September 28, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Mossy

Thank goodness for Perfect Picture Book Friday!  It gives me an excuse to sit in the library or bookstore and read picture books :)

Today's choice is brand new from one of my favorite author/illustrators.  I hope you like it :)

Written & Illustrated By: Jan Brett
Putnam Juvenile, September 2012

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: consideration, kindness, animals in their natural habitat, perspective

Opening: "On a misty, moisty morning, a young turtle stood at the edge of Lilypad Pond.  Her name was Mossy."

Brief Synopsis: Mossy loves her pond.  She spends so much time in the damp coolness that first moss and then a garden grow on her carapace.  One day, she meets a handsome turtle named Scoot who thinks she's very beautiful, but just as they are on the verge of becoming friends, Dr. Carolina and Tory spot Mossy.  "She is perfect for the museum!" declares Dr. Carolina.  And so Mossy is carried away from her beloved pond and her new friend.  Dr Carolina gives her everything she thinks a turtle needs, but fails to understand that Mossy already had everything she needed.  It is Tory who sees that Mossy is sad.  So they come up with a way to keep Mossy at the museum but also give her what her heart desires.

Links To Resources:  The back jacket flap of the book tells about the real incident that inspired this story for Jan Brett.  The book provides a wonderful opportunity for discussion about animals in the wild vs. animals in captivity.  Why might it be good to take an animal out of its natural habitat?  Why might it be bad?  Have you ever captured anything (perhaps a caterpillar, a frog or toad, or a garter snake?) and kept it for a while?  How long did you keep it?  What happened to it?  Did you put it back where you found it?  A New York Times Q&A with Jan Brett about Mossy.  Jan Brett Coloring Pages (Mossy isn't here yet, but she may show up!)  Jan Brett Activity Pages (also no Mossy yet, but lots of other fun things to choose from!)

Why I Like This Book: Well, to start with, it's a Jan Brett :)  That means a good story and gorgeous art!  Add to that the fact that it's about a turtle who is a walking garden and what's not to like? :)  But the part I like best is how Tory realizes that Mossy isn't happy in captivity and makes sure that she is returned to her beloved pond.  It's a beautiful tale about doing what's right for someone else, and realizing when you've made a mistake (even with good intentions.)

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

I only have one other thing to tell you today, and that is that I have managed (hopefully) to at least completely update the alphabetical list of Perfect Picture Books.  Not the theme lists.  Not the blogger lists.  And the alphabetical list does not have all the ages and categories yet.  But all the titles and all the links are there so you can at least see every book that's been done so far!  Baby steps :)  There are an amazing number!

Ooh!  Let's have a game!  You have to be on the honor system though and not just go to the Perfect Picture Book page and count!  Promise?  The game is, guess how many books are on the list as of last Friday (Sept. 21)?  (Not counting double!) (And remembering that we started Perfect Picture Books last November, but took nearly a three month break in the summer!)

Put your number guess in the comments!  Whoever gets the closest wins a pack of my brand new, unrivaled, awe-inspiring Story Sparker Cards, fun for writers, teachers, and families on long car rides :)!  (Unless the winner happens to be a Summer Short & Sweet 8 Week Finisher - they already got the Story Sparker Cards, so if it's one of them, they'll have to settle for the candy bar (or two) of their choice :))

Alrighty, then!  PPBF bloggers be sure to put your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see this week's choices.  And before you leave here, put your guess as to how many picture books are on the list so far (up through last week - 9/21/12) in the comments!

Have a great weekend, everyone! :)

September 26, 2012

Would You Read It Wednesday #59 - Untitled Picture Book!

Goede Woensdag!

I'm practicing my Dutch.  All of it.

How am I doing?

Do I sound like a native yet?

"Goede Woensdag" is supposed to mean "good Wednesday", which is as close to "happy Wednesday" as I could get with my language tutor... google translator :)

I'm pretty sure the Dutch are famous for their chocolate - I am technically Dutch after all, and I am very fond of chocolate -  I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this...  I think that makes it a perfect language to speak on Would You Read It Woensdag while we are snacking on Iets Chocolade (Something Chocolate!).  I may go healthy this morning and have strawberries dipped in chocolate.  I'm feeling virtuous :)

So let's see... I have a few things on my mind...  I just can't seem to remember what any of them are right now....

Oh, yes!

As you know, I am having an epic battle with my comments which is driving me nuts.  I would love to know everyone's opinion:  should I continue to try to get Disqus to work, even though I am unable to communicate with intelligent life over there and for nearly four weeks now they have alternately ignored my pleas for help and failed to answer my questions, OR should I cut Disqus loose even though it means losing 22 months of comments on this blog (that's ALL of them, if you're wondering!)  This is like one of those agonizing "would you rather" questions - you know, like would you rather be bald or covered in hair (a question I'm sure you all devote a lot of thought to :)) - neither alternative bears thinking about!

So that was one thing.  PLEASE tell me what you think I should do.  Or better yet, tell me if you know how to FIX THIS PROBLEM!

