#50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge is OPEN

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The #50PreciousWordsForKids International Writing Challenge is now OPEN!

Last month, I hosted a challenge for writers. I invited them to create a story for children in 50 words or less. #50PreciousWords drew hundreds of participants. What amazed me was the incredible creativity that was unleashed by the restrictive word limit.

MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT!

Last year, one of the participants told me that she and her six-year old daughter had an amazing bonding experience. Seeing her mom writing, the little girl wanted to write a story also. And she did. And her mom shared it with me.

DINOSAUR SNOW by Bethany (age 6)

It snowed a lot through the day. Pteranodon and her sister Teethless were bored. Pteranodon said, “I planned to go outside and it’s almost time for lunch. Oh it’s 11:00. Let’s go wake Mom and Dad.” “You’re right,” said Teethless. So they did. And then they ate lunch.

And when my eight-year old grandson spent a day with me, he wanted to write one, too.

Locked Out by Jeremy (age 8)

One evening, when me and my mom got home from school, we tried to unlock our door. We heard a snap. Our house key broke! We went to our neighbors for help. They said, “Get a ladder and climb into a window.” We followed their advice. Unlocked the door. Home!

Those two stories got me excited! As a retired kindergarten teacher, I’ve always been on a mission to help kids become lovers of books and reading. As many of you know, now I write for children. And I love it! My four debut picture books will launch next year.

I thought, what if I could encourage kids to become the storytellers! And so, #50PreciousWordsforKids was born.

#50PreciousWordsforKids coincides with Children’s Book Week, April 30 to May 6.

EVERY CHILD in grades K-6 is invited to participate.

This is an INTERNATIONAL challenge…there will be stories flying in from all around the world!

Teachers can have each child write a story of 50 words or less…then the teacher and/or class will choose one story to submit. Perhaps this can be a whole-school event to celebrate Children’s Book Week. Or just a single class project. If several kids want to work together or the teacher wants to submit a collaborative class story, that would be lovely!.

Parents are invited to encourage their children to write a story at home (whether or not they are homeschooled) – parents can email me one story per child.

My only rule is that the stories must be emailed to me by a teacher or parent (or other child-care facilitator).

Here are the guidelines:

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  • Each child, grade K-6, writes a story of 50 words or less.
  • Title not included in word count.
  • Story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Happy or sad, silly or serious, true or make-believe.
  • Teachers/students choose one story to submit per class.
  • Homeschooling parents submit one story per child.
  • Please email story to: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by May 7 at 11:59pm.
  • Stories post on my blog: viviankirkfield.com on May 11.
  • Teacher receives a certificate to copy and present to each child who wrote a story.
  • Giveaway of seven mini-Skype author classroom visits.

The challenge runs April 30 to May 6 and the stories need to be emailed to me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by 11:59pm on Sunday, May 7th.

I’ll enter those stories on my Thursday, May 11th blog post.

All teachers and parents will receive a certificate that can be copied and personalized with the name of each child who participated.

Please, dear readers, help spread the word by sharing this post on your social media channels and by reaching out to your teacher and parent connections.

If you have any questions or need clarification, just email me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com. 

What a wonderful opportunity for kids to become the storytellers.

Last year we had entries from 15 states and four foreign countries! I wonder where the stories will come from this year. But, no matter where they come from…

…I’m excited to read all of their precious words.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: SELFIE SEBASTIAN and A CAMPFIRE TAIL plus GIVEAWAY

I had a lovely surprise the other day. I received two beautiful picture books in the mail. Written by author Sarah Glenn Marsh, they are bright and bold and so much fun. I knew I had to share them with you today. One is about taking selfies. How awesome is that! And the other is about camping and finding the courage to be a real friend. And because my bookshelves are overflowing, I plan to give both of these away. So please make sure you leave a comment. And don’t hop off until you scroll through the entire post BECAUSE after the picture book review, I’ll be giving everyone a heads up about #50PreciousWordsforKids which is COMING ON MONDAY!!!

SELFIE SEBASTIAN

Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Illustrated by Florence Weister

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (2018)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Friendship, travel

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

You can’t take the perfect selfie if you’re all by yourself.
Sebastian is one handsome fox—and he really, really loves to take selfies. But somehow, no matter how camera-ready he is, his pictures always lack a certain something. And he can’t put his paw on exactly what. So Sebastian sets off on an elaborate quest to take the perfect selfie, dashing from a glamorous red carpet in Hollywood to the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon. He even zooms to the Moon! Still, none of Sebastian’s photos make him happy. Could it be that the secret to his special selfie is right where he started . . . at home, with his friends?

