May 30, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Red Sings From Treetops

Happy Friday Everyone!!!

Guess what?

Next week is the 100th Perfect Picture Book Week!

Can you believe it?

We should probably have a party.

Except...

Next Friday - only one week from right this very second - the day of the 100th Perfect Picture Book post - is when I leave for the SCBWI conference I'm teaching at.

Teaching GROWNUPS!  IN REAL LIFE not online!

(Can you say petrified? :))

I am finishing the pile of critiques.  I am trying to prepare my workshop in a way that will hopefully sound coherent and give the participants a fun and meaningful experience.  I'm also winding up my May online class and starting my June one.  My children are arriving home from college which necessitates driving to pick up, loading and unloading cars, masses of laundry, and packing things away for the summer.  Oh, and I'm babysitting for my granddaughters on Sunday and in charge of the barn chores until my friend gets back from her mini break.  All good things in every way, but I'm feeling a little like I just don't have enough time in the day!

So I'm not sure if I'm going to manage to plan a party.

And you will also have to (please!) forgive me for recycling a Perfect Picture Book today!

I don't feel bad too about it, though, because this book is one of my all-time favorites.  I use it as an example of beautiful language in my class, and if you haven't had a chance to read it you're truly missing out.  Get thee to the library right quick!


Red Sings From Treetops: A Year In Colors
Written By: Joyce Sidman
Illustrated By: Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin Books For Children, April 2009, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 5 and up

Themes: Colors, Seasons, Poetry

Opening:
"In SPRING,
Red sings from treetops:
cheer-cheer-cheer,
each note dropping
like a cherry
into my ear.

Red turns
the maples feathery,
sprouts in rhubarb spears;
Red squirms on the road after rain."

(Don't you just love that?  Can't you just hear that cardinal singing and see the worms wiggling on the pavement?)

Brief Synopsis:  From the jacket: "Color comes alive in this whimsical, innovative book."  That pretty much sums it up!

Links To ResourcesJunior Library Guild Activity GuidePoem StartersReaders Guide

Why I Like This Book:  I love the lyrical language of this book.  The author was so creative in her thinking - the way she describes the colors makes you see, feel, hear, touch, and taste Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.  The art is exquisite and perfectly suited to the poetry.  How can you not love lines like,
"Green waits
in the hearts of trees,
feeling
the earth
turn."

I hope you'll get a chance to read this book, linger over the language, enjoy the images it evokes, maybe challenge yourself or your children to come up with your own descriptions!

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

I want to take this opportunity to let you all know that PPBF will be going on hiatus for the summer as usual.  I am open to popular opinion as to whether next Friday (June 6) or the following Friday (June 13) will be the last day.  As I said, I will not be here next Friday.  Princess Blue Kitty (my car for those of you who don't know her) and I will be on the road to the aforementioned SCBWI conference.  But y'all can carry on and I'll catch up after the weekend.  Assuming I survive :)  Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments.  As for a party, I guess we could maybe have it a week late...???

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)



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May 28, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #135 - Princess Petulia's Problem (PB)

Something very weird is going on.

(Cue Twilight Zone music)

Last week, 4 people informed me that they had stopped receiving my blog post notifications.  While I was agonizing over what on earth to do to fix this knotty problem, I suddenly got a blog post notification from Janet Sumner Johnson, soon followed by one from Wavy Lines, soon followed by ones from Growing, Writing, Creating Our Own, Sunlit Pages, Fiction University, and a host of others.  Almost all of them are Blogger blogs and/or delivered by Feedburner.  None of them had missed a post... and yet I hadn't received notifications from them for a couple weeks.  Coincidence?

(More Twilight Zone music!)

I don't THINK so!  I mean, what are the odds?  (A question which I am WAY to bad at math to have any hope of figuring out, but knock yourselves out if you want to actually answer :)) And...

AND!!!

... my blog is a Blogger blog delivered by Feedburner!  Coincidence?

Again, I think not!

So I'm hoping against all reason and former evidence to the contrary that this was some kind of Blogger or Feedburner issue which has resolved itself.

(Hahaha!  I know!  That would be so simple it will probably never happen!  But here's hoping everyone who is supposed to get my blog post notification today WILL!  My glass is half-full :))

(And we will not discuss the fact that I am so busy and my inbox is so full that I didn't even realize I'd MISSED their notifications until they reappeared... sharpest tool in the shed, here :)... so I deeply apologize for missing those posts and failing to visit!)

I don't know about you, but after all that spine-tingling weirdness and the depressing realization of my lack of cognizance, I need Something Chocolate!  Let me rummage in my pantry and see what we have today...

...chocolate is brain food, you know.  Very restorative...

Ooh!  How about these morsels of delectableness thoughtfully sent to me by the lovely Rene!

Brownie Peanut Butter Cupcakes!

