Monday, December 24, 2012

Erik's Birthday Special: Choose Your Own Adventure!

If you have arrived in the middle of the adventure, you may start at the beginning by going HERE (

#7 Erik chooses the left path (at the fork after the woodcutter)
Erik turned to the left, through the churned up snow. Surely with that many hoof prints there was a chance the black horse had come this way. But he had not gone far when he came to a wide, deep river with a fast-flowing current. Sturdy as his pony was, there was no way he could cross.

A little way up to the right, Erik thought he saw a bridge, but at least from where he stood, it didn’t look to be in the greatest shape.

“What do you think, Benton?” he asked his pony. “Should we head for that bridge? Or look for a ford?”

If Erik heads for the rickety bridge, click HERE

If Erik searches for a ford, click HERE


Happy Birthday This Kid Reviews Books and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Contest: Checking off the list

Here's my entry into Susanna Hill's Holiday Contest. The contest is to write a children's holiday story with any version of "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.

Checking off the list
By Stacy S. Jensen

Dashing through the store
In a shopping cart.
Through the aisles we roar
Searching for one thing more.
I don’t know where Mom will dart.
The aisles are packed with shoppers
My eyes stop on a huge display of Whoppers.

Oh, shopping lists
Shopping lists
Keep us on track.
Mom won’t turn back,
Unless there’s a fight.
Then, she’ll return another night.

Mom ignores my plea for candy.
She says it’s too late for a treat.
I yell, “Oh no,” as we roll into neighbor Randy.
He doesn’t see us, as he’s sending out a tweet
About two parents fighting over a truck,
With lights and bells. I duck.

Oh, shopping lists
Shopping lists
Keep us on track.
Mom won’t turn back,
Unless there’s a fight.
Then, she’ll return another night.

We crash into a colorful pillow display.
I fly through the air from the cart.
Mom falls on her back with into a sleigh.
Another Mom remarks, “Well that wasn’t smart.”
Mom scrambles to where I landed.
In the middle of the fight, I’m now stranded.

Oh, shopping lists
Shopping lists
Keep us on track.
Mom won’t turn back,
Unless there’s a fight.
Then, she’ll return another night.

Much to Mom’s shock.
I stole the truck from the fighting pair’s grip.
I hope they will take stock
Of their exploits during this trip.
No item on a shopping list merited a fight.
Surely the adults know this isn’t right.

Oh, shopping lists
Shopping lists
Keep us on track.
Mom won’t turn back,
Unless there’s a fight.
Then, she’ll return another night.

Mom chases me out the door,
As I whizz by a man in red suit,
Her list falls to the floor.
By this point, the missing item is moot.
“Don’t worry,” the man said. “I can grab this treat.
And drop it from my sleigh when I’m on your street.”

Merry Christmas!

My inspiration for this:

 My own poor shopping cart moments. This pix is a little fuzzy, but I hope you get the idea. 

I know my meter is off in this entry, but wanted to try. Thanks for reading my attempt. 

Also, I'm over at Writing from the Peak — Pikes Peak Writers Blog talking about What Happens the Morning After a Writing Challenge? I talk about PiBoIdMo and 12 x12. 

Now, that' I've posted mine, Enzo and I can read all the other entries.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12x Party!

I love picture books. 

I love reading them.

I love writing them.

I love watching my son eat them, sleep with them and look at them.

I even love it when he demands "more books!" Of course, we're working on the demands, but he's 2.5.

I'm so very grateful for the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge and more grateful it will continue in 2013.

I'm struggling with my December manuscript. I had hoped to finish it before this post, but no such luck. Don't worry. I'll write one before we see 2013, because I'm a seasoned picture book writer. I have 18 drafts already completed this year.

This challenge has kept me motivated, connected and inspired. Thank you Julie Hedlund — even before your awesome video. Thank you also to the inspiring writers in the 12x group. I appreciate your support, expertise and spirit. You all make this writing thing feel easy, even though it's not.

I look forward to 2013 for this challenge and many more opportunities to learn and to write.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Winning! A break

Nope. That's not a fun title for a Perfect Picture Book Friday post.

I'm going to be realistic and call "Break!" right now. You know that's like calling "Shotgun!" or "Last piece." Well, maybe not. See, I'm not making sense. "Break!"

I'm in the middle of final projects — two complete websites — at this very minute. When I was testing a link, I realized I hadn't posted my Perfect Picture Book Friday. 

Instead, I'll just share this:

Yep. I'm a winner!

I wrote 97 picture book ideas in November. This badge is a great prize, plus all those ideas.

