December 30, 2011

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Four Feet, Two Sandals AND The Holiday Contest Winner!

I know.  Things have gotten just a tad out of hand this week.  Monday's post barely made it in under the wire, and I skipped Wednesday's altogether to give everyone more time to vote during this busy week when lots of people are off their normal schedule.  But now it's Friday and we're back on track with Perfect Picture Books!

(Oh.  And by the way, in case you're interested, we'll get around to the winner of the Holiday Contest too! :))

But no skipping ahead!  Or at least, if you do, please come back, because this is a wonderful book and I don't want you to miss it!

Four Feet, Two Sandals
Written By:  Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed
Illustrated By:  Doug Chayka
Eerdmans Books For Young Readers, September 2007, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 7-10
Themes/Topics:  Friendship, Sharing, Refugees, Loss, Separation

Opening:  "Lina raced barefoot to the camp entrance where relief workers threw used clothing off the back of a truck.   Everyone pushed and fought for the best clothes.  Lina squatted and reached, grabbing what she could."

Brief Synopsis:  In a place where people have very little, two girls each get one of a pair of sandals.  They could have fought, but instead they share the sandals.  As they go about their routines, waiting and hoping for their names to appear on the list for a new home, the sandals remind them that friendship is the most important thing.  And when one girl gets the chance to live in a new land, the bond of their friendship remains.

Links To Resources:  Teacher's Guide, Discussion Guide, author's note at back of book adds extra information.

Why I Like This Book:  This story gives children a glimpse of a very different kind of life.  For children who are fortunate, this book may help them not to take things for granted so much.  For children who are less fortunate, this book may help them see that they are not alone.  Told gently and with hope so that it is appropriate for children, this book nonetheless opens the way to important discussions about refugees, having and not having, war and peace, loss, and separation.  But the underlying message is one of love and friendship, something all children understand and can relate to.

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

(For those of you also posting a Perfect Picture Book today, please remember to put your link on the list below.)

Okay, so I'll see you all on Monday.

Oh, wait.

Hang on.

I guess a few of you are wondering who won the Holiday Contest :)

(You didn't really think I'd leave you hanging, did you? :))

As you all know, the entries were outstanding.  There were several - I'd go so far as to say at least 6 (since that's what I put in the finals :)) - that could have won.  I'm glad I didn't have to make the ultimate decision!  But the voters have spoken clearly.  And the winner is...


with 'Twas The Night Before Christmas: Rudolph Goes Green!!!

Congratulations, Miranda!  And congratulations to all who entered!  (And Miranda, please email me and let me know if you'd prefer the gift card or the childrens writer's market guide!)

Because we had so many amazing entries, I will mention that second place went to Penny for 'Twas The Night Before Christmas On Mars, and third place went to Joanna for The Plight Before Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  You are all so talented, and you made the contest so much fun.  I think everyone had a great time hopping from blog to blog reading the stories (I know I did!) and everyone was so supportive of everyone else.  Maybe you made some new friends in the process too!

Happy New Year, Everyone!  I wish you all the very best in 2012 - love, health, happiness, peace, and great writing!  See you next year! :)

(PPB posters - don't forget the link below!)

December 26, 2011

'Twas The Day After Christmas - Holiday Contest Finalists!

HINT For Beth's Birthday Hunt Clue #12

If you still don't get it, email me :)

Yes, I realize it's getting on for midnight - about 18 hours later than I usually post and way past my bedtime :)  But I promised to post the finalists on Monday December 26 and By Gum I'm going to deliver as promised!

(I'll confess, however, that I have absolutely NO IDEA what I was thinking when I promised that.  All these fabulous entries, which required reading and rereading and rereading to narrow down to finalists in the midst of wrapping and baking and celebrating Christmas and my nephew's birthday which was today... I think the fact that I accomplished it, albeit on the late side, proves that I have actual magical powers!)

Before I put up the poll for you to vote for the winner, I just have to say a couple things:

First, I was so gratified by how many people entered the contest - 29 in all!  All you amazing writers took the time to think and create, write and revise, and bravely post your entries for the world to see and me and my trusty assistant to judge, all for my little contest.  You ALL deserve a pat on the back, a round of applause and a celebratory slice of hot apple pie with a big dollop of homemade whipped cream!

