WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends. The mailbox has been a flurry of awesome activity this week…lots of new picture books! And since this one is launching in just a couple of days, I wanted to share it with you. PLUS, the author, Viviane Elbee, will be stopping by tomorrow to chat on Will Write for Cookies AND she is offering a copy of her debut picture book for a giveaway!
TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI
Written by Viviane Elbee
Illustrated by Danni Gowdy
Publlished by Albert Whitman (November 1, 2018)
Themes: Facing fears, friendship
Opening lines: “Uh-oh. It’s snowing and your giraffe wants you to teach her to ski.”
What do you do when your giraffe wants to learn how to ski—but she wants to go down the big scary slope and you are NOT a fan of skiing even on the bunny slope? As the boy tries to control his giraffe and lead her to safer spots, he learns something about courage along the way and the reader learns about ski slope etiquette and the rudiments of skiing.
Why I like this book:
Paper Plate Giraffe
Photo courtesy: https://familymaven.io
Paper plates are one of my favorite classic craft materials. For detailed instructions: https://familymaven.io/kidsactivities/kidsactivities/easy-giraffe-craft-for-kids-NQNcWRx1Z0SwCkAYeJjZ6w/
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. And come back tomorrow when we chat with Viviane Elbee about her writing journey.
I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be at a local apple orchard with my grandson. Whatever you are doing, stay safe, and remember that authors need our support. Leaving a review, on Amazon, Goodreads, or other review sites, can really give a boost to the potential success of your favorite book!
I first met today’s guest in June 2014 when I took a class in writing nonfiction picture books. I fell in love with writing nonfiction…and so did Beth Anderson. We enjoyed critiquing together then…and we still do.
Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. Armed with linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Colorado where she laughs, wonders, thinks, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same.
Welcome, Beth! Thanks for stopping by. I’m so excited for your debut picture book, AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution. And I know you have more books in the pipeline…but for today, let’s find out a little more about you and your writing journey.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
BETH: I don’t have a recollection of favorite authors or illustrators. I know the first book I bought with my own money (as recorded in my baby book, I have no memory of this) was Children of the World – which is interesting when you consider I became an ESL teacher! I remember The Cat in the Hat Came Back, a book of poems, and a book of Bennett Cerf’s riddles. (What’s black and white and red all over?) I was always checking out biographies and Nancy Drew books from the library. My mom also read to us each night from thick classics like Pinocchio and Winnie the Pooh.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
BETH: I wish I knew (and still wish I knew) more about the process of creating picture books! But in general, things unfolded as I was ready, so I don’t know if I’d change a whole lot. Sometimes if you know the road is littered with potholes and bumps and detours and barriers, you’re afraid to step out on the journey. There is so much information available now online that it’s immensely easier than when I took my first crack at writing for kids years ago. The most valuable bit of info now is knowing that there are endless resources for learning available.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
BETH: I’ve claimed the study as my writing room where I have easy access to shelves of books, drawers of files, and the current pile of research. Sticking with one spot helps my focus – except that I can look out the window and watch the world go by. Initially, I use pencil and spiral to organize and make lots of notes. (See my post on how I organize HERE. I’ve found it’s really beneficial to brainstorm by hand. When I start drafting, it all goes on the laptop. At various points in the process, I print out a one-sided copy and start marking it up by hand with highlighters and notes. I like to be able to lay out the entire story and see how sections balance, where different plot points fall, where repetitions hit, identify page breaks, the conflict points, the emotional arc, etc. I think it helps to see the story in different formats.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
BETH: I’m my best creative self in the morning. So as soon as I exercise and eat breakfast, I’m at it. Once in a while an idea hits when I’m about to fall asleep, so I have pencil and paper on the night stand. But I’ve learned that I shouldn’t work on a manuscript in the evening, or it will torture me all night. Most days, at least Monday through Friday, I’m researching, drafting, or revising. But now that I have a book coming out, there are some days that I’m working on other related tasks.
ME: Why do you write for children?
BETH: I’ve had the “someday” of writing for children in the back of my mind for a very long time. Finally, as I prepared to retire from teaching, that idea came out of hiding. When my students asked me what I was going to do, I admitted I’d always wanted to write for kids. Seeing their excitement gave me the encouragement I needed to give it a try. Also, they made me feel accountable. How could I tell them to chase their “somedays” if I wasn’t willing to?
But as to why I’m drawn to narrative nonfiction…it all comes from my years as an ESL teacher using literature to teach content as well as language. I saw the lightbulbs go on and heard the reactions. I watched wonder creep over a child’s face and listened to questions that came forth. I got to see the power of story to connect kids to their world, open minds, and inspire learning. My goal is to be a part of that.