Once my projects are complete, I will write my 12x draft, write a little holiday contest story, and write my goals for 2013. If all goes well with my final projects, I'll have a real website and can mark that off my list. Of course, I'll enjoy Christmas (we visit Santa on Saturday), family, and holiday treats.

Have a wonderful December and holiday season!

Friday, November 30, 2012

PPBF: Zoo Poo

We found this Perfect Picture Book Friday at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo:

Zoo Poo
Written and Illustrated by Richard Morgan
Barron's, 2004

Suitable for: Ages 2 and up

Theme/Topic: Poo, Potty Training

Opening: "How do you doo-doo at the zoo?"

Brief Synopsis: Charlie watches the animals poo-in-progress during a visit to the zoo. In the end, he shows how he poos differently.

Link to Resources: The book has a page of tips for parents to talk about potty training. Charlie leaves a note of encouragement at the end of the story explaining his potty experience.

Why I chose the book: This was an impulse purchase as we "exited through the gift shop." Earlier, we watched a hippo swimming with her floating poop. Plus, I have a boy. I may need to familiarize myself with bathroom/poo-type humor. Anyone have a great resource or potty training tip? I may need those myself soon.

To find more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog.

I hope everyone had a great Picture Book Idea Month. I've spent a lot of time in hiding doing homework and wrapping up final projects for this semester, but have been jotting down ideas. My goal next year should be for one a day. PiBoIdMo always gets the creative juices flowing. Thanks again Tara Lazar!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Writing from the Peak: Pictures Could be Worth a Thousand Fines

Here's my latest post for Pikes Peak Writers:

Writing from the Peak: Pictures Could be Worth a Thousand Fines: By Stacy S. Jensen Do you use photos on your blog? Yes. Do you know what happened to Author Roni Loren? If the answer is no, tak...

Friday, November 23, 2012

PPBF: The New Bear at School

Another library find for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

The New Bear at School
Written by Carrie Weston
Illustrated by Tim Warnes
Scholastic Press, 2007

Suitable for: Ages 4 and up

Theme/Topic: School, New Kid, Bullies, Friendship

Opening: The day that Miss Cluck said there was going to be a new animal in the class, everyone was very excited.

Brief Synopsis: The new kid Boris, a bear, has a difficult time fitting in at his new school. He's different than the other children. His size doesn't help and he scares some of his classmates. When trouble finds the students on their walk home, they discover Boris is just trying to be nice.

Link to Resources: New Kid on the Block lesson. The lesson plans are geared toward older children.  Penny Klostermann shared The Gingerbread Man Loose for PPBF about the first day of school with resources.

Why I chose the book: Tim Warnes illustrations are very lovable. My quick photo doesn't do justice to the expression on Boris' face. It's a sweet book with a powerful message about fitting into new places and with new people. It looks like this book may be called Oh, Boris! in the UK. It also looks like a fifth Boris book will be released in 2013.

To find more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog.

Friday, November 16, 2012

PPBF: AlphaBetter

Another library find for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Written by Dan Bar-el
Illustrated by Graham Ross
Orca Book Publishers, 2006

Suitable for: Ages preschool to grade 1

Theme/Topic: Alphabet, Sharing

Opening: Alberto had an alligator, but he didn't have a bathing suit.

Brief Synopsis: In this offbeat alphabet book, children find themselves with the wrong objects for the tasks at hand until they find a way to help each other out.

Link to Resources: Alphabet Letter Worksheets A list of 10 online lesson plans for Learning ABCs. The story provides an opportunity to talk about sharing with others.

Why I chose the book: You know from the title the book is different. When I opened it up, I enjoyed the unique illustrations for each letter's character. An alphabet book with a fun, unexpected ending is always nice. We are reading a lot of ABC and counting books right now. This book provided a nice twist in our reading experience.

To find more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Special Guest Author Clara Bowman-Jahn

Today, please welcome Clara. She shares her path to publication for Annie's Special Day with a small publisher. You'll have to read to the end to know what kind of dance she did. I wrote about the book here.

My Publishing Story 

By Clara Bowman-Jahn

After I wrote “Annie’s Special Day” I started sending off query letters that my writing group had critiqued to a list of publishers my mentor friend, Bobbi Carducci had given me. There was a list for snail mail and a list for email.  

I started sending off letters to both of them simultaneously. I got many rejections and few agents were polite enough to say anything on the SASE form letter they sent back to me. 