Second, I was so impressed by the overall quality of the entries!  So many wonderful ideas, and all so different!  Such creativity!  And some very talented rhymers!  You have no idea how hard it was to have to set wonderful stories aside, one by one, based on relatively nitpicky things because I really couldn't have 29 winners!  Please know that there were many things I loved about the entries that didn't make the final cut.  Finalists were chosen based on originality, quality and appeal of story, and precision of rhyme and meter.  They had to have everything to make the cut.  One or two were culled because they had one but not the other, or because of inconsistency of mood or story.

Third, I realized part way through reading the entries that I did not specify this was meant to be a kids' story.  My mistake, but it made the judging even harder because there were some entries that were clearly intended for children and some that were written from a much more adult perspective.  So you will note that of the six (not three) finalists that I'm posting, 4 are kids and 2 seemed (at least to me) more adult, but all were great stories.

So, enough with the explanations!  On with the voting!

I will post below the 6 finalists (you've noticed, no doubt, that I can never narrow it down as far as I say I'm going to - I'm clearly not cut out to be a judge - I'm not cutthroat enough :)) in no particular order followed by the poll.  I'm also giving three Honorable Mentions (I told you it was really hard to pick and I'm not cut out to be a judge :))


#1  (Mars)

Removed per author's request.

#2 (Fishmas)

“Twas the Night Before Fishmas”
Twas the night before Fishmas, when all through the sea,
Not a flipper was flapping, it was still as can  be.
All the fishies were snoozing, snug in their sponge-beds,
As sweet dreams of earthworms, just squirmed through their heads.
When all of a sudden, through seaweed so thick,
Poked the jagged white teeth, and sly smile of Shark Nick!
And straight through the waters, he darted so fast,
He filled every conch-shell with treats that would last.
Chocolate worms, shrimpy-canes, plankton cakes for each fish!
Every conch over-flowed with each sea creature’s wish!
“Merry Fishmas,” he whispered and gave each a pat.
Eat up, little fishies and get plentifully fat!”
Every Fishmas I visit, I happily treat you!
So you’re portly and plump, when I happily eat you!”
Then as quick as he came, he was gone in snap
He shot through seaweed, with a single tail-flap.
But they all heard him snarl, as he swam out of sight,
Go ahead little fishies….Go ahead…Take a bite!”

#3 (Flood)

T’was the eve before Christmas and down by the stream,
the moles squealed and scrambled, as in a bad dream!
The snowstorm that blasted the valley that day
had flooded the tunnels; all nests flushed away.

Mama mole bundled her babies up tight,
shivering, “Where can we spend this cold night?”
Papa mole helped them climb out of the mud.
On mounting the bank, they heard a great ‘thud’.

The family looked up, OH, what a surprise -
a laughing old man dressed in red, filled their eyes.
He knelt in the snow, scooped them up with such love,
gently, he slipped them inside his warm glove.

He’d finished his rounds, then heard of the plight
of riverbank creatures that wet, snowy night.
They swooped on upstream calling out in the dark,
“Any need help? We’re the Santa’s Sleigh-Ark.”

As the sleigh flew along, they gathered a crew,
of rats, otters, mice, and a soggy duck too.
They pulled tight the scarves, all snuggled together,
so grateful for safety from treacherous weather.

The sleigh landed, CRUNCH, on North Pole’s ice strip.
The river crew marveled at their first sky trip.
The reindeer were settled in stable with straw,
but Santa had plans for the damp, homeless poor.

He kindled the fire, put chestnuts to roast,
he smothered with butter and honey, the toast;
he brewed pots of tea, and laid out the mince pies,
then chuckling, he pulled out his festive surprise.

How could he know? Had he planned more to share?
Santa had presents for each of them there.
From wee smallest mole to old grandpa Duck;
they shed a few tears, overwhelmed with their luck.

They pulled Christmas crackers, told jokes old and new,
sipped their mulled wine; hummed yule carols too.
“Three Cheers to Santa, for saving the day!”
The riverbank creatures raised loud their Hooray!

#4 (Rudolph)
'Twas the Night Before Christmas:  Rudolph Goes Green

‘Twas the night before Christmas when there on the screen
Played an eco-documentary with ways to be green.
On the sofa sat Rudolph who suddenly froze
And pulled his front hooves right in front of his nose.

