Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloweensie Contest Entry

Thank you to Susanna Hill for setting up the 7th annual Halloweensie Contest!

Munster Knows (70 words)

Monsters, Monsters
Tonight’s their night
if they dare

to leave their lairs, 
to mix and mingle,
shadows left,
at last— commingle.

On Halloween,
no one knows
who is who 
under clothes.

Girls with crowns
and boys with horns
go house to house
for candy corn.

Munster knows 
it’s trick or treat,
but… he never
keeps a sweet.

Instead he has a
trick to share—

confetti bombs
for your hair!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale by Penny Klostermann

A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale
written by: Penny Parker Klostermann
illustrated by: Ben Mantle
Published by: Random House
Date: September 5, 2017

If you love fractured fairy tales, you will love this mash-up.  It is full of delicious fun!

Book Hooks:

1- Who ever thought of Fairy Tales as having the common element of FOOD?  Ms. Penny Klostermann did! The opening page spread sets the scene with William, who is lucky enough to live in a fairy tale land...but, he "...preferred pastries to princesses, kitchens to kingdoms, and recipes to the Royal Reporter."

2- A boy who loves to cook - I love that! I have three boys who are young adults now - and they ALL love to cook!

3- A mash-up story - I really enjoy mash-ups!  But...YOU will have to read the book to find out which fairy tales appear in this mash-up! Remember...think 'food'.

4- There are so many good things about this story - I have already purchased it for my nieces AND nephews. 

From Goodreads:
From the creators of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight comes a fun fractured fairy tale about an aspiring chef who mistakenly turns story ingredients into delectable dishes. . . . Uh-oh! 

In the magical land of fairy tales, William doesn't quite fit in. He'd rather poach pears than pursue princesses, and he values gnocchi over knighthood. . . .

When he stumbles on a delivery of food destined for Fairy-Tale Headquarters (a pumpkin, apples, and a few measly beans), he decides to spice things up and whips the paltry ingredients into delectable dishes. But as you might have guessed, Snow White's wicked stepmother doesn't exactly want her magic apple baked and drizzled with caramel.

The team that brought you There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight delivers a hilariously fractured, whipped, and souffleed fairy tale that is chock-full of delicious details and jokes to satisfy every appetite!

Bon Appetit!

If you are looking for another fabulous, fun read - pick up There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, one of my personal favorites.  You will  beg to read this one again!


Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Symphony of Cowbells by Heather Preusser

A Symphony of Cowbells
written by: Heather Preusser
Illustrator: Eileen Ryan Ewen
Published by: Sleeping Bear Press
Date: March 15, 2017

I fell in love with this sweet story the moment I heard it. It has a timeless quality that reminds me of a long told fable.

Book Hooks:

1- In the story Petra and her father have to figure out why stubborn Elfi, the cow, won't cooperate.  I love how they try to help the cow like it's a big ole pet.

2- I love that because Elfi is missing her big brass bell, the whole cow 'symphony' is off beat.  

3- I love little German coo-coo clocks. I grew up with a tiny one on my bedroom wall.  It now sits in a draw of treasures awaiting repair. The illustrator brought the characters of a coo-coo clock right into the story.

You will have to read the story to see where the cowbell went, and how they got it back.  There's a little mystery going on in these pages!  I totally want to go visit Grimmelwald to see an Elfi!

From Goodreads:

Petra just loves spring in Gimmelwald Each season she and her family lead their prize dairy cows into the pastures to graze and each cow wears her own jingling jangling clanging bell What a symphony But when Petra s favorite cow Effie loses her bell the whole herd is out of harmony and refuses to move Will Petra be able to find Effie s bell before it s too late With charming illustrations this whimsical story is sure to delight children and adults alike.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Bedtime Yarn by Nicola Winstanley

A Bedtime Yarn
written by: Nicola Winstanley
illustrations by: Olivia Chin Mueller
published by: Tundra Books
expected publish date: September 26, 2017

I can't stop thinking about this book!  It is so simple and so magical at the same time!
This book will be my new go-to 'littles' gift book.

Book Hooks: It's all about connections with this one!
1- A bedtime story to remember! Kids will love the connections to their bedtime routine.
2- The ball of yarn is ingenious!  I don't want to give it away - you'll have to read!
3-Tha magical ball of yarn near the end - still not giving anything away!
4-The connection to Frankie's mom - so sweet!

