Author Archives: viviankirkfield

Perfect Picture Book Friday: FINDING A DOVE FOR GRAMPS Plus Critique Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. The year is winding down, but the windfall of fabulous picture books of 2018 is not. And the author of today’s book is offering a VERY special giveaway: a Picture Book Critique OR the first 10 pages of a novel.

FindingaDoveforGramps_CVR

FINDING A DOVE FOR GRAMPS

Written by Lisa Amstutz

Illustrated by Maria Luisa Di Gravio

Published by Albert Whitman (November 2018)

Ages: 5-7

Themes: Christmas Bird Count, family, persistance

Synopsis: From Amazon:

“A boy and his mom continue the family tradition of participating in the annual bird count. Since Gramps went South for the winter, the boy hopes to spot Gramps’s favorite bird for him—a dove! But with so many different birds in the nature preserve, will he be able to spot one? This heart-warming family story about nature celebrates a holiday census that was first started in 1900 and happens every year.”

Why I like this book:

  • I’ve always been fascinated with the Christmas Bird Count…and I was thrilled to see there is a new picture book that will introduce young children to this.
  • Bold illustrations draw the reader into the story.
  • I loved that the family is helping the young boy keep his connection with his Gramps strong, even though he is not living close by any more.

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Fine-Motor-and-SensoryCraft-for-kids-200x300Photo courtesy: https://adayinourshoes.com/backyard-bird-feeders-and-bird-watching-activities-for-kids/

Make a cool bird feeder, but just remember that if you make a habit of feeding birds, they may come to depend on it and if you don’t follow through in the winter, they may not be able to find food elsewhere. For detailed instructions: https://adayinourshoes.com/backyard-bird-feeders-and-bird-watching-activities-for-kids/

Find out more about the Christmas Bird Count and how it started: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/history-christmas-bird-count

Lisa Amstutz, the author of FINDING A DOVE FOR GRAMPS, has a wonderful website with activities for teachers: http://www.lisaamstutz.com/for-teachers.html

And please remember that the best gift we can give our favorite authors is to 

  • Buy their books
  • Write reviews
  • Tell friends about the book
  • Ask your local library to purchase it for their collection

I hope you all enjoy the weekend. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. I’ll be flying to Chicago tomorrow morning to spend the week with family, so I’m wishing all of you a very Safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal: DIBS! by Laura Gehl

I’m a big fan of Laura Gehl’s books. And so are lots of kids. Especially One Big Pair of Underwear! So, when I heard that Laura had a brand-new picture book releasing next year, I knew I’d want to spread the word. And guess what? 

I get to do the COVER REVEAL!

Welcome to the world, DIBS!

CoverWriiten by Laura Gehl

llustrated by Marcin  Piwowarski

Published by Carolrhoda – May 2019

And here’s a little taste of the fun that’s in store for you:

Julian likes to call “DIBS!” on everything he wants, from the solar system plate to the last star cookie. His baby brother Clancy watches and learns. Then one day Clancy says his first word–

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 12.09.52 PM

“DIBS!” It’s funny…until Clancy starts calling dibs on everything, from his parents’ bed to a real airplane to the White House. What’s next? Calling dibs on the moon?

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 12.10.30 inside spread

Sure enough, Clancy calls dibs on NASA and blasts off into space! Julian is glad to have Earth all to himself…at first. But when Clancy doesn’t come back, Julian is worried–and lonely. Can he harness the power of dibs to rescue his little brother?

DIBS! flies into the world on May 7, 2019, but you can preorder now: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781512465327

Here’s a little bit about the genius behind DIBS!

LauraGehlHeadshotwithbooks

 

Laura Gehl’s humorous picture books include One Big Pair of Underwear, the Peep and Egg series, My Pillow Keeps Moving, I Got a Chicken For My Birthday, and Delivery Bear. Although Laura has four children (one of whom inspired this book with his love of calling dibs), this is her first book about sibling rivalry. Is that because her children never fight? Or because their fighting drives all rational thoughts out of her head? You decide. Laura’s other releases coming up in 2019 include Except When They Don’t (Little Bee), Baby Oceanographer (HarperCollins), and Always Looking Up: The Story of Astronomer Nancy Grace Roman (Whitman). She can be found in Maryland calling “DIBS!” on the last brownie or the newest library book.

