Perfect Picture Book Friday PLUS Looking Back, Moving Forward, and the WInner is…

Today is Friday, December 30, 2016…which is significant for several reasons.

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday…so I’ll be reviewing a wonderful picture book.

But I’ve got a couple of other things to tell you, so, hold onto your hats! Today’s post is chock full of good stuff!

12-days

First of all, for the last several years, Julie Hedlund has gifted the kidlit community with the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. This daily video prompt gives you a chance to take a look at your accomplishments, pat yourself on the back for your successes, as well as your failures…because failures mean that you are one step closer to reaching your goals. There is still time to join in – this is the type of challenge that can help you get on the right track for 2017. And her post, The Anti-Resolution Revolution, is a must-read. As per her suggestion, here is a short list of what made me smile in 2016:

  1. There was a fabulous turnout for my #50PreciousWords writing contest in March that celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss. I expected perhaps a dozen friends to submit stories…but in the end, we had 128 awesome entries. I was blown away with the quality of the stories…and fifteen people walked away with prizes…a critique with my incredible agent, Essie White, a seat in Kristen Fulton’s Nonfiction Archaeology class, a critique from me, and a dozen brand-new books. As many of you know, the writer who won first place chose the agent critique and is now represented by Storm Literary Agency! Which just goes to show that entering contests and writing challenges is definitely a valuable step toward publication. I’m already planning the 2017 contest and hope to see all of you there. If you have something you’d like to offer as a prize (critique, signed art, book), your donation will be much appreciated.
  2. In April, I attended my first real SCBWI conference…in Chicago. It was fantastic. And in July, I spent a glorious week in Georgia at the WOW Retreat.
  3. Sweet Dreams, Sarah became available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and several Indie bookstore sites…and the cover is all I could have hoped for. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in this business, there was a delay and the publication date has been pushed back till 2018. But I am turning lemons into lemonade and using this time as an opportunity to lift up the picture books that will launch in 2017.
  4. With the accountability of 12×12, I wrote 12 picture book drafts and revised them and others.
  5. Several of my manuscripts received very positive editor feedback…and I revised two of them for specific editors. Three stories are still out on submission and hopefully we will hear good news in 2017.
  6. Three new nonfiction picture book manuscripts are ready to send to my agent – who knows – maybe one of them will catch an editor’s eye. What I am finding out is that this business is 100% subjective…and if you’ve written a great story, there is an editor out there who WILL fall in love with it.
  7. Thanks to the prayers and positive thoughts of friends and family, I sailed through major surgery this summer.

I’ll stop with lucky number seven!

storystorm

Another thing I want to mention is that since 2009, countless writers and illustrators have participated in Tara Lazar’s month-long challenge, PiBoIdMo. But for 2017, she’s changed things up…so grab your snow boots and get ready for a blizzard of ideas and inspiration…STORYSTORM is on the horizon and it’s time to sign up.

I can tell you from my own experience that keeping a journal or notebook of ideas really works…my first Picture Book Idea Month notebook contained an idea about a pristine mountain river where animals converged…I wrote that picture book draft for 12×12…and, after dozens of rounds with critique buddies, the polished manuscript went out on submission and got lots of positive feedback from editors. Right now we are waiting to hear back from a major house…but whatever the outcome, it’s an indication that the process works and these challenges can help move you along towards your goals.

Plate of Cookies

Last of all, I want to share some changes I’m making in my blog posts. For the past four years, my Will Write for Cookies series has been honored to interview dozens of authors and illustrators. On the third Saturday of every month, we’ve all enjoyed an informative Q&A with Katharine Holabird, Iza Trapani, Duncan Tonatiuh, Josh Funk, Susanna Leonard Hill, Sylvia Liu, Jill Esbaum, and so many more. Each guest has shared an inside peek into their writing process, what they wished they had known from the start, plus a favorite cookie or other sweet treat recipe. And for 2017, it’s going to get even better!

