're back to zero degrees!  But at least it's not (currently) snowing :)  And it's not BELOW zero!  It's important to keep sight of silver linings :)

Thank goodness for Perfect Picture Book Fridays, where we can enjoy lots of great titles and ignore the weather!

My choice for today is on a more serious topic, but the book is well written - on a level that kids can understand and appreciate without it being scary/upsetting in any way - and I hope you'll enjoy it and find it a useful addition to your libraries.


Title: Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between A Soldier And His Service Dog

Written By: Luis Carlos Montalvan & Bret Witter

Photographs By: Dan Dion

Roaring Brook Press, May 2014, Nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: service/therapy animals, military life, photographic book, love, nonfiction

Opening: "In the morning, every morning, my friend Luis wakes up to . . .   this."


Brief Synopsis: After tours in Iraq left him wounded and distressed, Captain Luis Montalvan returned home to a life he was no longer comfortable living.  He reached a point where he was afraid to leave his apartment.  But a service dog named Tuesday changed everything for him.  Tuesday helps Luis with daily tasks, and he calms and comforts Luis by always being there for him.  Tuesday has made it possible for Luis to live a rewarding life.

Links To Resources: Facts About Service Dogs for Kids; Wayside Elementary Schools Special Needs Awareness Program (SNAP) (video); discuss how animals make you feel and what they do for you.


Why I Like This Book:  Every day, men and women risk their lives overseas for our freedom and way of life.  When they return home, it is often difficult to readjust, and to carry on with a life so at odds with what they've seen and survived.  This book gives kids a glimpse of the difficulties a soldier might face upon coming home at an appropriate and accessible level.  It also shows how the love and care of a therapy animal has the power to change a life.  It's written from the point of view of the dog, which makes it friendly and non-threatening.  For kids who have a relative or family friend who is a veteran, this book could be very helpful in understanding what they might be going through and in opening a discussion.  For any child, this book can encourage empathy and understanding.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see what books you're sharing this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  Maybe Springing forward will give Mother Nature the hint! :)


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March 4, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #164 - The Chocolate Train Wreck (ER) PLUS The February Pitch Pick

I'm dating myself, I realize, but when my kids were little, GameBoys were all the rage.  Oh! how they longed for GameBoys.  But my husband and I didn't feel that children under 10 really needed to play video games for hours on end... even though all their friends had GameBoys as well as whatever the ancient versions of PlayStation, Xbox, etc... were.  We figured it was easier not to have game systems then to have them and have to enforce limits.  So our poor deprived children had to soldier on, the ONLY kids in the ENTIRE world without electronic games.

Cruelty, thy name is Mom and Dad.

Really, it's amazing they survived childhood :)

Eventually, we caved.  One unforgettable July (well, it was unforgettable at the time... I'm pretty sure none of them remember it now! :)) the whole crew was blessed with the coveted GameBoys (because we had a Long Drive on the agenda.)  But there was a Rule: the GameBoys could only be played in the car.  And only while driving.  There would be no sitting out in the car in the driveway or any of that nonsense!

It worked very well.

For them.

An excellent solution.

But now I'm having a problem of my own.

Not GameBoy.

No. I have no desire to to give my thumbs a workout bopping turtles or whatever, especially because that would require a degree of coordination and multi-tasking I do not possess whilst driving :)

Nope.  My problem is The Girl On The Train.

I know you were all waiting with breathless excitement to find out which book I picked for my March Audible selection, and yep! that was it.

And I'm hooked.

Seriously, I do not want to get out of the car!

I try to think up extra errands that will give me 4 more minutes of story!

I have become the most speed-limit-observing person on earth!

I think turtles walk faster than my car is going by the time I pull in my driveway!

But after all those years of the GameBoy Rule, I have to abide.  It's the same principle.  There can be no sitting in the car in the driveway just to find out what happens next!

(Plus, really, it's too cold unless the heat is running and that's wasteful of fossil fuels.)

(Plus, really, I have NO TIME for extra listening to stories since I've usually got 6 weeks of work to do on any given day.)

Nope.  There can't be any cheating or any wasting of time.  Only legitimate driving for continuing the story.

