Suzy Leopold: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT, INFORMATION, INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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SUZY LEOPOLD

Whenever I think of Suzy, I think of flowers. She is well-known in the kidlit community as the official giver of the most beautiful flower photos. If someone is sick or in need of cheering up…if someone has just gotten a book contract or signed with an agent, Suzy gifts them with virtual flowers. Birthday, anniversary, you name it, this lovely lady finds the perfect bouquet. I’ve known Suzy online for several years and was fortunate enough to meet her in person last summer at the WOW writing retreat. And she is even sweeter in person!

flowers on piano

When I asked Suzy for a bio, this is what she wrote:

I am a wife who is adored by my husband, Perry. We are proud parents to five boys and three daughters in law. Pa Perry and Oma Sue [grandparents] adore their seven sweet, smart, and sometimes sassy grandkids, who reside in Texas. I am an educator of hundreds of students, from preschool through eighth grade, including college level students, administrators and colleagues. Currently I teach a Reading course at Lincoln Land Community College and share summer school and after school reading and writing lessons in our community.

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, a Bilingual certification, Reading Recovery certificate, and a Master’s of Science in Reading.

My husband and I are organic gardeners on the Illinois prairie, who enjoy cooking and baking for family and friends. I am a reader and a writer. I am a painter of acrylics & watercolors and a creative crafter. I am a cyclist on a pink Marin Portofina. The proprietor of Afterwords Book Store calls me a reading extraordinaire, as I participate in story time and share the love of reading.

Leaving the world a better place is important to me.

Read, write & create every day.

yellow flower

WOW! And now you know why I love her! And why, when I had an opening in my blog schedule, I invited her to share her knowledge and her spirit with all of us.

Welcome, Suzy! I’m so happy to have you stop by today. I know you are going to chat about the importance of writing in journals. Thanks to you, yesterday we had a journal-making craft to go along with the Perfect Picture Book Friday selection which was a book you use in your classroom.

So, please take it away!

As a reader, writer, and an educator I use journals. I have a collection of them. Journals help me stay organized and become an excellent resource to refer to over time.

There are many purposes for keeping a journal or two or more. A journal has many functions and uses. Some of my journals list numerous book titles, including summaries, and my thoughts and recommendation about books. Many of my journals include tips, ideas, titles of mentor texts, even rough drafts for my fiction and nonfiction stories I write. I use journals to write notes about my students’ and their progress. My students and I keep reading and writing skills and strategies in classroom journals that become interactive notebooks.

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Let me share some more ideas with you on how to keep a journal and encourage children to do so as well. Parents are our children’s first teacher. Empowering parents and guardians with tips and tools needed to support their child’s learning at home and at school, prepares the child for a successful future.

Many readers keep a journal to write about books. A journal is an excellent place to create a reading log of books being read. Scribe your thoughts about the book. Write a quick book report. Summarize and evaluate the book. Would you recommend the book to others? A journal can be used as a wish list of titles a reader wants to read. A double-entry journal, is a way to share, read and respond while rotating the journal between two writers. Most often a double-entry journal dialogue is between a teacher and a student or a parent and a child. These journals become a written conversation for learning, growing, and reflection.

Many writers use journals to create stories. Consider recording ideas, information, data and facts, or rhyming words about topics you wish to write about or are currently researching and writing. Many students and writers brainstorm thoughts and make lists in a journal. A journal can be used for pre writing. Make it spontaneous and write in a first draft form. Try a strategy referred to as quick writing. It is an informal ramble of words on paper to develop and generate ideas. Create a graphic organizer. Jot down words and more words. Just focus on your thinking and ideas; not grammar and spelling. The revisions and editing can follow later.

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Many people, young and old, keep journals-artists, students, teachers, librarians, gardeners, farmers, athletes, politicians, scientists, writers, chefs, and many more. Writing in a journal is an excellent place to jot down personal experiences, thoughts, favorite quotes, and Bible scriptures. The journal may turn into a mini scrap book filled with memories. Add mementos and ephemera. Doodle. Sketch. Be creative. Most writers use a journal to record everyday events and topics that interest them. These journals may include daily entries that record news and events that are personal in nature. They are private and not intended for others to read as one writes about personal experiences, thoughts and dreams, turning the journal into a diary.

