Perfect Picture Book Friday: 5 LITTLE DUCKS Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday. I’m honored to feature the newest book (which is PERFECT for this Father’s Day weekend) from multipublished Caldecott Honor winning author/illustrator Denise Fleming. And guess what? Denise will be here TOMORROW for Will Write for Cookies.

But before I share this very special review with you (special because I’m going to point out how the author updated this old classic to make it more relevant for today’s market), I need to announce the winner of the picture book manuscript critique that author Ellen Leventhal is giving away.

And the winner is…

DIANE TULLOCH

Congratulations, Diane! Ellen gives super feedback…so you are in for a treat.

And now, we are all in for a treat.

cover

5 LITTLE DUCKS

Written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

Publisher: Beach Lane Books (2016)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 1

Themes:

Independence, counting, family relationships

inner page day of week

Synopsis:

From Kirkus:

A traditional rhyme serves as the basis for an adaptation with an expanded worldview. As in the original, the story begins with five ducklings and a parent. But this time it’s Papa Duck doing the calling. The little ducks’ adventures take place over a week, with one fewer returning home each day. Rather than always going “over the hills and far away,” however, these five little ducks enjoy exploring new places and meeting new friends. They have fun playing in the woods with a winsome flying squirrel, frolicking with wild turkey chicks, imitating a turtle, wallowing in the mud, and splashing in a kiddie pool. On Saturday, however, all five respond to their father’s call, and the family is reunited just in time to share a day of rest on Sunday (mandated by Mama Duck). Two pages of information follow, offering close-up portraits and basic facts about some of the animals featured. As always, Fleming’s artwork, created by pulp painting with pastel pencil accents, is lively and appealing. Her clever tweaks to the familiar text allow her to showcase a variety of natural environments. Whether it’s a panorama of farmland or a shadowy woodland glade, each double-page spread offers plenty of intriguing details limned in bright colors. Packed with personality and charm, these five ducklings will waddle their ways into the hearts of readers and listeners.

inner page papa duck

Why I like this book:

  • Denise has taken a simple classic rhyme and updated it to be more relevant for today’s children.
  • Her art is amazing. AMAZING!
  • Great read-aloud.
  • Here’s another wonderful book that celebrates fathers, just in time for this Father’s Day weekend.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

MAKE PAPER

how-to-make-paper-with-kids1Photo courtesy: http://tinkerlab.com

Denise Fleming is well-known for her amazing paper-making which she uses in her illustrations.

Making paper is a fun-filled activity for kids. For simple instructions, go here: http://tinkerlab.com/how-to-make-paper/

For Denise’s very own instructions on papermaking, go here.

For more awesome activities, visit the 5 Little Ducks activity page.

If you are looking for more picture book reviews, hop on over to Susanna Hill’s blog. After today, she’ll be taking a summer hiatus, but I invite everyone who writes picture book reviews to leave their post links along with their comments every Friday so that readers can hop around and visit other blogs.

Please remember to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of one of Denise’s fabulous books, BEETLE BOP! And come back tomorrow to chat with her on Will Write for Cookies.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend! Happy Father’s Day!!!

Ellen Leventhal: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

ellen me linda

ELLEN LEVENTHAL

Most of you know I am a great fan of critique groups. They help us in so many ways…not just with their suggestions and feedback on manuscripts, but also with support and encouragement regarding all aspects of our lives. I’m blessed to be a member of several amazing critique groups and I’m always thrilled to meet my critique partners at conferences and retreats. Last July, at the WOW Retreat in Georgia, I got to hug two of my favorite writing buddies, Linda Hofke (on the right) and Ellen Leventhal (in the middle). And you guessed it…Ellen is our guest today!

 While growing up in New Jersey. Ellen Leventhal didn’t dream of bluebonnet fields, but she did dream of writing books. Ellen has a master’s degree in education and has been writing for and with her students for many years. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and is the proud mother of two grown sons, and three grandchildren who love bluebonnets, Longhorns, and just about anything Texan.

