"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

2/27/15

God Gave Us You: Perfect PIcture Book Friday

Just under two years old
Today, my oldest turns 14. In September, he starts high school. And really, neither of these facts has really sunk in yet. I am having a TOUGH time getting my mind around these facts.

And because of this, I though I would share one of my very, very
September 2014
favorite picture books with you today - one that my mother-in-law got me for a baby shower gift when my oldest was born, and that I often give to other new mothers as a shower gift.

And not just because I'm sentimental (but that IS probably 98% of the reason, if I'm honest) - but because I think this is a lovely book to add to Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday.
Title: God Gave Us You

Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

Illustrator: Laura J. Bryant

Publisher: WaterBrook Press, 2000, fiction

Age Range: 3-7

Theme/Topics:babies, mothers, God, love

First Page: "Good night, sweet child," Mama said as she tucked Little Cub in.

But Little Cub wasn't quite ready to go to sleep.

"Mama, where did I come from?" she asked.

Synopsis: When a charming polar bear cub climbs into bed one night, she asks her Mama a very important question--one that little "human cubs" often wonder about, too: "Where did I come from?"

As Mama bear tucks her youngest cub under the quilts, she gently, tenderly, and reassuringly communicates the message loving parents everywhere (bears and non-bears alike) want their little ones to hear: "We wanted you very, very much, and we are so very glad because—God gave us you."

Resources: This probably isn't a book for the classroom proper, but here are some "Sunday-school type" lessons you can use. God made families part 1 and 2. (Maybe this ISN'T a perfect fit for PPBF, but sorry - I'm sharing it anyway. Mama's prerogative!)

Why I LOVE it: Besides the reasons I listed above? Because it is so incredibly sweet. Because it STILL makes me choke up when I read it. Because it is the perfect bedtime story. Because, in this world where folks do NOT necessarily value children, it does. Because the illustrations are lovely. Because the language is beautiful. JUST BECAUSE!

(Just a note - this book is specifically about mothers who give birth to their children - as opposed to adoption, or any other way families come together)

Hope you'll not mind my sappy, sentimental pick this week and 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

Oh - and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREW!
 
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

2/25/15

Getting Better - With Your Help!?

One of my 2015 goals is to do at least one specific, relatively substantial, thing to improve my children's writing craft each month. And today, with your help, I'm doing my "thing" for February.

I am over at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog today, participating in her Would You Read it Wednesday feature. I have a pitch for one of my picture books in progress up there, and folks have an opportunity to give their feedback on it to help me improve my craft.

Anyone can throw their two cents in - and I am REALLY looking for constructive criticism. Negative, to me, is better than kudos - truly! I can't grow if I don't get help to improve. So, would ya pop over and let me know if "you would read it?"

For the curious - my January "thing" was Meg Miller's ReviMo (revise more picture books), where I did some serious revision on two of my picture book manuscripts and learned TONS about effective revision.

March? I am getting excited about a new monthlong challenge, hosted by the wonderful and energetic Carrie Charlie Brown. Studying picture books as mentor texts is the focus of ReFoReMo (Reading for Research Month), and I KNOW I will learn a bunch on how to make my MSes as good
as they can be - and how to use the picture books I read to help with that.

April will focus on rhyme, as I participate in Angie Karcher's RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month). Did this one last year, and was blessed much. Looking forward to another great month of learning.

As far as the months after that? Not sure, other than Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo in November. But I will, Lord willing, find a way to get better each month.

And in the meantime - couldja stop by Susanna's blog?

 
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

2/20/15

The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty: Perfect Picture Book Friday

Well, I'm back! Did you miss me? I've been pretty busy the past few weeks, and Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday has been put on the back burner at my blog. But now it's back (and so am I :D) - with this delightful book that charmed my socks off.

Title: The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty

Author/Illustrator: Karla Strambini

Publisher: Candlewick, 2014, fiction

Age Range: 5-8

Theme/Topics: imagination, fear, changing the world, confidence

First Sentence:There once was a man named Norman Qwerty...whose ideas were far from ordinary.

Synopsis: Mr. Qwerty worries that his ideas might seem strange, so he keeps them under his hat. But extraordinary ideas refuse to stay hidden for long.

Norman Qwerty is a man of many ideas, and none of them are the least bit ordinary. He’s quite certain that no one else thinks the way he does, and this makes him keep to himself. But when his ideas get too big to hold in, he builds the most extraordinary thing! Soon the beloved Mr. Qwerty is never alone (unless he wants to be), and the world will never be the same.

Resources: This book makes use of a couple idioms - thinking cap, keep under your hat. Talk about idioms with the kids - check out this site for a few - and some others here. You can also talk about Rube Goldberg machines (several of which are illustrated in this book)- and perhaps try to make something like one.

Why I LOVE it: I cannot stop thinking about this book. The illustrations are amazing (I think anyone of ANY age could spend an hour at least on each page examining the intricacies), the sparse text is wonderful, the message powerful and empowering. It is absolutely engaging, on so many levels. I think you have to see this one to believe it. And it's by a debut author/illustrator. :)

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

1/30/15

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

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