Which is why I ask, does anyone need a ride anywhere?

A pick up in Maryland?  Or Georgia?

Because, as it happens, I'm available :)

You'll just have to listen to The Girl On The Train :)

And now that I've got you all desperate to rush out to the library and get a copy right this minute, don't even think about it!  You can go in 5 minutes, but right now...

...it's time for the February Pitch Pick!

Here are the awesome February pitches for your voting pleasure, newly improved and updated thanks to all your helpful comments!  Good luck picking between this bunch! :)

#1 Kirsten - Finley VS. The Fly PB ages 4-8

When a pesky fly fixes his eye on Finley’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the game is on. Armed with a magazine, vacuum cleaner, and sink sprayer, Finley is determined to deliver a final blow to the buzz. But when Finley serves up the final swat and the fly lands — splat — on the sandwich, Finley wonders whether he’s really won after all.

#2 Kathy - King Of The Boards PB ages 4-8 (formerly Son of Boogie)

Dean dreams of matching his father's expertise on the boards–skateboards, surf boards, snowboards - but his flip flops at Half Pipe Park, and he wipes out at the beach. Monstrous moguls and an ice storm stop him cold on the slopes. While chillin’ at the ski lodge, Dean discovers a different board he rocks- a game board. KING OF THE BOARDS is a 332 word picture book that champions perseverance and finding your own groove.

#3 Robyn - Barebones The Skeleton PB ages 4-8

When BAREBONES loses his click-clack, he has to find it before the sun goes down, or he'll lose his Halloween job. With a little help from his pumpkin friend, he searches through water and wind trying to uncover where he lost it. Where he finds it is truly a musical surprise. 

#4 Joanne - The Animal Crackers PB ages 3-6

Meet the newest member of The Animal CrackersElephant wants to join his animal friends' jazz band, but every time he tries his trunk at an instrument, it ends tragically. After destroyed drums, harmonica havoc, and a tuba torpedo, Elephant discovers he's had music in him all along: it's as plain as the trunk on his face. 

Please vote below for the one you feel most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta by Sunday March 8 at 5 PM EDT (because yes, we will be springing forward!!!)

In honor of today's pitch, I have selected an ENTIRE TRAIN made out of chocolate for our Something Chocolate!  Have you ever seen anything so glorious?  It's almost enough to make me forget it's still freezing cold and snowing!
http://greatfoodfunplaces.com/tag/chocolate-train/
"Confirmed to be pure chocolate and weighing over 2,755 pounds"!  What craftsmanship!  Lucky it's not parked near my house or it would be missing a few cars by now :)

Take your time... munch away... and when you're ready...

Today's pitch comes to us from Donna.  By day, Donna is a 4th Degree Black Belt Certified Taekwondo Instructor and by night she is a Ninja writer of children's books, chapter books, and young adult novels. Her debut picture book, THE STORY CATCHER, was just released by Anaiah Press on January 20th of this year.
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Author Email: www.donasdays@gmail.com
Story Catcher Fan Club Email: www.storycatcherfanclub@gmail.com


Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Chocolate Train Wreck
Age/Genre: Early Reader (ages 6-9)
The Pitch: Nine–year-old Abigail must do an essay about one of her favorite things. But train whistles or chocolate-chip-cookies don’t seem big enough for her paper and nothing new ever happens in Hamilton. That is, until an airborne diesel engine and 50 tons of chocolate create a delicious mystery still unsolved more than fifty years later.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Donna improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Donna is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting back in my car... with a hunk of that chocolate train... and finding out what's happening to the girl on the non-chocolate train :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


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February 27, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Finding Spring

Look at that!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday again!

And just in time, too!

In keeping with my theme for this week (you know, the one where I insist that spring is coming in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary :)) I have the perfect book!

Title: Finding Spring
Written & Illustrated By: Carin Berger
Greenwillow Books, January 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (though I think a lot of 3 year olds would love it too :))

Themes/Topics: seasons (Spring), animals (bears), perseverance, patience

Opening: "The forest was growing cold.  Mama said that soon it would be time to sleep, but all Maurice could think about was his first spring."