Journals come in a variety of sizes and styles, making them portable. Carry one in your purse or backpack. Use a variety of writing implements. You can use more than a pencil. Try writing with colored pencils, markers, or even a collection of rainbow colored pens.

leo inventions

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci kept over forty notebooks? He wrote about his activities, and recorded plans for his engineering projects. If Meriwether Lewis had not kept a journal, while exploring across North America, we would not have a glimpse of his travels, during the time he lived, nor the geographical information that he recorded in his journal. The beloved, best known child diary, The Diary of Anne Frank, was written while Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.

anne frank

Don’t place limits on what you write and put in your journal or notebook. Reading and writing are reciprocal. Reading and writing are thinking. If readers are writers and writers are readers, then all readers and writers should keep at least one journal.

YAY! Thanks so much, Suzy! I’m definitely a paper person. I love journals…and especially love the one you made for me. And I’m so excited you are giving away a personalized journal as a prize today! 

my journal

To find out more about Suzy:

Grog Blog: https://groggorg.blogspot.com/2017/02/meet-jennifer-ward-by-suzy-leopold.html

Through the Prairie Garden Gate: http://sleopoldblog.wordpress.com

Twitter:  SuzyK5

Facebook: suzy.leopold

I’m also excited about the yummy recipe she is sharing! The floor is yours, Suzy…or should I say, the kitchen!

journals group

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup softened butter

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

Instructions:

Mix sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla; mix thoroughly, set aside. Mix flour and dry ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 375°. Divide dough in half and roll 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutter; sprinkle with sugar. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until delicately golden. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. While they may not last long, these cookies can be wrapped in stored in the freezer.

Please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway – you might be the lucky winnr of a personaized journal from Suzy!

Have a safe and happy weekend, everyone!

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: SHOW ME A STORY – WRITING YOUR OWN PICTURE BOOK Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday! 

WHAT BAD LUCK! My scheduled blog post had to be pushed because the author’s book was pushed

And then a happy accident happened. If any of you ever watched the late great Bob Ross painting on TV, you’ll remember that he said there were no mistakes, only happy little accidents.

WHAT GOOD LUCK! I reached out to dear writing friend Suzy Leopold and she stepped up to the plate. Suzy put together an awesome Will Write for Cookies post, created a super journal-making craft, and is giving away a personalized journal! More than that, she shared the name of a picture book she uses in her school visits. I fell in love with it and plan to use it with students next year when my debut picture book launches.

tell me a story cover

SHOW ME A STORY: WRITING YOUR OWN PICTURE BOOKS

Written by Nancy Loewen

Illustrated by Christopher Lyles

Published by Picture Winow Books/Capstone (2009)

Ages: 7-9

Themes: creating stories, writing your own book

Synopsis:

From Amazon: Ready to build a picture book? First, you’ll need the right tools. Open this title in the Writer’s Toolbox series and discover plenty of tips and tools to get you started. Soon you’ll be writing and showing stories like a pro!

Why I like this book:

  • Humorous story that serves as an example
  • Great illustrations that will engage kids
  • Breaks down the main elements of a picture book in simple terms

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Journal-Making by Suzy Leopold

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Materials Needed:

One composition notebook or student journal

Three pieces of 12 X 12 inch scrapbook paper

Glue stick

Hot glue gun

Scissors 

Paper cutter (optional)

Ruler

Embellishments

Di cut letters or letter stickers

Ribbon or Rick Rack 

Directions:

September 2010 049

  1. Using three sheets of scrapbook paper, cut two pieces of scrapbook paper 8 X 12 inches.
  2. Apply a generous amount of glue to the journal, position the scrapbook paper and smooth out any bubbles.
  3. Wrap and fold the extended edges of the scrapbook paper, creating mitered corners and secure with a generous amount of glue.
  4. Cut two pieces of scrapbook paper 9 X 6 inches. Using a glue stick adhere to the inside covers of the journal.

September 2010 053          5. Open the journal to the middle section of the notebook that reveals the stitching. Hot glue two or three 14 inch pieces of ribbon on the top edge. Drape the pieces of ribbon across sections of the notebook to become a bookmark. Tie a knot at the bottom of each piece of ribbon.