Then I happened to look at my query letter. I saw blatant errors! Typos! Sentence structure! I couldn’t imagine how I had sent such a letter out on such an important errand! How did that happen? I couldn’t imagine how. I was crushed. It’s one of those things you have one chance at.

Then I learned about the Muse online writer’s conference. On the website I saw where authors could pitch their book to a publisher or agent and maybe get a manuscript looked at. However by the time I saw this there were no openings on the publishers who specialized in picture books. Then, the last day, Saturday, two publishers I hadn’t seen before opened up at 10 a.m. with a pitch session. 

One was eTreasurespublishers. There really was no time for me to any research before 10 a.m. So I put in my request and waited till the time for me to go into the pitching session.

Martha, the publisher of eTreasures was very friendly and easy to talk to (or should I say type to) LOL. She laughed with me when I misspelled her name. That kind of broke the ice right then and there. Martha liked that the kids themselves would be able to read the book because I had written it in easy to read text. She asked for the manuscript right away and from the web site under submissions I saw were she would reply in two to three weeks. 

After three weeks I contacted them asking about the status of the book and she said she had filed the contract in her filing cabinet but had not sent out to me. LOL. So I got the contract! Did my Scooby dance, looked it over and sent it back. And that’s the end of my publishing story.

But when you get a small press the story doesn’t end there. You need to have the illustrator, the book cover, the text embedded and the book formatted. That’s all up to you. Fortunately my husband was up to learning all this with the help of a printer friend, Sue Walls. And my story about how I Found my illustrator is famous. I’ll tell you all about it on another post.

Clara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for thirty two years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short  stories have been published in the anthology of the “Campaigner’s Challenges 2011” Book.

When Clara is not writing, she does volunteer  work for a local elementary school and her church. She also likes taking long walks with her husband, blogging, and reading books. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, a senior dog and  two cats. And she  is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson. 

You can learn more about Clara over at Patricia Tilton's Children's Books Heal. Patricia's author interview appeared on Nov. 12. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

PPBF: Roar of a Snore

I found this Perfect Picture Book at the library: 
Roar of a Snore
Written by Marsha Diane Arnold
Pictures by Pierre Pratt
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2006

Suitable for: Ages 3 and up

Theme/topic: Sleep

Opening: The sky was dark. The stars were bright.
Each Huffle fast asleep that night.

Brief Synopsis: Disturbed by a deafening snore, Jake wakes up the family and animals one by one in search of the noisy culprit.

Link to resources: Activities on the author's website include Building Storytelling Skills. The activity sheet can be downloaded as a PDF or a Word document.

Why I chose the book: I found this at the library and fell in love with the names in the book — Blue, Sue, Papa Ben and Mama Gwyn, Josie Jo and Jennie Lynn — as Jack investigates the noise. Re-reading the book for this post also reminded me of my recent trip to visit family. The whole house rumbled with noises as everyone slept. I know I wasn't snoring, only because I was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework.

To find more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog.

Friday, November 2, 2012

PPBF: Trucks Whizz! Zoom! Rumble!

Trucks: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble!
Written by Patricia Hubbell
Illustrated by Megan Halsey
Marshall Cavendish Children, 2003

Suitable for: Ages 3 and up

Theme/topic: Trucks, Occupations (associated with trucks), Rhyming

Old trucks,
New trucks,
Going to the zoo trucks.

Brief Synopsis: This is a simple rhyming story about all types of trucks, their noise and occupations.

Link to resources: Kindergarten transportation unit, Crayola lesson on Trucks at Work. We spend a lot of time spotting trucks while in the car or looking at construction vehicles in our neighborhood.

Why I chose the book: I met the illustrator Megan Halsey at the Denver-SCBWI conference. She talked about her personal mixed media collage projects and how those led to work projects. The illustrations are awesome. You also don't have to stop with trucks. Hubbell and Halsey teamed up for several transportation vehicle books. The best reason to choose this book — this is the one that's been "missing in action" for several weeks. I found it in a pile of books after Enzo emptied his bookshelf. He's a helper.

To find more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloweensie: Boo!

Happy Halloween!

Author Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting a Halloweensie Story contest this week.

Wilda, Frankie and Barry
By Stacy S. Jensen

A witch, Frankenstein and a bat walked down the street with pumpkin shaped pails.

The trio yelled “Trick-or-Treat” at every door, until they arrived at the Nelson place.

Vines snaked along the dark path to the front door.

“I’m scared,” Frankie said.

“I need a light,” Wilda said.

“I want to go home,” Barry said fluttering his wings.

Before anyone knocked, they saw a flash of red as Santa jumped out. 