YUM!  I hope you can see that there is an oreo spread with peanut butter, topped by another oreo and more peanut butter, all enveloped in lovely brownie!  I think even I might be able to make these, and boy do they look good!  Please.  Help yourselves!  We'll forget all about the Blogger/Feedburner conspiracy! :)

Now.  To the business at hand.  (I mean, the OTHER business at hand, besides stuffing ourselves with chocolate at whatever ungodly hour of the morning it currently is :))

Today's pitch comes to us from Steve, who says says, "I spent 20 years as a teacher of small children in London. Reading aloud was my favourite part of teaching. This means that I absolutely know what a PB, Lower MG should sound like. The challenge is to make my own writing sound right!"  We have met Steve before with his pitches for Rashad Saves The World (WYRI #111) which won the November 2013 Pitch Pick, and Silly Tilly (WYRI #123)

Here is his pitch:

Working Title: Princess Petulia's Problem
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: Princess Petulia had the longest hair you ever saw. It was long, it was luscious, it was glossy and glamorous and Princess Petulia … hated it. Children stood on it, birds made nests in it, but the King had rules for princesses and the number one rule was NO HAIRCUTS. Kings are kings and can't be disobeyed, but when she accidentally bumped in to the old gardener with the pruning shears and the shaky hands, Princess Petulia started to see the perfect solution to her problem.

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 Steve improve his 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.)

Steve is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing if anyone gets this post notification.  (I will be very forgiving and not sentence Blogger/Feedburner to an entire week without their crayons if the problem has been fixed/spontaneously fixed itself!)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! :)


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May 23, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - This Is A Moose

My goodness what a busy week that was!  I can't believe it's Friday again already!

I didn't manage to finish even half the work I hoped to get done, but I did get to go on a particularly wonderful school visit.  Look at the lovely displays they made to welcome me:



So bright and cheery, aren't they?  And lots and lots of my favorite characters :)

I was hoping to have a picture with the kids in it, but I didn't get it in time.  Trust me - they were terrific, and super cute too :)

But now, it is time for a Perfect Picture Book!  This is such a fun one!  If you haven't had a chance to see it, trot right over to the library.  It will make you laugh :)

Title: This Is A Moose
Written By: Richard T. Morris
Illustrated By: Tom Lichtenheld
Little Brown & Company, May 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself, imagination, perseverance

Opening: "This is the Mighty Moose.  His father is a moose.  His mother is a moose.  This moose wants to be an astronaut. CUT!"

Brief Synopsis: Billy Waddler is making a film.  A film about a moose.  At least, it's supposed to be about a moose.  But this moose simply will not conform to Billy's idea of what a moose should be.  In fact, no one in this book is behaving the way they're supposed to.  What's a filmmaker to do?

Links To Resources:  Fun facts about moose;  Classroom activities about moose, including a hands-and-feet moose poster and a make-your-own moose with moving parts; Moose coloring pages; Moose maze (there are other animal mazes, too); read and compare with Morris The Moose Goes To School by Bernard Wiseman; ask your kids or students what they want to be when they grow up.



Why I Like This Book:  This book is colorful, engaging, and funny.  The filmmaker is single-minded in his mission, and the other characters consistently frustrate him with their non-conformity, resulting in some great comedy :)  The story is about characters who refuse to be pigeon-holed into stereotypical roles, and it carries the messages that you should be yourself no matter what, and that no one person's vision is more important than another's.  The art is fabulous and includes many fun details that kids will enjoy exploring.  I dare you not to love this book :)

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

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what delights you chose this week!

Have a GREAT Memorial Day weekend, everyone, and enjoy the day off Monday while we celebrate  and give thanks for the brave men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion for their country.  Although summer won't really begin for another month, Memorial Day always seems like the moment it arrives, so happy summer, everyone! :)


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May 21, 2014

Would You Read It #134 - Little Lizzie Knows What She's Doing (PB) PLUS The April Pitch Winner

Bonjour, mes petites oiseaux!

(For those of you less fluent in French than me, that means good morning my little birdies - at least, I'm hoping it means something like that :))

I've got birds on the brain (no, I did NOT say I was a bird brain!) because of Mr. and Mrs. Canada Goose on the way to my daughter's school.  They have recently successfully hatched 6 delightful fluffy goslings!  How can you not just love something this cute?


But enough of cute babies.  We've got an action-packed, fun-filled day ahead!  Are you ready?

First off, the winner of the April Pitch Pick is Frances!  Congratulations, Frances!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for her comments, and I'm sure you'll hear from her shortly!

Congratulations to our other fearless pitchers, too!  You did a tremendous job and I know I speak for all of us when I say we admire and respect you for bravely posting your work!

Now.  On a more serious note (one might even say grave), I'd like to discuss something of great importance.

Something I know has been weighing heavily on your minds.

Admit it.

You've been lying awake nights plagued by the torturous question of how, oh HOW, should you eat your berries?

Darlings.  I am here for you.

With prime berry season almost upon us, I feel it's critical that we clear up some common misconceptions.