        6. Time to embellish your journal with scrapbook stickers and cutouts, etc. Use additional scraps of scrapbook paper. Recycle greeting cards. Use buttons and babbles. Be creative. 

September 2010 056 

Suzy  and I are both passionate about encouraging kids to read at home. She shared the info-graph below. I totally 100% agree with her…I used to hand out flyers to the students to bring home, asking parents to spend 15 minutes a day with their kids, reading, crafting, or cooking. But I like the 20 minutes better!

Why Read 20 m daily

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. For more picture book reviews, head on over to Susanna Hill’s website. But before you go, please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a personalized journal made by the queen of craft herself…Suzy!

And don’t miss tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies when Suzy shares her thoughts about using journals for this writing life and more.

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday…and Happy Fall!

We had several book publications pushed, so I had to reschedule today’s planned post. But never fear, dear friends! Have I got a Perfect Picture Book for you!

it's not jack and the beanstalk

IT’S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

Written by Josh Funk

Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

Published by Two Lions Press (September 2017)

Ages 4-8

Themes: Be true to yourself, trust in yourself

 

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Jack is not fond of the bossy narrator of his fairy tale! When Jack is told to trade his beloved cow Bessie for some magic beans, throw the beans out the window, climb the ENORMOUS beanstalk that sprouts overnight, and steal from a GIANT, he decides this fairy tale is getting out of control. In fact, he doesn’t want to follow the story line at all. Who says Jack needs to enter a life of daring, thievery, and giant trickery? He takes his story into his own hands—and you’ll never guess what happens next!

With laugh-out-loud dialogue and bold, playful art (including hidden fairy tale creatures for kids to find), this Jack and the Beanstalk retelling will have children rolling with laughter till Bessie the cow comes home.

Why I like this book:

  • Josh Funk wrote it! No, seriously, this guy is super funny and has his finger on the pulse of what kids want to hear.
  • The illustrations are bold, bright, and full of fun.
  • Clever retelling of an old classic…with a new twist!

RELATED ACTIVITIES

PLANT SOME BEANS (of course!)

growing+beans+on+cotton+balls+text11Photo courtesy: http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/04/growing-beans-on-cotton-balls.html

Kids love to garden. And bean seeds can be planted indoors all year long with great results. For detailed instructions: http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/04/growing-beans-on-cotton-balls.html

More great planting activities here: http://www.peepandthebigwideworld.com/en/educators/curriculum/family-child-care-educators/plants/activity/guided-activity/157/planting-bean-seeds/

Write fractured fairy tales with your kids…they’ll have a ball!

For more picture book reviews, hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday where authors, teachers, librarians, and parents share their favorite picture books!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends. The leaves are changing into their scarlet and gold headdresses here in New Hampshire. What is fall like for you?

 

 

Katey Howes: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT, INFORMATION, INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

KathrynHeadshots-40 (2)

KATEY HOWES

Author Katey Howes is actually a very special person in my life. Facebook friends and fellow kidliters, we met online in writing challenges. Then, in March 2015, I noticed on Twitter that she had just signed with Storm Literary Agency. I had never heard of Storm, nor of the agent, Essie White. So, I hopped over to their website…and fell in love. And the rest is history!

Katey Howes is a fierce advocate of not just literacy, but of raising kids who love to read. She treasures those moments when books allow children to relate their experience to the greater world, or when their curiosity skyrockets from interest to obsession. Katey tries to weave her passion for nature, travel, science, and creativity, as well as her sense of wonder, into stories that make children think more deeply, explore more broadly, and laugh a little bit louder.

Katey is the author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press, Aug. 2017) and MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling, Jan. 2, 2018.) Katey is a team member at All the Wonders and founding member of Picture the Books.  You can get to know Katey better at www.kateyhowes.com or by following her on Twitter @kateywrites or on Instagram @kidlitlove. 

ME: Welcome, Katey! I’m so very excited to have you here today. I could chat with you forever, but first let’s get to the Q&A.

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

KATEY: I’ve always loved rabbits, so many of my favorite books as a child were bunny books. I still have my battered and much-loved copy of A Home For a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, as well as I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom. I think those two books shaped my illustration preferences for a long time – I still get a warm, fond feeling over illustrations that remind me of Garth Williams’ or Richard Scarry’s signature styles.