“I want my Mummy,” the children screamed all the way home.

Santa scratched his head. "But, the last group of kids got a treat.”


Good grief, I couldn't figure out how to write this one. The result: Four different versions. They all seemed to have a line similar to a picture book I've recently read or wanted to read. 

As time slipped away, I decided on "Boo!" So, for those Owl Babies fans, you'll note the nod to "I want my mommy." That's my digital collage at the top, using images I recently purchased for a use just like this. One day, I hope to create my own characters.

I can't wait to read the entries this year. Please visit Susanna's blog for the 100 words or less stories.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: It Looked Like Spilt Milk

Before I share my Perfect Picture Book Friday, I wrote about the Denver SCBWI conference on Writing from the Peak the Pikes Peak Writers blog.

Now for some milk and ... Oh, I knocked over my glass. Good thing there's a book for that and it's my choice for Perfect Picture Books this week.

It Looked Like Spilt Milk
Written and Illustrated Charles G. Shaw
Harper Collins Publishers, 1947

Suitable for: ages 4 and up

Theme/topic: Shapes, Imagination

Opening: Sometimes it looked like Spilt Milk. But it wasn't Spilt Milk.

Brief Synopsis: "The white shaped silhouetted against a blue background changes on every page. Is it a rabbit, a bird, or just spilt milk? Children are kept guessing until the surprise ending — and will be encouraged to improvise similar games of their own." — from Amazon

Link to resources: There are lots of lesson plans and activities available for shapes. This is a SPOILER ALERT, but a nice day activity would be to stare at the clouds and talk about the shapes you see. A messy activity would be to spill some milk and study the shapes. This might be a spontaneous activity rather than a planned one. We still spill milk around our house.

Why I chose the book: I found this book at the library. It's a simple story with a surprise ending.

To find more Perfect Picture Books visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

I know many of you have signed up for  Picture Book Idea Month already. If you haven't, please do. I had tons of fun participating last year. The challenge made me take time to write down my ideas. Those ideas now provide a dose of inspiration when I can't think of what to write for my 12 x 12 in 2012 draft. Happy Writing!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

PPBF: Rhyming on Rushmore from A to Z

Here's my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Rhyming on Rushmore from A to Z
Written by Jodi Holley Latza
Modern Photography by Greg Latza
Mount Rushmore History Association, 2005, second printing 2010

Suitable for: ages 4 to 8

Theme/Topic: History, Mount Rushmore

Opening:  "A is for America. Mount Rushmore embodies the hopeful foundation of an independent, fair, democratic nation. A home for all people, despite wealth or needs, America welcomes all colors and creeds."

Brief Synopsis: Discover the history behind Mount Rushmore, the man who carved a mountain Gutzon Borglum and the presidents on Mount Rushmore in this book. The alphabet takes the reader through the history and "Did you know?" facts about the monument. 

Link to resources: The National Park Service has a page with several activities on its site under For KidsMount Rushmore Teacher's Guide from the American Experience at PBS. If you visit, it's fun to find your state in the Avenue of Flags. I've never sat there and counted, but the book tells you how many are displayed. It's 56 to be exact — 50 states plus districts, territories and commonwealths of the United States.
My guys at "The Faces"

Why I chose the book: Our family visited Mount Rushmore several weeks ago. I insist on a visit every time I go to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I found several picture books in the gift shop near the museum exhibit. The book incorporates historic photos with some modern ones to illustrate each letter of the alphabet. K is for Kids is my favorite letter. You'll have to read it to find out why. 

I've visited Mount Rushmore four times in the last five years. My first visit coincided with the annual Independence Day Fireworks display. It's the I in the book. I've had my photo taken in front of my current state during each visit. I'm up to three states so far. 

And, for those wondering, this is NOT the misplaced book from last week. That book remains missing.  One day, I'm sure it will appear. Thank goodness it wasn't a library book. Have a great week. 

For more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: The Sneetches

Here's my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

The Sneetches and Other Stories
Written and Illustrated by Dr. Seuss
Random House, 1961, renewed 1989

Suitable for: ages 4 and up

Theme/Topic: Diversity, Discrimination

Opening: "Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches
Had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches
Had none upon thars.

Those stars weren't so big. They were really so small
You might think such a thing wouldn't matter at all."

Brief Synopsis:
Ah, the stars do matter to the Sneetches. Everything changes when Sylvester McMonkey McBean "the Fix-it-Up Chappie" arrives and promises to fix it all — for a fee. Confusion follows as Sneetches remove stars and add them. The other three stories in this book are whimsical, funny and share a message.