You might think you should pluck them from the bush they grow on and pop them right in your mouth.  This is called Beary Picking because that's how the bears do it.  This is not the correct way for you to do it.  Please don't.  Get out of that blueberry bush right now.

You might think you should buy them at the store, wash them, and put them in one of your pretty china dishes to eat with a spoon.  I'm sorry to tell you that this is also wrong.  Seriously.  Put that dish back in the cabinet before you break it.  And what is that?  Vanilla ice cream?  Don't make me come over there!

THIS, darlings, is the proper way, the ONLY way to eat berries:

SOMETHING CHOCOLATE :)
Chocolate Dessert Cups With Fresh Berries from Plain Vanilla Mom
Recipe HERE

No dishes to wash, hence no water wastage.  No disposable items that have to be thrown away only to clog up our recycling centers.  Just a good old-fashioned edible Something Chocolate cup like our founding fathers used to use back in the old days.  Simple.  Elegant.  Eco-friendly.  Delicious.

I'm so glad I was able to clear that up for you :)

Now.  Bring your chocolate cup of berries along and let's get down to business!

Today's pitch comes to us from Linda who says, "I know what I'm doing" was a favorite phrase of mine when I was growing up. I wanted to discover the world f or myself, not through my parent's eyes. This meant that on occasion I would find myself stuck up in a tree or riding my bike with my eyes closed. The results were not pretty!  Today, I continue to be adventurous, writing about the Glimmer Glen Elves who visit me in my Elfery, and dabbling in self-publishing in a variety of genres for both children and adults." 
Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Little Lizzie Knows What She's Doing
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-6)
The Pitch: Little Lizzie may be small, but she has an enormous curiosity about her world and how she fits in it. She wants to figure things out in her own way, so when her parents caution her about trying something new, her reply is always, I know what I’m doing!  Giving the cat a bath and other experiments lead to some interesting consequences, until at last Lizzie demonstrates she does know what she's doing.

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 Linda 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.)

Linda is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to not washing any dishes ever again now that I've discovered chocolate cups :)

Have a wonderful, productive, and fulfilling Wednesday, everyone! :)


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May 19, 2014

Aaand... We Have A Winner!

Happy Monday, Everyone!

You would think, given that it's Monday, the start of a new week full of possibility, that I would have something pithy or inspiring or at the very least entertaining to share with you all.

And I do!

I have exactly ONE THING!

(Prepare for the shortest post in the history of this blog!)

I'm sure you will all recall that on Friday we held a giveaway thanks to the generosity of Lori Degman.  One of the commenters on Friday's post was promised a signed copy of Lori's new book, Cock-A-Doodle Oops!

Lori and I were amazed and delighted by how many of you stepped up to admit you were donkeys, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, cows, sheep, ducks, and wow! a whole lot of barn cats!  Also, we loved your creative and original crows!

Random.org has done its thing, and I'm thrilled to announce that Farmer McPeeper and his barnyard menagerie will be winging their way to sunny Italy, because none other than the lovely Renee has won Lori's book!

Lori, thank you again for generously donating a copy of your wonderful new book!

Everyone who commented, thank you so much for joining the fun, and I hope you all get a chance to read Lori's fabulous book!

And Renee, please email me your address again because although I'm pretty sure I have it somewhere you will get your book a whole lot sooner if you just send me your address than if I start rooting around for it.  I'm very ADD when it comes to searching... or house cleaning... and have a tendency to get distracted from my original task and go off on unrelated tangents and would likely end up sending myself a box of Perugina Chocolate instead of figuring out where in Italy to send your book :)

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! :)


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May 16, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Cock-a-Doodle Oops! PLUS A Giveaway!!!

Thank goodness it's Friday!

I've been waiting for MONTHS to share this book with you (because I was lucky enough to get an advance copy), and it's finally officially out, so I can finally post it for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Not only that, but I have a signed copy to give away to one lucky commenter!  All you have to do is bake me cookies er tell me and Lori which farm animal you are and why in the comments :)

I, for example, would be the horse because I am beautiful and graceful and I can run like the wind...

*snort*

Yeah, I didn't think anyone would buy that :)  I can't even sell it to myself :)  But I do really love horses - that should count for something!

If it's too hard to think of yourself as a farm animal on Friday morning at the end of a long week, you can just tell us who you'd like the book for.  That will be less sporting and some people might judge you for wimping out, but not me!  Nosirreebob!  I will not think any less of you if you don't have the gumption to declare to the world that you belong in the donkey shed!

Title: Cock-a-Doodle Oops!
Written By: Lori Degman
Illustrated By: Deborah Zemke
Creston Books, May 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, helping others, jobs, animals (farm)

Opening: "Farmer McPeeper was such a deep sleeper;
not even an earthquake could shake him.
A poke or a pinch wouldn't budge him an inch,
'cause only his rooster could wake him."