“I’ve got to replace this old iridescent
With an LED light–or at least a fluorescent!”
At once Rudolph dashed to the D.I.Y. store,
And the reindeer pack gasped as he clopped out the door.

“Don’t leave us,” yelled Comet. “You’ll make us all late!
It’s a good thing you’re doing but...Christmas WON’T WAIT!”
“C’mon” scoffed ol’ Blitzen, “Let’s get up and soar,
We can fly without Greenie–we’ve done it before!”

Then up flew eight reindeer with no glowing light,
Leading Santa’s big sleigh on a cold, wintry night.
But the wind and the storms blew a blinding, wet mess
So Donder unwrapped Yumi’s new G-P-S!

Their troubles were past them until Tokyo,
When Santa reminded, “That gift’s gotta go!”
Then Dasher discovered an oversized candle
In shimmery paper with a tag that read: Randall.

In a flash went their stress ‘til they flew o’er Khartoum,
When that “oversized candle” exploded...KA-BOOM!
It kicked up a sandstorm so Prancer thought quick,
Unwrapping a flashlight for young Dominic–

But the batteries died just past the Sahara,
So Vixen dug up Amy’s light-up tiara!
“You hold it,” he bickered, “Too girly for me!”
And they pawed it and clawed ‘til it fell in the sea!

“Now stop it, you guys!” bellowed Santa in back.
“We’ve got presents to give, so no talking smack!”
They straightened right up and squinting their best
Took strange routes from Cape Town to old Budapest.

Eventually they made it, but sore and pooped out,
And when they got home they gave Rudolph a shout:
“You lazy, green-washing...WAIT...that’s the SAME nose!”
Rudolph casually shrugged, “Yeah...the merchant was closed.”

“Well I guess we don’t need you!” the reindeer yelled, peeved.
And to their surprise, Rudolph felt...quite RELIEVED!
“That’s perfect!” he sang, then rushed out the door.
“See you guys in two years, I've joined the Peace Corps!”
#5 (parents)

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through the night,
We parents were wrapping with all of our might.
The stockings were stuffed but the presents were bare.
“I’ll be more organized next year… I swear!”

We prayed that the children would stay in their beds,
Snuggled in tight with the spreads on their heads.
While Daddy with his screwdriver and I with my tape,
Settled in to the task to make Christmas take shape.

When all of a sudden the dog began barking.
The reflection of bows on the ceiling were sparkling!
I sprang from the couch and led him away –
Into his crate to await Christmas Day.

At last we were ready to load up the tree.
Poor Daddy endured sharp instructions from me.
First this one!  Now that one! Put this one on top.
Be CAREFUL! It’s fragile!  Be sure it won’t drop.

And then we collapsed, exhausted and frayed.
“Oh please let the kids sleep ‘til eight,” we both prayed.
One blink of an eye and we heard the kids cheer,
“Come look at the tree, ‘cause Santa’s been here!”

We groaned in our beds, our eyes red and puffy.
The kids both looked glowing, while we looked quite scruffy.
I brewed us some coffee and scorching hot tea,
Then readied myself for the festivity.

One blink of an eye and the presents were done.
The kids were quite eager to play and have fun.
But as they were cleaning up ribbon and wrapping,
I lay my head down and soon began napping.

As I slipped into dreams, I heard a soft voice
Remind me to savor the day and rejoice.

#6 (school)

‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through the school
The children excitedly prepared for Yule.
The choir sang carols of joy and good cheer,
And how they’d behaved for their parents all year!

The students drew snowmen and reindeer and elves
Which teachers hung proudly upon all the shelves.
My class in pajamas, and I with my book,
Read about the adventures that Santa Claus took.

When out in the hall there arose such a roar
We jumped from our seats and ran to the door.
We peeked ‘round the corner to see what was there,
For a moment the children could only stare.

I cried tears of joy when I saw their bright eyes
The volunteers planned an amazing surprise.
Hot cocoa they poured for the girls and the boys,
And parked in the hall was a train full of toys!

The kids-how they squealed! Their faces aglow
As each took his present tied up with a bow.
This Christmas each angel received a new gift
The worries that this special day would sure lift.

They returned to our classroom so happy to be
Heading home with these gifts to put under the tree
When I opened the door, all the children said “Look!”
On each little desk sat a shiny new book.