Another thing was, I wanted to let you all know that if you need bookmarks, postcards, flyers, or other swag of various types, Alison Hertz is your one stop shop!  Sorry if it sounds like we suddenly took a break for a word from our sponsors :) but she is amazing!  She designed 2 brand new book marks for me - one for Punxsutawney Phyllis and one for Can't Sleep Without Sheep - and they are gorgeous!  Want to see?

sorry you have to turn sideways for this one :)

Aren't they great?  They have very nice backs to, but this is the pretty side :)

Alison is wonderful to work with, does a superb job for a reasonable price, she's prompt, and she makes the process so easy that even I can do my part (and here I'm talking about how she delivered the book marks to me exactly the way they needed to be done so that I could upload them to gotprint without breaking the internet or causing a rift in the space-time continuum.)  Need I say more?

So definitely email her if you need anything like that!

So, I'm pretty sure there was something else... it'll come to me at 4 in the morning... but let's move on to our pitch for today, shall we?

Today's pitch comes to us from the lovely and talented Catherine.  She is a British Ex-pat living in Canada with her family. She writes picture books and children's poetry. You can find her on her blog at 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title:  She doesn't have one!  She needs your help!  Please make suggestions!
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Lord Flatulence and Lady Piddle have to make leave of their plumber, Mr. U-Bend for an emergency in the neighbouring kingdom. Mr. U-Bend is accosted en-route by the village paupers and their plumbing requirements so the Princesses in the neighbouring Kingdom set off to find Mr. U-Bend, but so too does Prince Constant, son of Lord Flatulence and the most needy of all subjects to keep his plumber to himself.

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 Catherine 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 November, so you have time to polish :) for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Catherine is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to your opinion on my Dutch accent and on what I should do about my comment situation.  Which reminds me, I would like to mention that Catherine is one of the people who is unable to comment on my blog... aarrgghhh!... so she will send her comments to me and I will post them but say they're from her.  Foolish, I realize, but I can't think how else to do it.  Therefore, be on the lookout for her comments/replies to you in boxes with my name on them!  I don't like to give vent to strong language, but right now I am not very happy with Disqus!

Chocolate covered strawberry anyone?

Have a goede Woensdag! :)

September 24, 2012

Oh Susanna - If It's Been Posted On My Blog, Can I Still Submit To Publishers? And The August Pitch Pick Winner!

Happy Monday, my friends!  I hope you all had lovely, restful weekends and you're rarin' to go :)

Let's start the high jinx and shenanigans this morning with the August Pitch Pick winner, shall we?

I must say, I'm really enjoying the new system whereby everyone gets a chance to improve their pitch.  Thanks to all the helpful reader comments, and diligent application by our steadfast pitchers, the pitches for the pitch pick are all significantly better, don't you think?  Of course, it makes it even harder to choose a winner! :)

But the voters have spoken, and the winner of the August Pitch Pick is KIMBERLEY and her pitch for Saturdays With Fish!!!  Congratulations, Kimberley!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for a read, and you will no doubt hear from her soon :)  And congratulations to all who pitched - you all did an excellent job and pitched very interesting and creative stories!  Best of luck with them!

Phew!  That was a lot of excitement for first thing Monday morning!  I think a small sustaining snack is in order :)  Perhaps a wee nap :)

Alrighty then.  Everyone fortified?  Onward!

We haven't had the chance for an Oh Susanna question for a while because the person in charge around here keeps bumping them for other things, like Short & Sweets, and contests, and other tomfoolery.  But today, we shall forge ahead with a question that has been waiting patiently since about June.

The question is, "Oh Susanna, I have a couple of poems that people have suggested would make good picture books. I’ve toyed with both of them and think they would indeed be fun PBs, but written in prose, and obviously very (though not completely) different from the poems. Do you think agents and publishers would have a problem with the fact that the manuscript is based on a poem already published on my blog, even if the ms is in prose and clearly fleshed out into a proper story?"

This is a very interesting question...

It's true that many agents and publishers do not like to accept material that has been previously published on a blog.  Their reasoning is, essentially, that if people have already seen it and read it for free, why would they now want to pay for it?  This is especially true of a work that has been published in its entirety.  (And by published, I don't mean traditionally published, but any type of posting on the internet, or self-published, where a large number of people have had access to it.)

However, (as always :)), there are exceptions.  In the case of a longer work, like a novel, if only a small teaser or single chapter has been posted, it may give agents and editors a chance to glimpse the quality of your work and become interested without giving away the farm.  If you happen to be Amanda Hocking and self-publish and sell millions of copies, there will also probably be publishers willing to pick up your book :)

In a case such as you're describing, you are probably safe for a couple reasons.

First, unless your blog has a huge readership, it's very likely that your work has yet to be viewed by the entire English-reading population.  You can pull the posts that contain the material and no one else has to see it.

Second, you have not published them in the format a publisher would be trying to sell.  They were posted as poems but will be submitted to agents and publishers in prose.  The submitted version of the stories may be expanded or changed from the originals, so what you initially posted isn't really the same.

Finally, if you intend them to be picture books, the stories will eventually be married to someone's art, which will give it a whole other level and impact than the original unillustrated poem.  The publisher could well end up with something that bears little resemblance to the original post.