Jumping off from there, I’d say a story can teach us all something different, something we need. Certainly as a writer, I get multiple lessons, about life as well as writing, with every manuscript as I connect to the characters and learn from their experiences. With An Inconvenient Alphabet, the lingering idea gleaned from Ben Franklin was to let your ideas “take their chance in the world.” Once that book is out in the world, others will largely determine its success. But I’ll continue to learn from the experience.
ME: How about some thoughts for aspiring authors?
BETH: One of the most difficult things for any of us is to put our ideas out there and risk reactions that are not positive. When I started this kid lit endeavor, I couldn’t use the word “writer” about myself. When I got over that hurdle, I struggled with “author.” There seemed to be “requirements” I wasn’t sure I met. Am I a writer if no one reads what I write? Am I an author if my story is in my drawer? But…if we keep it to ourselves, no one will ever read that story in the drawer. We’ll never make the connections we desperately need to move ourselves forward. My first public “confession” that I was diving into this came at a weavers’ guild meeting, and lo and behold, I met a local author who told me how to connect with the kid lit community in the area. So…you just never know…one thing leads to another…a chance.
Thank you so much, Beth. I loved this entire Q&A…but I know that for me, your organizational tips will be so very helpful…I can’t wait to visit the link you provided!
And, my friends, Beth has provided something else just as sweet…her favorite treat recipe! Take it away, Beth!
I got this recipe from a dear friend when we lived in Georgia, land of peaches. It’s fabulous!
¾ C. flour
2 C sugar (I cut down to justify eating more. Usually put ¾ c. into batter and ¼ to ½ c. with fruit.)
2 t. baking powder
¾ stick butter/margarine
¾ C milk
2 C. sliced peaches (be generous)
Melt butter or margarine in 8×8 pan (I use microwave, glass pan).
Combine flour, 1 C (or less) sugar, baking powder, milk, salt.
Mix peaches and 1 cup (or less) sugar.
Pour batter into the melted butter in pan. DO NOT MIX.
Dump peaches into batter (distribute evenly). DO NOT MIX.
Bake ~1 hour @ 350’ – you want a golden crusty top.
Oh my goodness…that sounds amazing! Thanks so much, Beth. I wonder how many people are going to try this…looks like the perfect dessert for company.
Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. Have a safe and happy weekend, my friends.
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends. Here is another book I’ve been anxious to spotlight…ever since I read an early draft of it during a manuscript exchange with one of my critique buddies. It’s actually just hot off the press as you’ll see by the publication date below. I am so darn excited for the talented Beth Anderson…and you’ll get to meet her tomorrow when she stops by to chat on Will Write for Cookies. Plus she’s graciously agreed to do a giveaway…so make sure you leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her debut picture book, AN INCOVENIENT ALPHABET: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution.
AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET: BEN FRANKLIN & NOAH WEBSTER’S SPELLING REVOLUTION
Written by Beth Anderson
Illustrated by Elizabeth Buddeley
Published by Simon and Schuster (September 25, 2018)
Themes: American history, spelling, humor
Synopsis: From Amazon:
“Delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated.” —School Library Journal
“Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Thought-provoking and entertaining.” —School Library Connection
“Engaging…A comprehensible, lively read.” —Publishers Weekly
Do you ever wish English was eez-ee-yer to spell? Ben Franklin and Noah Webster did! Debut author Beth Anderson and the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Dissent, Elizabeth Baddeley, tell the story of two patriots and their attempt to revolutionize the English alphabet.
Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn’t match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet.
In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard.
Children today will be delighted to learn that when they “sound out” words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.
Why I like this book:
Photo courtesy: https://www.123homeschool4me.com/2017/01/26-alphabet-crafts_20.html
There are crafts here from A to Z. For detailed instructions: https://www.123homeschool4me.com/2017/01/26-alphabet-crafts_20.html
For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities for kids, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post where lots of lovers of picture books congregrate.
I hope you all have a super weekend. The fall foliage is in full swing in New England and I hope, wherever you are, you are getting out to enjoy your days. Please don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of the book…when you read the book, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads…and please do come back tomorrow to chat with Beth on Will Write for Cookies.
Friday is one of my favorite days and I’m sure you all know why. It’s the day I get to review a brand new picture book! Hurray!
