January 30, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Name Jar

Happy Friday, Everyone!

What a crazy week, huh?  All I can say is, no one in my neck of the woods is going to pay any attention to whatever the weather person says next!

But they better listen up to the Weather Hog!

That's right!  Only 3 more days until GROUNDHOG DAY!  And you know what THAT means, right?


Some awesome Phyllis-lovers have already put together their poems for Phyllis, ready for Monday's special post, but if you haven't heard about it and want to join in, hop over HERE.

And now, for today's Perfect Picture Book which has nothing whatsoever to do with Groundhog Day, winter, snowpocalypses, etc. but is still an excellent book which I highly recommend! :)

Title: The Name Jar
Written & Illustrated By: Yangsook Choi
Dragonfly Books, 2001, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: acceptance/tolerance, fitting in, feeling different, multicultural diversity (Korean-American), being the new kid, names

Opening: "Through the school bus window, Unhei looked out at the strange buildings and houses on the way to her new school.  It was her first day, and she was both nervous and excited."

Brief Synopsis: Unhei's (pronounced Yoon-hye) first encounter with her American schoolmates leaves her feeling uncertain about her name, and different from everyone else.  Her name is difficult to pronounce.  Kids make fun of it.  It sets her apart.  How much easier to be Amanda, Laura, or Suzy!  So when she enters her new classroom, she tells the teacher she hasn't chosen her name yet - she'll let him know next week.  All through the week, her classmates fill a name jar with suggestions they think she might like.  But in the end, she is not Amanda, Laura or Suzy.  She is Unhei.  And she comes to realize just how special that is.

Links To Resources: Classroom Activities for The Name Jar; teaching tolerance with The Name Jar; more teaching resources for The Name Jar; make your own Name Jar.

Why I Like This Book:  This book is beautifully written, clearly communicating Unhei's acute agony over having a name that's different from everyone else's which is just the tip of the iceberg of being and feeling different.  She just wants to fit in.  But she also loves her Korean family, the Korean market that feels like a little piece of home in this strange new world, and her Korean heritage.  She knows the history of her name - how her grandmother and mother went to a name master specially to get the perfect name for her - Unhei, which means "grace."  She doesn't want to let go of that.  It takes a special friend to help her see that Unhei is who she is and should be.  A great choice for any child who is having trouble fitting in, or to help children have more understanding of a friend or classmate who might feel that way.

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and GET READY FOR GROUNDHOG DAY!  WOO HOO! :)

January 28, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #159 - The Trouble With Homework (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor x 2

Wait til you hear how forethoughtful I'm being!

Seriously.  You are NOT going to believe it.

It's Sunday night.  SUNDAY.  And I am putting the finishing touches on this post which isn't due to go up until Wednesday!

Wednesday is like 2 1/2 entire days from now!

I don't think this has ever happened before in the history of my blog!

Don't worry.

You're in the right place.

I have not been possessed by aliens or anything.  (Of course, I would probably say that if I had been, wouldn't I? Because they'd make me... But I'm pretty sure I haven't!)

It's just that the weatherperson in these parts seems pretty convinced that we're going to be getting heavy snow - at least a foot - maybe 3 - and that means, in all probability, that I will have no internet.  So my usual operating procedure of finishing my Wednesday post 37 seconds before it's due to go up may not pan out well.  And I don't want today's pitcher to miss her day!

PLUS!  We have not one, but TWO Straight From The Editors to share - always educational AND fun - so I wouldn't want you to miss that either.  Or the most important part of the post... Something Chocolate :)
Black Magic Cake

Yummmmm!  Scrumptious!!

I know how you all count the hours until Wednesday for your chocolate treat, so far be it from me to deprive you! :)  I would never want it to be said that I don't take good care of you!

Alrighty!  Now that we're fortified, let's see what the editor has to say!

Straight From The Editor for October:

You will recall Michelle's winning pitch:

Miss Knaffle and her second graders all just want to have fun at school. But when her students take theiridea of fun too far—conducting a farting symphony during reading time, smuggling coffee beans to the class hamster, and using their desks for a bubblegum sculpture contest—Miss Knaffle decides that only a field trip to the zoo will avert classroom disaster. Once there, the canny teacher enlists irritable zoo animals to her cause. When F├ítima tangles with a snake and Mario ends up on the wrong side of a baboon, the students quickly come to appreciate the zoo rules—and their teacher—in a whole new way.

