Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY plus Picture Book Manuscript Critique Giveaway Plus Book Giveaway
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends! I’m continuing on my journey through the fabulous debut picture books of 2018. And today, you are in for a treat. I think most of you know how much I LOVE non-fiction picture book stories. And here is one that is going to go to the top of the charts!
THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: The Creations of Diamonds & The Life of H. Tracy Hall
Written by Hannah Holt
Illustrated by Jay Fleck
Published by Balzer & Bray (October 2018)
Themes: Inventors, curiosity, bullying
Opening lines: “A ROCK named graphite. A BOY named Tracy.
Synopsis: From Amazon:
Told in a unique dual-narrative format, The Diamond and the Boy follows the stories of both natural diamond creation and the life of H. Tracy Hall, the inventor of a revolutionary diamond-making machine. Perfect for fans of Rosie Revere, Engineer, and On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein.
Before a diamond is a gem, it’s a common gray rock called graphite. Through an intense trial of heat and pressure, it changes into one of the most valuable stones in the world.
Before Tracy Hall was an inventor, he was a boy—born into poverty, bullied by peers, forced to work at an early age. However, through education and experimentation, he became one of the brightest innovators of the twentieth century, eventually building a revolutionary machine that makes diamonds.
From debut author Hannah Holt—the granddaughter of Tracy Hall—and illustrator Jay Fleck comes this fascinating in-depth portrait of both rock and man.”
Why I like this book:
- Based on the life of her grandfather, the author had access to fabulous research resources…and it shows. The book has an authenticity that you don’t often find, even in nonfiction.
- I love that there are so many layers in this story…the life of the diamond, the life of H. Tracy Hall, bullying, staying true to who you are, following your dream.F
- The talented Jay Fleck brings the story to life with vivid colors and fabulous illustrations.
Diamond Shaped Craft for Kids
For detailed instructions and other crafts: http://cleverlearner.com/shapes/diamond-shape-activity.html
Diamond facts for kids: http://www.scienceforkidsclub.com/diamond.html
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a picture book manuscript critique from Hannah Holt. It will be a priceless gift to one lucky winner!
PLUS…I’m adding another giveaway…a brand new copy of THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY. Here’s the back story: I ordered a copy from Amazon months and months ago. And then, for some reason, I forgot (life has been a bit busy and distracting for me this year)…and so I ordered one from my local indie bookstore. And I picked that one up a few weeks ago…and then the other day, I got a message from Amazon saying my book order would arrive on Thursday. So, now I have two copies and I want to share the joy! I’ll choose one winner for the critique and a different winner for the book. Make sure you comment on today’s post and tomorrow’s and Tuesday’s Book Birthday post. That way you will have three chances.
And I want to thank everyone who shared and/or commented on my Facebook post about the new cover and corrected launch date for Sweet Dreams, Sarah…I’m getting really excited about 2019…I’ve received the hard copy of Pippa’s Passover Plate and I can’t wait to share the cover of Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book…I think it will be ready to reveal in the next month or so!
For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.
Enjoy your weekend, dear friends! The autumn leaf colors are deepening. If you are driving or traveling, please be safe.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
I’m definitely singing at the top of my lungs because THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall launches today! And this is the debut picture book of one of my critique buddies from the VERY FIRST CRITIQUE GROUP I EVER JOINED! (and we are all still going strong!) I saw this story as a rough draft and watched as it grew more and more polished…until it became a shining gem of a book.
CONGRATULATIONS, dear Hannah Holt!
Make sure you come back on Friday for a Perfect Picture Book Friday review and craft ideas for kids. PLUS, on Saturday, Hannah will be stopping by to chat and share some of her writing journey with us. And don’t forget to leave a comment here and on the other THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY posts…BECAUSE…Hannah has graciously and generously agreed to give away a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE…and I can tell you from many years experience, this talented author knows how to give unbelievable feedback!
Meanwhile, what can you do? Well, you can head over to pick up a copy of her book on Amazon or at your local indie bookstore. You can write a review on Amazon or Goodreads or some other book review sites. You can go to your library and ask them to purchase a copy or two for their collection, if it isn’t already available there. And you can share this post on your social media channels so the whole world will find out about this fabulous book. It’s going to be such a great #STEM addition to every elementary school and library. And if your kiddos are curious, inventive, lovers of anything science, or have ever been bullied, you definitely want to read this with them.
CONGRATULATIONS, Hannah! This is the first of many more book birthdays to come for you!!!!
WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
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.