I think you could likely submit in this case without a problem. Just be sure to take down any posts that contain the material, or just remove that specific material from the posts if there are other things in them that you want to leave up.

I would very much love for other knowledgable readers out there to chime in on this issue, though.  Do you think this answer is right?  Or have you had specific experiences that lead you to believe otherwise?  Please share!  We may all have something to learn!

Have a wonderful day, everyone! :)

September 21, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Nugget And Darling

Well, you will all be glad to know that, after 2 days in which Central Hudson did not make any money off the folks on Blueberry Hill, the power came back on yesterday!  Woo-hoo!  We were thankful not to have to do a Little House In The Big Woods version of bathing night... :)

The pitch pick poll is coming along swimmingly, but if you haven't had a chance to vote yet, please hop over if you'd like to!  You've got until midnight :)

In case anyone is interested, the last thing I did before we lost power on Tuesday was update the Would You Read It list so that it now includes all the working titles.  I think it's ever so much nicer :)  (And yes, I know!  PPBF is next - a much bigger job!)

Clearly, I am suffering from power-outage-induced brain fog or something, because I have nothing else to ramble on about today!  Shocking, I know.  The mind reels.  But there's nothing for it but to get right on to those Perfect Picture Books :)

Nugget & Darling
Written By:  Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrated By:  Sue Truesdell
Clarion Books, 1997, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 5-8

Themes/Topics: emotions (jealousy), learning to adjust, sibling rivalry, consideration of others

Opening:  "When Nell was cold, Nugget kept her feet warm.  When she was sad, Nugget pretended he was a jack-in-the-box.  Sometimes they did magic tricks.  Nell wore a swirly purple cape and waved a sparkly wand.  Nugget wore rabbit ears."

Brief Synopsis:  Nell and her dog Nugget are best buddies - they play together and share secrets, Nugget cheers Nell when she's sad and Nell scratches him behind his ears, the place he loves best - until one day Nugget finds a little wet kitten.  Nell takes the kitten home, and suddenly Nugget doesn't feel like top dog any more.

Links To Resources:  I couldn't find any online resources for this story - not even one!  But though the "child" characters in this book are a dog and a cat, the theme of sibling rivalry is strong, and this story makes an excellent springboard for discussing feelings of jealousy or displacement that might occur in a family with a new sibling, or any other similar situation that gives rise to these feelings.  The book is particularly helpful because it's about animals, giving kids a little needed distance from a difficult and uncomfortable topic.  Read the story and ask your kids to tell how they think each of the characters - Nell, Nugget, and Darling - feel.  Ask them who they think has the hardest time.  Talk about differences in perspective.  Encourage them to role play the different characters' parts - how could Nell or Darling have made things easier for Nugget?  How could Nugget have made things easier for himself?  Do they think one character did things "right" and another did them "wrong"?

Why I Like This Book:  This is a lovely story about remembering what's important.  Nell and Nugget love each other, but after the kitten comes, Nugget feels displaced, which leads to jealousy and dejection.  Nugget has to learn to accept Darling, and also that Nell has room in her heart for both of them.  Nell has to learn that paying too much attention to the new kitten makes her old friend feel sad, and that it's important to make sure they both feel loved.  This is a wonderful story for children with a new sibling, or for kids whose best friend may be spending a little too much time with somebody new.

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

So now, if all you delightful PPBF bloggers would kindly put your post-specific links into the list below, we'll all come visit and stock up our reading list for the weekend!  I can't wait to see what everyone has chosen this week!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and may the force (of fully functioning electricity and modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing and coffee makers) be with you :)

September 19, 2012

Would You Read It Wednesday #58 - Confessions Of The Tomato Turner, And Pitch Pick #12

You guys are probably wondering where the heck I've been all morning.  I mean, come on!  It's Would You Read It Wednesday!

I know!  I feel terrible!  Poor Vivian has no doubt been thinking I forgot her :(  I assure you, nothing could be farther from the truth!  I have been agonizing over my lack of foresight and worrying that her time is getting cut into and people may end up missing her day :(

Here's what happened:  heavy rain blew in yesterday accompanied by high winds with gusts over 60 mph... and in the Back of Beyond where I live, that means no power and no internet.

I've been like a little pioneer girl.  Just call me Laura Ingalls :)  Except last night we got pizza... I don't think Laura did that :)

Now, if I wasn't always playing catch-up, I might have had today's post written and ready to go.  But my plan was to write it last evening during homework time... and that didn't happen because we were looking for candles and contemplating bailing out the basement.

No worries, I thought.  Surely the power will be restored by the time I get up at 5:15 AM... I'll just write the post then and it will still get out on time.

Yeah.  Not so much.  We still have no power.  We made coffee in a saucepan this morning.  Need I say more?

See?  I told you - Laura Ingalls :)

So after my morning chores I hied my way over hill and dale to the nearest Barnes & Noble (because in the Back of Beyond we don't have handy wi-fi Starbucks at every country intersection) where I am currently sitting, casting longing glances at the triple chocolate brownies (but it's only 11 AM - a little early for triple chocolate?  what do you think?  I think after coffee from a saucepan a little overly-decadent pre-noon chocolate is permitted!) and typing like the wind to get the long-awaited pitch pick and Vivian's pitch up before you all give up in despair and determine that I've been eaten by a hungry black bear.