When I discovered that the publication date of Sweet Dreams, Sarah was being pushed back to February 2018, I knew I had to find a way to turn disappointment into something positive. What about featuring ALL the 2017 picture books on Perfect Picture Book Friday and their authors and/or illustrators on Will Write for Cookies? YES! YES! YES! And many of those posts will offer a book giveaway as well!

p-and-w

Speaking of giveaways, it’s time for one of those, I believe. Earlier this month, we were fortunate enough to have a Q&A with author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh. And I promised a giveaway of his newest picture book, The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanos.

AND THE WINNER IS:

 

KATHY HALSEY

Congratulations, Kathy…PM me or email me with your address and I will get this beautiful book out to you ASAP.

And now, dear friends and readers, since many people take the opportunity of the New Year to make plans to reach their goals and follow their dreams, our Perfect Picture Book is all about believing in yourself and following your dreams.

cow-who-climbed-a-tree

THE COW WHO CLIMBED A TREE

Written and illustrated by Gemma Merino

Publisher: Albert Whitman (2016)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Be true to yourself, follow your dream, ingenuity

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Tina isn’t like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren’t convinced―and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her…and soon discover a world of surprises!

Opening Lines:

“Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.”

Why I like this book:

  • I read this story to my grandson and he asked for it the next day.
  • I love the whimsical illustrations.
  • Most of all, I love the simple, concise way the author is able to convey the emotions of Tina and the message of the importance of following your dreams.

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I’m wishing all of you a New Year that blossoms with joy, good health, and much success! See you next year!

 

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: Seven Candles for Kwanzaa and Toy Safety for the Holidays

It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas…and Hanukkah…and Kwanzaa. And since today is Friday, I knew I had to find an appropriate picture book to spotlight and review. But first I have a little gift for you.

A few weeks ago I connected with Kay Duguay from Consumer Safety. She provided me with an infographic that gives great tips on how to save money during this holiday shopping season while making sure you buy items that are safe for your family.

safety-infographic

 

It’s really interesting that all three major winter holidays are about celebrating family and community, but everywhere you turn, vendors are selling their wares…electronic gadgets, kitchen implements, and of course, TOYS.

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Here are six tips to keep in mind as you help your children unwrap their presents. Many of these tips come from the American Academy of Ophthalmology www.eyenet.org

  1. Select only toys and gifts that are appropriate for the child’s age and maturity level.  Check the packaging for age recommendations.
  2. Avoid toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
  3. Check labels for the American Society for Testing and Materials(ASTM) approval to be sure toys meet national safety standards.
  4. BB, paint or pellet guns and airpower rifles are classified as firearms and make dangerous gifts in homes where there are children.  Similarly, darts and bows and arrows are also dangerous when they fall into the hands of kids.
  5. Younger children are now participating in sports such as baseball, football, hockey and soccer.  If you are giving sports equipment, make sure to include the appropriate protective headgear such as helmets and facemasks or goggles with polycarbonate lenses.
  6. A picture book, whether an older classic or one of the newer additions to bookstore shelves, is always a safe and welcome gift.  Reading the story to the child will add so much value to the gift…it costs you nothing, but means the world to the listener.

A picture book you say? Now, aren’t you impressed? Isn’t this a great lead-in to our Perfect Picture Book Friday selection?

kwanzaa

SEVEN CANDLES FOR KWANZAA

Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (1993)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes:

Family life, community, Kwanzaa

Synopsis:

From Amazon reviewer Gail Hudson:

Although Kwanzaa commemorates an ancient African harvest ritual, it is a relatively new holiday in North America. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa explains the origins, language, and daily themes of this warm and festive seven-day holiday. Ideas for daily Kwanzaa rituals abound. For example, on the fourth day, in honor of ujamaa (cooperative family economics), families can use the coins that they’ve saved over the year to buy a gift for the family “like a clock that chimes or a hallway mirror.” Illustrator Brian Pinkney takes on the role of storyteller with his scratchboard drawings of a family in the midst of daily Kwanzaa activities and celebrations. Each domestic scene is framed in an earth-toned border of traditional African patterns–bridging the two continents page by page. The thoughtful details and human interactions in each drawing speak to the core meaning of the holiday, that of honoring one’s family, community, and heritage.

Opening Lines:

“Kwanzaa is like a family day in the park and Thanksgiving and a birthday, all rolled into one.”