“Do you like them?” I asked,  I brought them for you
From every direction came hugs, how they flew!
This Christmas was special, I knew right away
For as long as I lived I’d remember that day.

I'd also like to give Honorable Mention to Erik for his story about the shelter dog - excellent story just right for this time of year! - Cathy for her lovely bear story, and Donna for her barnyard Christmas story, all strong entries!

So here's the poll.  Please vote for the number you feel should win.  I'd love it if you could vote by midnight tomorrow (Tuesday) so I could post the winner Wednesday, but i realize I haven't given you much time.  So if not enough people have voted by midnight tomorrow, I will extend the voting and post the winner Friday with Perfect Picture Books.

Thank you all for writing, reading, and voting, and making this contest SO MUCH FUN!

December 23, 2011

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated The World

This is one of my favorite things about the holidays: getting up in the dark and turning on the Christmas tree lights, then sitting with a book (or in this case my computer as I write my blog :)), the dogs, and a cup of coffee, enjoying the beauty and peace while the rest of the house is still asleep.  There's something lovely about having a tree in the living room :)

I'm going to be brief (for me :)) today, because visiting family is here, and I'm way behind on baking and wrapping, and I'm guessing you all have important people and things to get to also.  So first, my Perfect Picture Book and then just one other little thing :)

Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated The World
Written (Told) By: Juliana, Isabella, and Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Gerald R. Uhlich
Photographs By: Peter Griesbach, Andre Schule, Sean Gallup,  Rainer Jensen and others.
Scholastic Press, November 2007
Suitable For: ages 5 and up
Themes/Topics: animals, endangered animals, caring, environmentalism
Opening:  "One December afternoon, in a cozy, dark enclosure in a zoo in Berlin, Germany, a polar bear cub was born."
Brief Synopsis:  This is the true story of Knut, a newborn polar bear whose mother was unable to care for him.  Thomas Dorflein, a bear keeper at the zoo, became Knut's "foster father" - bottle feeding him, bathing him, sleeping beside him and teaching him to play and swim.  Knut was loved the world over, and helped bring recognition to the plight of polar bears, endangered by the potential loss of their habitat.

Links to resources:  Knut Teaching Resources.  This link has subsequent links to activities, video clips, articles, and other animals-against-adversity stories.  The back of the book also has lots of information about polar bears, how they are threatened, and how you can help.

Why I Like This Book:  It's a true story, and a deeply touching one, that is also educational and informative.  The photographs are gorgeous and very appealing.  It shows that there are people in the world who care enough to sacrifice a great deal to help someone else - even if that someone else happens to be a baby polar bear.  The book brings attention to ecological concerns, the environment, and caring for all species, and lists ways kids can help.

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

(For those of you also posting a Perfect Picture Book today, please remember to put your link on the list below.)

And now, for the one other little thing.

The Holiday Contest is officially closed with a grand total of 29 fabulous entries (28 on the link list and one in the comment section.)  I will post finalists on Monday (and yes, Penny and Cathy, I will probably be needing some of that Red Bull because I was very ambitious thinking I was going to have time for this on top of all the other Christmas activities!!)  Of course, I've read them all already, but making decisions about which are best is going to be VERY hard. You guys have cut my work out for me :)

And now, Happy Holidays to everyone!  I wish you all love, health, peace and joy :)

December 19, 2011

The Holiday Contest Is Here!

Grab your mug of hot chocolate and settle in for some serious fun!  The week we've all been waiting for is finally here :)

Yes, Hanukah and Christmas of course, but also the world famous Holiday Contest!!!  (Or, if it isn't world famous yet it soon will be!)

The First Annual Holiday Contest is officially open!  Post your own version of Clement C. Moore's traditional poem 'Twas The Night Before Christmas.  Your entry must be at least 12 lines/3 stanzas, not to exceed 40 lines/10 stanzas.  Entries may refer to any winter holiday you celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) or to any combination of winter holidays, or no holiday - just a good winter-time story if you're not comfortable with a holiday.  And if the idea of writing in rhyme strikes fear and loathing into your heart, you may write a prose version not to exceed 350 words (and if anyone dares suggest you're wimping out well then you just tell them to talk to me!)