Link to Resources: Apples4Teacher has some games and activities involving Sneetches. Teaching Tolerance has an anti-racism activity for The Sneetches. The Teach Peace Now site shares a learning activity video called A Class Divided.

Why I chose the book:  Toddler Tornado aka Enzo had a long day on Thursday. I couldn't find the book I planned to review. "Here booky. Come out booky." Why doesn't that work? The book may be hiding under a pile — that's my code name for organization. Before bed, Enzo grabbed The Sneetches. I was hesitant to read it with him, because he doesn't always tolerate the length of Dr. Seuss books. He sat there hand under chin, listened to every word and studied the illustrations of the yellow sneetches with stars and without.

An hour later, I saw a few "plain-belly sneetches" and "star-belly sneetches"-like comments on Facebook and Twitter during the vice presidential debate. So, it was probably a good thing that I have "misplaced" my other book. The sneetches made me focus on tolerance and different viewpoints.

Don't worry, Toddler Tornado will kick up some dust (or a stack of picture books) to find my intended selection. I have faith in his abilities to find the right book at the right moment.

For more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm on the move

On the Move!

Last week, I talked about Peepsqueak! being on the move for Perfect Picture Book Friday. This week, well, I'm on the move. I wish I could say I have a new website ready, but that's not an announcement for this week.

Since the SCBWI conference in Denver, I compressed homework, family life, a little fun, etc. into a short week. Then, we traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota to visit with Hubby's parents. Enzo enjoyed visiting Grandma and Grandpa. I took lots of shadow people pictures. Why? I'm not sure, but I'm sure it will reveal itself to me one day.

I researched and sketched out a draft for a non-fiction picture book idea — perhaps the beginning of my October 12 x 12 in 2012 draft. 

Instead of adding another book to the PPBF list, I'm spending my weekend catching up with books from the last two weeks (and on homework). I picked up a couple of picture books at Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. These may make a future post.

I will be guest blogging at Beverly Diehl's on Oct. 8 for her series about Domestic Violence Awareness month. I worked at a domestic violence shelter and talk about that experience. 

Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: Peepsqueak!

Here's my Perfect Picture Book selection for the week:
Enzo's copy of Peepsqueak!
Written and Illustrated by Leslie Ann Clark
Harper, 2012

Suitable for: Ages 4 and up (per Amazon, but I think it's great for the toddler age group)

Theme/Topic: Determination, Animals, Exploration

Opening: One sunny morning, Peepsqueak popped out of his shell. All the other baby chicks were stretching and yawning. But not Peepsqueak! Because why?

He was on the move!

Brief Synopsis: Peepsqueak wants to fly high, but all the other animals tell him not to try and "You can't fly!" Peepsqueak keeps trying and well, you'll see what he can do at the end of the story.

Link to resources: Learning to Fly (a picture book I previously added to PPBF) to see another take on the wanting to fly adventure. Here's a Baby Chick jigsaw puzzle online. Some cute baby chick crafts, so you could try and make your own Peepsqueak!

Why I chose the book: I heard Leslie Ann Clark share her story about how she evolved over the years as an artist and how Peepsqueak hatched into a book at the Rocky Mountain Region SCBWI conference last weekend in Denver. She was inspirational.

As an illustrator, she developed her Peepsqueak character first. At a licensing show (where artists attempt to sell their work to different companies to use on their fabrics, gift items, etc.), Clark's Peepsqueak was discovered by a publisher. She was asked to write the story.  I poked around Leslie's blog and well this one shows what a nice person she is: New Every Morning. The Peepsqueak adventure continues with the release of a second book in 2013.

12 x 12 in 2012

I also "called" Peepsqueak! for Perfect Picture Book Friday when I saw Penny looking at it in the bookstore area. I've mentioned before the need to do a book review fast, before someone else posts it.

What can I say about meeting fellow 12 x 12 in 2012 participants? Beyond awesome. I met some of the 12xers online like Penny, Julie Rowan-Zoch and our fearless leader Julie Hedlund. Then, at the conference I met them plus more participants like Beth Thaler. It was like instant friends — just add a conference (well, a little water too as it's dry here in Colorado)!

Julie Rowan-Zoch and I talked and talked and talked at the end of a day filled with author speeches and workshops. She may never want to be my roommate again.
Julie Rowan-Zoch, Megan Halsey and Me
Julie and I both attended the Under the Creative Umbrella workshop by artist Megan Halsey. She shared her personal art, children's picture book illustration, editorial art, giftware products and licensing work. Her presentation was both inspiring and refreshing. It was a wonderful reminder that markets — for books and magazines — can change. Megan has reinvented and branded herself in several markets as a result.