Why I like this book:

  • It’s important for young children to see themselves in the books they read…and equally important for young children to see people and cultures different from their own.
  • The author presents a clear and simple explanation of what each day of Kwanzaa represents.
  • Wonderful activities that every family can adapt to their own situation.
  • Powerful illustrations show how this holiday is all about family and community.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

The book is chock full of hands on activities for parents and children.

For more Kwanzaa activities: http://www.preschoolexpress.com/holiday-station08/kwanzaa-dec08.shtml

 This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I’m sending you all my very best wishes for the happiest of holidays.

And next week I’ll reveal some BIG plans I have for my blog in 2017…I can hardly wait to tell you!

Will Write for Cookies: Duncan Tonatiuh PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

DUNCAN TONATIUH

This summer I attended the WOW Retreat in Georgia. One of the most compelling presentations was from the incredible Duncan Tonatiuh. Lucky me…he was also one of my Round Table mentors. You can imagine how thrilled I was when he said he’d been willing to participate in Will Write for Cookies.

 Duncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is an award-winning author-illustrator. He is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. His artwork is inspired by Pre-Columbian art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but that are relevant to people, especially children, nowadays.

p-and-w

I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Duncan’s newest book, The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanos (click here to read my Perfect Picture Book Friday review). Please stick with us throughout the post and then leave a comment at the end.

Welcome, Duncan! We are so very happy to have you here.

 ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 DUNCAN:

 I remember reading and really liking Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I also remember liking a book in Spanish called Macario by B. Traven. When I was about eight years old, I really enjoyed the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I read all the ones they had in my school library.

In terms of illustration I was really into comic books and anime. That is what got me interested in drawing. I collected Spider-Man and X-Men comics and I would watch a cartoon about warriors called Knights of the Zodiac and another one about soccer called Captain Tsubasa.

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ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

DUNCAN:       

It takes time to build a career. When I was first getting started as an author-illustrator, I also taught, tutored, painted houses, walked dogs, baby sat and did other odd jobs to make ends meet. It was frustrating at times to take on certain jobs because I had to, not because I was passionate about them. As I published more books though, more people became familiar with my work. I started to receive more recognition for it. Nowadays I dedicate myself to writing and illustrating full time and I am able to support my family doing so. I feel very lucky that I get to do something I love for a living.

 funny-bones

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

DUNCAN:

I like to write with a pen on a notebook before I type on the computer. My favorite place to write is the library, but often times I find myself writing on a bus or a plane.

pancho-rabbit

ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

DUNCAN:

I am definitely a night person and I get most of my writing and drawing done at that time. When I am able to, I like riding my bike to the library in the morning. I like to write and draw there for a few hours. In the afternoon, I type out what I wrote and I scan my drawings so I can start revising my work.

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ME: Why do you write for children?

DUNCAN:

I want children of color, especially Latinx children, to see themselves in books. There is a very small number of books where they can do that. I want them to feel proud of who they are. I hope my books help them know that their culture and their voices are important.

 dear-primo

I also want non-Latinx children to engage with my books. I think that when kids learn about people different than themselves they realize that we are all more alike than different regardless of our skin color, religion, physical abilities or sexual preference. If children learn about and care about people different than themselves through books, they are less likely to be afraid of others or have prejudices towards them when they are adults.

I couldn’t agree with you more, Duncan! And books like yours DO help! Thank you so very much for participating in Will Write for Cookies…this was so much fun!

 To find out more about Duncan and his amazing books or get in touch with him:

Website: http://www.duncantonatiuh.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DuncanTonatiuharte

Twitter: https://twitter.com/duncantonatiuh

And now for the sweet treat that ends all of our Will Write for Cookies posts. Duncan wanted to share his favorite Ria cookie made with walnuts, sunflower seeds, and chocolate…plus other deliciousness…the cookie is made by his cousins who own the fabulous Sweet Poppy in Hudson, NY…but unfortunately, the recipe cannot be shared…HOWEVER, I urge you to check out their Facebook page and if you live in the area, please give them a call and order some. https://www.facebook.com/sweetpoppyhudson/

sweet-poppy

But we knew that everyone wanted something special for the holidays. I found a traditional Mexican wedding cookie recipe to share…and believe me, you won’t want to wait for a wedding to make and eat these…they are PERFECT for the holidays! Many thanks to Bernie at AllRecipes.

mexican-wedding-cookiesPhoto courtesy: http://allrecipes.com/recipe

They are as easy as 1, 2, 3. You will need: 1 cup butter, ½ cup white sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp water, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup chopped almonds, ½ cup confectioner’s sugar.