Brief Synopsis: Poor Rooster!  He's tired of getting up so early every morning!  What he needs is a vacation.  Leaving the other animals in charge, Rooster heads for the beach.  Animal after animal tries their best, but no one can wake Farmer McPeeper.  Rooster's return is greeted with relief, but he's caught a cold.  How will they ever get the sleepy Farmer up now?

Links To Resources: Teacher's Guide to Cock-A-Doodle Oops,  Farm animal coloring pages, classroom activities to learn about volunteers, emergency animal rescue, what do I want to be when I grow up, workers and the work they do.  Talk about jobs kids are familiar with and what kind of skills are necessary to do those jobs, or what personality traits would be helpful.  Talk about friendship and what kinds of things friends might do for each other.  Enjoy the YouTube video where Marissa Moss reads the story aloud HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  This book is fun from start to finish!  The rhyme is expertly written, catchy, and fun to read aloud.  The attempts of the various animals to wake the sleeping farmer are hilarious, and kids will enjoy calling out the different crows - cock-a-doodle moo, cock-a-doodle baa, etc.  The illustrations are bright and colorful and a perfect match for the story.  When Rooster returns from his vacation with a cold, the animals have to come up with an inventive solution to get the farmer out of bed.  When at last the farmer is up, he delivers a surprise ending that is clever and funny... but I can't say what it is here because that would be telling :)  Just mosey on out and get yourself a copy.  You won't be sorry.  It's delightful :)

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

Lori and I were going to do a little interview or something to go along with this post, but it appears we didn't quite get our act together in time.  I don't know how that happened.  I am the epitome of organization.  Ask anyone.  And please ignore the rapidly increasing length of my nose :)

So anyway, at the very least, here's Lori :)

Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekend and school holiday. She lives in a northern suburb of Chicago with her husband and two dogs. Her debut picture book, 1 Zany Zoo was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and a mini version was distributed inside 2.2 million boxes of Cheerios. The hardcover was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Ms. Degman's second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! was released by Creston Books on May 13th.


You can also see a wonderful interview with her over at Laura Sassi's HERE, another review of Cock-A-Doodle Oops at Sue Morris's HERE, and another terrific interview at Carrie Brown's HERE.

Now then, my little chickens, get thee to the comments and tell us which farm animal you are and why (or just tell us who you'd like the book for), and one lucky commenter will get a signed copy of this fabulous book!

OR...

Ooh!  How 'bout this?

If you REALLY want to impress us, you can write your own crowing line!  Examples from Lori's book are:
Her cock-a-doodle-cluck didn't have any pluck
His cock-a-doodle-bleeeeat just couldn't compete
Her cock-a-doodle-whoooooooo just didn't ring true
What kind of rhyming crow can you think up for the farmyard animal of your choice??? :)

Please leave your comment by Sunday May 18 at 5 PM EDT and then random.org will choose the winner and I will announce it on Monday.

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what treasures you have to share this week!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!!! :)


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May 14, 2014

Would You Read It #133 - Orville Wright's Final Flight (NF PB) PLUS The April Pitch Pick

Golly! What a busy day!

By the time you read this (unless you're a serious early bird or in Europe or something) I will be on my way to a school visit - the first of a two-day pair - so please forgive me if I'm a little behind in responding to you all today.  It's Books Journey time again, so I'll be off teaching writing workshops to 4th graders.  Luckily, since it's Wednesday, I'll be fortified with Something Chocolate!

And just LOOK at this gorgeous Something Chocolate!
http://www.jasonandshawnda.com/foodiebride/archives/13464/
Is it cake?  Is it pie?  Who knows?  Who cares?!  It looks so incredibly delicious it won't be around long enough to debate :)  (And Julie, I hope you notice that I put raspberries there just for you since you're a little more delicate than the rest of us about chocolate before 9 AM :))

Now that everyone except Julie is in a chocolate coma, it's time for the April Pitch Pick!  Please read the following pitches, most of which have been revised based on your excellent feedback, and vote for the one you think most deserves a read and comments from editor Erin Molta.

#1 Frances - Peter and Asbury - Picture Book (ages 4-8) 
Peter is a shy, socially awkward six-year old boy whose best friend just happens to be an ancient oak tree he calls Asbury.  When Peter learns that Asbury will be cut down, he comes up with a plan to keep the memory of Asbury alive forever.  The unlikely bond that develops between boy and tree helps Peter discover a very special talent that he and Asbury will one day share with the whole world.  

#2 Morgan - Sammy Dougie Foxtrot: Look, Smile, Roar - Picture Book (ages 4-8)
Courage does not come easy to Sammy D. Foxtrot who must overcome his playground fears of dirt, race chairs, and insects! His playground adventure goes awry after his stuffed lion, PJ, gets stuck in a tree. With a Look, Smile, & Roar, Sammy D. Foxtrot discovers the true meaning of courage: that one can feel scared and brave at the same time. Will bravery prevail or will he leave his friend hanging?