Megan mentioned she uses photos from conferences to post on her Facebook wall, etc. So, I grabbed roommate Julie and we had our photo taken together. We may wind up on a Facebook wall near you.

I'm still catching up after the weekend conference. I'm checking off items on my to-do list, so I can apply the tips and techniques I learned in workshops.

The Pikes Peak Writer's group blog Writing from the Peak is letting me contribute a monthly post. I'll share some tips from the SCBWI conference there. I'll let you know when it gets posted.

Jenny Lee Sulpizio interviewed me for her Write on, Mom! series. You can read why I'm on my iPhone a lot — it's not just all Facebook, Twitter and email. Sometimes, I'm ... well, you can read about it here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: Too Pickley

Here's my Perfect Picture Book selection for the week:

Too Pickley!
Written by Jean Reidy
Illustrated by Geneviéve Leloup
Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, 2010

Suitable for: Ages 3 and up

Theme/Topic: Food habits, picky eaters, rhyme

Opening: I am hungry!

Brief Synopsis: The book opens with such a declaration then it goes where parents and children alike don't like to be — at odds with what's on the plate. This little boy just won't have any of it for various reasons like " too wrinkly" or "too fruity."

Link to Resources: Jean Reidy has a link to an activity guide on her website. She is also doing free Skype visits to schools. If you are a teacher or parent, you may want to check and see if she has time available for your school.

Why I chose this book: Jean Reidy's Too Series — Too Purpley! and Too Princessy! books — are too much fun in a very, brief book. You won't find a 1,000-word story here. Oh, no, it's more like 47 words. The main character and his sidekick are wonderful.

For more picture books and resources, please check out Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog.

I'm not sure how much blog hopping I'll do this weekend as I'm attending the SCBWI regional conference in Denver. Instead of leaving messages on some of my fellow 12 x 12 in 2012 participants' blogs, I will be saying,"Howdy" in person.

I can't think of a better way to spend a Perfect Picture Book Friday (or a weekend) than sitting in picture book workshops and being surrounded by writers and illustrators. My goal this weekend is to be a sponge and soak it all up.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: Sarah Gives Thanks

Here's my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday: 

Written by Mike Allegra
Illustrated by David Gardner
Albert Whitman & Company, September 2012

Suitable for: Amazon says grade level 1 and up. 

Theme/Topic: Thanksgiving, Determination, Women, Non-fiction

Opening: The turkey was fresh from the oven. Sarah Josepha Hale asked her five children to join hands in thanksgiving.

The baby grabbed on to Sarah's finger, but the other four hesitated. Sarah understood. They had just returned from their father's grave and were not in a thankful mood. 

So she bowed her head alone.

Brief Synopsis: From Amazon: During the nineteenth century, Sarah Josepha Hale dedicated her life to making Thanksgiving a national holiday, all while raising a family and becoming a groundbreaking writer and women's magazine editor. Sarah Hale's inspiring story, accompanied by luscious watercolor illustrations, tells the tale of one woman who wouldn't take no for an answer.

Link to Resources: Lots of fun ideas and discussions to go with this book. Lesson ideas from Education World and Family Education. Families can talk about the things they are thankful for at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. When I worked at newspapers, most featured stories from children on "How to Cook a turkey." Many of the answers were priceless. Parents can also talk about how girls were educated during Sarah's time as well as her work as a women's magazine editor. There are lots of historical facts and details woven into the story. 

Why I chose this book: Well, I had to post it now or someone else would! 

I met Mike Allegra in the blogosphere. I was intrigued by Sarah Hale's story after reading his my book page. The story is too text heavy for my son. Without him tugging at the pages, I learned how Sarah Hale survived and thrived during the time period after he husband died. 

We live in an instant communication age where we share information through blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates. Sarah Hale didn't have that. She used pen and paper (and the mail) to send her message to presidents. She reached out to other women through her magazine. It's riveting to see how Sarah Hale's 36-year effort unfolds in the story.

For more picture books and resources, please check out Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday: For a busy life

Photo By Tracy S. Williams
The streets are paved with purple? Or are they?

I altered three areas of this photo, so maybe it's purple or not. 

I've decided to keep my once a week blog schedule. I used to post three times a week and enjoyed it. Over the summer, I took a break from that schedule as I added some community college courses into my routine. The classes were fun and now fall semester is in full swing. 

