12 x 12 in 2012: Picture Book Writer’s Party!

julie hedlund, vivian kirkfield

Have any of you read “The Celestine Prophecy”?  Author James Redfield talks about ‘synchronicity’…a term first used in the 1920’s by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.  Redfield explains that coincidences have a meaning personal to those who experience them.

Late last year, one of my blogging buddies, Nancy over at Spirit Lights the Way, suggested I check out a Friday linky of Picture Book Reviews.  I hurried over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday…and I’ve happily been there every Friday since then!  Susanna also hosts writing contests and writing prompts that encourage us to express our creativity.

Connecting with an amazing kid-lit community that followed Susanna’s blog, I met dozens of wonderful writers (one of whom has a birthday today…Happy Birthday, Beth!!!!), illustrators, librarians, teachers, moms…one of those was Julie Hedlund.  It turns out that Julie had just organized a challenge called 12×12 in 2012…write a picture book draft every month of the coming year.

My love affair with picture books began over sixty years ago, but I had put away my picture book writing when I started working on my book for parents and teachers, “Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.   Heart beating like a rock-band drummer, I immediately signed up.

And now the year is almost over…so it is definitely party-time!  I know WE are all ready!

I have completed twelve picture book drafts…twelve more than I would have had if not for Julie Hedlund!  Two or three have been critiqued and polished (hopefully enough) and will be submitted to publishers/editors shortly.

  1. Caroline’s Flower-Sprigged Hat
  2. Whom Do I Love?
  3. The Boots of Dylan McGee
  4. The Tomato Turner
  5. No Brother for My Birthday
  6. Grandma’s Visit
  7. Confessions of the Tomato Turner
  8. Hugs Are Not For Sale
  9. How Can I Learn How to Snow
  10. The Witches of Fairy Top Hill
  11. Where Is Buddy?
  12. Further Adventures of The Tomato Turner

Julie’s blog also provides guest posts by writers, illustrators, editors and others who love children and books…each sharing a journey that motivates and teaches.  I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that we couldn’t have done it without her.

I also have thirty picture book ideas, generated during Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo…an amazing challenge in November that I recommend to anyone who has ever thought of writing a picture book or to anyone who has dozens of published picture books…the information and inspiration gained by reading the guest posts is invaluable!

This year has been a joyous one for me…due, in large part, to my immersion in Julie’s picture book writing challenge.  It’s kind of like a picture book party where I am always dancing around, scribbling story titles, character names and plot ideas…what fun!

I will be retiring from my ‘day’ job on December 31…lots more time for picture book writing, I’m sure!  I’ll be hopping aboard the 12×12 in 2013 train…I’m looking forward to continuing this picture book writing journey…with Julie Hedlund as the engineer!

How to Help Kids Deal With Anxiety: The Worry Glasses

Many people suffer from anxiety…adults as well as children.  But the question is: how to help kids deal with anxietyThe Show Me How program uses picture books to help young children deal with the challenges they face so today, for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’ve chosen a story that addresses that problem.

The Worry Glasses: Overcoming Anxiety

Written by Donalisa Helsley

Illustrated by Kalpart

Publisher: Mirror Publishing (2012)

Ages: 3-9

Themes:

Overcoming anxiety, worrying, family support, empowering children, believing in yourself.

Opening lines:

“My name is Marjorie, but everyone calls me MJ.  I love having fun, but I used to miss out on doing fun things because I was so worried.”

Synopsis:

MJ doesn’t swim with her family when they went on vacation because she was worried about sharks.  She didn’t ride a horse at camp because she was worried she would fall off.  And she didn’t go to a friend’s party because she was worried no one would play with her.

MJ’s mother realizes there is a problem and takes her daughter to their pediatrician…who recommends they see a counselor.  The counselor is able to help MJ find ways to relax and view her fears in a more realistic way.

Why do I like this book:

This is a PERFECT book for young children who are beset with worries and anxiety (as many are).  I wish this book had been available to me when I was a little girl.  Ms Helsley provides the actual anxiety-relieving exercises that a counselor would give to a child who had this problem.  In addition, there are parenting tips at the back of the book that will be helpful, not only to a parent for their child…but also to anyone who suffers from anxiety.