#3 Charlotte - Roy G. Biv And The Amazing Castle Moat - Picture Book (ages 5-8)
When a sudden summer rainstorm spares their sand fortress, Sam and Sophie discover a swirl of colors and a surprise visitor, Roy G. Biv, in the castle moat. Sam thinks the arrival of the visitor, who speaks in rhyme, must be a trick. Sophie is delighted by it all. The siblings discover that the magic of Roy G. Biv is actually quite real.

#4 Sean - Todd's Top Secret Dance Moves - Picture Book (ages 6-8)
His moves are smoother than a buttery bowling ball sliding over a field of silk tuxedos. And Todd is ready to reveal them all: the Fuzzy Banana, the Lunch Lady, the Frosty Snowman, and many more. Follow the footsteps of a dynamite dancer and try to resist tapping your feet. If you want to dance like Todd, the first secret is... 

#5 Janet - You're A Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp (Early Chapter Book)
Betsy's arrival turns poor Coco's comfy world of cuddles and cake (all shapes, all sizes but preferably pink!) upside down. Her thumb sucking, pampered baby sister mixes up the familiar flavours of family life. Is  Coco really no longer the apple of her parents’ eyes and will she feel rotten when she serves up some just desserts?

Please vote for your favorite by Sunday May 18 at 9 PM EDT.  Many thanks! :)


Today's pitch comes to us from Todd.  Todd is a 22 year veteran teacher/librarian/technology specialist who works teaches Kindergarten to fourth grade in Winnetka, IL.  Being a lover of children's literature, he's finally jumped into the literary world.  He is passionate about bringing history to life for children.

Here is his pitch:

Working Title: Orville Wright's Final Flight
Age/Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book (ages 7-12)
The Pitch: When man’s first flight is mentioned, most of us can conjure up an image of that fragile craft lifting from the sands of Kitty Hawk.  Very few of us, however, know much about Orville Wright’s final flight.  That flight came at a pivotal point in World War II when the airplane had become the backbone of the United States military.  It must have been bittersweet for Orville to see he and Wilbur’s creation being used to cause such destruction.  That makes his final flight all the more meaningful.  The C-69 Constellation would move troops to the front and would help end the war.  It would also become the workhorse of the civilian aviation industry.  He must have been amazed at how far aviation had come in just over forty short years.  Orville didn’t know it at the time, but this would be his final flight.  

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 Todd improve his 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.)

Todd is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to all those eager 4th graders!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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May 12, 2014

Sharing The Fun

Happy Monday, my favorite folks!

I hope you all had wonderful Mother's Day weekends!

Mine was very nice (thank you for asking).  The weather was gorgeous and perfect, and there was family and chocolate cake.  What could be better?  (Of course the cake was actually one I baked for my daughter's birthday - not a Mother's Day thing - but who cares?  Chocolate cake is chocolate cake no matter how you slice it :))

Also, did I tell you the hummingbirds are back?

Every year I am amazed by how punctual they are.  They show up the week of my daughter's birthday without fail.  And they're such cheerful little critters, it's lovely to have them around!
Okay.  So, you know how when you write a blog sometimes you do favors for friends and relations who don't have blogs?  This is one of those days.  But I'll be very brief.  I promise.  (Stop laughing!  I am exceptionally keen of hearing and I can HEAR you!)

Allow me to introduce you to my husband.

Cute little fellow, isn't he? :)

He's a little older and taller than this now (although his outfit hasn't changed much... his clothing of choice is still shorts and a tee shirt :))

Eric has been an elementary school teacher for a very long time.  He's incredibly good at it and the kids all love him because he's so much fun.  (If you happened to miss it a while back, he had the yearbook dedicated to him and I did a post about it HERE... which I believe has some pictures of him when he's older than 4 :))

So anyway, after years of regaling family and students with the outrageous escapades of his childhood, he finally decided to put his train commute time to good use and write a book.  It took him about a year, but he did it and here it is in all it's glory:


You really have to read this book to believe it.  Seriously, it's kind of amazing he survived his childhood given the escapades he was continually involved in!  My childhood was so incredibly tame by comparison that I am jealous.  I could be writing great MG novels if I'd grown up doing the kind of stuff he did! :)

A lot of the book is very funny, but it's more than that.  He managed in the end to learn some valuable lessons about life which come through beautifully in the telling.  The book has been available for about a month now, and a lot of the kids at his school have read it and loved it, so I think he hit the mark pretty well.  But I also know a lot of adults who have read it and loved it.  It really works equally well for both audiences.

Of course, I recognize that I could be a teensy bit biased :)  But I still think it's a very fun book.  So if you need something entertaining to read, or you know someone, child or adult, who would enjoy reading about making Viking toast on the space heater, sticking darts into the playroom ceiling tiles, and trimming the backyard grass with scissors after an unfortunate episode with rubber cement, please give it a try and spread the word!

The book is available
for Kindle HERE $4.99
for Nook HERE &4.99
in paperback HERE $7.99 (or $6.63 for Amazon prime members)
and will be on Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords soon.