Here are editor Erin Molta's comments:

This is so cute! My only suggestion is to be more specific about the zoo incidents like Fatima tangles with a snake because she did what? You are specific about the farting symphony (hilarious!) and the coffee beans to the hamster so we need to see the zoo side, too—at least one. I’d omit the bubblegum sculpture contest to fit in more specific zoo incidents.
Straight From The Editor for November:

Here is Heather's winning pitch:

The harpsichord is dusted, the tea is poured, the vases are arranged on doily laces, and Hubert the pug is settled calmly on the rug. Lottie Dobson is ready for her fancy luncheon party. But when the members of the Grandview Rose Society arrive with even more blooms, poor Hubert's allergies kick in. What happens next is a riot of mishaps that gets him banned from the room. But when a wily rat sneaks in, steals the cheese, and dangles from the chandelier, it sends the proper party guests on a crazy chase--with a sneezing Hubert in the lead. One big sneeze will save the day! Too bad for Hubert, the sneezing doesn't end there. 

And here are Erin's comments:

Cute! The only problem I saw with it was that why wouldn’t Hubert be allergic to the roses that are already there? Would more make that much of a difference? I think Hubert’s allergies should be a new issue—a surprise, so to speak. And then be specific about at least one of the mishaps. Otherwise, it’s very fun and sounds like a delight!
As always, I find Erin's comments insightful and helpful!  I hope they help you in your mission to create the perfect pitch!

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

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Trouble With Homework
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-9)
The Pitch: What’s a kid to do when he’s waited until the last minute to do his homework? Sometimes, you just have to improvise!

Join Connor along with his zany classmates as they prepare (some more than others) for their first-ever demonstration speeches.  Follow Connor’s speech outline and you, too, can show others what skills and talents you have.
Disclaimer: No snails or house cats were harmed in the making of this book! 

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

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

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

Maria is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting my internet back so I can catch up on everything I've missed!  It should be back this morning, but we shall see... (Of course, I'm just assuming... because it's SUNDAY! so I don't know yet what will happen!)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone, and for everyone who lives on the East Coast, I hope you all weathered the storm okay!!!

January 23, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Snoozefest

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, everyone!

I have a delightful book to share with you today which is not about a groundhog.  But speaking of groundhogs (did you see how smoothly I slipped that in there? :)) if you missed yesterday's Special Edition Post (which you easily might have because I almost never post on Thursdays so why would you think to check?) about Phyllis's Birthday Bonanza (which you definitely will NOT want to miss!), hop on over and check it out HERE!  Join the fun and spread the word! :)

Now then.  Today's book.  Which is not about a groundhog.  But IS about a sloth :)

Title: Snoozefest
Written By: Samantha Berger
Illustrated By: Kristyna Litten
Dial, January 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: bedtime, sleep, animals (sloths), language fun (rhyme and inventive vocabulary)

Opening: "In the center of Snoozeville, dwells the wee one, the sleepiest sloth, Snuggleford Cuddlebun.  Now, that sloth can sleep, for a month at a go. The few times she rises, she moves in slo-mo."

Brief Synopsis:  It's time for the annual Snoozefest at the Nuzzledome, an arena festival that celebrates sleep.  All the best sleepers attend.  Snuggleford Cuddlebun settles into a hammock with her blanket and pillow, her favorite stuffed animal and her best bedtime book, and a snack of milk and honey, ready to enjoy the show.  But will she?

Links To Resources: the author makes up some wonderful words in this story - what kind of words can you make up that sound just right to describe something you like to do (like sleeping, sledding, riding a bicycle, or any other activity)?; have your own snoozefest - make your room super comfy for sleeping, choose bedtimes stories, music, snacks, stuffed animals, pajamas and anything else that makes bedtime cozy for you.  You can even write up and decorate your own snoozefest program.  Have a lullaby sing-along and your own pajama fashion show!

Why I Like This Book:  How can you not love a book about a snoozefest that takes place at the Nuzzledome?  The text is full of delightful made-up words like "snoozillions" and "wumphiest" (as in "wumphiest, comfiest, coziest things" :))  There are designer pajamas by Diane Von Firstinbed and Louis Futon.  The snack vendors sell milk and honey.  The bands, with names like Chamomile Rage and the Nocturnal Nesters, play lullabies!  And everyone brings their nightlight from home :)  Adult readers will enjoy the spoof of music festivals.  The whole over-the-top celebration of bedtime is just flat out fun!  But you'll have to read it to find out what Snuggleford's experience of the show is :)

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what kind of amazingly wonderful entertaining books you chose this week.  It's supposed to snow... a good weekend to stock up on library books and spend the day reading :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)

January 22, 2015

Hare-Brained Scheme Alert! - Announcing Punxsutawney Phyllis's Birthday Bonanza!!!