If you’d like to learn more about this award-winning author and the other books she has written, please visit her at http://www.wildaboutreading.net/

 

Related Activities:

WORRY-LESS GLASSES

Your child will have so much fun, making these ‘worry-less’ glasses.  Put them on…and help your child examine carefully the things that are worrying him or her.  Sometimes talking about a problem and sharing it will lessen its power.

You will need: Pipe cleaners, piece of cardboard, markers, pair of scissors.

  1. Bend one pipe cleaner into a circle and twist the ends together.
  2. Do the same thing with another pipe cleaner.
  3. Twist two pipe cleaners together to form the nose piece…and attach an end to each of the circles.
  4. Attach one pipe cleaner to the outside edge of each of the circles. (these are the temple pieces that go over the ear)
  5. Fit the glasses on your child’s face and bend down each temple piece so the glasses stay on your child’s face.
  6. If you like, you can cut out cardboard circles to fit in the glasses and draw eyes on them.  Then cut out a circle in the middle of each so that the child can see out of them and fit them into the pipe cleaner glasses.  Personally, I like it better without this…less muss, less fuss…and less chance of the child getting frustrated by the cardboard circles falling out.

This craft (and illustration)…and MANY other types of glasses-making projects can be found at a fantastic website: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/howtomakesunglassescraftsideaskids.html

Today is the last day of November…what a jam-packed month this has been.  If you haven’t visited any of the websites below…and you love picture books (writing them or reading them)…click on any of the links and visit.

  1. Picture Book Month: Visit the website of Dianne de Las Casas to join in the month-long celebration of PICTURE BOOKS!  Every day, a different picture book champion (author, illustrator, etc.) is guest posting…you won’t want to miss these….they will inspire you and help you remember just why you love to read and write picture books.
  2. 2.   Picture Books and Crafts for Kids: Please pass the word about this new YouTube series for parents and teachers and kids…every Sunday, I’ll be choosing a picture book to read aloud…and then I’ll do a simple related craft project.  Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Yes We Can by Sam McBratney and last Sunday I read The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter and we created a geometric-shape train picture.  This coming Sunday I will be reading The Worry Glasses.   And of course, we will be making the “Worry-less Glasses”.  Each segment highlights a parenting problem such as setting up good bedtime routines or a children’s challenge like learning to be a good friend and believing in oneself.
  3. PiBoIdMo:  Picture Book Idea Month is the brain-child of children’s author,Tara Lazar.  If you signed up, you are already immersed in the world of picture books…trying to come up with 30 fresh ideas for picture book manuscripts during this month.  But, even if you have not joined the challenge, please run over there…don’t walk… to read an AMAZING guest post EVERY DAY this month…these posts will instruct and educate you…as well as motivate you to write the picture book that every child will want to read over and over again.
  4. Please don’t forget about Reach Out and Read…we need to GAB (Give a Book) before they can ROAR (Reach Out and Read).  If everyone who loves to read donates enough to buy just one book, the New York City Bellevue Hospital program (one of the largest in the country) will be able to replace the books that were lost in Hurricane Sandy.
  5. Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 Challenge to write a picture book draft each month has only ONE MORE MONTH TO GO.  I did complete my November draft…hurray!!!  And I am already looking forward to her 2013 Challenge.  If you didn’t join in this time, please think about doing it next year..click on the link and sign up…the challenge really keeps you on track…the support and encouragement is amazing…and, did I mention…there are PRIZES!!!!
  6. I have yet another important cause I am supporting…it is the STAR Program (Sit Together and Read) from the local Colorado Springs Community Partnership for Child Development (CPCD)…they interact with families in many important ways…this program provides picture books to families in need…homes where the children would not have any books if not for this interaction.  On December 10th I will be going to their office to deliver what I hope will be a VERY BIG PILE of picture books.  Click on their facebook link above if you are interested in getting involved.

 

 

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA

Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  MoneyPenny Press (our publishing company) is offering the book for $19.95 on Amazon, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   If you order from my website in the month of December, there will be THREE HOLIDAY GIFTS with each book…the price is a little more than on Amazon…but with the three gifts (FREE SHIPPING, A HAND-CRAFTED FABRIC BOOKMARK FOR THE PARENT, A SHINY NEW PENCIL FOR THE CHILD)…it evens out the cost.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

PPBF: Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse…Be Thankful for Who You Are

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

Written and illustrated by Leo Lionni

Publisher: Pantheon Books (1969)

Ages: 3 and up

Themes:

Believing in yourself, friendship

Opening lines:

“Help!  Help!  A mouse!”  There was a scream.  Then a crash.  Cups, saucers, and spoons were flying in all directions.  Alexander ran for his hole as fast as his little legs would carry him.”