  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and water. Add the flour and almonds, mix until blended. Cover and chill for 3 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Shape dough into balls or crescents. Place on an unprepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from pan to cool on wire racks. When cookies are cool, roll in confectioners’ sugar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Find complete details on ingredients and instructions here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/15542/mexican-wedding-cookies/

 

And now, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Duncan’s book. Why not share the title of your favorite folktale?  

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…please don’t forget…Susanna Hill has posted the FINALISTS FOR THE HOLIDAY WRITING CONTEST…hop on over and read the 12 stories and VOTE for your favorite.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR

Today we have a fabulous Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

But first…some winners! Last week I promised to give away a copy of Jessica Lawson’s middle grade mystery Nooks and Crannies.

cranberries-cover

AND THE WINNER IS…

Sherry Howard

Congratulations, Sherry…I will contact you for your mailing address.

We also had a giveaway last month for a copy of Emma Bland Smith’s Journey: The Most Famous Wolf in the West.

journey-emma-bland-smith

AND THE WINNER IS…

Mona Pease

Congratulations, Mona…I’ll get it in the mail ASAP. No guarantees, but considering I’m in NH and you are in Maine, you might even get it in time for Christmas!

There will also be info coming soon on the voting for Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest…I will share that as soon as I get it. Did you get to read any of the entries? They are FABULOUS!

The Perfect Picture Book Friday spotlight is on one of my favorite books of 2016. And tomorrow, the award-winning author/illustrator, Duncan Tonatiuh, will be our Will Write for Cookies guest.

p-and-w

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanos

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Publisher: Abrams (2016)

Ages: 6-9 (this is the recommendation on Amazon…but I think the book is appropriate for younger AND older kids)

Themes:

Courage, loyalty, accepting others for who they are

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh reimagines one of Mexico’s cherished legends. Princess Izta had many wealthy suitors but dismissed them all. When a mere warrior, Popoca, promised to be true to her and stay always by her side, Izta fell in love. The emperor promised Popoca if he could defeat their enemy Jaguar Claw, then Popoca and Izta could wed. When Popoca was near to defeating Jaguar Claw, his opponent sent a messenger to Izta saying Popoca was dead. Izta fell into a deep sleep and, upon his return, even Popoca could not wake her. As promised Popoca stayed by her side. So two volcanoes were formed: Iztaccíhuatl, who continues to sleep, and Popocatépetl, who spews ash and smoke, trying to wake his love.

Opening Lines:

“Once upon a time, there lived a kind and beautiful princess named Izta.”

Why I like this book:

  • First of all, I not only like this book, I LOVE it. The illustrations, done in Duncan’s familiar style, are AMAZING! The text is deceptively simple…on each page, with short succinct sentences, Duncan weaves a compelling story. AND he provides us with an authentic voice, giving us the names of various objects in the Nahuatl language, which is the language the main characters would have spoken.
  • I’m a great fan of folktales…this would be a perfect first folktale for young children…courage and loyalty are two traits we want to encourage kids to develop.
  • I remember studying about those two volcanos when I was a student…how fabulous to discover there was a legend…and thanks to Duncan’s wonderful glossary in the back, now I know how to pronounce the names.
  • This book won the Pura Belpre Award which was established in 1996. It is presented to a Latino/Latina (or as Duncan would say, Latinx) writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. I love books that help multicultural children see themselves…and just as importantly, help all children learn about different peoples and cultures.

 RELATED ACTIVITIES for Parents and Teachers

  1. Find other folktale picture books and read them with your children.
  2. Pick an animal, object, or place and make up a folktale about how it came to be.
  3. Make a volcano…for quick and easy instructions go here: http://www.preschoolinspirations.com/2014/05/28/easy-baking-soda-and-vinegar-volcano-eruption-for-kids/

super-easy-volcano-eruption-for-kidsPhoto courtesy: http://www.preschoolinspirations.com

 This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

And please don’t miss tomorrow’s post when we will welcome our Will Write for Cookies guest:

DUNCAN TONATIUH

Make sure you stop by and leave a comment – you’ll be entered into the giveaway of a copy of The Princess and the Warrior. Do you have a favorite folktale from your childhood? I’d love to hear about it.