From Goodreads:
Like a well-worn, snuggly blanket, this sweet bedtime story about a little bear who's afraid of the dark and his mother's creative solution will warm and comfort readers big and small.

Frankie is a little bear who has a hard time falling asleep. The dark is scary, and he hates to be alone. So his mother gives him a ball of yarn to hold when he goes to bed, and she keeps the other end in the next room, working it into a surprise for Frankie.

Every few nights the yarn color changes, and Frankie dreams in all the colors that he and his mother pick out. One night he's swimming in turquoise water, another night he's in a cool gray fog. He plays with a marmalade kitten and eats delicious chocolate cake. Eventually Frankie and his mother create something special--and Frankie learns that he's always connected to those he loves, even when he's alone in the dark.

A beautiful story of love and crafting, A Bedtime Yarn will appeal to knitters, sleepy little bears and any parents dealing with their child's fear of the dark.

Okay - so this summary gave some things away...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Zoo Zen

Zoo Zen 
A Yoga Story for Kids
by Kristen Fischer
illustrated by Susi Schaefer
published by Sounds True
expected date July 1, 2017

This is an adorable book that follows Lyla as she learns her yoga poses.  The really cool thing is that Lyla is at the zoo, and the animals join in the fun.  Her poses mimic each animal, so she's leaning yoga from the animals! Kristen Fischer uses a relaxing meter for her story which works well. The zoo animals also add pointers along the way.  The animals in the illustrations are adorable which kids will love!  An added layer of counting will make Zoo Zen that much more alluring to kids, and parents too.  There is back matter which will help parents lead their children through Lyla's Yoga Flow.  All in all, a great find.  I have it on my list to purchase for some little ones in my life!  I also read a tweet that it will be available at Target.  That makes it easy!

*Thanks NetGalley for an advanced ebook to review.  My opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reading For Research

What better way to get kids excited about books and research, than by celebrating research all month!  Using picture books to help students become better writers and writers to become better researchers using mentor texts.  Reading for Research Month provides a month long intensive with guest bloggers to help you do just that!  The daily presenters are librarians, teachers, and authors or illustrators. The calendar and more information is provided in the link above.  

The super fantastic line-up? 

Matthew Winner @MatthewWinner, Marcie Flinchum Atkins @MarcieFAtkins, Heidi Stemple @heidieys, Susannah Richards @sussingoutbooks, Bridget Heos @bridgetheos, Nancy Churnin @nchurnin, Wendi Silvano @WendiSilvano, Tricia Lawrence @authorblogger, Caron Levis @caronlevis, Kelly DiPucchio @kellydipucchio, Katey Howes @kateywrites, Keila Dawson @keila_dawson, Danielle Smith @the1stDaughter @LupineGrove, Vivian Kirkfield @viviankirkfield, Jessixa Bagley @jessixabagley, Yolanda Scott @yoscottbooks, Janie Reinart @smile73777, Mira Reisberg @MiraReisberg @childrensbookac, Jodell Sadler @kidlitwriting @kidlitcollege, Kirsti Call @kirsticall, Carrie Charley Brown @carriebrowntx)

I hope you join in the fun. I know I'll be there!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Artist and Me

The Artist and Me
by Shane Peacock
Illustrated by Sophie Casson
published by Owlkids
April 2016

Funny that I should pick up this book on the same day as The Tree in the Courtyard.  As I mentioned in that post, I was very blessed and got to visit Amsterdam.  Amsterdam not only has the Anne Frank House, but also the Van Gogh museum.  It is a marvelous tribute to Van Gogh.  As you explore each floor of the museum, you make your way through his life and can clearly see his painting style evolve.  