So no more chit chat.  Here are the pitches from August for you to choose from.  Everyone chose to update, so you can see how much they all improved thanks to you!

#1 Randy
Charlie The Chimney Mouse (PB)
Charlie is looking forward to the holiday season when the unthinkable happens. His human family moves away. He celebrates the holidays anyway, but the songs, the feasts, and the parties are not the same without someone to share it. Charlie offers one last song from his heart and receives a visit from a special holiday guest who brings more than a sack of presents.

#2 Patricia
Two Orange Pups On The Trail Of The Perfect Ball (PB)
Which pup in town owns the perfect ball?  For the Two Orange Pups, that’s quite a tough call.  Is it Babe with her baseball, Mario with his meatball, or one of the other pups they meet?  Find out whether the pair is on the right trail to discover the perfect ball, or whether it’s really the trail that’s the perfect part of this tale!

#3 Sharron
Nothing But Blue Skies (Upper MG Fantasy)
Wizards have turned the world topsy-turvy. The sky is green. The grass is purple. Streams are pale pink. A fourteen-year old princess is the key to saving her world. But – not as a girl. A dragon’s tear transforms her into a prince. To triumph over magic, she must find out who she is and who she wants to be. Through it all, she must defeat the wizards, change her world back, and save her brother.

#4 Rachel
Princess Azalea's Two Left Feet (PB)
Princess Azalea can't dance. And if she can't dance, she can't meet a prince at a royal ball. Her mother, the Queen, is determined to get her dancing no matter what! Azalea, however, isn't sure a prince is worth all this hullabaloo. Will Princess Azalea learn to twirl and spin without falling on her royal bottom? Or will she find her happily ever after her own way?

#5 Kimberley (PB)
Saturdays With Fish
Libby and her stepdad go fishing on Saturday to leave the loud city behind and find the peace of a quiet pond. It is there they find joy as simple and warm as the sun. At the pond they fish, chat, and eat a picnic lunch without any disruptions. When Libby accidentally hooks a bullfrog, the spell may be broken. Can they find their way back to quiet?

Please cast your vote for who's pitch should go for a read by editor Erin Molta by 11:59PM EDT Friday September 21.

And now, onto today's pitch from the lovely Vivian, author of Show Me How and fabulous blogger at Positive Parental Participation.

Working Title: Confessions Of The Tomato Turner
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch:  Distracted by a noisy woodpecker, four-year old Peter looks away from his task and pulls up a baby tomato plant instead of a weed.  Clutching the sad spindly seedling in his hand, Peter has a decision to make...tell his mom what he has done or hide the evidence in the compost pile.

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.)

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 November, so you have time to polish :) for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Vivian is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to getting power back because it turns out I'm not really cut out to be a pioneer :)

Apologies for the messed up scheduling today, and thank you all for bearing with me :)  Have a great (rest of the) day!

September 17, 2012

Short And Sweet

Well, here we are.  It's Monday September 17 and I promised you a Short & Sweet, so a Short & Sweet we shall have!  And just look at this beautiful, updated badge we have to go along with our non-summer Short & Sweets!  Thank you, Loni :)
badge created by Loni Edwards
Actually, now that I think about it, Monday seems like a good day for Short & Sweets - a good way to get those writing gears greased up and ready to go for a productive writing week, don't you think?

Given the extreme hecticness of the last couple weeks, as we've all striven (is that even a word?) to get our kids back to school, or get used to doing homework again, or tried to vacuum ourselves out from under the dog hair mound (oh, is that just me?) we will be very short and sweet today - nothing too taxing.

Let's make up fun characters, shall we?  Since it's Monday morning, I'll give you the chance to think on your own, but I'll also give you options to choose blindly in case your brain isn't quite awake yet :)

Here's what to do:

1.  Choose a name you like, male or female, any kind of name, e.g. Harper, Frisky, Stinky Pete.
     Too broad, too vague, too wide open for this hour on Monday morning?  I'll give you a list to choose from :)  Pick a number from 1-10 (no peeking!) and use the name you get.

     1. Sophie
     2. Alex
     3. Rocky
     4. Kyle
     5. Princess
     6. Lindsay
     7. Becca
     8. Ethan
     9. Tiger
    10. Taylor

2.  Pick 4 descriptive traits, e.g. cautious, hopeful, athletic, smart
     Again, if you need choices, I'll give you some.  Pick 4 letters from A to Z (no peeking) and use the traits you get.

     A= argumentative  B= bold  C= curious  D= desperate  E= eager  F= feisty  G= grateful  H= home-loving  I= impatient  J= joyful  K= kind  L= lazy  M= mean  N= nosy  O= opinionated  P= passionate  Q= quiet  R= rambunctious  S= serious  T= tired  U= unimaginative  V= vacillating  W= worried  X= extra (I know that doesn't really begin with x!)  Y= yellow  Z= zippy

3.  Pick one: only child or sibling of.  If you choose sibling of, list names of siblings.
     example:  only child
     example: sibling of Howard, Henry and Hugo

4.  Pick two things your character loves, e.g. elephants and birthday cake
     Need help?  Let's go with the letters again, that was fun :)  Pick 2 letters from A-Z and use the things you get.