 

As an older child, I gravitated toward epic adventures, from The Chronicles of Narnia to The Dark is Rising. I also loved nature stories, science fiction, and historical fiction. Prolific authors were big favorites, too – I always wanted more of the characters and voices I loved. I had shelves dedicated to L.M. Montgomery, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony and Cynthia Voight.  My fondness for bunnies continued – I’ve read my copy of Watership Down (given to me by my middle school librarian) so many times that the cover completely fell off.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

KATEY: I wish I had known how much a manuscript changes from inception to publication!  I must have wasted hours agonizing over illustration notes that wouldn’t matter to the illustrator, word choices that would change ten times after acquisition, word counts that would expand and shrink over rounds of revision. It’s important to realize that, while every detail is important, none is immutable, and that other voices and opinions and viewpoints will influence the manuscript many times before it sits on a bookshelf. I could have spared myself a lot of heartache and headaches if I knew that sooner.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

KATEY: I prefer peace and quiet to write. For a long time, the only place I could really find that was in my little office in the basement. Now that we’ve moved to a more rural location, I can sit on my screened porch without interruption from anyone but the birds. It’s perfect.  I jot ideas in notebooks and on sticky notes, and I sketch out rough dummies by hand, but I prefer to do the real drafting of a manuscript on my laptop. There’s an option to turn the keystroke sound off – but I like it on. Loud. That tappity typing sound makes me feel very productive.  

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ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

KATEY: In the summer, my family keeps me busy, and while I have time to write, it has to be flex-time. Once the kids are back in school, I try to focus on writing, revising, studying, reading, promoting, and all that jazz from 8:30am until 3pm. I’m not much good at writing in the early morning hours (by which I mean all hours before my third cup of coffee) but I find I can use that time to read and critique my CP’s manuscripts while I load up on caffeine – and their work usually inspires me to buckle down and create my own. If the day goes according to plan, I take what I call “a writer’s nap” around two in the afternoon. With no plans to actually sleep, I curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket, set a timer for 20 minutes, and give my brain permission to drift and dream. I find a lot of solutions to writing problems that way, and always feel reenergized afterwards.

ME: Why do you write for children?

KATEY: I don’t think I have a choice. I’ve done a lot of other things with my life –  things I’ve enjoyed, things that came easily, things that made more sense or more money – but my path keeps bringing me inexorably back to children and to books.

ME: WOW…Katey…you struck several chords with me in this Q&A. Everything you said about spending time on the illustrator notes and worrying about word choices and word counts (which are, of course, important…but not the way we agonize over them since they ARE going to change) is true. And you’ve given me a wonderful plan of action…that 20 minute afternoon siesta sounds like a great idea! But now i know you have another Great Idea…the recipe you are sharing!

KATEY: My daughters and I love to cook together. We decided to try out a new recipe to go with GRANDMOTHER THORN. In the story, Ojisaan brings Grandmother sweets from the village each time he visits. On one occasion, he brings “a parcel of sweet dorayaki.”

Dorayaki are a traditional, casual Japanese treat made of two small, sweet pancakes sandwiched around a filing of anko – a sweet red bean paste. We watched several videos (I recommend Japanese Cooking 101 for a great instructional video) and read a few recipes, tried a package of pre-made dorayaki, and then tried our hand at making our own – with a twist. This is a very easy recipe for kids to participate in – they especially loved squeezing the “sandwiches” together at the end. We hope you enjoy!

Dorayaki-New-IVPhoto courtesy: https://www.justonecookbook.com/dorayaki-japanese-red-bean-pancake/

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • 3/4 c milk
  • Fillings: Traditional: Anko (red bean paste – can be found at an Asian grocery or ordered online. We bought ours through Amazon.)

Twist: Nutella, Peanut Butter, or Jam (we used our homemade blackberry jam)

 

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and honey together.
  3. Add milk to liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  5. Spray a nonstick pan or griddle with a generous amount of cooking spray like Pam.
  6. Pour batter onto hot griddle or pan to make round, pancake-like cakes. About 1/8 cup of batter makes a nice-sized cake.
  7. Cook about 2 minutes – until the bubbles pop, leaving little holes. Flip over and cook 1-2 more minutes. Don’t let it dry out – moist cakes work best!
  8. Transfer to a plate. Cover with a wet paper towel to keep them moist until you cook all the batter.
  9. When you have all your cakes cooked, it’s time to sandwich them! Place one cake on a square of plastic wrap. Top it with a big spoonful of your favorite filling. Put another cake on top.
  10. Wrap the sandwich tightly in the plastic wrap and squeeze together. Pinch the edges to seal.
  11. Keep wrapped until ready to eat!