And today’s selection is from one of my favorite kidlit authors, Maria Gianferrari, who is so generous and kind. She is offering a copy of OPERATION RESCUE DOG as a giveaway. Please make sure you leave a comment for a chance to win!
OPERATION RESCUE DOG
Written by Maria Gianferrari
Illustrated by Luisa Uribe
Published by Little Bee Books (September 2018)
Synopsis: From Amazon:
This sweet story about a girl named Alma and a stray dog named Lulu shows how a girl and a dog can rescue each other.
Lulu’s ears flap in the wind
as the rescue truck rolls into the lot.
Lulu’s tail thumps—
Everything smells . . . new.
Lulu sleeps under the moon, drinking from mud puddles and is covered in ticks until she is rescued. She waits for the Operation Rescue Dog truck, scared and uncertain.
Alma misses her Mami, who is far away in Iraq. Alma wears Mami’s scarf around her like a hug. She wonders: Can a dog feel like a hug?
Why I like this book:
Photo courtesy: https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/dog-crafts-for-kids/
WOW…what a fabulous collection of dog crafts for young kids. If you’d like detailed instructions, please go here: https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/dog-crafts-for-kids/
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Autumn is definitely here…our leaves are already changing color and the temperature in the morning is decidedly crisp. I am fortunate to live in New England because the fall foliage is something many people travel here to see.
School is underway in just about every town and city…but this is a perfect season to do day or short weekend trips with the kiddos. Do you have any travel plans in the near future? My son is flying in from Chicago next week to participate in the Tough Mudder in Gilford, NH. What is a Tough Mudder you ask? Here a short video clip: https://toughmudder.com/events/2018-northeast
It’s a 10 mile race with 20 obstacles…like a slog through ice cold water (filled with ice cubes), a run between wires that have electricity going through them…and you…OUCH! As well as climbing up walls, swinging from rings and more! My daughter and I will definitely not be participating…only cheering him and her hubby on. And then the next day, we’ll be making a bittersweet drive to Connecticut to hold a tribute to my husband at the river where he fished for decades.
And my writer friends…how is your writing life going? We are in the last quarter of the year…are you working on anything new? Revising manuscripts? I just finished a new story and just need to polish the author’s note (it’s another nonfiction pb) befoe I send it to my agent. And then…a new story! YAY! I just came back from visiting a dear friend in New Jersey. We stayed up late…talking for hours and hours. In fact, her husband was sure we would lose our voices. But we didn’t! And I came home with TWO fabulous story ideas that I can’t wait to start researching and writing.
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of Maria Gianferrari’s brand new book: OPERATION RESCUE DOG…it’s available for preorder and launches in just a few days!!!!
I met today’s guest early on in my kidlit writing journey and was always impressed with her passion and determination.
Raised in New York and Paris, Robin is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the City University of New York School of Law. She’s been a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She’s the author of the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake and The Case of the Poached Egg, and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs her Sleep. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, National Writing Project’s Writers Council, and the Bank Street Writers Lab. She lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels, who are extremely fond of Phil, Jim, and Harry.
ME: Welcome, Robin! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat…and a big thank you for offering a copy of your awesome new picture book, NO PEACOCKS! as a giveaway. I know everyone is excited to learn more about you, so let’s get started.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
ROBIN: I will seriously date myself but here goes:
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
ROBIN: It may seem very obvious, but writers need a gene for patience. Patience for writing and developing story ideas. Patience for working on rewrites. Patience waiting for agents and editors to review your submissions and patience for implementing and processing feedback. Patience, as well as a good box of tissues and chocolate, for dealing with lots of rejection.
ME: Where do you like to write—inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
ROBIN: I work on a laptop. Most of the time, I work in my teeny tiny office that’s been overtaken by swag and books with my dogs, Cupcake and Madeleine, under my feet. But I also like to work in coffee shops while waiting for my son to get out of camp or school.
Now, if I don’t have my laptop with me, I always have a notebook or two that I use for marking down ideas and sketching/outlining stories. When I finally have a solid draft, I like to print it out and mark it up on paper. I seem to see the story more clearly when I’m reviewing it on paper. And if I’m working on a picture book, once I have a solid draft, I always always always make one or several dummies so that I can cut, see where the page turns are going to fall, and cut some more.
ME: When do you write—early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
ROBIN: I write in the morning after my son heads off to school or camp. And I have till school or camp pick up to finish my work.
ME: Why do you write for children?
ROBIN: I LOVE it! I love getting kids excited about reading and writing, including my own son, who’s a difficult customer to please. And it’s an absolute privilege to write for children.