     A= apples  B=bears  C= cacti  D= dinosaurs  E= easter eggs  F= flowers  G= giants  H= hotdogs  I=   ice cream  J= jumping rope  K= kite-flying  L= licorice  M= mountains  N= nighttime  O= ocean  P= pumpkins  Q= quilts  R= racing  S= snow  T= traveling  U= umbrellas  V= violin  W= white-water rafting  X= extra helpings (yeah, I know that doesn't really start with x either :))  Y= yodeling  Z= zip-lining

5.  Pick something your character fears, e.g. spiders
     Can't think of anything?  Choose a number from 1- 20 and go with what you get.

     1= the dark  2= snakes  3= the dentist  4= being alone  5= getting a haircut  6= going to school 7= having a babysitter  8= losing a tooth  9= falling off a bike  10= heights  11= going on an airplane  12= going to sleep-away camp  13= swimming  14= ghosts  15= thunderstorms  16= loud noises  17= big dogs  18= talking to new people  19= bad dreams  20= monsters

6.  Pick something your character wants, e.g. to learn to ride a bike
     Need inspiration?  Choose a number from 1-20 - you know the drill :)

     1= a pet  2= to go to the moon  3= to be famous  4= to be in the school play  5= a brother or sister  6= to stay up later  7= to be independent  8= to be brave  9= to have a best friend  10= to go to the circus  11= to get allowance  12= to go camping  13= to bake a cake  14= to be good at something  15= to be popular  16= to lose a tooth  17= to be first  18= to feel important  19= to be listened to/recognized  20= to get a job

Now.   Put your character all together in the comments like this:

     short, loyal, adventurous, brave
     sibling of Pete
     lover of horses and going fast
     who fears being invisible
     and wants a pony of her own

If you want, write the opening of a story about your character, for example:

     Sometimes Jemima was a little too brave for her own good.  Like the time Pete dared her to climb to the top of the apple tree... and she ended up with her arm in a cast for 6 weeks.

The idea here is that, with lots of participants, we'll generate a great list of possible characters, any of which might spark a story idea for anyone!  The same character might spark 10 different stories in 10 people!  Have fun with it - it should be a pretty quick exercise - and feel free to do more than one! :)

I hope we'll get lots of good ideas percolating this morning!  Have a lovely day, everyone, and Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who are celebrating! :)

September 14, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Harry The Dirty Dog And International Dot Day And The Summer Contest Winner!!!

Holy Dot Day, Batman!

If you managed to read the whole title of this post, you know we have a lot on the agenda for today!  And it all has to do with dots - either directly or in a more roundabout way :)

We'll start with Perfect Picture Books, which I like to put on top so it's easy to find when people click over from the master list.  I've chosen a book about a dog with spots... which are a lot like dots.

Next up will be my Dot for International Dot Day.

Finally, just when you think you can't bear the suspense for another second, I will announce the winner of the Summer Send-Off Contest... before you go dotty!  (OK.  That was a reach :))

Ready? Set. GO!

Harry The Dirty Dog
Written By: Gene Zion
Illustrated By: Margaret Bloy Graham
Harper & Row, 1956, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 3-8

Themes/Topics: bath time, behavior (rebelliousness), facing consequences, problem solving, animals (dogs)
Opening: "Harry was a white dog with black spots who liked everything, except... getting a bath.  So one day when he heard the water running in the tub, he took the scrubbing brush... and buried it in the back yard."

Brief Synopsis:  Harry doesn't want a bath, so he hides the scrubbing brush and runs away.  All day long he plays happily, getting dirtier and dirtier, until finally, when he returns home, he's so dirty his family doesn't even recognize him.  What's a dog to do?

Links To Resources: Harry The Dirty Dog Activities, Harry The Dirty Dog read by Betty White with pictures and tasteful animation (delightful!) as well as activities.

Why I Like This Book:  I not only like this book, I love it.  I loved it as a child.  I loved it with my children.  I love it as a writer because to me it's a story that does everything right.  I think children (and adults :)) can relate to Harry's story because we all have the urge to rebel from time to time but, like Harry, in the end what we want most is to be safe and loved... even if it means having a bath :)  The art is delightful, depicting Harry as lively and lovable, culminating in the sweet last page where Harry is curled up, happily asleep and dreaming, but leaving you to wonder whether he hid that scrubbing brush to make sure he was always clean so his family would always recognize him, or whether he hid it to avoid another bath any time soon :)

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

Moving on, it's time to celebrate International Dot Day!