This is awesome, Katey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope everyone will leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of an authographed copy of GRANDMOTHER THORN, compliments of Katey!

Have a safe and happy weekend, dear readers!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: GRANDMOTHER THORN + Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!

Before I share this heartfelt story with you, we have some books to give away.

Author Alayne Kay Christian offered a copy of her chapter book, SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY. And the winner is…

KEILA DAWSON

Author Ariel Bernstein offered a copy of her debut picture book,  I HAVE A BALLOON. and the winner is…

DAMON DEAN

Author Penny Parker Klostermann offered a copy of A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE. And the winner is…

CAROLE GERBER

Author Nancy Churnin offered a copy of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN. And the winner is….

ALI EARLE PICHARDO

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL! AND HUGE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO FOLLOWS MY BLOG. YOUR COMMENTS ARE MUCH APPRECIATED! I’LL BE IN TOUCH TO CONNECT THE WINNERS WITH THE AUTHORS.

AND NOW…OUR PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY REVIEW!

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GRANDMOTHER THORN

Written by Katey Howes

Illustrated by Rebecca Hahn

Published by Ripple Grove Press (2017)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Friendship, acceptance

Synopsis:

From Amazon: Grandmother Thorn treasures her garden, where not a leaf, twig or pebble is allowed out of place. But when a persistent plant sprouts without her permission, Grandmother begins to unravel. “Her hair became as tangled as the vines on her fence. Her garden fell into disrepair. One morning, she did not rake the path.” A dear friend, the passage of seasons, and a gift only nature can offer help Grandmother Thorn discover that some things are beyond our control, and that sweetness can blossom in unexpected places.

Why I like this book:

  • Heartfelt tale that reminds me of the old fables I loved as a child.
  • Wonderful illustrations that create an atmosphere of mystery.
  • Message of friendship and acceptance subtly woven throughout the story.

Related Activities:

Gardening with Kids

gardening activities for kidsPhoto courtesy: http://www.growingajeweledrose.com

There are so many indoor and outdoor gardening activities we can do with kids. Grab an old toy truck, fill with soil, and plant some seeds.  Use empty eggshells as your ‘pot’ and store in the egg carton for stability.  Whenever you eat a fruit that has a pit, plant it…who knows what beautiful greenery might flourish. Growing things with kids helps them learn about life, death, and responsibility.

For detailed instructions on many planting activities: http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/03/outdoor-nature-gardening-activities.html

I’m excited for tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies when a very special kidlit friend of mine and fellow Storm sister, GRANDMOTHER THORN’S author, Katey Howes, will stop by to chat with us. Please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of an autographed copy of her book! And remember that Amazon reviews are important and also much appreciated by the author!

For many more picture book reviews, hop over to Susanna Hill’s website this week.

 

 

 

Nancy Churnin and Danny Popovici: Will Write and Draw for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT, INSPIRATION, INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUESTS

signingtommy

NANCY CHURNIN

AND

DannyPopovici

DANNY POPOVICI

Hey, dear friends! How lucky are we…this is a double your pleasure and double your fun post…TWO INCREDIBLE CREATIVES! 

Nancy Churnin is an old friend – Danny Popovici is a new one…and I’m thrilled their soon to be launched picture book MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN has brought them together and here to chat with us.

Nancy Churnin is the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and author of THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME (Albert Whitman & Company), which has been picked for the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids list, the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2X2 and Topaz lists and the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Association’s Monarch Award Master List. MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN (Creston Books), a Junior Library Guild fall selection, will be out later this month. Coming out in 2018: CHARLIE MAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF (Albert Whitman) in January; IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING (Creston Books) in Spring and THE PRINCESS AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman) in September. A native New Yorker, she’s a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University School of Journalism, who is happy to call Dallas her home. She and her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, are raising four boys and two cats.