To connect with Laura or find out more about her books:

http://www.lauragehl.com

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraGehl

@AuthorLauraGehl

I don’t usually get to wish you all a wonderful week, since I’m usually posting on Friday and Saturday. But, since today is Tuesday, I can!

I hope your week is joyous and productive. And I’ll see you back here on Friday, for another perfect picture book from Lisa Amstrutz: Finding a Dove for Grandpa.

BRIAN LIES: Will Write for Cookies Plus Double Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS (AND ILLUSTRATORS, OF COURSE!)

TODAY’S GUEST

Brian Lies photo

 

BRIAN LIES

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve only recently connected with today’s guest. Of course, I’ve been a long time admirer of the work of this talented author/illustrator and I’m thrilled to welcome him to Will Write for Cookies.

Brian Lies is the NY Times-bestselling author and/or illustrator of nearly 30 children’s books, including his latest, THE ROUGH PATCH (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Aug. 2018) and GOT TO GET TO BEAR’S! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct. 2018), and his bat series (including BATS AT THE BEACH, BATS AT THE LIBRARY, etc.).  When he’s not working on his stories or visiting schools around the country, he can be found in his vegetable garden, reading, or preparing unusual foods such as kimchi, pickles, switchel or limoncello.  He and his wife have a grown daughter and live 30 miles south of Boston, MA.

To connect with Brian and learn more about his books: 

website:  www.brianlies.com

Twitter:  @BrianLiesbooks

Blog:  GETTING INTO CHARACTER,  brianlies.blogspot.com

Instagram:  brianlies

ME: Hi Brian! So glad you could stop by to chat with us today. I know everyone is excited to hear more about you and your writing/illustrating life. 

rough patch

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

BRIAN: I grew up with a lot of books, so creating a shortlist is tough!  Early on, I loved Richard Scarry’s “Best Word Book Ever”—it was the book that taught me the connection between objects and the words that described them.  Another favorite was “Miss Suzy,” by Miriam Young and Arnold Lobel.   There was “Put Me in the Zoo” by Robert Lopshire, with the creature (polar bear?) with its moveable and changeable spots, and a very obscure one called “Why I Built the Boogle House,” by Helen Palmer (photo illustrations by Lynn Fayman).  That one’s about a boy who keeps remodeling a small pet house to accommodate larger and larger animals.  Also Bennett Cerf’s “Book of Laughs,” with its really corny, 1960-era illustrated jokes.

When I entered the world of chapter books, I loved things like the Edward Eager “Magic” book series, “The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian” by Lloyd Alexander, and anything by Jane Langton (“The Diamond in the Window,” “The Swing in the Summerhouse,” etc.).  I was also very into the “Childhood of Famous Americans” series, though I’d probably be really dismayed now to know how much of those books was fabricated or idealized.

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

BRIAN: I think the biggest thing would be that, for the vast majority of writers, you never “make it” in a blockbuster-so-big-you-never-have-to-worry-again way.  You’ve got to keep paddling, because there’s always a current, even if slight, against you.  It’s so much easier to NOT write than it is to write.  So focusing on the joy that comes when you’re on a new idea and madly scribbling away, or revising a really tricky bit, and it suddenly falls into place—is more important than focusing on the ultimate success of any particular book.

GOT TO GET TO BEAR'S 300dpi

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

BRIAN: Like many authors or illustrators, I’m a creature of habit.  I write with a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil on yellow Ampad legal pads (they feel sturdier than other brands).  I write by hand because it almost always comes out better than drafting on the computer.  I type really fast, so my first ideas splat onto the screen without a lot of consideration.  But when I write by hand, it’s slower, and I pre-edit or reconsider each sentence as I’m writing.  So a first draft is invariably better when it’s put down on paper.

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

BRIAN: For me, the best writing comes in the first thing in the morning, when I’m not thinking about “have-tos” or people I should email, etc.  There’s something about that quiet time before the world is in gear that feels the clearest.  Unfortunately, that time has become polluted by the iPhone—news or emails may have come in overnight, and as soon as you’ve looked at them, that quiet time is gone.  So the idea of a social media vacation sounds pretty good right now.

writing desk

ME: Why do you write for children?