Stay safe and warm, dear friends. I’m wishing the happiest  and healthiest of holiday seasons to all of you!

Jessica Lawson: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

JESSICA LAWSON

One of the nicest things that happened to me this summer was connecting with our Will Write for Cookies author. Jessica commented on my July review of Sophie’s Squash Goes to School sharing the story that a dead squirrel was the most unique item she had ever brought to school. I just LOVE how friendships are formed in this kid lit community.

Jessica is the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, a book that Publishers Weekly called “a delightfully clever debut” in a starred review, and Nooks & Crannies, a Junior Library Guild Selection and recipient of three starred reviews. Her latest middle grade novel, Waiting for Augusta, is also a Junior Library Guild Selection. She enjoys living in Pennsylvania, where she and her family spend weekend hours exploring backroads and discovering old stone houses and barns to drool over. She likes pizza. A lot.

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I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Jessica’s middle grade novel, Nooks and Crannies (click here to read my Perfect Picture Book Friday review). Please stick with us throughout the post and then leave a comment at the end.

 ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 JESSICA:

My favorite picture books were by Steven Kellogg, Bill Peet, and Chris Van Allsburg. During my middle grade years, I loved Roald Dahl and LM Montgomery and stories with a nature or survival bent like A Girl of the Limberlost and My Side of the Mountain. I adored my copies of The Cricket in Times Square (George Seldon) and Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White), both of which were illustrated by Garth Nix. I had two older sisters and also read whatever they were reading, which was a lot of Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

JESSICA:

I wish I’d known about the online writing community earlier! There are so many fabulous blogs focused on children’s books (eh-hem, like this one!) that offer advice and insight about reading and writing. I also think the urge to have publication be your immediate goal is one that’s common among writers starting out. I wish I’d put a backseat to that goal early on. It was really when I stopped thinking/stressing about getting an agent/book deal and started caring very deeply about learning to write a good story that I began making significant progress.

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

JESSICA:

I generally write at the kitchen table or on the couch, but would love to have a simple writing nook of my own at some point.

workspace

I LOVE being outside, but find that I really can’t focus on writing in an outdoor environment, mostly because it makes me want to go for a walk .

ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

JESSICA:

As a mom to young ones (and older ones- my oldest graduates from college this December, and my 2nd oldest just started college), I need to have a flexible writing style. I take notes on post-its or in notebooks or on the back of receipts whenever I get inspiration, then use my laptop girl for actual drafting writing.

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I’m a morning person by nature and my best drafting time is early morning. My creative side is often useless after about 3:00 p.m., so the afternoons are best for more logistical tasks. I can’t stay up late for the life of me, so that’s out as an option.

ME: Why do you write for children?

JESSICA:

I fell in love with reading during my middle grade years (8 to 12) and found that my heart never really left that age range in terms of my taste in books. I write for that audience for the same reasons that I still love reading it—to follow journeys, to find out what inspires me, to maintain a sense of hope for what lies ahead, and to figure out what kind of person I’d like to be.

becky-thatcher-cover

ME: Jessica, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.

JESSICA:

Aspiring writers, don’t give up! Keep at it, get yourself some solid critique partners, and read, read, read  I wrote and submitted 8 middle grade manuscripts over several years, amassing a huge number of rejections (including ones for picture books and articles, etc.) before getting an agent and a book deal.  Writing is still very much a journey for me—I still get rejections and still struggle and still want to learn how to tell stories. If it’s your passion, stick with it. It’s worth it.

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To parents, educators, librarians, & writers: You are raising and teaching and guiding and inspiring the future. I am grateful for you.

Jessica…I totally agree with you…critique partners are our allies…and rejection is just a part of the process that gets one step closer to successful publication.

Thank you so very much for participating in Will Write for Cookies…this was so much fun!