My class load isn't overwhelming — two website design classes. I'm also assembling a digital photography portfolio to get credit for prior learning for a course. Throw in writing, revision and a little thing called family and life. Well, it you are doing the math, it adds up to busy. 

Who isn't busy? 

Silence. I can't think of a single person. 

The once a week blog schedule is my way of keeping my world in check. I may post on other days at random, when I have a guest or when I'm on another blog. And, I'll still be reading and stopping by your blogs to say, "Hi."

I'm thankful that I'm old enough to realize there are only so many hours in the day. Now, to return to the dream of a place with purple streets. 

I'll see you for Perfect Picture Book Fridays

Friday, September 7, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: The Splatters Learn Some Manners

Perfect Picture Book Fridays is back! (This deserves more than one exclamation point, but I've already broken the rule of allowing one exclamation point per 100,000 words. Don't worry this is short.) 

Here's my selection this week. 

The Splatters Learn Some Manners
Written by Marty Mokler Banks
Illustrated by Cecilia Rébora
Harvest House Publishers, 2009

Suitable for: Ages 3 and up

Theme/Topic: Manners, Rhyme

Opening: The Splatters are messy,
Disheveled, uncouth.
So vulgar and sloppy,
It's just the sad truth.

Brief Synopsis: The Splatters are a messy family until they get an invitation from the Duches to join her for a family dinner. The catch? The family needs to clean up their home and themselves plus learn some manners. Activity pages from School Express on Manners.

Link to Resources: I'm terrible at singing with my son, but I found this site which includes two manners songs.

Why I chose this book: I mentioned the author Marty in a post about the local SCBWI group. She released a chapter book and as I encouraged people to scoop up her book for free, I found The Splatters on Amazon. I found a copy at the local library to check out the first time Enzo and I read it. Now, we own a copy.

The illustrations are rich in color and show a quirky multi-generational family. It's a feast of words and pictures.

For more picture books and resources, please check out Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Birthday Pie

This year's birthday pie
Please. Grab a fork and have a bite. 

My husband indulged me this year for his birthday. I tried a no bake chocolate cheesecake with a gluten free crust. The cheesecake was spot on. The crust ... well a friend said it tasted a bit stale. I used organic, gluten free chocolate rice puff cereal. 

Like so many things in my life lately, it was worth taking a risk and trying a new recipe. I'm thankful Hubby approved a different pie this year. It was his birthday treat. Last year's rustic apple pie still gives me nightmares. 

I also dreaded trying a gluten free crust this year. We found a pricey alternative to wheat flour — C4C. It's so worth it. Hubby can make a beautiful, lattice topped pie crust using Cup For Cup or regular flour. 

While my gluten free pie crust may be stale, I haven't felt that way in other creative endeavors. I'll steal the phrase most use for my toddler tornado (typically with a shake of the head), "Busy, busy, busy." You know what I mean as you are all "busy, busy," too. 

I'm grateful for a new semester of classes, the return of Perfect Picture Book Fridays and that gluten free eating has helped Hubby.

What's your favorite birthday treat?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Annie's Special Day

Many of you know Clara Bowman-Jahn

I purchased the e-book version of Clara's book Annie's Special Day. It's a fun read. 

The story: 
In Annie's Special Day, a little girl celebrates her birthday with an adventure every hour. It is a basic concept book about time and clocks.
We learn what Annie does throughout her birthday — all 24 hours of it. There are a variety of scenes, clocks and activities taking place in the story to add to her fun and the reading experience.

The book is written for a 5 to 7 year old, but Enzo liked the clocks  (one of his first words) and the noises in the beginning.

The illustrations by Claudia Wolf show a fun and enthusiastic Annie. She's a very cute character. Plus, I like all the different types of clocks throughout the story, especially the watches. I rarely see children wear those, because they have cellphones! Ah, technology.

The book is published through eTreasures Publishing. Clara would love it if you checked it out.

She's written a blog post about her publishing story, but I'm saving that for October as part of her blog tour. Plus, she's like so many of us she's on a little break and I didn't want to interrupt her time away. I did want to introduce you to the book.

I met Clara through the Platform Building Campaigner's Challenge last year. Here's some information from her bio:

Clara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for 32 years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short  stories have been published in the anthology of the “Campaigner’s Challenges 2011” Book. When Clara is not writing, she does volunteer  work for a local elementary school and her church. She also likes taking long walks with her husband, blogging, and reading books. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, a senior dog and two cats. And she is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson.
If you download the ebook, it's a large file. The publisher has instructions on what to do in case you have any problems. I wasn't able to upload the file to my Kindle due to it's size, but it looks great and reads well from my computer.