Why I like this book:

  • I loved the relevant theme of taking a selfie…even young kids want to do it.
  • I enjoyed the travel/geography layer to the story – kids will love to guess where Sebastian is.
  • GREAT illustrations – the front and back covers are amazing!

A CAMPFIRE TAIL

Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Illustrated by Ana Gomez

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (May 1, 2018)

Ages: 4 and up

Themes: Friendship, courage, camping

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Ever been stuck with a friend who’s totally uncool—and worried that it will rub off on you?
Welcome to Camp Wildwood! It’s Dragon’s first day, and his buddy would LIKE to show him a good time. But Dragon doesn’t seem to fit in with the boys and girls. He overturns the boat, ruins the puppet show, and even sets the tent on fire. Then, just as his buddy is about to give up, Dragon comes through in a pinch. This sweet, funny picture book teaches an important lesson about the true meaning of friendship—and in accepting the strengths and weaknesses of others.

Why I like this book:

  • I love friendship stories!
  • The illustrations are fantastic…just love the main character!
  • Text is full of heart and humor…great combination for a picture book!

Activities for both stories: 

  • Make a list of how to be a good friend.
  • Take selfies with friends and create an album of friendship.
  • Role play with your kids…different scenarios where being a good friend might be difficult.

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. If you’d like to see more picture book reviews, please go to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture book Friday link up. And remember the best gift we can give the authors of our favorite stories is to buy their book or ask the library to order their book or write a review on Amazon or other book review sites.

And now, dear friends, a few words about #50PreciousWordsforKids! Last year, I hosted an international writing challenge for kid writers in grades K-6. I invited them to create a story for children in 50 words or less. #50PreciousWordsforKids drew participants from 15 states and 4 foreign countries. What amazed me was the incredible creativity that was unleashed by the restrictive word limit. Click here to see the stories from last year’s challenge.

MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT!

As a former kindergarten teacher, I’ve always been on a mission to help kids become lovers of books and reading. What a thrill it was to invite them to become their own storytellers!

This writing challenge is ALL-INCLUSIVE and INTERNATIONAL!

#50PreciousWordsforKids coincides with Children’s Book Week, April 30-May 6. Every child in grades K-6 is invited to participate. Teachers can have each child write a story of 50 words or less…then the teacher and/or class will choose one story to submit. Last year, some classes formed teams and wrote collaborative stories – that is totally fine. Parents who homeschool their children can submit one story per child. The official #50PreciousWordsforKids post will go live on Monday morning!

Here are the guidelines.

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  •  Each child, grade K-6, writes a story of 50 words or less.
  • Title not included in word count.
  • Story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Happy or sad, silly or serious, true or make-believe.
  • Teachers/students choose one story to submit per class.
  • Homeschooling parents submit one story per child.
  • Please email story to: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by May 7 at 11:59pm.
  • Stories post on my blog: viviankirkfield.com on May 11.
  • Teacher/parent receives a certificate to copy and present to each child who wrote a story.
  • Giveaway of seven mini-Skype author classroom visits.

 Questions? Contact me at viviankirkfield@gmail.com

I’m asking all of you who have connections with elementary schools or homeschooling families in any state and any country to please spread the word. Last year, I contacted the Children’s Book Council and they agree – it’s a perfect activity for Children’s Book Week. Click here to read last year’s stories.

The challenge runs April 30-May 6 and the stories need to be emailed to me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday, May 7th. I’ll post those stories on Friday, May 11th. Teachers and parents will receive a certificate that can be copied and personalized with the name of each child who participated. And there will be mini-Skype author classroom visits randomly awarded—one per grade level if I get enough volunteers. 

Let’s help our kids stretch and grow their imaginations.

Which brings me to the next request…I still need volunteers to do mini-Skype author or illustrator visits. If you would like to donate a mini-Skype author or illustrator visit, please contact me ASAP either by email or on FB or Twitter. It’s a wonderful way to connect with our audience of parents, teachers, and kids!

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Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: IF YOU WANT TO FALL ASLEEP is on a Book Blog Tour Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!

I’m really happy because today we are part of author Jackie Azur Kramer’s book blog tour! If you’d like to check out the other stops: https://www.jackieazuakramer.com/iwfa-blog-tour

Before we get to today’s wonderful book, I have THREE important announcements.