 And for all of you who want to find out more about Jessica and her awesome book or get in touch with her:

Website: jessicalawsonbooks@gmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JS_Lawson

Blog: http://fallingleaflets.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jessica-Lawson-Childrens-Author-149125145284531/

 And just in time for holiday baking, Jessica and her daughters are sharing a fabulous cookie recipe with us.

cookies

Gingerbread Sandwich Holiday Cookie Recipe

We call them Gingys

The recipe is adapted from The Taste of Home)

  INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup molasses

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla frosting and colored sprinkles of your choice

 DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. *If the dough seems a bit dry, add milk or heavy cream one tablespoon at a time until moistened.

 Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight or until easy to handle.

 On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness (FYI, I prefer slightly thicker than that). *If you let the dough come closer to room temperature, it will be easier to handle. Cut in small circles (I use inverted juice glasses). Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle half with colored sugar sprinkles of your choice (my hubby likes them plain).

Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Spread plain gingerbread circles with frosting and top with sprinkled circles. Enjoy!

kids-with-cookies

 WOW…this is just in time. My three-year old granddaughter will be here for Christmas and yesterday on the phone, she asked if we could make gingerbread cookies. Thanks a million, Jessica!

And now, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Jessica’s book. What was the scariest place you ever went to when you were a kid?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…please don’t forget to visit Susanna Hill’s Holiday Writing Contest post…there are so many great original stories to read.

The Twelve Surprises for Santa and a Review of Nooks and Crannies

Hurray…we’ve had our first real snowfall…our little New England village is a fairytale wonderland. I really do enjoy the look of the snow…I just don’t like to drive in it.

Today is Friday. But before our book review, I want to tell you something else VERY IMPORTANT!

12-days-1

 Yesterday was the first day of Susanna Hill’s Mostly-World-Famous Holiday Writing Contest. Click here for the guidelines…there is still time for you to enter and join in the fun! When you finish reading my book review, you can scroll down and read my entry to the contest.

And now, since Susanna won’t have her Perfect Picture Book Friday link up, I’m reviewing a middle grade mystery I would have LOVED to read when I was a kid. The author is Jessica Lawson. You will meet her tomorrow on Will Write for Cookies. How special is that? I hope you will come back tomorrow…there will be a giveaway of a copy of the book.

cranberries-cover

NOOKS & CRANNIES

Written by Jessica Lawson

Illustrated by Natalie Andrewson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2016)

Ages: 8-12

Themes:

Courage, teamwork, investigative skills

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Clue when six children navigate a mansion full of secrets—and maybe money—in this “delightful gem” (School Library Journal, starred review) with heart.

Sweet, shy Tabitha Crum, the neglected only child of two parents straight out of a Roald Dahl book, doesn’t have a friend in the world—except for her pet mouse, Pemberley, whom she loves dearly. But on the day she receives one of six invitations to the country estate of wealthy Countess Camilla DeMoss, her life changes forever.

Upon the children’s arrival at the sprawling, possibly haunted mansion, it turns out the countess has a very big secret—one that will change their lives forever.

Then the children beginning disappearing, one by one. So Tabitha takes a cue from her favorite detective novels and, with Pemberley by her side, attempts to solve the case and rescue the other children…who just might be her first real friends.

Opening Lines:

 “Just past three o’clock in the afternoon, when schools across London were releasing much-adored children by the bucketful, Tabitha Crum was ushered into the cold as well.”

Why I like this book:

  • As I said earlier, I loved books like this when I was a kid…the girl who no one thinks much of is the one who perseveres and solves the mystery…a modern-day Nancy Drew.
  • Don’t you just love the names: Tabitha Crum, Camilla Lenore DeMoss: Countess of Windermere, Barnaby Trundle, Edward Herringbone.
  • I plan to send a copy of this book to my 10-year old granddaughter for Christmas…I think it is the perfect book for a delicious afternoon of reading.

PLEASE DON’T MISS TOMORROW’S WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

SPOTLIGHTING

JESSICA LAWSON AND A GIVEAWAY

But wait!!!!!! Don’t go yet!!!!!! Please stay and read my entry to Susanna Hill’s Mostly World Famous Holiday Writing Contest. Here’s a quick run-through of the guidelines: Write a children’s holiday story of 300 words or less, based on The Twelve Days of Christmas. To read the other entries, please visit Susanna’s blog.