The Artist and Me is written from the unique perspective of a young boy who lives during Van Gogh's lifetime.  He watches as others bully Van Gogh, the crazy man, and even joins in.  I'm very impressed with illustrator Sophie Casson. The color palette she chose for the pages of this book, and how they match the actual painting of Van Gogh is mesmerizing.   Another wonderful nonfiction picture book for kids!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Tree in the Courtyard

The Tree in the Courtyard
Looking Through Anne Frank's Window
by Jeff Gottesfeld
illustrated by Peter McCarty
published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
March 2016

I absolutely adore this book.  I love how illustrator Peter McCarty used the sepia tones to match the heavy subject matter. I read the Diary of Anne Frank as a young girl more than once.  As an adult, I got to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I started to reread her diary on the flight over and recall the tree.  This change in perspective for Anne's story is touching and perfect for a picture book.  I happen to love trees and what they represent in nature; their cyclical nature, their growth, their refusal to die even after a forest fire (saplings).  After reading the afterword, I wanted to know more about these chestnut tree seedpods which live on.  I found the The Sapling Project and read about the locations where the saplings grow to represent freedom and tolerance around the US.   The Tree in the Courtyard is a winner for me!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Gratitude List

Day 7 of 12 Days of Christmas
From Flicker Google Open Stock Images

 I am grateful for my writing life blessings.

1. was able to participate in Chapter Book Blueprint
2. was able to participate in Picture Book Summary
3. am able to write from wherever I am, therefore can travel with husband
4. have good draft starts
5. have growing idea bank
6. finding these writerly groups
7. finding 12 Days of Christmas was perfect timing - thanks so much Julie!
8. and, of course, my supportive family

and I'm currently participating in StoryStorm, and am super excited to sign up for 12x12 this year! Hope to see you over there.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

I have been participating in Julie Hedlund's 12 Days of Christmas which changed my mindset of New Year's Resolutions.  We have studied and learned from last year's personal successes, discouragements, and self-reflections and are now making a concrete path for 2017.  I like how this has been contemplated rather than just grabbing resolutions from thin air, as I have always done.  I chose the above graphic from Google's public domain because I felt like it depicts the journey.

Next year, I plan to work towards these goals for my writing life.

1. Make a weekly focus list to make my writing plans more intentional.
2. Get my projects organized so that I can grab one to work on.
3. Participate in Tara Lazar's StoryStrom to get my creative juices flowing.
4. Sign-up and participate in Julie Hedlund's 2x12.
5. Work through The Artist's Way, a "creativity" book.
6. Find a critique group.
7. Go to a SCBWI local meeting - yikes!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Day 3

Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2016.

I participated in a class that Julie was a part of (you will see below) and decided to join her for her 12 Days of Christmas.  I am enjoying it so far.  I'm not a big Facebooker, so maybe I'll go back and add day 2 here.

As I reflect on my year, I realize it has been a huge transition year for me.  I am a teacher/librarian and always will be.  But, this year my husband and I decided I would travel more with him which I couldn't do because of my schedule, of course.  I have dabbled in writing for years now.  I've even been published in some education magazines in the past.  During the summer of this year, I made the transition to working as a writer.  What will come of it?  I don't know, but I am loving it!  

So, focusing on my writing life, here is my list of successes since summer:

1. Started living my new dream...prioritized my writing.
2. Participated in Teachers Write ...with Kate Messner - thanks!
3. Participated in Slice of Life...need to do that more consistently.
4. Lots of reading...that is not a problem.
5. Submitted a poem to Chicken Soup...still waiting.
6. Participated in Picture Book was aMaZiNg!!!
7. Have a submission ready for Highlights Hello Magazine...working on the cover letter, trying to find editor's name.
8. Started Chapter Book super excited about what I've got going so far.
9. Signed up for StoryStorm for January...first timer, but love Tara Lazar's books.
10. Have a picture book biography started...research done (for now) and on to writing.
11. Joining in on the 12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund...getting me hyped for 2017!

If I think of more, I'll add them here because I'm not going to change all my numbering :) !

12. Have a list started of picture book ideas...very rough ideas.
13. Have my "dream" journal by my bed...come on imagination, do your thing.
14. Have been listening to Institute for Writer's podcasts...and downloading cool tips.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Wolf Keepers

The Wolf Keepers
by Elise Broach
published by: Henry Holt & Co.
date: October 2016

Goodreads Summary: 
Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango and her dad have always had a zoo to call their home. Lizzie spends her days watching the animals and taking note of their various behaviors. Though the zoo makes for a unique home, it's a hard place for Lizzie to make lasting friends. But all this changes one afternoon when she finds Tyler Briggs, a runaway who has secretly made the zoo his makeshift home. The two become friends and, just as quickly, stumble into a covert investigation involving the zoo wolves who are suddenly dying. Little do they know, this mystery will draw them into a high-stakes historical adventure involving the legend of John Muir as they try to navigate safely while lost in Yosemite National Park.