Entries must be posted on your blogs or, if you don't have a blog, copied and pasted into the comments on my blog between now and Thursday December 22 at 11:59 PM EST.  Once your entry is posted, please add the direct link of your post to the link list below.  There will be no Would You Read It, and hence no new Wednesday post this week, so this post with any entries in the comments and the link list will remain up for the duration of the contest, making it easy for everyone to read all the entries!

And the prize, lest you may have forgotten?  My lovely assistant judge and I will choose 3 finalists for you to vote on Monday December 26 (so you'll still have something to look forward to even after you've opened your presents :))  The winner will receive their choice of a $15 Amazon gift card (to buy themselves whatever book they really wanted and didn't get as a holiday gift :)) or the 2012 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market!

We got 21 entries for the Thanksgiving Contest which was SO much fun!  Let's see if we can beat that!

As an aside, before I post my just-for-fun sample entry, I just have to tell you that any mention of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas automatically makes me think of Larry The Cable Guy's "'Twas The Night Before A Non-Denominational Winter Holiday" - the supposedly  PC version of this holiday tale.  If you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out, but I can't in good conscience link to it here on my child-friendly blog because it is a bit off color :)  (Still, if you've seen it or if you watch it, let me know what you think!  I confess it causes me to ROTFL :))

Okay then, boys and girls, I hope you're ready for some truly epic poetry :)

'Twas The Night Before Christmas
by Susanna

‘Twas the night before Christmas and at the North Pole
The workshop was totally out of control.
And what do you think had come out of the blue
To cause all this riotous hullaballoo?

A phone call delivering notification -
The reindeer had won a Hawaiian vacation!
“Pack up your suitcases!  Do not delay!
Your splendid vacation begins right away!”

“Hawaii!” the reindeer cried out in delight.
“Palm trees and sand, not a snowflake in sight!
It’s the chance of a lifetime, dear Santa,” they said.
“That may be,” replied Santa, “but who’ll pull my sled?

All ‘round the world there are good girls and boys
Who are counting on us to deliver their toys.
We can’t let them down just so you can have fun
Swimming and surfing and soaking up sun.”

“You’re right, “said the reindeer.  “Of course we must stay.
Forget the vacation.  We’ll hitch up the sleigh.”
The reindeer went off to their work looking sad
And Santa was left feeling pretty darn bad.

“Poor Dasher and Dancer and all the reindeer.
They deserve a vacation.  They’re good every year!”
“I know!” said his wife with a smile on her face.
“Perhaps someone else could go out in their place!

But who could we get to come out right away?
Who would be able to pull that huge sleigh?”
“Great Scott!” hollered Santa, “I’ve got just the scheme!
Cousin Ira’s Alaskan Iditarod team!”

Santa knew his last minute request would be iffy
But Ira was ready to help in a jiffy.
When Santa was packed, set to be on his way,
Eight eager huskies were hitched to the sleigh.

“On Putter!  On Pookie!  On Piggy and Pup!
Good heavens!” said Santa, “who thought these names up?
And how in the world do you make these dogs go?”
“You just have to use a command that they know.

Mush, puppies! Mush!” Ira spoke to his crew.
Then up in the air and away they all flew.
And Santa exclaimed ere they drove out of reach,
“Merry Christmas, dear reindeer, have fun at the beach!” 

Now then, if that doesn't cause fear and loathing of rhyme I don't know what will! :)

I literally CANNOT WAIT! to read all your entries!  They will surely be better than that one!

So.  To the entries!  Please post the direct link to your holiday contest post in the list below or paste your entry in the comments!  Let the fun begin!!!

P.S. Although we won't be having Would You Read It this week, we will still be having Perfect Picture Books on Friday so be sure to stop back for that!

December 16, 2011

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, Plus Straight From The Editor #4 and a Surprise!