Prior to writing for children, I had been a miserable attorney (that’s miserable with a capital M), and then a legal editor before switching gears completely to writing picture books and early chapter books. I still remember the day when I walked into my first children’s fiction writing class, it just felt so right. I knew I had found my people.
Bottom line: there’s no better job in the world than writing for children. (And I’m extremely grateful to my amazing husband who supports my writing habit.)
ME: If you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
ME: HURRAY! What amazing advice, Robin! Thank you so much. I know everyone is applauding. We appreciate that you shared so much with us. And I know you have a very special treat to share with us.
ROBIN: Although I will most definitely write for cookies, I must confess that I prefer carrot cake. Here’s Molly Katzen’s awesome carrot cake recipe from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. It’s super easy and super yummy!
Thank you so much, Robin! This is a fabulous recipe…and you’ve been so generous in sharing your thoughts on writing!
Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway, dear friends.
I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful weekend!
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!
It’s been such a wonderful week so far…reconnecting with my dear friend Jane in her home on the New Jersey shore…we’ve known each other since we were two years old and have spent the last few days talking and hugging and talking some more! On Wednesday, we walked on the boardwalk, listened to the waves crashing on the beach. and shared food I haven’t had forever like hot dogs and pizza and fries.
Which made me think of NO PEACOCKS!, a brand new picture book by one of my favorite kidlit authors, Robin Newman, about a bunch of birds who want to get some variety in their diet. And thanks to the lovely Robin, we have a giveaway of a copy of this wonderful book!
Written by Robin Newman
Illustrated by Chris Ewald
Published by Sky Pony Press (September 2018)
Themes: Humor, ingenuity, food
Synopsis: From Amazon:
Every day, Phil, Jim, and Harry are fed sunflower seeds by the staff who care for them at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. But one day, they decide they’re sick of them. They make a break for the New York City streets in search of pizza or Chinese takeout.
But everywhere they go, they’re told “No peacocks!” So they try to get an ooey, gooey, delicious meal closer to home. But how are they going to sneak into the school’s dining hall and get their wings on the school’s world-famous mac ‘n cheese? A little plotting, some stolen disguises, and help from the students, and mission mac ‘n cheese is a go! Will the peacocks finally get their mac ‘n cheese? Or will their cover be blown, forcing them to fly the coop?
Inspired by the real-life beloved, celebrity birds living on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and brought to the page in bold, bright style, No Peacocks!is a hilarious romp and a perfect read-aloud.
Why I like this book:
And here is some more info about the book, straight from the author’s mouth!
My latest book, No Peacocks! A Feathered Tale of Three Mischievous Foodies, illustrated by Chris Ewald (Sky Pony Press) flies onto bookshelves on 9/4.
Let me introduce you to some friends of mine:
This is Phil. He’s a white leucistic peafowl.
This is Jim or Harry.
Or Harry or Jim. They’re your traditional blue-green peacocks.
Phil, Jim, and Harry reside on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. From the moment I saw them, I knew I wanted to write a story about them. But it wasn’t until I was attending a meeting for The Cathedral School’s book fair, when my son was a student, and someone announced—Did anyone leave a stroller on the porch with a sandwich? Because one of the peacocks just ate it—that I knew the kind of story I was going to write.
No Peacocks! is a fictional tale about Phil, Jim, and Harry’s quest to taste the school’s very famous mac ‘n cheese. With a little plotting, some stolen school uniforms, and help from the students, Mission Mac ‘n Cheese is a go! No Peacocks! is a cheesy story of friendship and teamwork, with a mild sprinkling of fowl behavior.
Every day tour buses line up along Amsterdam Avenue from 110th Street to 112th Street to see the three celebrity peacocks and visit the cathedral (which also happens to be where Madeleine L’Engle had worked as the librarian and writer in residence).
No Peacocks! is a quintessential New York story. There may be Eloise at The Plaza Hotel on the east side of town, but there’s no doubt that the peacocks at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine are THE celebrities on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
WOW! Don’t you love getting a behind the scenes look at how/why a book came to be? Is this not fantastic? And just think…one lucky person is going to win a copy of this fascinating book!!! Make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.
Photo courtesy: https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/peacock-crafts-and-activities/
For detailed instructions on many peacock crafts: https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/peacock-crafts-and-activities/
Here are some great learning extension activities from Robin:
And for more picture book reviews, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
I hope you will all come back tomorrow to visit with author Robin Newman who is stopping by to chat with us on Will Write for Cookies. Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway…and remember that book reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are one of the best gifts you can give to your favorite authors.