I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Ellen!

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

 ELLEN:

 I can’t remember all the authors’ names, but I sure do remember the stories. A few of the many picture books that stick in my mind are all the Curious George books (especially the hospital one, for some reason), Babar, Madeline, and Caps for Sale. I can remember trying to balance a bunch of hats on my head like the man in Caps for Sale. As I got a little older, I read all the Nancy Drew books as well as the Cherry Ames series. Some people may not be familiar with Cherry Ames, but she was a nursing student and then a nurse. I lived close to a hospital, and I really wanted to be a nurse, just like Cherry Ames. Hmm…as I re-read this, I see I had kind of a “hospital thing” going on when I was a kid. That couldn’t be farther from who I am now.

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

ELLEN:

I wish I knew how difficult it is to write a good picture book! Or maybe I’m glad I didn’t know. If I had known, I wonder if I would have forged ahead. I had been writing poetry and even wrote an MG story with Ellen Rothberg (who is my coauthor on a few books), but when our first picture book was accepted, the revision process was crazy!! A very nice editor told me that I was a good writer, but didn’t know how to write picture books. Many years, classes, tears, and chocolate later, I still struggle, but I love it.

The other thing I wish I knew is the value of critique groups. My next picture book, Lola Can’t Leap, will be out in March 2018, and if it were not for all my critique buddies (including the wonderful Vivian Kirkfield), it would be sitting in a drawer. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but having good critique buddies is absolutely the best thing about this business.

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

ELLEN:

My initial brainstorm is usually scribbled in a spiral, legal pad, or whatever scrap of paper I have handy. That can happen anywhere, including the dark lobby of a Chinese restaurant waiting for my take-out order. (Yes, that just happened.) When I get to the actual writing part, I usually write in my home office on my desk top computer. But sometimes I need a change of scenery, and I bring my lap top to a coffee shop. That only works if I’m totally “in the zone.”  If I’m not, I tend to get distracted. Sometimes that’s a good thing because I’ve gotten story ideas from watching people.

 ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

ELLEN:

My goal is to set a real schedule to write, but I am not there yet. I am trying very hard to make writing time a priority. I try to write every day, but it’s not always for as long as I’d like. I can’t say if I’m more productive during the day or in the evening because it depends on so many different factors. To be honest, I’m more of a muse seeker, and when that muse visits, I immediately stop when I’m doing and indulge her.

cover1

 ME: Why do you write for children?

ELLEN:

The first answer that pops into my head is “Why not?” But of course, it’s more complicated than that. I’ve always loved literacy and being with children. So, writing for kids felt right.

Children need to feel like they belong. They need to feel that they are not alone in their fears, dreams, and idiosyncrasies. If I can at least try to add to a child’s sense of self while making them smile, it’s something I need to do.

And of course, the bonus of writing for children is getting to share my stories with them. I never get tired of that.

 ME: Ellen, if you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.

ELLEN:

Here’s something funny about stories. One day I was teaching a creative writing class, and a book that Ellen Rothberg and I wrote was on the shelf. A child said, “I love that book! I read it almost every night. The lady who wrote it came to my school.” It took a while for the child to realize that I was that lady, but I thought it was great. I don’t need to be remembered, but I hope my stories are.

As I said, a new book is coming out in March, but I’m also very excited about a “re-boot” of an older one that is out now. Several years ago, Ellen Rothberg and I wrote the book, Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets, but unfortunately, it went out of print. However, we loved the book and didn’t want it to die a slow death. We wanted a new generation of children to read it, but we knew the picture book market had changed. We took a leap of faith and embraced an opportunity most people don’t get. Instead of giving up, we updated. We cut down the word count, illustrator, Joel Cook, took the art in a new direction, and I am happy to say, Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets, Ten Year Anniversary Edition hit bookstores this past spring.