Following the lead of Patricia Tilton on her wonderful blog Children's Books Heal, I am joining in on International Dot Day, based on Peter H. Reynolds' picture book The Dot.  The idea is to encourage people not to be intimidated and to create their own art in the form of a dot.  This year over half a million people will participate - primarily children in classrooms - but lots of other people as well.  Celebri-dots features dots created by well-known authors and illustrators.  (Dot Day is actually September 15, but I don't post on Saturday so mine is going up today :))

I am not particularly artistic, but I had an idea for a dot.  The lovely and talented Beth Stilborn, whose computer skills leave mine in the dust, turned my idea into reality.  Thank you, Beth! :)

My dot is about love.

Love comes in many shapes and sizes.  For my daughter it comes in the shape of a polka-dot pony.  The pony is not fancy or highly bred.  She's 14.1 hands* of fine, cinnamon chip fur, with a sturdy build, a velvet-soft nose, one brown eye and one blue, and though she might not appear to be anything special, she owns my daughter's heart.  And it just so happens that two of those cinnamon dots that sprinkle her fur so liberally are heart shaped.  I am not making this up.  You can see one of them in the dot :)
(for those who might not be horse people, a hand is  the unit of measure for horses and is equal to 4". 14.1 hands means that the pony stands 57" at the withers.)
And just for fun, another dot... :)

Here is the special pony those dots and that heart belong to :)
my daughter counted the pony's spots one day and in case you're wondering, she has 791! :)
and the poem my daughter wrote about her:

Chestnut, chestnut, chestnut spots
Appaloosa polka-dots.
How many little chestnut spots?
Lots and lots and lots and lots!
                    by Little Hill 5

So there you have it.  My polka-dot pony love dot :)

So I guess that's it, right?  We'll wrap up and head out to read everyone's Perfect Picture Books....


OH!  You want to know who won the contest?

Well.  Okay :)

I've got to tell you, somehow this turned out to be the closest contest we've ever had here and that's saying something because everyone is so talented that the contests are always close.  In this case, however, the contestants were literally neck and neck.  First one would pull ahead, then another.  It was  a serious nail-biter!  In the end though, we did have a clear winner.  And that was...



Congratulations, Erik!  Well done!

And to all the other finalists, excellent job as well.  And to everyone who entered, you are all amazingly talented and creative people and it was a joy to read every single entry!  Thanks to everyone for participating.

Erik, you may email me at your convenience and choose your prize :)  And since we only had 15 entries, I'm only giving a prize for first place.  (If we'd had over 20 entries I would have included 2nd and 3rd place prizes, but now you'll just have to wait for the Halloweensie Contest on October 31st for that! :))

Although I don't usually add the placement of all the finalists, in this case it was such a close race that I thought you (and they) might like to know how well they did:
1st: Erik
2nd: Sidney
3rd: Vivian
4th: Romelle
5th: TIE: Jess and Lauri

So now, my lovelies, if all the PPBF bloggers would kindly leave their post specific links in the list below, we shall all come visit - the best part of Friday :)

Have a great weekend, everyone! :)

September 12, 2012

Would You Read It Wednesday # 57 - Buff The Magic Dragon (PB)

Mornin' folks!

A couple orders of business real quick:

#1 - if you have not voted for who you think should win the Summer Send-Off Contest please do!  My goodness it is a tight race!  We need every vote we can get!

#2 - I realized when I went to write this post that it was meant to include the August Pitch Pick.  Except we have a new policy these days.  Pitchers have the opportunity to take the feedback you gave them and submit a new version of their pitch for the Pitch Pick.  And I didn't email anyone to remind them... so I don't have the pitches.  Therefore, you are excused from pitch-picking today and I'll have to squeeze it in somewhere else... probably next Wednesday because there are just too many high jinx and shenanigans going on around here between now and then.  (And should you happen to be one of those pitchers, please email me whatever version of your pitch you'd like me to use!)

#3 - Did you know that in Alaska it is illegal to whisper in someone's ear while he's moose hunting?  I kid you not.

Now then, grab your Something Chocolate (I have chocolate cupcakes on offer at my house this morning - not exactly breakfast food... technically... although they do have eggs in them... :)) and have a gander at today's pitch.  It comes to us from the lovely Elizabeth whom you all know and love as the queen of Banana Peelin'.

Elizabeth Stevens Omlor loves slipping on banana peels. She has at least one slip a day, physically or verbally. She loves writing for children, although she has recently discovered she is a delusional rhymer. When she isn’t writing for children, you can find her having a kitchen dance party with her husband and two young children or drinking a large glass of milk. She loves milk. Yum.  Especially when it’s in chocolate. She blogs about all of this on Banana Peelin’: The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Children’s Writer.

Here is her pitch:

Working TItle:  Buff The Magic Dragon
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch:  Buff isn’t your typical dragon. He’s afraid of EVERYTHING. But when auditioning for the role of royal babysitter, his magic trick-gone-wrong lands the baby Princess Ponypants in the tentacles of the fiercest bully of all the sea, Captain Meanie Bones Jones. Forced to fly above the clouds and to eat a meaty squid, Buff finds that sometimes we must face our fears to right our wrongs and protect 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 Elizabeth 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 November, so you have time to polish :) for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Elizabeth is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to seeing who will win the Summer Send-Off Contest and which book I will pick for Perfect Picture Books on Friday.  It could be anything!  I still have two whole days to choose! :)

September 10, 2012

Summer Send-Off Contest Finalists! - Vote For Your Favorite!