Synopsis:

Alexander, a real mouse, is jealous of the toy wind-up mouse who lives in the warm house and is loved by the children.  He courageously asks the powerful lizard wizard if there is some way he can become a wind-up mouse.  When he finds the wind-up mouse has been thrown away, he decides to use his magic wish to turn the wind-up mouse into a real mouse so that the two can live together and be friends.

Why do I like this book:

This book is a Caldecott Honor Award winner!  Mr. Lionni’s simple yet bold illustrations capture the pathos of the story.  And the message is so powerful…children (and adults) often think that ‘the grass is greener’ and that they would be happier being someone else.  Our happiness comes from within ourselves…being someone else cannot make us happier.   When Alexander realizes that he is the fortunate one, he also realizes that life would be sweeter if he had a friend to share it with him.  This is a perfect story for the Thanksgiving season…and I will be sharing it this coming Sunday in my new Show Me How Picture Books and Crafts for Kids series on YouTube.

Related Activities:

PAPER MOSAIC FLOWER FROM THE LIZARD WIZARD’S GARDEN

Photo courtesy of http://www.education.com/activity/article/Paper_Mosaics/

You will need: One piece of dark construction paper, several small pieces of colored construction paper cut into small squares, glue stick and a pair of scissors.

  1. Talk to your child about the illustrations in the book…many of them look like cut-paper collage and mosaic…in fact, if you have old wallpaper sample book or old magazines, you can use those instead of the small pieces of colored construction paper.
  2. Help your child plan out the flower (or whatever your child decides to create on the page)…you can help draw the picture with marker to define each section…or your child might decide to just fill the page with the small cut paper in his own design.
  3. Use a dab of glue to stick each piece onto the paper.
  4. When dry, hang in a place of honor.

Lesson guide for teachers: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/alexander-and-wind-mouse-discussion-guide

Dramatization of the story for students: http://www.csuchico.edu/~cguenter/FourArts/DR/DRalex.html

Because November is such a special month and there is so much going on, I want to reshare some links to wonderful events going on in the kidlit/picture book community because I never know when someone new visits my blog who might not know about them.

  1. Picture Book Month: Visit the website of Dianne de Las Casas to join in the month-long celebration of PICTURE BOOKS!  Every day, a different picture book champion (author, illustrator, etc.) is guest posting…you won’t want to miss these….they will inspire you and help you remember just why you love to read and write picture books.
  2.    Picture Books and Crafts for Kids: Please pass the word about this new YouTube series for parents and teachers and kids…every Sunday, I’ll be choosing a picture book to read aloud…and then I’ll do a simple related craft project.  Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Yes We Can by Sam McBratney and last Sunday I read The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter and we created a geometric-shape train picture.  This coming Sunday, I will be reading Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse and we will be making the flower mosaic.  Each segment highlight a parenting problem such as setting up good bedtime routines or a children’s challenge like learning to be a good friend and believing in oneself.
  3. PiBoIdMo:  Picture Book Idea Month is the brain-child of children’s author,Tara Lazar.  If you signed up, you are already immersed in the world of picture books…trying to come up with 30 fresh ideas for picture book manuscripts during this month.  But, even if you have not joined the challenge, please run over there…don’t walk… to read an AMAZING guest post EVERY DAY this month…these posts will instruct and educate you…as well as motivate you to write the picture book that every child will want to read over and over again.
  4. Please don’t forget about Reach Out and Read…we need to GAB (Give a Book) before they can ROAR (Reach Out and Read).  If everyone who loves to read donates enough to buy just one book, the New York City Bellevue Hospital program (one of the largest in the country) will be able to replace the books that were lost in Hurricane Sandy.
  5. 12×12 in 2012: November is already half-way gone…and I’ve finished my November picture book draft for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge to write a picture book draft each month…hurray!
  6. I also wanted to share an article from the University of New Hampshire’s Penman Review…three tips for writers before their book is published.