I hope my friends in the states have a wonderful Labor Day! Enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday: SCBWI

Marty's book will be free on Amazon this weekend.

I never know how to say that, so I try to rattle off — Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. People sometimes still look at me confused. Others just know that the mouthful of words and letters means something to children's writers.

I love the resources offered by SCBWI, especially the discounts. I joined in 2011, so I could get a discount for a local picture book retreat. Bonus: I can attend the local SCWBI critique sessions organized by two wonderful writers — Marty Mokler Banks and Anne Eliot.

The local meetings are critical for me. While the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge has me writing. I always need a kick in the pants on the revision part. A critique group date forces me to get my work in shape to share with others, so the group helps me on several levels.

SCBWI is my only time for picture book critique. I've avoided an online group due to other time commitments. Now, the local SCBWI writers are beginning a monthly in-person group. I hope to hire a babysitter for a few hours and participate. My participation depends heavily on how my class schedule treats me.

At our last meeting, we discussed many issues plus ate jam bars made by Vivian Kirkfield from Postivite Parental Participation. Vivian and I shared many of our online resources with the group like Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 in 2012, Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book, Rate Your Story and The Meter Maids.

Marty Banks shared she's published her chapter book The Adventures of Tempest & Serena. It's free this weekend through an Amazon promotion. She wants people to check it out and review it. I haven't read the book yet, but look forward to it. I enjoyed Marty's picture book The Splatters Learn Some Manners.

Anne has a young adult novel Almost: A Love Story published.

I appreciate both Marty and Anne for organizing this group of writers to meet, to share work and to talk about writing.

The Rocky Mountain SCBWI will host its fall conference Sept. 22-23 in Denver. I'm excited about this event, especially the two-part workshop on picture book revision by Jean Reidy.

While it does cost an annual fee to join SCBWI, I definitely get my money's worth from the organization.

Don't forget, grabbing a copy of Marty Mokler Banks' book won't cost you a single penny this weekend (Aug. 24-26).

Happy plotting, writing and revising!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Kids' Week

Here's my ode to The Word Shark. *

My friend The Word Shark Karen S. Elliott is hosting a special week filled with children's writers on her blog.

I am always thankful for Karen's themed weeks and her Editor Spotlight series.

I know many are returning to school and fall routines, but if you have a moment check out the series. I always meet someone new during these series. So far, the diversity of publication paths and work processes sticks out to me. There are so many ways to reach publication.

Here are links to the posts (I've updated them since this post first published. It's a complete week with lots of great information):

An Interview with Chris Eboch — She shares her most recent historical fiction book and some about her process. When she talked about outlines, this struck me (a sort of pantser):
I figure a strong outline is the equivalent of two drafts.
Author and Illustrator, Harri Romney  — She picked up drawing 20 years after her college days to illustrate her own books. On her website, she offers a way to purchase her characters on T-shirts, buttons, etc.

Author Jessica Messinger — I'm impressed her husband illustrated her story.

Author Darlene Foster — Who may still be 12 at heart, which helps her write books for tweens.

Illustrator, Book Designer Janice Phelps Williams — She shares her process of working with an author.

Writer Allyn Stotz — She shares her journey to become a published picture book author.

* I just finished a semester of working with Illustrator. I need all the practice I can get, so here you go. My version of The Word Shark with her red pencil. Hee hee. Practice. Practice. Practice. Have a great day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Cast

Enzo remains up to his usual antics.

It's OK to wince. 

Strangers did every where we've been with Enzo since last Thursday. 

He broke his arm. He tripped and fell in the living room on the carpet. There were no super hero jumps or Olympic moves. He ran. He fell. 

People anticipate a better story. I can tell by their reactions that "he tripped and fell" doesn't satisfy. 

He did well during the four-hour trip to the ER. None of us enjoyed the X-rays. We were able to get a cast on Friday morning after a few hours of sleep. 

The cast is doing its job. Enzo runs around like normal. He's managed to black his eye and bloody his lip and knees. We anticipate about four weeks in the cast and then a splint. 

I'm thankful the cast is protecting his arm. The break needs to heal. Getting him to rest or slow down is always another story. 

Many  people have said, "Welcome to raising a boy" when they see the cast. I pray we don't have years of these types of falls ahead of us. I like a drama-free life, especially in the area of family health. 

I may craft him an outfit out of Bubble Wrap and packing tape. It would make me feel better.