Yee-haw!  It's voting day!  Fun for you, but let me just say I haven't slept in 5 days sweating over who to choose as a finalist!

illustration copyright Heather Newman 2012 used by permission

I love contests.

I love writing for them - the challenge of trying to come up with a story that fits certain parameters!

I love hosting them - it's so much fun to read everyone's creative entries - there is just so much talent out there!

But of course when I host them, I have to judge the entries, and that is always the hard part!  I don't like having to cut anyone!  This contest was no different - everyone's stories were terrific!  From undercover spies, to damsels not in distress, to People For The Ethical Treatment of Dragons, to the origin of 'smores, to heroes who do hero work to pay the writing bills, to knights and fair maidens, witches and sorceresses, in rhyme and in prose, they all had something wonderful, creative and entertaining to share!  It was cruel to have to choose!!

It would have been far, far easier to post all 15 and make you guys do the choosing!  But I figured that would be a long blog post, even for me :)  So for better or worse, my assistant judge and I have winnowed the field down to the following 6 entries (I told you I'd never make it down to only 3 finalists :)).  The three main judging criteria were creativity, child-friendliness (would a child really love to read it?), and whether you stayed within the 250 word limit.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  I think I speak for us all when I say we loved getting a chance to read your incredible writing.

Please enjoy reading (or re-reading!) these fabulous entries and cast your vote for your favorite!

#1 - Avery's Fairy Tale by Sidney - 247 words

“Once upon a time, a princess lived in a castle tower.”
Avery stopped writing and pondered the sentence. She glanced at her dresser mirror and wrote “raven-haired” in front of princess.
“Avery! Are you doing your homework or goofing off?” her mother called from the kitchen, where she was cooking dinner.
The girl grimaced and wrote a new sentence: “Once upon a time, a raven-haired princess was trapped in a castle by a mean old witch."
Her dog, Trixie, sleepily raised her head and sniffed. “Do you smell that, girl?” The odor of burned toast wafted into the room. Avery picked up her pencil.
“Once upon a time, a raven-haired princess lived in a castle surrounded by fire and guarded by a dragon named Trixonia.”
Avery looked over the pictures taped to the dresser mirror. One pictured her little brother in his goofy outfit from Colonial Day at school. Another showed her grandmother in her favorite apron. Avery blushed when she looked at the third photo.
“Once upon a time, an evil witch trapped a raven-haired princess in a castle tower by stealing the key to her heart. Only the bravest of men could battle the fierce dragon guarding the
fire-ringed castle and free the princess with true love’s kiss.”
“Avery! Time for dinner,” her mother announced.
Sighing dreamily, Avery blew a kiss to the boy’s face on her mirror. “Goodbye!” she said. “And start thinking about how you are going to save me from that dragon!”

#2 - Untitled by Jess - 250 words

Nora was a lonely princess.
There were no princes professing love or fire-breathing dragons.
She just sat alone, wishing that one day things would change.
Then, one morning, she awoke to find a rose at her window.
She picked up the flower, curiously.
“If only a handsome prince had brought me this rose!” she thought
as a petal slipped from the flower, falling toward the ground.
Then, a puff of smoke! And there below her was a dashing prince.
“Did you see that?” the princess whispered to herself, “My
flower must be magic!”
“Then…. he shall have a horse !“ she thought as another
petal fell.. Puff! A valiant steed appeared.
“And of course, what is a prince without a dragon?” Puff! A
roaring beast appeared.
“And a moat of fire!”
This was all becoming too much fun. The petals were dropping
like raindrops as Nora dreamed bigger and bigger.
Suddenly, Nora looked down , realizing the chaos below her.
The dragon licked his chops, ready to
devour the horse. The prince, forlorn, was trying to jump the fiery mote. Soon,
both he and the horse would be dragon barbeque!
In horror, Nora threw her flower to the ground, yelling “au
revoir!”, and wishing it all would just disappear.
Then Puff! In a whisp of silvery smoke everything had
There were no more princes professing love or fire-breathing
Instead she sat alone. And, for the first time, she was satisfied
that things were just as they should be.

  • #3 - The Dragon Prince by Romelle - 250 words

    Prince Nogard lived in Castle Alder for as long as he could remember. But today, unlike any other day, he smelled trouble.
    Fifer, the mischievous fox, strutted in.
    "It's time you knew," said Fifer. "You're not a prince. You are just a dragon."
    Prince Nogard fumed. "How dare you say such a thing."
    Prince Nogard has been treated like royalty, sleeping on fluffy pillows, and dining on the finest steaks. His loyal servant, Crocker, groomed him daily.
    Fifer snickered. "Crocker is not your servant. He is your master and Prince is your nickname."
    Prince huffed and puffed. "That's not true," he said in a faint voice. He wondered about his walks with Crocker. "Could he be walking me?" Prince dismissed the thought, but it kept burning in the back of his mind until he finally made a disturbing discovery.
    "I'm not just a dragon...I'm a pet dragon!" Prince felt like a lizard. He decided to leave Castle Alder.
    "Where are you going?" asked Fifer.
    "To find my real family," said Prince. "Farewell."
    "I'll walk you out," said Fifer with a smirk.
    Prince hadn't gone too far when he heard a cry. "Do you hear that?"
    Prince's heart ached. He and Crocker were inseparable. He hurried back.
    When Prince arrived at the castle, he found Crocker sobbing. "I thought you left."
    Prince rubbed his cheek against Crocker. "I will never leave you," thought Prince.
    Prince Nogard may not be a prince, but he was the happiest pet dragon around.