Brief Synopsis: Mama bear says it's time to sleep, but all Maurice can think about is spring.  So when Mama goes to sleep, Maurice sets out to find it.  He has never seen spring, however, so he's not really sure where to look or even what he's looking for!

Links To Resources: take a nature walk and look for signs of spring; make up a list of signs of spring and check them off as they appear - is spring here yet?; How To Make A Diorama (video); Diorama Crafts For Kids; try making your own diorama about spring; make paper flowers; how to make tissue paper flowers (video)

Why I Like This Book: Every child on earth understands impatience - how hard waiting is, and how much more fun to take action!  Maurice is not deterred in the slightest by the fact that he doesn't actually know what spring is.  He just looks until he knows he's found it.  And he can tell he's found it because it's the most magical thing he's ever seen!  Just wait until you see what it is (and no, I'm not telling! :))  The book is illustrated with dioramas and cut-paper collages and is just gorgeous - a feast for the eyes of kids and grown-ups alike.  A perfect choice for those of us currently longing for spring :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what delights you've chosen for us this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  It will be March by the time it's over! :)


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February 25, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #163 - The Animal Crackers (PB)

You know what?

I have decided that spring is coming!

I know the thermometer by my kitchen window says 11 below zero this morning... er, possibly 12 below.


I know Blueberry Hill is still blanketed under a solid two feet of snow.

I know my fingers get so cold while I'm doing the barn that first they hurt and then I forget I have any fingers :)

But hear me out.

In 3 days - THREE! - it will be March!  And March is the month that technically contains the first day of Spring!

See?  Spring is coming!

In addition, the angle of the light has changed.  The earth is tilting her face toward the sun.  When I get up at 5:15... well, okay... it's still dark.  But by 6 AM the light is coming up - it really is.  If it wasn't 11 below zero I could take the dogs out :)

So I feel freezing confident that Spring is right around the corner! :)

Meanwhile, let's have Something Chocolate, because it is a completely fabricated outright lie well known fact that chocolate is good for  warming people up.  Really, it's true.  (And no, that is not the end of my nose in Pennsylvania...)

Today's pitcher was kind enough to bring Something Chocolate for all of us.  (Thank you, Joanne :))  The person who thought up the recipe is seriously a person after my own heart!  She says she was rummaging in the pantry for something healthy and this is what she came up with! :)  And it's called a S'MOreo!  How can you not LOVE that???!!!

"Recipe" HERE :)
and this is the kind of recipe I might actually be able to manage
as it involves no actual cooking - unless you count toasting the
marshmallows :)
I am not kidding when I say HOW HAS NO ONE EVER THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE?  IT'S GENIUS!

I have every intention of experimenting with this genius right after Would You Read It.  I feel certain that there will be a lot of trial and error to get the marshmallow toastiness/smushiness ratio exactly right... meaning a lot of taste-testing... but, you know, all in the name of culinary excellence or whatever :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Joanne who says, "I've been writing since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (actually, I was NEVER that little - I'm currently 5'10" and I may have been born that tall LOL), but I only started focusing on children's writing (picture books in particular) at the beginning of last year. I'm a Southern California native who escaped (they almost held me hostage - truly!) to Michigan 20ish years ago with a Michigander husband (who I dragged out of California) and two darling (well, sometimes) kids currently in 5th and 8th grade. I LOVE the kidlit community I have found here and at other amazingly cool places on the Internet (12 x 12, PiBoIdMo, ReviMo, Kidlit411 and probably half a dozen others that eat up WAY too much of my time). I love to learn - and I absolutely KNOW I'm not "there" yet - so critique away! I can use it!

Here are her links if you'd like to go visit her and get to know her.  I highly recommend her - she's lovely :): 
blog/website: www.joannesher.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joannesherwriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joannesher

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Animal Crackers
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Elephant wants to play in his animal friends' band, but every instrument he tries doesn't work – whether he swallows the harmonica or breaks a drum. With the band's help, Elephant discovers he's had music in him all along - in his stomping feet and trumpeting trunk. Meet the newest member of the Animal Crackers! 

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Joanne improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in July so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Joanne is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to S'MOreos!!!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)

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