ME: Hurray!!! I’m so thrilled that BLUEBONNETS is back, bigger and better than ever. If any of you missed the Perfect Picture Book Review I did yesterday, please go here. https://viviankirkfield.com/2017/06/09/perfect-picture-book-friday-dont-eat-the-bluebonnets-plus-critique-giveaway/

 For information on Ellen’s other books and her availability for school visits, please check out her website at www.EllenLeventhal.com

Amazon

Clear Fork Publishing

Barnes and Noble

Now, before we say goodbye, Ellen has a fabulous recipe to share with us. It’s something with chocolate so I am smiling already. Take it away, Ellen!!!

ELLLEN:

I must admit that I did not come up with this on my own, but I make it whenever dessert is called for. It’s from www.allrecipes.com, and it’s yummy!

Chocolate Trifle Recipe

 cake

Ingredients:

I package brownie mix

I package instant chocolate pudding

½ C water

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (8oz)  container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

 

Directions:

Prepare brownie mix according to package and cool. Cut into 1 inch squares.

In a large bowl combine pudding mix, water, and condensed milk. Mix until smooth.

Fold in 8 ounces whipped topping until no streaks remain.

In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mix, and half of the 12 ounce container of whipped topping. Repeat layers.

Garnish any way you’d like.

Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

WOW…this looks amazing, Ellen! If I make it, I will eat it. And if I eat it, I will have to hide the scale. 😉

I know everyone is clapping, Ellen. Thank you for participating.

Dear friends, if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway for a picture book manuscript critique from Ellen (and I can tell you from experience that she give wonderful feedback), please make sure you leave a comment.

And if you’d like to thank Ellen for her insights, please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Book reviews are so very important in this business.

Thank you all for stopping by…I love visiting with friends!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets PLUS Critique Giveaway

Hurray for June…school will be out soon for many children, but that doesn’t mean they stop reading—at least I hope not. My plan is to continue with Perfect Picture Book Friday throughout the summer…I’ve already got every weekend scheduled with some of 2017’s best picture book releases.

Today’s book is special for a couple of reasons. It originally launched in 2009, but there was such a demand for it, it’s been reissued, bigger and better than ever before (after all…it’s about Texas Bluebonnets, right?). I’m thrilled about this because the author, Ellen Leventhal, is one of my dearest critique buddies and she’ll be stopping by to chat with us tomorrow. She’s also agreed to do a giveaway of…A PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE! Yes! I know how much everyone loves getting feedback from a published author. And having been on the receiving end of MANY wonderful critiques from Ellen, I can promise you that the lucky winner is in for a TREAT!

cover1

DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS

Written by: Ellen Leventhal and Ellen Rothberg

Illustrated by: Joel Cook

Publisher: Spork (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Responsibility, decision-making, getting along with others

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

“Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets is the story of Sue Ellen, a cow with a mind of her own, who loves the taste of bluebonnets. When she gives into temptation and eats every yummy bluebonnet, she must figure out a way to get them back. After several humorous attempts to make things right, Sue Ellen learns the importance of responsibility and decision making.”

Why I like this book:

  • The text is filled with heart and humor. This is a truly funny book.
  • Wonderful read-aloud!
  • Great illustrations.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

MAKE A PAPER PLATE COW

Paper-Plate-Cow-5Photo courtesy: http://www.housingaforest.com/paper-plate-cow/

You will need: Paper plate, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers or crayons, googly eyes (optional…you can also use construction paper).

  1. Cut pink circle for muzzle of cow. Glue in place onto plate.
  2. Cut splotches of black construction paper. Glue into place.
  3. If you have googly eyes, glue those on. If not, just use construction paper and glue in place.
  4. Use marker or crayons to add feature details.

For detailed instructions and more crafts: click here 

Please remember to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a critique from Ellen! And come back tomorrow when she shares her journey…and something sweet…on Will Write for Cookies.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Michelle Eastman Books

Kid Lit Author and Advocate

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