    #4 - Another Princess To Save - by Lauri - 221 words

    Moats were pretty common in the land, but this river of fire was overkill.  The dragon's red hot scales and sharp horns were frightening enough.  His snake eyes followed me as I searched for a place to jump to the castle.  

    I could see the captured maiden over the tips of the flames.  She was pretty, but not the fairest of them all.  Princess Gwen's gold hair dangled to her knees, and I only had to save her from a single ogre.  I battled trolls with foul-smelling warts to rescue Princess Amelia, and you could see the ocean waves in her eyes.  

    This maiden focused on her knitting.  When she finally noticed me, she sprang to the window and said "oh help me brave knight."  After a moment she returned to her work.  I supposed I should save her from the dragon, but she seemed calm enough. 

    The dragon moved, and I noticed a boy peeking out behind him.  The dragon's lips curled up in a wicked smirk.  My horse reared up to run, and she was never wrong.  Sayonara, fair maiden.

    "Did you see that?" the maiden yelled to her brother.  "That knight just turned and ran the other way!"
    "You could try brushing your hair every once in a while," her brother yelled back rubbing the dragon's empty belly.

    #5 - Dragon! by Erik - 250 words

    Once Upon A Time, in a land far away (depending on where you are), a princess named Violet was high in a tower. She wasn’t trapped there, mind you. You see, Violet wasn’t an ordinary princess.
    One day, Violet heard a commotion outside her window.
    “He lit the moat on fire again!” Shouted the stable-boy to Josi, the princesses’ faithful servant.   “I already asked The Pale Sorceress to cast an extinguishing spell!”
    Josi yelled up to Violet’s window. “Did you hear that? Your parents will banish us all! What kind of princess has a pet dragon anyway?”
    “But Cuddles is just a baby!” was the reply.
    “A BABY? He’s about 15… Oh-no, here comes Timothy!” Josi groaned. Violet rolled her eyes at the approaching figure.
    As Timothy got closer he boasted, “I shall smite thee, foul beast and save yonder fair maiden, Violet! Oh dear Violet, I hath come hither to rescue thee!”
    Violet felt her face get red with anger as she screamed back. “First of all, don’t talk funny. Smite and hither, who talks like that? It’s weird. Second, Cuddles is my PET! I DON’T NEED RESCUING!”
    Just then, Sorceress cast the spell to blow out the fire. As the gust came, it lifted Timothy and blew him back to his kingdom!
    “Farewell!” Timothy called as he faded in the distance.
    “Will he be alright? Josi asked.
    “Don’t worry, he’ll be back. He always comes back.” Violet sighed.
    And they all lived happily ever after…well, until next time.

    #6 Boot Camp At Old Dragons-Lair by Vivian - 240 words

    The first day of boot camp at Old Dragons-Lair
    The white witch decided to darken her hair.
    So tired was she of her colorless locks
    She lifted the red from the tail of the fox.

    “Did you see that?” all the campers cried out.
    “I’ll do as I please!” the witch said with a shout.
    “I don’t like how I look…I’ll take what I wish
    The tail of the dragon…the eyes of a fish.

    “You can’t take from others”, the raven explained.
    Your magical powers should be more restrained.
    You’re leader of boot camp at Old Dragons-lair
    You can’t create havoc and cause such a scare.

    The black bird continued, “It’s what people do
    That shows their real beauty…believe me, it’s true!”
    And nodding her head, the witch waved her thin wand
    Her hair began changing from red back to blonde.

    The campers all gathered around the white witch
    And loudly applauded the spell-binding switch.
    She’d learned to treat others with love and with care
    You don’t bully people at Old Dragons-lair!

    The last day of boot camp at Old Dragons-lair
    The campers took part in a Renaissance Fair
    The white witch placed first in the costume parade
    And raven won gold in the gaming arcade.

    The campers were packed and excited to go
    The sky was alight with a fiery glow
    Each clambered to mount his own flying gazelle,
    And said to the raven and witch,”Fond farewell!”

    And I do want to give honorable mention to Joanna for Cedric's Cold, which was fantastic, but at 438 words it would have been unfair to choose it as a finalist when others fought so hard to stay within the 250 word limit, and to Hilary for her real estate twist which was SO funny and well-written, but maybe a bit more suited to older audiences.

    Now then, please cast your votes!  You have from now until Wednesday September 12 at 11:59 PM EDT!

    The winner will be revealed on Friday!

    And thanks again to everyone for a great contest!  It's been a privilege to read your work! :)

    (And if you love contests, save the date - October 31st - for the Halloweensie Contest!!!)

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