"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

12/30/15

2015 - Looking Back

I know - I haven't blogged much this year. But it doesn't mean I haven't been pressing forward. And it's good to acknowledge progress, right? So - here I am, doing just that.

At the beginning of 2015, I set some goals - and picked a one word theme. And, as I generally do around this time of year, I am going to look at them and see how I did.

What were they, you ask? Well, here you go - straight from my first post of this year:
  • 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.
 And how did I do?
  • I did NOT complete twelve rough drafts. I would say I managed five or six - but my focus changed a bit later, so I am fine with that.
  • I definitely worked on revisions more this year - though I probably only did five substantial ones
  • January was ReviMo, February was creating and submitting a PB pitch to a blog for feedback, March was ReFoReMo, April RhyPiBoMo, May working through a good portion of a craft book, June I think I skipped, July and August were Kidlit Summer School, September I skipped, October was a one-day children's writer's conference, November was PiBoIdMo, and December I skipped (unless something substantial comes up in the next 48 hours or so :::r:::). So - nine out of twelve months. Not bad :)
  • I went through my little calendar just now (I put a "w" every time I wrote a PB, and a R when I revised) and I did one or the other five times a week 35 out of 52 weeks, with the VAST majority of the rest either four or five days. I am pleased, for the most part.
And - my one word last year was "Closer" - and I feel like it was "a success." It helped keep me focused on making progress in a lot of areas.

So - there it is :)

Watch for another post in the next few days on my word and goals for 2016.

How was YOUR 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

12/11/15

Precious Cargo - a 5th Annual Holiday Contest Entry

Yes - I know I have neglected my blog. This is my first post since April, but when I saw Susanna Hill's 5th Annual Holiday Contest, and checked out the topic, I got an idea immediately - and posting the entry on your blog is kinda part of the process. See the rules - and the other contributions - at her blog. But the basics? 350 words or less, holiday themed, and with a specific first several words (or variation)

So - I got the idea when I looked at the post Monday, but I didn't get it finished until (literally) just now. I hope you like it. (And just FYI: "Chaim" - the Hebrew word for "life," is basically pronounced "HI-yum" - but combined into one syllable)

Precious Cargo

by Joanne Sher

Grazing near the hitching post behind The Belthlehem Inn, Chaim the donkey searched in vain for a water trough. People? Everywhere. Hay? Plenty. But water? Nowhere.

Chaim stretched out his back, working the kinks out. Not only had he traveled all the way from Nazareth, but he'd had precious (and heavy) cargo on his back. His rider was going to have a baby, so he'd tried to walk smoothly and gently, but now his muscles ached.

Chaim dropped to the ground and scratched his back against the brush. “So much better. Now where can I get a drink?”

Fumbling as he attempted to rise, the donkey spotted a small building off in the distance. “Looks like a stable.”

Chaim strode toward it, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth. He sped up as he heard rustling inside, but as he approached, his eyes widened. Human voices? A giggle?

Chaim's ears perked up. He knew those people. But why were they in the stable?

A high pitched wail rang through the stable walls, then ended. As Chaim walked in, he smiled at its source.

His former rider and her husband, standing over a water trough – and inside, a newborn baby wrapped in cloths. Chaim inspected the little one, rubbing up against him and sniffing his tiny fingers. The baby responded with a sigh, and his mother with a rub on Chaim's back. Chaim stuck his dry tongue out in the hopes of a few drops around the child in the trough. Again, nothing.

“You won't find any water here – just our precious baby.” Mary smiled and gazed down at the infant.

The donkey let out a dry cough. Joseph carried a small bucket and placed it under Chaim's nose. “For you, my donkey friend. I am afraid we have been busy since we left you.” He and Mary chuckled.

As he lapped up the water, he heard another strange sound.

“An angel told us to come here to see the Savior.”

Chaim gazed at the shepherds in awe. He had been carrying precious cargo.

**

Hope you enjoyed the story - be sure to stop by Susanna's post and see all the other amazing entries!

 
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

4/17/15

Come On, Rain! Perfect Picture Book Friday

Here's this week's fabulous pick for Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday. And, by the way, fabulous is NOT an understatement. And it is an "older" one (well, older than current, anyway) that is well worth reading.

Title: Come On, Rain!

Author: Karen Hesse

Illustrator: Jon J. Muth

Publisher: Scholastic Press, 1999, fiction

Age Range: 4-8 years

Theme/Topics: city life, heat, rain, relationships

First Spread:"Come on, rain!" I say, squinting into the endless heat.
Mama lifts a listless vine and sighs. "Three weeks and not a drop," she says, sagging over her parched plants.

Synopsis (from Google Books): Come on, Rain!" Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the endless heat. Then the clouds roll in, and the rain pours. And Tess, her friends, and their Mamas join in a rain dance to celebrate the shower that renews both body and spirit. Through exquisite language and acute observation, Karen Hesse evokes this refreshing experience, and Jon J Muth's lyrical artwork perfectly reflects the spirit of the text.

Resources: A read-aloud lesson and paired text questions for this book are here. Kids could also make up their own rain dance, and talk about the differences between wet and dry, the water cycle, and what needs rain to grow.