BRIAN: It’s a cliché to say “I really write for myself,” but there it is.  Books meant so much to me as a boy:  entertainment, knowledge, imagination.  And as a boy, I worried about whether I’d ever be good enough at anything to do something “real,” something that nobody would question in the adult world.  So I try to write stories that I enjoy now, but also ones that I think I’d have liked as a kid.  I do love the idea that real people, people I’ve never met and haven’t shoved a homemade copy of a story at, might read one of these books out there in the world and then write to me about how it affected them.  That’s pretty amazing.

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. 

BRIAN: There’s little I can say that hasn’t already been said, but repetition drums things into our brains.  So:  focus on craft.  Try writing the story from different perspectives.  I have a 300-page novel which I first wrote in third person, then tried again in first person, and the action became more immediate (I still have to go back and whittle perhaps 1/3 of it away).  Make sure every character’s voice is distinct enough that you can guess who’s speaking, after a few lines, without dialogue tags.  Nancy Werlin has a fantastic revising process in which she makes sure every chapter serves the story, every paragraph serves the chapter, and every sentence serves the paragraph (she may have something about that on her web /social media platforms).  Very important:  read everything aloud.  What looks good on paper or screen doesn’t always sound good aloud.

And for educators and librarians:  Please let kids read what they want.  I believe that becoming a good reader springs out of enjoying reading, rather than out of a drilled mastery of skills.  Kids are going to read at different levels—that’s just life.  I think kids should read what they want, whether it’s “above” or “below” their level.  Not letting them take out an advanced book stifles learning—how do we learn unless we reach beyond our grasp?  What’s so bad about having a book at home for a week that’s too hard to read? Shaming them because they’re “behind” or pressuring them into reading above their level makes reading a chore, and something to be avoided.  I used to despair at the idea of boys wanting to read what some would consider “garbage,” but I’ve come around—at least they’re reading!  And if they love it, they can be coaxed to try other, more “literary” materials.  In any case, wouldn’t it be better to have a grownup who loves reading comic books than a grownup who wouldn’t touch a book?  I know our culture is all about achievement and scores, but the real end goal here is someone who picks up a book because she or he WANTS to.

ME: PLEASE LET KIDS READ WHAT THEY WANT…you put it in italics, Brian, but I’m going to put it in it in caps as well. Not that I’m shouting it, but for emphasis. I am so much a fan of that, Brian. Because, as you say, they are reading. I remember reading plenty of comic books and Trixie Belden and folktales…even these days I’ll reread books like Pollyanna or Little Women…bringing back memories of when summer days meant nothing but bringing home piles of books from the library and sitting all day long, devouring those sweet stories.

And mentioning sweet reminds me that Brian has a very special recipe for us. Take it away, Brian!

BRIAN: My Will Write for Cookies recipe is Angel Flakes.  There’s a chance that the recipe is on the side of shredded coconut bags all over the world, but this is one of our favorite Christmas cookies—to the point where I double the batch and we’ve left off making some of our other favorites to make more room for these.  The photo below is a Xerox of the typed card that’s been in the family for many decades—the recipe was originally baked by my grandmother, Bertha Sherwood Bonham, and it’s now gone three generations down.

Brian Lies recipe

ANGEL FLAKES

1/2 C butter

1/2 C shortening

1 tsp vanilla

1 C sugar

1 1/2 C. sifted flour

1/2 tsp soda (baking soda)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 C flake coconut

Cream butter, shortening and sugar.  Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter-sugar mixture with coconut and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Roll into small balls, dip in powdered sugar and place on cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly. (Not too much).  Bake at 350 for about 15 min.  Makes about 48.

Thank you so very much, Brian…for all of your insights and for sharing some of your process with us. And of course, we are grateful for a family recipe that just might become someone else’s holiday tradition. We are all wishing you much success with your newest additions to your bookshelf…and for your very generous giveaway.

Dear friends, please leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway…and find ways to thank your favorite authors: buy their books, ask your local library to purchase for their collection, post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, tell all of your friends how much you enjoyed a particular book. Word of mouth is the best marketing tool we have – and it doesn’t cost a penny.

I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend. See you on Monday for another extra special blog post…a COVER REVEAL for Laura Gehl’s newest picture book: DIBS!

 

 

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