 

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA

I know the media is starting its holiday campaign to turn our young children into super-consumers…but young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At under $20, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   If you order from my website in the month of December, there will be a special bonus gift included with each book (more about that next week)…the price is a little more than on Amazon…but I’m also offering FREE SHIPPING…so it evens out the cost.  Take your pick…whichever site you want to use…just make sure you grab a copy for those special people in your life who would benefit from having this award-winning resource!

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

Sunday Post: Favorite Spot – Wherever Loved Ones Are!

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is FAVORITE SPOT.

Horseback riding in the western hills above Steamboat Springs, CO.

 

FAVORITE SPOT: WITH MY HUSBAND!

Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park

 

Great cast into the Big Thompson River in RMNP.

A perfect autumn day in New England.

FAVORITE SPOT:  WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN!

 

Reading with kids at Tollhouse Preschool in New Hampshire.

FAVORITE SPOT: SCHOOL VISITS!

 

Cooking with kids builds self-esteem, develops literacy skills and is just plain fun!

FAVORITE SPOT: IN THE KITCHEN!

 

FAVORITE SPOT I HAVEN’T BEEN TO YET: ITALY

I’d love to have the opportunity to travel…I’ve driven across the country twice and next spring I may have the unbelievable opportunity to speak at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore.

However, sipping wine and feasting on homemade bread and cheese al fresco under the Tuscan sun is a dream of mine. 

A writer friend of mine has organized an amazing retreat for women writers in Florence, Italy.  It will take place from April 7-13, 2013. I cannot attend (this time), but you might like to go. Julie has an overview of the retreat on her website, plus specific information about the ProgramFacultyAccommodation and Rates. If you do register, please let Julie know I sent you!

Speaking about Julie…today is the last day of September…time to check in with the 12×12 in 2012 Challenge.  In January, children’s author Julie Hedlund issued a challenge: write one picture book draft every month in 2012.  Over 400 writers answered that challenge!

 

 The challenge has definitely inspired me to write a picture book draft each month…and I’ve enjoyed connecting with dozens of members of this amazing kidlit community.  My September draft is done…I’m hoping that in the next few months, I will prepare several manuscripts for submission!

 

This is the last day for nominations to give a dozen free copies of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cookingto schools or other childcare facilities.  Nominate your child’s school, or your own school if you are a teacher, in the Show Me How School Initiative by leaving a comment and telling us why you’d like that school or classroom to have this book.  If you don’t have young children, but know people who do, please tell them about the free book their child’s school can receive!  On Friday, we will use Random.org to choose 12 lucky schools. 

You can purchase a copy of this award-winning resource on Amazon (only $19.95) and on Amazon Kindle (only $9.95).  This award-winning book is a great gift for parents, grandparents, teachers, daycare providers and every young child (ages 2-8) that you know!  Get started on your holiday shopping…no batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination and a parent’s positive participation!  Check out this wonderful review from a kid’s point of view.

 

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

 http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ 

Show Me How is in the News!

THE SUMMER IS MORE THAN HALFWAY OVER!

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE…KIDS ARE OUT BUYING NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES….AND TEACHERS ARE GEARING UP FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR.

This post is a summary of some of the projects I have underway and some of the events that have been taking place recently, here in Colorado.

WE’VE BEEN POUNDED BY TRAGEDY…FIRST THE WALDO CANYON FIRES RIGHT HERE IN COLORADO SPRINGS (AND VARIOUS OTHER WILDFIRES IN THE REST OF THE STATE) AND JUST LAST WEEK, THE AURORA THEATER MASSACRE, WHERE TWELVE PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES AND DOZENS OF OTHERS WERE SERIOUSLY INJURED.

MANY ASK…HOW CAN WE STOP THIS TYPE OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE?

UNFORTUNATELY, I DON’T THINK THERE IS AN ANSWER…NOT UNTIL EVERY PERSON’S HEART IS FILLED WITH LOVE FOR OTHERS.

WHAT WE CAN DO IS PRAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN IMPACTED.  WE ARE ALL ONE FAMILY.  WE CAN REACH OUT TO EACH OTHER WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION BECAUSE, IN THE FACE OF TRAGEDY, LOVE IS WHAT HEALS.