DANNY POPOVICI’s illustrations have appeared in many formats: animation, game, and comic art, but his favorite medium to tell stories is in the pages of magical picture books. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where there’s no shortage of mountains to hike, but he usually leaves his hammer and chisel at home.

Welcome to you both! Nancy, you are up first! I’ve noticed one thing about all the people you choose as your main characters…you become invested in their story. You become a passionate spokesperson for their accomplishments. And you strive to connect young kids with their inspiring tales. Please tell us how that happened.

NANCY: It was just last year, but it seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago that I was sharing my debut book, THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME, on Vivian’s amazing, inspirational blog. That unexpected and joyful journey began as a gift from Steve Sandy, a Deaf man and friend of the Hoy family, who has become my friend. Steve has shared my joy as the book went into its 5th printing and racked up recognition, including being on the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids; the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2X2 and Topaz lists; the 2017 Bank Street Books Best Books for Kids; and Illinois’ 2018 Monarch Awards Master List. Plus, one of Jez Tuya’s illustrations is featured in a traveling exhibit from the aMAZZAing Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books and it was translated into Japanese and is doing extremely well in Japan!

japanese cover of william hoy

Knowing what it meant to Steve for kids to know the true story of this Deaf hero made we wonder about other untold stories of hidden heroes and heroines. I discovered the story of Dashrath Manjhi in an article about this ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing — he spent 22 years of his life chiseling a path through a 300-foot mountain so that the children in his poor village would have access to school and the sick could get to a doctor. 

manjhi cover

People in his village told Manjhi he was crazy and I identified with that, too. Writing a story about a man who spends 22 years chiseling a mountain seemed like a crazy idea, but like Manjhi I felt driven. It was something I just had to do! I am very grateful to my agent, Karen Grencik, who believed in this story from the beginning as did my wonderful publisher and editor Marissa Moss, who guided me through multiple revisions of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN and also to Danny Popovici, whose exquisite illustrations bring a symphonic majesty to the beating heart of the story. I am so grateful to the Junior Library Guild for putting MANJHI on its 2017 fall list and for wonderful early reviews, plus features and support from KitaabWorld, Flowering Minds, Asian Picture Books, A. Cole Books, Stephanie Bange, who was so kind to include MANJHI on her must-have list, Whats New in Children’s Books in the Content Areas?,  and our own children’s literature treasure, Vivian Kirkfield!

inside page 1

It’s my dream that this story will encourage kids to be like Manjhi. When you read to the end of the book, you will learn about our MOVE YOUR OWN MOUNTAIN project. I am asking kids what they can do to make a positive difference in their schools and community. I look forward to parents and teachers to send me photographs and extended captions about the children’s projects that I can post on the Move Your Own Mountain page on my nancychurnin.com website. I am hoping that these good deeds will spread as kids give each other wonderful ideas of what they can do and the difference each of us can make.

inside page 2

Thank you so much Vivian for this opportunity to share the story of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN and for all you do, every day, to help children SOAR!

 

Here is the free curriculum guide: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/68b71d_515070a02f9b496e9281ed433fce05f1.pdf

 
Here is the link to the Move Your Own Mountain page: http://www.nancychurnin.com/move-your-own-mountain/

ME: WOW…thank you so much, Nancy! This is fantastic…I loved hearing the back story of how William Hoy and Manjhi got their start. But I know you are not finished yet…you are offering a wonderful giveaway, plus a super authentic recipe for roti. 

NANCY: Make your own roti, like the bread the villagers left for Manjhi (Printed with permission of Manjula Jain of manjulaskitchen.com) Roti also known as Chapati or Fulka, is Indian flat bread made with whole wheat flour. In North India, roti is part of the main meal. Roti is served with a variety of cooked vegetables, lentils, and yogurt.

Makes 4 Rotis.

Ingredients: • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour • 1/8 teaspoon salt • 1/4 cup lukewarm water (Use as needed) Also needed • 2 teaspoons ghee (clear butter) • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour for rolling

Method

1. Mix flour, salt, and water to make sof dough, adding water as needed. Knead the dough for about one minute on a lightly greased surface to make it smooth and pliable. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and set aside at least ten minutes.