La la la...

illustration copyright Jeff Ebbeler 2005

So, there I was, tootling along, minding my own business, driving to my author visit yesterday and humming my homemade Phyllis song in a most tuneful hummy kind of way when


I suddenly realized two things:

1.  Groundhog Day is a mere 11 days away!




My little furry friend is going to be in double digits! *sentimental sniff*


What kind of mother am I???!!!  *gnashing of teeth and extended period of self-recrimination*

Instant panic set in.

Not good whilst you are driving and unable to do anything but drive.  A spoonful of panic makes the accelerator go down VRRROOOOOOM!

"Where!" (I fumed) "is my talented and versatile personal assistant who appears like magic at my beck and call to take down notes and implement my thoughts whilst I drive???!!!"

Darn it all.

I don't have one.

But luckily I have a mind that is prone to hare-brained schemes. . .

And so.

I made a plan!

And you are all welcome to join me, and I truly, deeply hope you do, because it will not be any fun at ALL if it's just me and that will make Phyllis sad! (And Sad Phyllis is not fun to hang out with!)

Here's the deal.

We shall have Phyllis's Birthday Bonanza!  (That has a nice ring to it, don't you think?)

And for it, we shall all write a poem in honor of Phyllis!

I'm thinking maybe An Ode To Phyllis... or a limerick :)  or if you're really ambitious, a combination of the two :)  A sonnet would be nice, if you're feeling Shakespearean.  Or perhaps a haiku or two about the Natural Wonder that is Phyllis the Groundhog.  Really, Phyllis is not picky, as long as it's a poem... about her... :)

I feel certain that this will result is some poetry the likes of which the world has never experienced.  *snort*

Ah, but the fun shall not end there!

I mean, it CAN end there.  If you are inspired to write a poem for Phyllis, post it on your blog or in the comments on the Birthday Bonanza post, and leave it at that, that will be lovely and Phyllis will send you warm furry brown hugs.


For those of us who wish to take it to a further level... (Erik... who has been asking to make a video for like a year now... :))

Download, print out, cut out, and color Phyllis from HERE (or dig the one you made for Phyllis's Fun Fashion Show or weather predicting Phyllis out of mothballs.)  (Teeny hint - a popsicle stick stuck to her back works great for puppeteering and/or propping up purposes!)


Video your Phyllis doing a dramatic reading of your special poem!

We will be especially appreciative of creative backdrops, clever costumes, or singing :)

Unless you're channeling Samuel Taylor Coleridge and writing the Rime of Phyllis The Ancient Mariner (or something equally appallingly long) your dramatic poetry reading should probably fit into a video of a minute or two or so (or less - we're going for entertainment value, not length :)) so it doesn't have to be a huge production.  And you can hopefully do it pretty easily with your computer or your phone - nothing too film-industry-specific required.

Then on Monday, February 2nd, Groundhog Day 2015, in celebration of Phyllis's 10th Anniversary, I shall put up the official Phyllis's Birthday Bonanza post (yes, of course there will be cake! I can't believe you even asked that!) and you can all put your post-specific links on the link list (or post in the comments, or email your entry to me and I'll post it for you if you can't post in the comments - susanna[a]susannahill[dot]com or handy email me button in the sidebar) and we can all visit each other and party in honor of Phyllis, loveliest of lovelies, marmot extraordinaire!

And there will be presents!  For you!  Which I am still working on thinking up because, like I said, I just thought of this and I wanted to give you as much time as possible to prepare your Phyllis Poem & Video.  There might be some kind of voting process... or there might not.  Like I said... still thinking :)

So I am sincerely hoping that this sounds like the kind of hare-brained scheme you can get on board with!  Teachers and classes are welcome to join the fun too!  Anyone who loves Phyllis :)

Phyllis is wild with excitement  and says she will make strawberry pie for everyone while she's waiting!

Looking forward hopefully to the fruits of your creative talents!

Let the wild poetry writing start!!!!!

January 21, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #158 - Hoot And Holly (PB) PLUS The November Pitch Pick Winner!

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

I hope you are all in fine fettle!