WE CAN ALSO TRY TO MAKE OUR OWN LITTLE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.

SOMEONE WHO DOES THAT VERY WELL IS picture book author, SUSANNA LEONARD HILL.

DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR, SHE HOSTS A PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY  WHERE SHE INVITES OTHERS TO LINK UP WITH A PICTURE BOOK REVIEW AND RELATED ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES.

FOR THE SUMMER, SHE HAS COME UP WITH A WHOLE NEW CHALLENGE: SUMMER SHORT AND SWEETS.

DO YOU LIKE TO WRITE?  ARE YOU AN ASPIRING AUTHOR?

JOIN SUSANNA AND FRIENDS FOR THIS CREATIVE WRITING EXERCISE.

I hope you will check out this fun-filled writing exercise!  Here is my entry for week #3:

I am Castle.
Gray as weathered stone in a cloud-filled twilight.
With tall turreted towers.
Decaying.
Crumbling.
Adjacent to an ancient herb garden where quartz paving stones glisten in the moonlight.
Guarding a hidden secret.
Protecting a forgotten treasure.
Waiting for eventual discovery.
Like a tightrope walker holding his breath.
I am Castle.

Another project for me this summer was to submit a picture book to Rate Your Story.  This amazing website is hosted by several children’s authors, illustrators and editors.  They provide professional manuscript critiques and other services…but will look over your story for FREE and rate it from “1”…great story, you should consider submitting…to “10”…consider this story as practice and write another one.  In addition, some of the judges may even give your story some constructive suggestions to help make it better.

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted, “The Boots of Dylan McGee”.  This is a rhyming picture book that tells the story of a little boy who wants to be a cowboy and loves his boots so much that he never wants to take them off. 

Here’s the first verse:

Dylan McGee was a cowboy-in-training.

Boots were his garb, whether sunshine or raining.

“It’s time to go nighty-night”, Momma would say.

But take off his boots?  Nada, nix, no and nay!

 When his boots begin to hurt his feet because they are too small, “he tried to remove them but couldn’t succeed…those boots wouldn’t budge ‘cause he’d grown like a weed.”

Early this week, I got the reply back…”The Boots of Dylan McGee” scored a “3”… which means: good story, get a critique or two and polish before submitting.  I was really excited because the judge gave me three awesome suggestions which I am working on implementing to make the story better and ready to put out there in publishing-land.

I’m also continuing in Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge.

I’ve been having so much fun since January…writing a picture book draft each month.  Thanks to Julie and the encouraging group of more than FOUR HUNDRED participants, I now have seven picture book drafts waiting to be revised and polished and revised and polished and revised and polished some more.  July’s picture book draft is completed!

Another project for me is to de-clutter my garage. 

 

As the comic strip character, Cathy, would say, “AACK!!!!!!”

I know that clutter is a problem for many of us.  Objectively, I understand that clutter creates stress.  Subjectively, it is difficult to decide what to keep and what to toss.

But I have done a little work on this and plan to do more every weekend until I am done.

As Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way would say, “Aaaah, that’s better.

And now I’d like to share some lovely news.

Lovely news #1: Last week, I got an email from WordPress notifying me that I had reached a milepost in “likes”…1000 of them.

For that I have to thank all of you, my readers!  Sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to write, especially because I love to read and comment on everyone else’s posts.  I’m thrilled to have connected with so many people all over the world…what an exciting journey this has been!

Lovely news #2: I just got word from TaRhonda Thomas, Emmy-winning anchor for the 9News Morning Show in Denver.  She will be interviewing me on August 27th and we will be discussing an extremely timely topic for the opening of the new school year…how parents can detect the subtle signs of bullying.  I’ll share more details in future posts.

Lovely news #3: Diane Kress Hower over at bookwisdombydiane did an amazing review of Show Me How! and also one of Cindy Moo.  She has a spot on the local NBC affiliate KKCO TV 11 News morning show where she spotlights children’s books.  On Tuesday morning, she talked about the importance of self-esteem and how those two books were wonderful resources for parents and teachers.  Diane is offering a copy of each of the books as a giveaway on her website…you just need to leave her a comment.

Lovely news #4:  My daughter and her family will definitely be moving to Colorado Springs within the year…I can’t wait to be able to spend more time with my grandson!