My Review:
I enjoyed this book very much.  So many topics that could be discussed with the use of this book.  It would make a great book club book!  First of all, what a great example of authentic writing in a journal which is a big part of the story.  Wow, living at the zoo, that will draw student readers in right away!  I love the insight we gain from the zoo setting. Students will also enjoy the wolves which are an animal frequently asked for at the library.  I like the historical aspect of John Muir and Yosemite National Park.  There are family dynamics and friendships that could be discussed.  Is it ever ok to keep a secret?  It seems that there are several secrets here that would lead to thoughtful discussions.  The con to this book is that my adult brain had to work hard to suspend belief over and over.  From the point that they took the 4 mile hike to Tenaya Creek and on, I couldn't find anything believable.  Having said that, I did have watery eyes in the end, and I would highly recommend this book to students.

I want to thank NetGalley, Henry Holt & Co., and Elise Broach for an electronic version of this book for preview.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Poem for Peter

A Poem for Peter
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Published by:Viking Books for Young Readers
Published Date: November 2016

Goodread Summary:
The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book.

For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood.

Andrea David Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

My Review:
I've been waiting for this one!  It did not disappoint  and it is one of my favorites of the year!  
I love picture book author biographies of childhood book-friends! Thank you to Ezra Jack Keats for his persistence in the arts, to Andrea Pinkney for creating a wonderful collage of Keats and Peter, and to Peter for being such a good childhood book-friend.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


by Raina Telgemeier
published by: Scholastic
publish date: September 2016

Goodreads Summary:
Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake - and her own.

My Thoughts:
Another great book by Raina Telemeter that students will love! It has some deep issues going on, and they're handled so well. (moving, cystic fibrosis, death, missing loved ones, making friends, Day of the Dead)  I especially enjoyed reading the back matter where Telgemeier tells us how this idea has been living in her head for quite some time.  She explained how breathing was such a central theme to this book; ghosts can't breath, Maya has difficulty breathing, and Cat needs to stop and take deep breaths to calm her anxiousness.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

Owl Diaries

Owl Diaries - Eva's Treetop Festival
by Rebecca Elliott
Series published by: Scholastic

What a sweet series, especially for early chapter book readers.  I picked one up to read because of the popularity of them among students.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Rebecca Elliott's illustrations are adorable and pull the reader along. Elliott's use of Eva and her diary is a great way to create voice for our young readers to make connections.  I really like the little bits of owl facts sprinkled through the books. I think kids will enjoy the puns scattered throughout.  It is hard to find books for good readers to read at a young age.  These fit the bill nicely.  I can see them being picked up and read over and over again. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Picture Book Hooks

This week, I watched the free hour of the mini Picture Book Summit.  The hour was amazing and super informative.  I am definitely going to participate in the full day also!   The action step from Emma's tip was to read some newly published picture books and write a one sentence hook for each.  This sentence should be juicy and include the main character, the general plot, and the theme while dazzling the reader to entice them to read/ask for the manuscript.  I love a little challenge and am posting my hook sentences here.

The Story Book Knight
by: Helen Docherty
Publisher: Sourcebook, Inc.
Expected publish date: October 2016

Leo's parents send their gentle little knight out into the world to tame a dragon with a new shield and sword, but Leo insists on taking his... books? 

Me Want Pet!
by: Tammi Sauer
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published date: March 6, 2012

Cave Boy tries to find a pet that doesn't cause too many problems; a woolly mammoth, a saber-toothed tiger, a dodo bird - oh my!

Light Up the Night
by: Jean Reidy
Publisher: Disney - Hyperion Books
Published Date: October 11, 2011

A rhyming cumulative bedtime story about a boy who goes out into the universe and makes his way back to his warm cozy bed.  (Of course, I now read this book's inside flap which is two sentences, but so much better!)

"When it's time to sleep, it's nice to know there's a place that's safe.  In a cozy house, in a comfy bed, under a blanket that's white and red, under stars so bright they light up the night, in your own little piece of the universe." ~inside flap

Snappsy the Alligator: did not ask to be in this book!
by: Julie Falatko
Publisher: Viking, Penguin Young Readers Group
Published date: February 2, 2016

What will Snappsy the Alligator do when he realizes someone is narrating his ordinary day while trying to make it extraordinary?

