"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

1/30/15

Prudence Wants a Pet: Perfect Picture Book Friday

I am in (and actually now one of the moderators of) a Facebook group that studies picture books by debut picture book authors who are not also illustrators. What better way to help us figure out what they are looking for out there? It's a great group (ask to join if it sounds like something that might interest you!) and we just finished a book study and interview with the author. And, in the process, I fell in love with January's book. So here it is, as my latest contribution to the lovely Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Title: Prudence Wants a Pet

Author: Cathleen Daly

Illustrator: Stephen Michael King

Publisher: Roaring Book Press, 2011, fiction

Age Range: 4-7

Theme/Topics:pets, persistence, imagination, creativity

First Spread: Prudence wants a pet.

Synopsis (from inside book jacket): Prudence wants a pet. Desperately.
“No,” says Dad, “pets cost too much to keep.”
“No,” says Mom, “pets make noise.”
But Prudence is determined. She finds her own pet. It is a…branch. But Branch isn't exactly the pet of her dreams, and neither are Twig, Mr. Round (a car tire), or her baby brother Milo.
Poor Prudence. Will she ever find the perfect pet?

Resources: Have the kids talk about pets they have, or that they want to have. Make a graph for a visual representation. When have they wanted something very badly? What was it? Did they get it?

Why I LOVE it: The dry humor. The fabulous blending/balance of words and illustrations. Prudence's creativity and imagination. The voice. The story arc. The PERFECT ending. The depth (which you don't necessarily see unless you study it for a week like we did - but it was SO worth it!). I LOVE PRUDENCE.

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.



My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

1/23/15

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Don't Call Me Sidney

I don't know about you, but I grew up with a strong dislike for my name (my first name to some extent, but ESPECIALLY my last - and those of you know the last name I was born with no doubt can understand why). My first name grew on me (and I got to exchange my surname when I met my wonderful husband), but I think this is something that almost every child goes through. For that reason, and several others, I have chosen this fun, silly, delightful book for my contribution to the lovely Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Title: Don't Call Me Sidney

Author: Jane Sutton

Illustrator: Renata Gallio

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010, fiction

Age Range: 3-5 years

Theme/Topics: names, humor, rhyme, appreciating what you have

First Page:It all started on Gabie's birthday. Sidney surprised his good friend with a poem:

"Happy birthday to Gabie,
I've known you since you were a baby.
I hope your day's fun
In the shade or the sun.
You're my best friend for sure, not maybe."

"Thank you, Sidney!" said Gabie, pleased that the forgetful Sidney had remember his birthday. "You have such a way with words."

Sidney grinned. He thought he had a way with words too. But he thought it might be showing off to say so.

Synopsis (from inside book jacket):Sidney love to write rhyming poems for his friends' birthdays, until he realizes his own name doesn't rhyme with anything except...well, kidney. What's a pig with a non-rhyming name to do? Aha! Sidney decides to change his name - with unexpectedly hilarious and poignant results. For any kid who's ever wished for a new name, Sidney's story offers plenty of laughs, and a reassuring dose of subtle and sound advice

Resources: Have the kids try to figure out words that rhyme with their own name - you can use Rhymezone, or a rhyming dictionary, to help. Have the kids find out why their parents picked their name and why it is special to them. If they could change their name, would they? What does their name mean? Most baby name websites have this information.

Why I LOVE it: For one, I can totally relate (and I think a lot of other folks can too). I also love the voice/tone, the humor, and the relationships Sidney has with Gabie - and his mother. Some of the jokes are funny even the 10th time around (to me, anyway - disclaimer: my hubby thought this one was kind of stupid). A fun book all around.

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.


 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

1/16/15

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Elephantantrum!

We ALL know, without even asking, that this picture book idea started with the title, right?? ;) 

I'm back with another fabulous picture book to add to the lovely Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday project. This one impressed me with a lot of things - but especially how UNdidactic it was considering the "lesson."

Title: Elephantantrum!

Author: Gillian Shields

Illustrator: Cally Johnson-Isaacs

Publisher:Tiger Tales, 2013

Age Range: 3-6 years

Theme/Topics: elephants, selfishness, politeness

First Page: Ellie had EVERYTHING.
But she wanted more. She wanted an elephant.
She wouldn't eat or sleep or brush her hair.
She wouldn't smile or play or do her homework.
She wouldn't even get out of bed until she got what she wanted.

Synopsis: There's tears and tantrums in this humorous picture book about manners when Ellie is tired of playing with her toys. Ellie has everything, but she wants more. She wants an elephant. And she won't eat or sleep or brush her hair until she gets one! But when she finally gets her wish, the elephant decides to teach Ellie a thing or two about manners!

Resources: Here is a post about manners kids should know by 5. There are also a LOT of really good discussion starters in the book - about Ellie's selfishness (as well as the elephant's)

Why I LOVE it: It's funny, a little sassy, and extremely clever - and like I said, it teaches a lesson in a totally fun way in a way that is absolutely NOT didactic. And Ellie (and the elephant) are so very relateable!

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.


 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

1/9/15

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Snowbots

I'm back with another fabulous picture book to add to the lovely SusannaLeonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday project. And considering the extremely cold weather in my part of the world today (and the fact that my kids have a snow day off of school today!), I think I picked a good/appropriate one for this particular week!

Title: Snowbots

Author: Aaron Reynolds

Illustrator: David Barneda

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010

Age Range: 5-8 years

Theme/Topics: Snow, Robots, rhyme

First Page:
"In sleep mode,
snoozing,
lying down,
in houses throughout Clackentown
the citizens are unaware
of silver snowflakes in the air."

Synopsis: How do the robot children of Clackentown spend snow days? They have supersonic snowball fights, make robot angels with wing nuts moving up and down, take hot oil baths to thaw out the joints, and receive eskimo kisses on metal noses at bedtime.

Author Aaron Reynolds and illustrator David Barneda team up to tell a hilarious story about two favorite subjects—robots and snow days!

Resources: There are several websites with ideas for keeping your kids occupied during snow days. Here is one. Another one is here. And another here.

Why I LOVE it: Snow and robots- IS there a better combination? Add in some lovely rhymes and beautiful language (with super-fun, clever word play as related to these metal children), and, at least in my book, you've got a winner. I'm not sure I realized how delightful and sweet a book about robots could be. Funny, too :)

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

1/1/15

Stepping into 2015

Welcome to a new year on my blog!

My post yesterday talked about the year that just ended - this one will focus forward, on the one to come.

The year 2014 was the first one when I chose a single word to focus on (and, by the way, didn't bother to talk about it in a blog post), and it was very good for me. Because of that, (and because the Lord nudged me in this direction!) I have selected a new word to focus on for 2015.

I actually had a different word (Steady) chosen a week or so ago, but then God changed my word this past Sunday during our Adult Bible Fellowship. My hope is that my focus word will help me draw closer to my family, the Lord, and maybe even my goal of being a published picture book author.

Speaking of writing goals, I have a few of those for 2015 as well. Unlike last year, I'm going to try to make my goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive) - or closer to it, anyway. So, after much thought, discussion with friends, and prayer, my writing goals for 2015 are as follows:
  • Complete at least twelve picture book rough drafts
  • Do substantial revisions on at least six picture book manuscripts
  • Do at least one specific, relatively substantial, thing to improve my children's writing craft each month (e.g. take a class, read a craft book, participate in a picture book-related challenge, get a substantial critique, etc.).
  •  Work on a picture book manuscript for five minutes or more at least five days a week the vast majority of weeks.
So, there you have it! My one word focus and four goals. And now - onward! 

Do you have a word, or goals, for 2015?

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

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