Tweet: Fun for all ages! Read and share How To Stick A Dart In Your Head http://ctt.ec/qc0Pa+ @SusannaLHill @erichill_band

Thank you for your indulgence in letting me share Eric's book.  I hope some of you will get to enjoy it!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!!! :)


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May 9, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Charlie The Ranch Dog

Hurray!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

And how nice to be back after 2 weeks off for the illustration contest!

I hope you will like today's book as much as I do :)


Title: Charlie The Ranch Dog
Written By: Ree Drummond
Illustrated By: Diane deGroat
HarperCollins, April 2011, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: jobs/careers, working, perception, animals (dogs)

Opening: "Oh, hello.  My name is Charlie. I live in the country.  I'm a ranch dog."

Brief Synopsis: Charlie is a ranch dog.  He fixes fences, works in the garden, and helps his family out on the range.  A ranch dog's work is never done!  Or is it?

Links To Resources: Charlie Maze, and recipe for Charlie's favorite lasagna; Lesson Plans for Charlie (please scroll down until you see the book title); a fun look at the creation of Charlie; interview with the illustrator; YouTube read aloud of the story by the author.

Why I Like This Book: Well, for starters, you know how I love dog books :)  And this one is so much fun I really can't help myself :)  Charlie says he fixes fences, gardens, and helps his family out on the range, but in fact his friend Suzie is the one who does all the work while Charlie naps, and naps some more, and indulges his love of bacon :)  He does manage to help for real at the end - but I won't tell you how, that would be spoiling it!  Kids will enjoy the contradiction between words and illustrations, and also love that there is a chipmunk hidden on every page.  This is not an action-packed thrill ride, but it's sweet and cute and funny :)

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 rave over your picks for this week and then descend on our local libraries!

Oh, and before we go, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms among you! :)  If your house is like my house, it's just possible that no one will offer to vacuum, do laundry, and cook on Sunday so that you can loll about eating bonbons on the couch, so here's a little Mom's day treat just for you :)





Now go have a wonderful weekend! :)


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May 7, 2014

Would You Read It #132 - The Long Wait For Mom (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor

Now don't you fret, punkin's!

I know you're all feeling a little down because the Illustration Contest is over and it was so much fun, but never fear!  We have plenty to keep us busy today so you won't have a moment to dwell on missing the illustrations!

And...

AND...

I have a scrumptious snack to cheer you and energize you!

One of the reasons I love you all is because you are so considerate - always thinking of me when you see Something Chocolate and making sure I know about it :)  Many's the time when one of you dear folks stumble upon Something Deliciously Chocolate and think to yourselves, "Oh Susanna!" whereupon you immediately send me a Helpful Face Book Post or an Enlightening Tweet, sometimes even a High Priority Email!, calling my attention to that Something Scrumptiously Chocolate.  Thank you.  Truly.  From the bottom of my heart.  It is so imperative that I know where ALL the chocolate is! :)

Today's Something Chocolate is a case in point.  The lovely Rene helpfully called my attention to this. . .
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies by Recipe Girl
http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/06/02/chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-brownies/
. . . morsel of delectableness!!!  YUM!!!  And you are all the beneficiaries :)

Please enjoy!  (But maybe turn your head from the computer slightly so you don't get too much drool in your keyboard :))

Now that you are thusly fortified, let's get down to business.

First, we have Straight From The Editor for March.  You will recall that the March Pitch Pick was won by Ann with her pitch for Sk8r Boy.  Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Sk8r Boy
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: 
Peter wants to be an ice skater but can’t because he’s homeless, and he doesn’t have the money for a pair of skates.  But when there’s a poetry contest at school with a small cash prize, he may be able to make his smooth words glide and spin so that he can buy the skates and win his classmates’ respect.


And here is what editor Erin Molta has to say about it:

This is nice. The only thing I would change is the end. I’d think that he’d want to buy the skates so that he can pursue his dream. You don’t want to equate being poor with having no respect. See what I added to the end.
Peter wants to be an ice skater but can’t because he’s homeless, and he doesn’t have the money for a pair of skates.  But when there’s a poetry contest at school with a small cash prize, he may be able to make his smooth words glide and spin so that he can buy the skates and win his classmates’ respect pursue his dream to glide and spin on the ice (or something to that effect . . .).
Nice job, Ann!  And great advice from Erin as always!

Now, it's time for the April Pitch Pick.  Except we had a glitch and I didn't hear back from one person because she apparently did not receive my revision email.  I am pretty much not speaking to my computer.  Well.  Actually.  It's not the computer's fault.  It's the internet's fault.  Our internet is temperamental, moody, unpredictable, and vindictive.  You think I'm joking?  Just come up on Blueberry Hill and try to get anything done efficiently online.  I am AGING, people!  But I digress.  The point is, you are off the voting hook until next week :)  Which kind of works out nicely since you're probably all a little tired of voting after the incident from last week which we are not mentioning lest you become sad again after I just cheered you up with chocolate! :)

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for....