(I don't actually know what fettle is... it sounds like kettle, so maybe it means you're well stoked up on tea... though hopefully not so much so that you have that sloshy feeling, the technical term for which - according to me and my best friend in 6th grade - is "joggling" :)  But it also sounds like fete, so maybe it means you're partying.  Partying or tea-a-plenty, either option seems good on a cold January day :))

Whatever condition your fettle is in I'm glad you're here :)

(That sounds like it should either be a line from a Broadway show tune, or the end of a Mr. Rogers song, don't you think?  We should work on that... :))

Anyhoo . . . Let's get on with our regularly scheduled programming, shall we?

First off, I'm happy to announce that the winner of the November Pitch Pick (in an exceptionally tight race, I might add - very, very close this month!) is Heather with her pitch for Hubert's Dreadful Allergies!  Wahoo!  Congratulations, Heather!  Your pitch has already been sent to Erin Molta for her thoughts, and I'm sure you'll hear from her soon.

And congratulations as always to ALL our pitchers for bravely putting themselves out there and sharing truly fabulous pitches!  Is it just me, or do you all agree that the overall quality of the pitches has steadily improved since the early days of Would You Read It?  Seriously, I think everyone does such a good job!

Phew!  After all that excitement, I think we need . . .

Something Chocolate!!!

Today's Something Chocolate is not so much chocolate as Something Caramel - although you could (and should!) quickly remedy that with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce :)  But I thought we should go healthy this morning, what with it being January and a time for new beginnings and all... :)

Recipe HERE

Now that we're all full of healthy apples (and possibly slightly less healthy caramel, and hopefully also a healthy dose of hot fudge sauce :)) let's get right down to WYRI!

Today's pitch comes to us from Michele who says, "I can't promise that a long time policy work and public relations professional can succeed in the world of picture book making. But I can promise that she will try!"

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hoot And Holly
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: When Holly finds the orphaned owlet Hoot in a windswept field near home, she knows he won’t survive without her help. Together, Hoot and Holly forge an unlikely friendship as Holly cares for the baby owl until he can care for himself. Hoot & Holly is a story about growing up and saying goodbye. It blends the emotion of an Alison McGhee story with the sweet fun of impossible friend stories like Sophie’s SquashPeep, and Fly Away Home (film). Like Flora & UlyssesHoot & Holly celebrates the special bond between humans and animals. It’s a love story with a realistic end that will resonate with people of all ages.

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 Michele 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 June, so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Michele is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  Phyllis and I are off to an author visit today, so I am looking forward to that!  And Phyllis wants you all to know, in case you are wondering, that she is in VERY fine fettle! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)

♫ ♫ ♫ la-la-la-la-la-la-la whatever condition your fettle is in I'm glad you're here! ♫ ♫

P.S.  This just in!  Important Hare-Brained Scheme Announcement in a special edition blog post tomorrow!!! :)

January 16, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Blue On Blue

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

There's nothing like days on end of temperatures in the single digits to make me think about summer :)  So today's book is about a summer thunderstorm which clears off into a starry night.  I hope you'll enjoy this pretty, pretty book!

Title: Blue On Blue
Written By: Dianne White
Illustrated By: Beth Krommes
Beach Lane Books, December 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 5-8, I think younger would enjoy too.

Themes/Topics: poetry, weather (thunderstorms), nature, colors

Opening: "Cotton clouds.  Morning light.  Blue on blue.  White on white.  Singing, swinging outdoor play.  White on blue on sunny day."

Brief Synopsis: This lovely book shows both the course of a family's day on a New England farm from morning through bedtime, and the change of weather from a sunny morning, through darkening clouds, to rain and thunder, and finally clearing skies, sunset, and a "silver night."

Links To Resources: Color Lesson Plans (Marble Art, Beautiful Butterfly Prints, Awesome Octopus, Trying Out Art); make your own scratchboards; Weather for Kids.  You could also make your own art projects based on the descriptions in the story (e.g. cotton clouds on blue sky).

Why I Like This Book: This is such a lovely book!  The story is simple, but poetic.  It takes you through a child's day, and includes elements of color, weather, and life on a New England farm (including animals :)). The day starts out sunny, but a storm comes up.  The child hides under the covers during the worst of the storm, but after the rain stops, the child, the puppy, and the little piggies have a wonderful time in the mud :)  The story finishes with a bath outside for the puppy, and a bath inside for the child, and sweet dreams under a starry night.  The lyrical, rhyming language is fun to read aloud, and the rhythm of the language mimics the rhythm of rain dripping, then pounding, then lightening, and finally stopping.  The scratchboard and watercolor art, done by Caldecott Medalist Beth Krommes, is absolutely gorgeous.  I encourage you to check this one out!

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

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)

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