  1. We have a copy of TERRIFIC TONGUES by Maria Gianferrari to give away. And the winner is…

DEE KNABB!

Congratulations, Dee. I’ll connect you and Maria so she and her publisher can get a copy of her fabulous book to you

2. #50PreciousWordsforKids is coming SOON! I’ll be inviting children in grades K-6 to write a story in 50 words or less. You all know how much fun that is! Last year we had a wonderful response – 15 states and 4 foreign countries participated! So, please spread the word to teachers, parents, homeschools. This is an activity that perfectly aligns with National Book Week…and there will be SEVEN AUTHOR SKYPE visits as prizes. I do need more volunteers for those…please contact me if you’d like to offer one or if you have any questions: viviankirkfield@gmail.com. And if you want more details, take a peek at Darlene Jacobson’s blogpost: https://darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/vivian-kirkfield-presents50-precious-words-for-kids-contest

3. I’ve got a gift pack of several picture book advance copies that I’d love to share…one of them is today’s wonderful story…please leave a comment on today’s post and you might be the lucky winner!

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IF YOU WANT TO FALL ASLEEP

Written by Jackie Azua Kramer

Illustrated by Lisa Brandenburg

Published by Clavis (2018)

Ages: 4-6

Themes: Bedtime routines, sleep problems

Synopsis: From Amazon:

It’s bedtime, but Little Mouse isn’t sleepy. He has tried reading, and snacking, and snuggling, but nothing is helping him fall asleep. Maybe Mama Mouse can help? If you want to fall asleep, what do you do? A wish and a hug and it’s finally time to dream.
A lyrical bedtime story for sleepy little mice ages 4 and up.

Why I like this book:

  • Most kids have trouble winding down…I love this rollicking adventure that is sure to help them do that. And if it doesn’t, it is sure to entertain them while they are up!
  • The illustrations are bold, vibrant, and filled with humor.
  • We always need fresh new bedtime stories.

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Paper Plate Mouse

paper-plate-mouse-craftPhoto courtesy: http://www.dltk-kids.com

Most of you know how much I love crafts made with paper plates. And here is a new one, a perfect extension activity after reading IF YOU WANT TO FALL ASLEEP.

For detailed instructions: http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/m-plate-mouse.htm

For more picture book reviews, why not hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Thank you for stopping by, dear friends! Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the book giveaway. And please share the upcoming #50PreciousWordsforKids info as well.

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Happy Weekend to All!

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: TERRIFIC TONGUES Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!

Today I’m sharing a brand-new book by one of my favorite kidlit authors, Maria Gianferrari. You’ve met her before when she stopped by last summer to chat on Will Write for Cookies about her then new book, HELLO GOODBYE DOG.  And now she has another one that just launched last week!!! And she is offering a copy as a GIVEAWAY! But before we get to our review and activity (which is going to be so much fun!), I need to make a few announcements.

The winner of a copy of SHARK NATE-O is…

SUSANNA TERPLEY.

Congratulations, Susanna! I’ll connect you and author Tara Luebbe.

And the winners of copies of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING are:

GINGER WEDDLE

VIRGINIA RINKEL

DANIELLE HAMMELEF

Congratulations, ladies…I will connect with all of you to make arrangements to send you the books so that you can present them to your local libraries in honor of National Library Week.

I also wanted to mention that the #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge is coming up at the end of this month. It coincides with Children’s Book Week, April 30 to May 6. The official challenge post will go live on Monday, April 30th. And author Darlene Jacobsen is going to give the challenge a shout out on her blog on Thursday, April 19…I’ll post the link here and on my social media. Please, friends, start getting the word out to teachers and parents of kids in grades K-6. Although every child who participates is a winner, I would love to select one class per grade level and one homeschool family/group to receive a mini-Skype author or illustrator visit like we did last year. I’m hoping to get EIGHT authors or illustrators who would be willing to donate those.  So please contact me if you’d like to participate: viviankirkfield@gmail.

And now for today’s Perfect Picture Book!

TERRIFIC TONGUES

Written by Maria Giaferrari

Illustrated by Jia Liu

Published by Boyds Mill Press (2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Nonfiction animal info about tongues, humor

Why I like this book:

  • Funny! Funny! Funny! Kids will love the humor.
  • Fabulous word play and nonfiction info about animals and their tongues.
  • Bold vibrant illustrations – and the expressions on the monkey who travels throughout the book are hilarious!