Today's pitch comes to us from Vivian, whom we've met before with her pitches for The Tomato Turner (WYRI #49), Confessions Of The Tomato Turner (WYRI #58), and The Tomato Turner Gets A Job (WYRI #98).

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Long Wait For Mom
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5 and up)
The Pitch: There is a huge aching hole in Sophie 's life when Mom is deployed. Sophie tries unsuccessfully to make spring come more quickly by keeping busy, but when she starts baking cookies for soldiers, she discovers that helping others is the best way to wait for the ones we love.

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 Vivian 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.)

Vivian is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to experimenting with that recipe above for the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies!  (And by experimenting of course I mean tasting :))

Ooh!  And one last thing before we go!  My friend Sarah Frances Hardy, author/illustrator of Puzzled By Pink, has a BRAND SPANKING NEW book out!  Really!  It just came out yesterday!  It's called PAINT ME! and I encourage you all to go check it out :)


Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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May 5, 2014

The First Ever Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest - WINNERS!!!

Good Monday, everyone!

(Doesn't that sound so Shakespeare-y?  It's like Good Morrow :))

I know none of you has gotten a minute of rest or a wink of sleep for days, what with the torturous anticipation of finding out who the winners of the contest are!


The First Ever Pretty-Much-World-Famous Illustration Contest!!!

You've probably gnawed all the erasers off your pencils, bitten your nails to the quick, and lost 5 pounds from being unable to contemplate the idea of sustenance whilst in such a heightened state of suspense!  (That's okay, it means you can have triple helpings of chocolate on Wednesday when you stop by for Would You Read It :))

So I will not keep you in suspense any longer!

(I would not want to be responsible for one more brow wrinkle or gray hair of consternation and anxiety! :))

I just have one quick thing to say, which is that EVERYONE who entered this contest should be very proud of themselves.  You all showed up, put in the work, produced GORGEOUS book covers (which our authors are all so thrilled about!), followed guidelines, and worked to a deadline - all very important skills to practice when illustrating and/or writing is your profession :)  Even if you didn't make the finals, be assured that your illustrations were greatly enjoyed by many upon many!  Seriously!  I am not making this up.  The contest post with all your links had around 3 thousand views, which means lots of people were visiting you, even if they didn't all comment!  So we are giving you a round of thunderous applause - clapclapclapclapclap!!!!! - and you should pat yourselves on the back and have an extra slice of chocolate cake - you did good! :)

Also, I had a lovely time at the Hudson Children's Book Festival on Saturday.  I got to see my dear friends Iza Trapani (she of illustrious judging fame :)) and Nancy Furstinger, and I had the honor of being placed at a signing table right next to none other than Jane O'Connor (you know, Fancy Nancy Jane O'Connor!)  I felt like I was very much in the wrong place next to all that famousness!

And then I spent all day Sunday driving to Boston...

What?

You don't care?

That's kind of rude, don't you think?  When I was about to tell you about how I was forced encouraged to listen to Pink Floyd's The Wall straight through from start to finish at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning?  Which is not the most uplifting set of tunes, let me tell you, even though there's a lot of great music involved.  And I can tell you that by the end of the entire day of driving, certain parts of my anatomy were unComfortably Numb...

What?

Oh gosh!  Right!  I was supposed to be telling you about the winners!  Sorry.  My bad!

DDDDDRRRRRUUUUUMMMMM  RRRRROOOOOLLLLLLLLLL  PLEASE!!!!

The winner of the First Ever Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest and a portfolio critique by Michael Garland!!! is:

Julie Rowan-Zoch
with her stunning cover for Elliah Terry's The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster!


Congratulations, Julie!  That is some cover!  It knocked a lot of socks off! :)

In second place, winner of a $50 gift certificate to Dick Blick Art Materials is

Donna Marie
with her bold and colorful cover for Mike Allegra's Goldilockup


Congratulations, Donna Marie!  Your cover was absolutely fabulous!

In third place,*

Louis Davilla Wiyono
with his humorous cover for Mike Allegra's Goldilockup


Congratulations, Louis!  Your cover was arresting! :)

In fourth place,*

Colleen Kosinski
with her winsome cover for Mike Allegra's Goldilockup


Congratulations, Colleen!  Your sweet cover made us feel sorry for the naughty Goldi :)

In fifth place,*

Anne Mitchell
with her delightful cover for Jennifer Caritas's The "Princess" And The Pete


Congratulations, Anne!  Your cover was so appealing!

In sixth place, winner of a Canson sketch pad and a small set of Derwent or Faber Castell colored pencils is

Tiemdow Phumiruk
with her mischievous cover for Elliah Terry's The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster

Congratulations, Tiemdow!  Your cover was such fun!