I promised you an action-packed Friday and here it comes!  I hope you're eating your Wheaties this morning :)
We'll start with the Perfect Picture Book, so as to keep that at the top and easy to find.  But the agenda will include November's Straight From The Editor and SUCH an awesome surprise that I will only blame you a little if you have to scroll down quickly and take a sneak peek!  Just scroll back up again so you don't miss anything :)

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
Written and Illustrated By: Robert Barry
Doubleday Books For Young Readers, October 2000 (originally Random House 1963)
Suitable For: ages 4 and up
Theme/Topics: Christmas, sharing, optimism, "waste not, want not".
Opening and brief synopsis:  "Mr. Wiilowby's Christmas tree came by special delivery.  Full and fresh and glistening green - the biggest tree he had ever seen."  But to his dismay the tree is too tall!  He calls upon his butler to chop off the top, and so begins the tale of a Christmas tree that brings joy to homes of all kinds.  Over and over the top of the tree is trimmed, becoming a tree for smaller and smaller homes.  Instead of serving only one family, Mr Willowby's tree becomes a tree for seven.  Children will be delighted when they see where the last, smallest piece of the tree ends up!

Links To Resources:  Mr. Willowby Activities, Stacking Trees, Preschool Discussion Topics, Gift Tag Activity.

Why I Like This Book:  Catchy rhyme, a charming story and a theme of generosity and making the best of whatever comes along all combine to make this a delightful holiday tale.  From Mr. Willowby right down to the last recipient, each character uses just what he or she needs and the rest goes on to someone else.  Nobody says it isn't big enough.  Rather, they all feel overly blessed.  The art is warm and engaging, with each little home and family cozier than the last.

If you haven't read Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, get thee to a library right quick :)

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

Next, it's time for Straight From The Editor!  You will recall Dee's pitch:

Working Title:  Hating Ric
Age/Genre: YA Verse
Pitch:  On the day of his brother, Jason's funeral, 17 year-old Ric's anger explodes, and he races Jason's car through the streets, crashing and badly injuring jogger, Kate.  Ric is sent to a juvenile justice centre, where survivor guilt and grief set him on a reckless destruction course. Help comes through his music and from an unexpected source in Kate who is struggling to put her own life back together.

And here are Erin's comments:

This needs to be short and sweet. Your long sentences are somewhat confusing and an editor would have to read it twice to figure out what you are saying. Basically, Ric is angry after his brother’s death. Did he cause it, was he with him? Is that why you’re implying survivor’s guilt? Be more to the point. You want the reader to be intrigued, not guessing. And don’t be afraid to use cliché’s. Sometimes they can get the point across quickly and in fewer words. Can you say Kate is battling her own demons? Something like that. I think an editor will be intrigued if it’s more direct and to the point.

I find Erin's comments very interesting and helpful, and I hope you all do, too!

And now... duhn duhn duhn... the moment you've all been waiting for... duhn duhn duhn....  THE SURPRISE!!!

This is really for all of you, so I hope you like it!  Think of it as my little holiday gift to you :)

Presenting, the Perfect Picture Book Badge!  LOOK!
Badge designed by Loni Edwards
Is it just me, or does everyone totally love it?  I just can't get over how cute that little guy is, reading a perfect picture book to his little buggy friends! :)  Anyone who participates in Perfect Picture Book Fridays may lift this badge for their blog.  It would be super fantastic if you could link the badge back to Perfect Picture Books.  It will soon be appearing in my sidebar, but I didn't want to spoil the surprise this morning :)

So now I must tell you about the extraordinarily talented artist who created this badge.  I know this will come as a shock to you - especially those of you who have had the opportunity to witness my unrivaled drawing skills (tee hee) but I did NOT draw this.  I know.  Nearly impossible to believe :)

This gorgeous badge was designed for all of us by the incomparable Loni Edwards.

Loni, please be so kind as to tell us a little about yourself!

Loni:  I am a digital artist, although I have been known to dabble in watercolor, acrylics and pen & ink.  The core of my art is digital though.  It is created by using Photoshop techniques and a Wacom tablet.  I sketch out my idea, then scan it into Photoshop where I ink and color.  Influences are Charles Schulz, Jim Davis, Walt Disney Studios, and many artists that I have come into contact with mostly through social networking.

I attended the Art Institute of Seattle where I had the opportunity to take a class with William E. Cummings, a Pacific Northwest painter.  His use of color and movement influenced me greatly.  I love to use bright, bold colors in my art.  It is rare that you see me do anything else.  I also like to incorporate joy and humor in my art.