This was an enlightening activity.  Of course, I would spend much more time on my dazzling sentence if it were for my own book that I was submitting. 

Hope you enjoyed my little
Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisher

The Memory of Things
A Novel
by  Gae Polisher
published by: St. Martin's Griffin
expected publication date: September 6, 2016

Wow!  A powerful coming of age story taking place around our Nation's biggest terrorist attack.  This was hard to read.  As an adult, who doesn't remember all the details of that day; where you were, how the day unfolded, where the members of your family were and getting everyone home safely?  So, in that regard, I felt like the emotion in this novel just skimmed the surface.  As I further contemplated the age group The Memory of Things is written for...the readers would have a child's memory if they're in college and no memory if still in High School.  That is a very interesting audience.  One I recognize well as my three boys span in age from 16-22.

I loved the book!  I would totally add it to my collection, and I think it will be one of those sought after books for years to come.  The Memory of Things is the unfolding story of Kyle and the girl with no name which parallels the unfolding story of the crumbling towers on 9-11 and the days following. Kudos to Gae Polisher for her heartfelt book that takes a horrific day in our history and weaves a fiction story for this next generation to contemplate and enjoy.  

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Griffin, and Gae Polisher for an early eBook to review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ranger Rick's Travels: National Parks!

Ranger Rick's Travels: National Parks!
by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Muddy Boots
Expected Publish Date: 7-22-16

Ahh...the National Parks, I love them!  Making it to all of the National Parks is on my bucket list, but I haven't gotten a passport.  I've been to several of the parks, and this book would have been mighty handy, especially with kids.  I will definitely have to purchase to keep with us on the next trip and recommend for our library to purchase.  Thank you to NetGalley and Rowman & Littlefield Muddy Boots for an advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

It is great that all of the United States National Parks are included.  I love the organized approach.  It will help anyone find the highlights and also encourages us to find the hidden treasures, my favorite thing to do.  Each park is broken down into sections for quick reference.  The photographs are truly amazing.  I appreciate that this book also encourages us to celebrate the fact that we have these glorious National Parks, respect them, and to think of all the people who help make them available for us (National Park Service).

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Slice #4 - Observing and Writing while Vacationing

I am enjoying the heck out of Teachers Write on Kate Messner's blog with the many wonderful guest authors, lessons, and musings!  I've been using my summer writer's notebook to keep up with the daily activities and readings, making notes, and trying to hone my observation skills.

As I sit here next to the wonderfully peaceful sound of the West Fork Bitterroot River, (our second cabin in Montana this week),  I observe the sun coming over the mountain slowly adding the sparkle to the riffle on the river, casting the needed light to show off the river's colorful rocks lining the bottom of the riverbed.  For my slice, I've decided to create a list of sentences about the wonder of nature and it's living creatures that I've run across this past week.  (I love lists!)

-Twenty-five dainty geese (3 lines, 3 families?) strutting their necks as they paddle through the water with Mom and Dad seemingly taking up the lead and the tail of their line watching for their safety.

-A robin's nest resting in the eave above me, probably nestling spring eggs awaiting the summer hatch while mom and dad are never far, guarding.

-A herd of bighorn sheep staying close to the mountainside where their babies safely rest, growing and gaining strength to join the journey down the mountain one day soon.

-Beautiful rainbow trout, green with their distinctive pink rainbow striping and black polkadots eagerly swim away from the release of their catch.

-White fish with their sharp angles, who seem to get the bad rap in the hierarchy of caught fish.

-Tiny birds dive-bombing the river, probably catching a freshly hatched fly of one kind or another.

-Lots of deer scattered peacefully munching and meandering their way, to where I don't know.

-The occasional boat with two fly fishermen/women and their guide paddling and casting their way down the river hoping for that bite on the dry fly.

-A large herd of buffalo roaming their way along a railroad track through the meadow, looking too hot for any kind of walk in their coat of fur on a hot summer day.

-A herd of huge, muscular elk crossing the country two lane road through the mountain, their majestic stance showing off their thick furry necks.

-A mountain goat family by the side of road looking a bit confused about the cars stopping to watch them.