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?