Loni's picture for Project Smile
illustration copyright Loni Edwards
I have participated in a lot of volunteer events, such as Heroes4Haiti, Art4Japan, and the Ripple Project. One that is special to me is the Project "Smile".  It is based in Poland.  The exhibit collects picture/art smiles and autographs.  It is then toured in children's hospitals exhibiting around the world.  My piece was included in the exhibit that was seen in Cairo, Egypt.  It is a wonderful exhibit, and I hope someday soon it makes its way to the United States.

I have also participated in a number of artistic challenges, including PiBoIdMo 3 years in a row.

Thanks so much, Loni, both for sharing all that and for creating this beautiful badge that we will all be able to proudly display on our blogs!

For those of you who are as impressed as I am with Loni's art - who might be looking for someone with artistic talent to help you with any number of projects - Loni is available for book cover design, children's book illustration, spot illustrations, character design, greeting cards, and private commissions.  I hope you'll take a few minutes to visit her website and blog and see what she has to offer!  You can also "Like" Loni on Face Book and follow her on twitter @LoniEdwards.  Here are a couple other samples of her art, one in the holiday spirit, and one to show that she does draw people too :)
illustrations copyright Loni Edwards
illustrations copyright Loni Edwards
PHEW!  You're going to be needing another bowl of Wheaties after all that!  Sorry it was so long, but everything just piled up onto today!  I hope you like the badge and enjoyed meeting Loni!

So now, go have a great weekend everyone, and remember, the Holiday Contest opens bright and early Monday morning!  (Please scroll down that link to see the rules.)  I can't wait to read all of your stories!!!

(And don't forget, if you posted a Perfect Picture Book, please put your link in the list below!)

December 14, 2011

Would You Read It Wednesday - The 20th Pitch

HINT For Beth's Birthday Hunt Clue #11

ths   s    hnt
this is a hint

If you still don't get it, email me :)

Well, folks, I'm sorry to report that there's still no news from the Editor, and today I can't dawdle because I won't be able to post later.  So Straight From The Editor will have to wait for Friday - which looks like it's going to be totally action-packed because I have SO much to share then.  But we'll get to that in a second :)

Before I forget, for those of you who might not have seen it, the wonderful Abby from Something To Write About had me as a guest on her blog yesterday.  Please pop over if you'd like to read the interview (or just to show Abby some bloggy love)!

And check out this excitement!  Beer Is Zo Moe! (my Dutch book which, for our English-speaking audience (I'm assuming that's most of us) is Bear Is So Tired!) made an appearance at the Antwerp Book Fair in Belgium!  Look at it, up there with all those other books, so famous :)  I'm going to go out on a limb and guess "kinderboeken" means "kids' books" but you've got me on "jeugdboeken" - some other kind of book is as close as I can get!
What?  You can't see it?  How about if I zoom in a little :)
Ah, that's better.  And look how much more pronounceable of a title it has than some of those others :)

Also, Nicole made a coloring page to go along with it.  Want to see?
Isn't it cute?

Okay.  Enough of that.  Go get your coffee/tea/hot chocolate/steamer/mulled cider or whatever you're imbibing this morning and your Something Chocolate (it is Wednesday!) - I've got a lovely pan of freshly baked brownies on my kitchen counter for my daughter's study group this evening - they probably won't notice if one's missing - and I think a brownie would make an excellent breakfast :) - but I digress. Get your snack and settle in.  It's time for Would You Read It!

Today's pitch comes to us from Vicki, a French teacher who can count to 10 in 7 languages and has forgotten how in 3 others :)  She writes MG and YA fiction and blogs at All The World's In Words.  Here is her pitch:

Working Title:  Finding Sophie
Age/Genre:  YA
The Pitch:  When Sophie is forced backward in time to 1895 Paris, she takes the identity of a missing Jewish girl and falls for a young Zionist. As the window home closes, Sophie must decide whether to unlock a mysterious heirloom’s secrets and return to her own life of a potential prima ballerina, or live as someone else in the past and lose herself 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 Vicki 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.  SIDE NOTE:  Would You Read It is booked only through January, so there are lots of openings ahead.  Please send pitches and spread the word to your writerly friends :)

Vicki is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!

Please join us on Friday for Perfect Picture Books, AND (pretend this is flashing neon!) something SO EXCITING it's going to knock your socks right off!  I wish I could show you now, but it's not quite ready, and it has to be perfect, so you're just going to have to wait until Friday!

I can't wait to share it!  :)

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