 

TWELVE DAYS OF SURPRISES FOR SANTA (293 words)

by Vivian Kirkfield

 

On the first day of Christmas, Santa grumbled, groaned, and gritted his teeth. “Last night was too cold,” he told Mrs. Claus. “No more Christmas Eve deliveries for me.”

Just then, a package arrived.

Before Santa could open it, Mrs. Claus snatched it away. “Just some treats for the reindeer.”

On the second day of Christmas, another package arrived. Santa had already peeled off the tape when Mrs. Claus grabbed it. “Just some vitamins for the elves.”

On the third day of Christmas, Santa waited by the front door. He’d be ready this time. But Mrs. Claus had told the mailman to come around to the back.

For nine more days, boxes arrived at the North Pole. Santa always seemed to be doing something else when the package was delivered. Talking on the phone. Feeding the reindeer. Going to the bathroom. Eating a snack. Taking a nap. Reading a book. Ironing his shirt. Trimming his beard. Polishing his boots.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Santa came down for breakfast. He stopped. He stared. He sputtered. “W-w-what’s all this?” Instead of eggs and oatmeal and juice, the table was filled with presents. Twelve of them.

Mrs. Claus smiled. “You give gifts to all the children,” she said. “These are for you.”

Santa could hardly believe it. It felt like…Christmas. He opened the boxes.

Twelve woolen mittens.

Eleven quilted blankets.

Ten fleecy jackets.

Nine velvet earmuffs.

Eight hats with pompoms.

Seven red suspenders.

Six flannel nightshirts.

Five underpants.

Four knitted scarves.

Three long johns.

Two balaclavas.

And a super-duper heated seat cushion.

Santa tried on all the clothes. He tested the seat-warmer.

He looked at the calendar. “We’d better start making new toys,” he told Mrs. Claus. “I can’t wait for next Christmas Eve.”

                                                  The End

 

HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE…AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT. AND DON’T FORGET TO BE BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR WWFC AND A GIVEAWAY!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Color Machine

December is here, my dear friends.  I’ve always looked forward to this time of year – the joy of holiday celebrations –  the quiet moments of reflection as I think back on what I’ve done and look ahead to what I still want to accomplish.

But it’s been a very difficult year for our country. And there is trouble in so many parts of the world. Perhaps it was meant to be that I discovered today’s Perfect Picture Book when I connected with the author’s wife. The message is one of inclusivity and love.

cover

THE COLOR MACHINE

Written and illustrated by A.H. Taylor

Publisher: A.H. Taylor (2016)

Ages: 4-8

Themes:

Inclusivity, working together

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

The town of Colormazoo has been turned inside out, everywhere you look there’s a scream and a shout. The Color Machine has broken down and the townspeople march to the Mayor.

inside-page

Opening Lines:

“In the town of Colormazoo

where color is very important,

shouts of riot and rumpus grew

when the Color Machine was broken.

 

Why I like this book:

  • If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat, as I am, you will love this book.
  • The text is rhythmical and often rhyming…simple enough for a young child to follow along.
  • The illustrations are unique…bold yet simple line drawings.
  • I absolutely love the message – perhaps the answer to the world’s problems is for someone to break the world’s color machine – it certainly worked in the town of Colormazoo.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Most kids love to listen to a story. But we can extend the learning by discussing and asking questions or participating in follow up activities. You and your child can:

  1. Draw a picture of a favorite character or scene from the story. Mount it on cardboard and cut into pieces to make a puzzle.
  2. Make a list of special words from the book. Older children can construct a word find puzzle.
  3. Think of a different ending.
  4. The author has made a free Kindle edition available for a limited time: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01N0K2R4Y/

 

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’ll be working on my entry for Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest. If you are interested in joining in the fun, click here,

A week from Saturday, we’ll be having a special Will Write for Cookies post spotlighting author Jessica Lawson.

And the week after that, hold on to your hats for the interview with Duncan Tonatiuh and a GIVEAWAY.

And the week after that…will be Christmas Eve and my son and his family will be here from Chicago! There will be lots of cooking and baking and smiling, for sure.