RELATED ACTIVITIESmonkey-craftsPhoto courtesy: https://iheartcraftythings.com/50-zoo-animal-crafts-kids.html

Lots of fun monkey projects! For detailed instructions, please go here: https://iheartcraftythings.com/50-zoo-animal-crafts-kids.html

And to add a funny tongue to any of these monkey crafts, just cut a long strip of construction paper, roll it up, and glue one end to the monkey’s mouth.

Enjoy the back matter in Maria’s book…so many amazing fun facts about animals and their tongues.

For more picture book reviews and activities for kids, hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Please remember that book reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other review sites are the best way we can thank authors for their wonderful stories.

And leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of TERRIFIC TONGUES.

And don’t forget to pass the word around about #50PreciousWordsforKids and email me if you’d like to donate a mini-Skype author visit.

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National Library Week PLUS a Giveaway

I woke up this morning and realized it was the first day of:

NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK!!!

I’ve been a fan of libraries since I was a little girl. I couldn’t get enough of books…and going to the library was like being set loose in a candy story.

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To help celebrate, why not visit the library with your children…and make it a habit to go often. Does your child have a library card yet? Find out how old your child has to be…if he doesn’t have one yet and is old enough, help celebrate National Library Week by signing him up. A CHILD’S LIBRARY CARD CAN BE A PASSPORT TO LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD. And libraries are one of the last free resources in our communities…they provide so much more than books…check out the programs they have available for children and adults of all ages.

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In honor of National Library Week, I’m again donating THREE copies of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. Wouldn’t it be awesome to present a copy of this valuable parent/teacher resource to your children’s librarian? Just subscribe to my mailing list. Three names will be chosen by Random.org at the end of April. Already subscribed? No worries…your name is already entered. And if your library is one of those which doesn’t accept book donations, please pass the book on to a local women’s shelter or childcare facilitator.

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Many libraries are very limited in what new materials they can buy for their collections because of reduced revenues. Help your library receive a resource that will be used by parents and teachers for their kids. Just click on this link and subscribe to my mailing list.

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Do you tweet on Twitter? Are you a fan of Facebook? Have you pinned anything on Pinterest yet? Please help me spread the word about the Show-Me-How Library Week Giveaway by tweeting, posting and/or pinning.

And while I have your attention (hopefully I do), I want to mention that the #50PreciousWordforKids International Writing Challenge is just around the corner. Many teachers and homeschooling parents are looking for activities to help celebrate Children’s Book Week which runs April 30 to May 6. And encouraging kids to write their very own story in only 50 words is a super cool way! Stay tuned for more information later this month or email me for details: viviankirkfield@gmail.com. I know that teachers need time to plan activities like this around their already overloaded curriculum requirements, so please reach out to any teachers you know. Last year we had one prize per grade level of an author Skype visit…if you would like to participate by Skyping with a winning class or school, please let me know.

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TARA LUEBBE: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

 

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TARA LUEBBE

Our Will Write for Cookies guest is on fire! Entering her debut picture book year with TWO entries, she has another already in the pipeline for 2019 and another for 2020! WOW! You can see why I wanted to have her stop by to chat with us!

 

Tara Luebbe is an ex-retailer turned picture book author. She co-writes with her sister Becky Cattie. They are the authors of I AM FAMOUS, illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff; SHARK NATE-O, illustrated by Daniel Duncan; I USED TO BE FAMOUS, illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff, (Albert Whitman Spring 2019); and CONAN THE LIBRARIAN (Roaring Brook Press 2020). You can learn more at beckytarabooks.com and you can find her on Twitter @t_luebbe.

Tara, thank you so much for spending your precious time with us. I know everyone is excited to learn more about you, so let’s get started.

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

TARA: My favorite picture book author was Jolly Roger Bradford, and I still love The Flying Hockey Stick and Pickle Chiffon Pie. When I became an independent reader, I devoured all things Hardy Boys, the Betsy Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace, and the Black Hand Gang books by Hans Jurgen Press.

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

TARA: I wish I had known that it’s very difficult to feel successful in this business as the bar never stops moving. When I was unpublished, the goals were simple: get an agent and sell a book. But now that I have done those things, there are new goals. So it’s hard to simply stop and smell the roses. Also the rejections and things that make you feel insecure don’t go away.

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

TARA: I always write on a laptop. I wish I could take the laptop outside some days, but the glare problem never quite works out for me. I have commandeered our dining room as my “office.”