2. Divide the dough into four equal parts. Make smooth balls and press flat.

3. Before rolling the roti press both sides of the ball on a dry floured surface to make them easy to roll.

4. Roll to form a six-inch-diameter circle. Use just enough dry flour to roll the roti, as too much flour will make them dry. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin or rolling surface, lightly dust the rotis with dry flour.

5. Heat an iron or heavy skillet on medium high heat. To test, sprinkle a few drops of water on the skillet. If the water sizzles right away, the skillet is ready.

6. Place the one roti into the skillet. When the roti start to change color and start puffing flip it over. There will be some golden brown spots.

7. Flip again afer a few seconds. Using a flat spatula, press lightly on the puffed parts of the roti. This will help the roti puff up. Flip the roti again, until it has light golden-brown spots on both sides.

8. Repeat the same process for remaining roties. Butter the roti, the side that is facing the skillet.

9. Place the rotis in a container lined with a paper towel. Cover the container afer each roti.

10.Roti can be kept outside for up to 2 days wrapped in aluminum foil or in a closed container. For later use, roti can be refrigerated for 5-6 days. Re-heat in a skillet.

ME: Thank you so much, Nancy…we get several great takeaways…find your passion and then write about it…plus a yummy roti recipe. Indian food is my absolute favorite…I am definitely going to try this.

And now dear friends…please take a deep breath…maybe get up and stretch and grab a cup of tea or coffee…and then sit back down to enjoy ANOTHER RIVETING INTERVIEW !

Danny, welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! I know you are sharing some of your process for MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN. We can’t wait…so take it away, Danny!

DANNY: I was sent a manuscript titled Manjhi Moves a Mountain written by Nancy Churnin, and after reading it, I knew I wanted to take this on this project. I neglected to read the author’s note and delved straight into the story. Like most people I know, I have never heard of Dashrath Manjhi. Initially, I thought this was a character Nancy had created. I was pleasantly surprised when I read author’s note; I was left in awe. Not only are Manjhi and his incredible feat a true story, but all took place within the last half a century. Dashrath Manjhi was born in 1934 and died Aug. 17, 2007 at the age of 73.

My production process is never linear, as I jump all over the place from quick sketches, setting up pagination templates, color design, and even testing out what the final product might look like. It’s a large, jumbled mess that over time, pieces come together and begin to form an actual, cohesive, illustrated story. For me, this is one of the most fun parts of illustrating a picture book.

I had a lot of help with research through Nancy, my art director and editor. They made sure I was on the right track and that I didn’t illustrate a specific building or article of clothing that is not common in Bihar, India. Since I have never been to India, I wanted to illustrate the culture with the most upmost respect I could muster. Research was absolutely important during the illustration process.

1_earlyStoryboards

Once environment and character sketches are approved, I like to move forward to finalizing storyboards and page count. Here is where I begin to break up the text and organize the rhythm of page turns. It’s a long process with many drawings scattered throughout the studio. I like to dedicate a wall for storyboards so I can easily take things down and replace while having my visuals notes right there where I can easily access drawings and mix-match as I see fit.

2_firstCharacterPass

I like to photograph the final art, but for MMAM, I had to scan the images on a large format scanner. I take the scanned images into Photoshop and here is where I bring everything together, clean up smudges, and do color corrections. I really enjoy this process because it’s setting up the final work that people are going to see. I have a hard time picturing the final project before it’s complete, and this part helps me envision everything together much clearer.

3_villageConcepts

Like Manjhi, I chipped away little by little. Great things don’t happen overnight. Manjhi’s story is a beautiful reminder of the human spirit and dedication it takes to reach a goal. I don’t think there is one person on this beautiful planet that couldn’t learn a thing or two about Manjhi’s persistence and love for community.

Thank you!

ME: No, Danny…thank YOU!!! This was incredible to get a peek at a rough storyboard…and then how you work up the colored illustrations…and then, of course, the actual pages of the book! I can guarantee that this post is going to be bookmarked by many writers…and of course, illustrators!

To learn more about Danny and his books:

www.dannypopovici.com

https://twitter.com/dannypopovici

https://www.instagram.com/dannypopoviciillustration/?hl=en

ME: And guess what? We are not finished yet. Danny is sharing a recipe for his favorite treat.