Why I LOVE it: The language. The imagery. Absolutely masterful. This is truly poetry in prose. Lyrical, lovely, and magical. And, of course, the artwork is also gorgeous (just look at the cover!). A wonderful picture of urban life, diversity, longing, relationships - and so much more. I talk a lot - and this one had me speechless for a good amount of time. (and I just saw this one has already been put on the PPBF list a few years ago - but I can't resist reminding folks of it!)

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

4/10/15

Don't Turn the Page! - Perfect Picture Book Friday

Here's this week's fabulous pick for Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Don't Turn the Page!

Author: Rachel Burk

Illustrator: Julie Dowling

Publisher: Creston Books, 2014, fiction

Age Range: 3-8 years

Theme/Topics: bedtime, rhyme, story within a story

First Page: "How about a bedtime story?" Mama asked.
Sami shook her head. "I don't want to go to bed. I'm not tired yet."
"All right," said Mama. "Why don't you pick out a book to read later?"

Synopsis (from Amazon): Like most children, Sami puts off going to bed for as long as possible. But reading a story about Little Bear's bedtime ritual inspires Sammy, just as the young reader will be inspired by this soothing story and clever book-within-a-book concept. A bedtime book that both parent and child will relish reading one more time, Don't Turn the Page! features a surprise ending that reinforces the sense that it's bedtime for everyone.

Resources:Rachelle Burk has several activities to go along with the book (including coloring pages, a maze, and creating your own "bedtime buddies") at her website. Check them out!

Why I LOVE it: It is SUPER creative. It's a bedtime book that is actually calming - AND fun (VERY hard to do!). The illustrations are beautiful. The book within a book is sweet. The kids' delay tactics are SO typical. Mama is clever. The end is cute. It's lovely. What's NOT to love.

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

4/3/15

A Fine Dessert: Perfect Picture Book Friday

I know. I haven't been here in a while. But I've been busy. And this book has been sitting beside my laptop for WEEKS, waiting for me to have time to write up a PPBF post for it. And today is that day! And so, I present to you another fabulous book to add to Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday list.

Title: A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

Author: Emily Jenkins

Illustrator: Sophie Blackall

Publisher:Schwartz & Wade, 2015, fiction

Age Range: 4-8 years

Theme/Topics: cooking, family life, history,

First Page:A bit more than three hundred years ago, in an English town called Lyme, a girl and her mother picked wild blackberries. Their hands turned purple with the juice. The thorns of the berry bushes pricked the fabric of their long skirts.

Synopsis (from Amazon): In this fascinating picture book, four families, in four different cities, over four centuries, make the same delicious dessert: blackberry fool. This richly detailed book ingeniously shows how food, technology, and even families have changed throughout American history.

In 1710, a girl and her mother in Lyme, England, prepare a blackberry fool, picking wild blackberries and beating cream from their cow with a bundle of twigs. The same dessert is prepared by a slave girl and her mother in 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina; by a mother and daughter in 1910 in Boston; and finally by a boy and his father in present-day San Diego.

Kids and parents alike will delight in discovering the differences in daily life over the course of four centuries.

Resources: There are fabulous notes in the back from both the author and illustrator about their research that can be used. Talk about all the different changes that are shown from one century to the next - in technology, food, etc. AND of course, there is a recipe for blackberry fool in the book too - make some!!

Why I LOVE it: This is a FABULOUS look into our history - both visually and through the words. The four families are so different, and that is shown in the wording and illustrations - but they also have much in common. The repetition is beautifully done. The whole BOOK is. Definitely a keeper (and I WILL try the recipe myself - maybe over Spring Break, which starts today here!). And if you pick it up, be sure to check the illustrator note out to find out how she created the endpapers. (Not saying any more!)

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

3/6/15

I Need My Own Country! - Perfect Picture Book Friday

I'll admit it. The title got me. As I was perusing the picture book shelves at my local library, this book jumped out and grabbed me - and wouldn't let me go. Cuz who hasn't thought this at some point??

The best part? Reading (and looking at) the book kept me in that zone. Absolutely.

And so, I present to you another fabulous book to add to Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday list.

Title: I Need My Own Country!

Author: Rick Walton

Illustrator: Wes Hargis

Publisher:Bloomsbury USA, 2012, fiction

Age Range: 4-8 years

Theme/Topics:civics, humor, sibling conflict

First Page: There comes a time in all kids' lives when they need to create their own country.

Synopsis: When in the course of childhood events, it becomes necessary for one (small) person to create a separate and equal hiding spot to which the laws of growing up entitle them, the truth will be self-evident: they should declare their very own country!

Full of tongue-in-cheek instructions-
  • Make your own flag.
  • Your own currency.
  • Your own laws.
-this picture book offers a hilarious lesson in junior civics that shows every budding future-president exactly how he or she can create a very special place all their own.

Resources: There are some great ideas for creating a country and other related topis at the International Literacy Association page for this book.

Why I LOVE it: First of all, it is EXACTLY the kind of book I would LOVE to be able to write. The words and the illustrations absolutely, positively depend on one another. It isn't a comprehensible book as only illustrations - or as only text (at least, you wouldn't get the whole message). I am ABSOLUTELY studying this one as a mentor text. Plus, it's quite funny - both the illustrations and the text. And it's super creative. And it is a VERY fun way to introduce young kids to government.

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

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

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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