* Third, fourth, and fifth place winners each have their choice of any one of the following books:

      - Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz
      - 2014 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Chuck Sambuchino


Winners, please email me so we can talk details :)

Thank you again to all the illustrators who participated in this contest and treated us all to such beautiful artwork; to our wonderful judges, Iza Trapani and Lisa Thiesing, without whom we could not have done this!; and to all the readers and viewers who visited, commented, and voted to celebrate these talented artists!  It is all of you who make these contests fun and worthwhile!  Hear! Hear!  What the heck!  Even though it's not Wednesday, let's have a little chocolate all around! :)


Thank you, thank you, thank you, ALL!!!

Have a magnificent Monday, everyone! :)






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May 1, 2014

The First Ever Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest Finalists! - Come Vote!!

O   H     M Y     G   O  O   D  N   E S   S !!!
O   H     M  Y     G    O    N     E  S S

(Sorry!  I can't help jumping up and down!)

Do you know what time it is???

It's time to announce the finalists for

The First Ever Pretty-Much-World-Famous Illustration Contest!!!



But first I have to say that I was thrilled with what a great turn out we got for a first-ever contest!  I was hoping we'd get 10, and really hoping we'd get 20, so how completely wonderful that we got 35 entries!!!

And they were all so beautiful and creative and well done!

There were 8 fabulous stories for the illustrators to choose from - stories that won the March Madness Writing Contest last month.  Happily, every single story inspired at least 2 illustrators, so all the stories were represented.  The entries broke down as follows:

1. The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff by Wendy Greenley - 6 illustrations
2. Goldilockup by Mike Allegra - 5 illustrations
3. Goldibawks And The Three Pairs by Dawn Young - 2 illustrations
4. The Sweetie Witch by Pen Avey - 4 illustrations
5. The Princess And The Stinky Cheese by Lauri Meyers - 9 illustrations
6. Mongoose's Holi Party by Darshana Khiani - 2 illustrations
7. The "Princess" And The Pete by Jennifer Caritas - 3 illustrations
8. The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster by Elliah Terry - 4 illustrations

So a very nice spread!

And now, a few words from our illustrious judges, award-winning author/illustrators Iza Trapani and Lisa Thiesing:

Iza said, "Thank you everyone for the wonderful entries!  Lisa and I enjoyed them and regret that we could only pick 6 finalists. You all did a great job.  Keep up the good work!"

Lisa said, "We were so impressed with everyone's enthusiasm and how much effort you all put in!"

I say, many thanks to our wonderful judges for donating their time and expertise to pore over all these entries, carefully weighing the merits of each until they could reach a consensus as to which ones should qualify for the finals.  Many thanks as well to all the very talented illustrators who took the time and care to produce such beautiful book covers for these original stories!  We have enjoyed your work so much, and it's been different and fun to experience a competition for illustration instead of writing!

Please consider each of the following finalists carefully and vote for the one you think you'd be most likely to pluck off a bookshelf :)  Remember that the contest rules specifically asked for art only.  Some artists chose to include the title/author/illustrator anyway, but covers which do not show title/author/illustrator should not be penalized in your judgment.

Although there's no real way to keep these anonymous, I will show the pictures only, no artist names for now (they will all be shown when I announce the winners on Monday May 5.)  I encourage you to share this post with your tribe - the more views these talented illustrators get the better - but I ask that you please not try to influence the vote by saying "Vote for #3!" or whatever.  Let's let these gorgeous book covers speak for themselves.  It's not supposed to be a contest about who has the most FB friends or whatnot.  Thank you all for playing fair.  Because many of the finalists are for the same stories, I have identified them with little notes in parentheses to help you remember which is which on the voting poll.

And now, without further ado, I am pleased to present the finalists!  Each cover is accompanied by a few words from the judges :)

#1.  Cover for The "Princess" And The Pete
Cover image for The "Princess" And The Pete


Judges comments:  This is a cool image and the illustrator has left plenty of space for a great type design.



# 2.  Cover image for Goldilockup (green border)

Cover image for Goldilockup


Judges comments:  The girl is sweet and nicely drawn.  The details and design elements were carefully thought out.



#3  Cover image for Goldilockup (black border)
Cover image for Goldilockup

Judges comments:  This illustration is very well done. It is a humorous, strong, eye-catching image.  It would be very appealing to a lot of young readers.



 #4.  Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster (black background)

Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster

Judges comments:  The character is funny, quirky, interesting and we wonder what he's thinking. We would want to read this book. The whole design is great.



#5.  Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster (3 beds)
Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster

Judges comments: The bunny is cute, with an especially nice face. The picture makes us curious about the story. 



#6.  Cover image for Goldilockup (bears pointing thru bars)


Judges comments:  We thought this cover was a good drawing with a nice composition and colors. We could see it standing out on the Barnes & Noble book wall.

Ready, set, VOTE!

Please vote for your favorite by Sunday May 4 at 5PM EDT!

Boy oh boy is it going to be hard to wait until Monday to find out how these finalists finish up!

Have a great weekend, everyone! :)


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