SnickerDoodle Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

-½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening (room temp)

-1½ cups sugar

-2 eggs

-1½ tsp cream of tartar

-1 tsp baking soda

-¼ tsp salt

– 2¾ cup flour

INSTRUCTIONS:

Beat shortening, sugar, and eggs together until creamy. Then Blend in cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Then add flour and mix well. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Topping – mix in a bowl 3 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon.

Drop dough balls into topping mixture and coat entire cookie. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Okay, dear friends. Take a deep breath. I know this was a mega long and chock full post. One more thing…please leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway from Nancy for a copy of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN and bookmarks designed by Danny.

prize swag

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. And I urge you to give the gift of a book review on Amazon and/or Goodreads to your favorite authors! It only takes a couple of minutes, but it helps other readers, it helps the author, and it helps spread the word about a book you love. 

And with Hurricane Irma bearing down on so many after having caused so much destruction already, I add my prayers for those in her path.

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Manjhi Moves a Mountain PLUS Giveaway

We are back in the swing of things with school in session. Elementary teachers have always used picture books in the classroom, but now, more than ever, the nonfiction picture book bios are needed. And today, I’m bringing you what is sure to be one of the most popular books this year and a classic for the future!

manjhi cover

MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN

Written by Nancy Churnin

Illustrated by Danny Popovici

Published by Creston Books (September 2017)

Ages: 5-9

Themes: Ingenuity, courage, persistance

Synopsis: 

From Midwest Review:

Manjhi Moves a Mountain” is an amazing story of dedication, persistence, vision, and steadfast love. It is a true story about a real man named Dashrath Manjhi, who lived in India from 1934 until 2007. Manjhi lived in a remote, poor mountain village, where a mountain divided his poor village from a sister village with water, fertile land, and access to health care and education. People from Manjhi’s village had to walk over 36 difficult miles to get to the sister village for access to crops, food, health care, and education, because of the difficult mountain obstacle between. Manjhi could see the differences between the two villages clearly, and he pondered the question of inequality between people at the top of the mountain. He came to a decision after throwing a stone against the mountainside in frustration, watching it dissolve into powder. This was his revelation! From then on, Manjhi spent every possible resource and effort to obtain a hammer and chisel and to use his full strength every day to work at pounding the stone of the mountain to make a road for the people from the poor village to travel to the rich village more easily. The work was hard, and had to be done in addition to the work of growing food and sustaining himself. Manjhi and his hammer became a common sight on the mountain, where he labored every day, chanting to himself, “Hold. Aim. Swing!” Though people told him he was crazy, that he should give up and accept inequality, he continued throughout his life, making slow progress in carving a pathway through the mountain. After 15 years, villagers could see real progress. People began to leave offerings of food, and new tools, to help him on his gigantic, self imposed task. Finally one day that was 22 years after Manjhi first had his vision, the last hammer blow was swung and the pathway that would become a road for everyone was open. Manjhi looked from one village to the other and saw not two villages, but one, “sharing water, hopes, dreams… and a man who had moved a mountain!” This true life story of an Indian sage who became revered and known as the Mountain Man is inspiring and moving to young readers age 5 and up. Beautiful earth-toned illustrations depict the mighty work of Manjhi and the awe and respect of his village friends. “Manjhi Moves a Mountain” is a true modern treasure and wisdom life story. 

Why I like this book:

  • The text engages from the opening lines to the satisfying ending!
  • The illustrations are incredible (wait till you see tomorrow’s post when illustrator Danny Popovici shares his process AND his storyboard!
  • The story is inspiring.

Related Activities:

paper mache mountainPhoto Courtesy: Kimberly Klein Sweder

http://www.ehow.com/how_12138304_make-fake-mountain-school-diorama.html

Paper Mache Mountain

Help your kids make their own mountain with paper mache. For detailed instructions: http://www.ehow.com/how_12138304_make-fake-mountain-school-diorama.html

 

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in Nancy’s giveaway of a copy of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN. And definitely don’t forget to be here tomorrow for a double your pleasure, double your fun Will Write for Cookies post featuring:

Author Nancy Churnin and Illustrator Danny Popovici

For more picture book reviews, check out Susanna Hill’s website, where picture book lovers link up their blog posts for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

To my friends and all those in the path of Hurrican Irma…we all join in praying for your safety!

 

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