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

 

TARA: I work every day from the time my kids are off to school until they return around 3pm. I usually get in another hour of something writing related after my boys are in bed, from around 9pm to 10pm. Most of this time is not spent on actual writing, however. Launching two books this year, most of my “work” has to do with marketing and other necessary, related items. As far as writing new stories, I don’t do it until I have an idea that is fairly developed in my brain. As soon as the marketing phase calms down, I need to come up with a system that allows me to spend more distraction- free time working on new ideas. And I am a bit unique in that I have a co-author, my sister Becky Cattie. Becky has a day job, so I try to leave her alone as much as possible during the weekdays. Then on the weekends she will review everything I have queued up for her. But if we have urgent issues or edits due, we will jump on the phone during the week.

ME: Why do you write for children?

TARA: I write for children because those are the books I have a natural aptitude for. I owned a children’s toy and bookstore in my previous life, so I was immersed in picture books both at home with my children and at work. I understand them the best and felt a calling to try to write them myself.

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ME: Also, 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. 🙂

TARA: If you are an aspiring picture book writer or illustrator, please check out my website (www.beckytarabooks.com) for information on Writing with the Stars, a free mentorship program for picture book writers and illustrators.

Oh yes…everyone…if you don’t know about Tara’s amazing WRITING WITH THE STARS mentorship program, please bookmark that website and check it out. I know quite a few kidlit friends who can’t say enough wonderful things about how much they loved it! Working one on one with a pro is such a gift…THANK YOU, Tara, for providing the platform for writers to connect and learn and grow in their craft.

And Tara is sweet in other ways as well. she’s waiting to share a GLUTEN FREE NO BAKE cookie recipe…take it away, Tara!

TARA: I had to go gluten-free last year so I don’t bake much anymore, but this is a childhood favorite that I can still eat. These taste better than they look!

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Unbaked Oatmeal Balls

¼ c. butter

¾ c. sugar

½ c. grated raw apple

1 ½ T. cocoa powder

1 ½ c. quick cooking rolled oats

¼ t. salt

½ c. chopped raisins

½ t. vanilla

(optional powdered sugar)

Melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar, apple, cocoa and salt. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Add oatmeal, raisins and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. When cold, roll into balls and roll into powdered sugar if desired.

What a fabulous recipe for parents to try with young kids. Gluten-free…and No-Bake…what a great combination!

I think I will give it a try this weekend…my 9-year old grandson is sleeping over tonight…and I have all of the ingredients!

Thank you, all, for stopping by and spending time here. And I know we all thank Tara for sharing her journey with us. Please leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of SHARK NATE-O.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: SHARK NATE-O Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends.

First, some announcements.

Congratulations to Amber Hendricks. She was the winner of Patricia Valdez’ wonderful JOAN PROCTOR, DRAGON DOCTOR…and she has already received it…thank you so much, Patricia…you are FAST!

And the winner of Laura Sassi’s DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE is…

ANNE IVERSON…Congratulations, Anne…I’ll connect you and Laura so she can mail you the book.

Today’s wonderful picture book is by debut picture book author, Tara Luebbe and her sister, Becky Cattie. And guess what? Tara and her sister have TWO picture book debuting this year! And guess what else? Tara will be stopping by to chat with us tomorrow and share a yummy gluten-free recipe for a cookie that doesn’t have to be baked. AND, can you stand one more piece of awesomeness? Tara is graciously offering a copy of SHARK NATE-O as a giveaway prize. So, please don’t forget to leave a comment today and tomorrow. 

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SHARK NATE-O

Written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie

Illustrated by Daniel Duncan

Published by Little Bee Books (April 2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Swimming, sharks, overcoming fears

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . .

Nate can’t swim.

When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

Why I like this book:

  • I totally identify with Nate…I, too, was a nonswimmer…and had to overcome my fear of the water when I took swimming in high school and college. I’m still not a fan, but perhaps I could save myself if I had to.
  • Great text from the opening lines to the satisfying ending.
  • Super cool illustrations.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

fingerprint shark art for kids

For detailed instructions, please go to: www.frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com

Please make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. And come come tomorrow to join us for Tara’s Q&A on Will Write for Cookies. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

If you have a few minutes, don’t forget that writing a review on a book site like Amazon or Goodreads is a wonderful gift to your favorite author.

And for more picture book reviews and activities, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.