Katharine Holabird – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

KATHARINE HOLABIRD

 Katharine Holabird headshot

I connected with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor back in 2010. I had contacted Katharine to ask if she would be willing to read my soon-to-be-published book, since one of the picture book stories I recommended in it was Angelina Ballerina. Her answer was an immediate, YES! I was THRILLED when I received her endorsement…what an honor to have the author of over thirty-five children’s books say nice things about my work. And when I invited Katharine to participate in Will Write for Cookies, again she said YES! Hurray!

With experience as an editor, freelance journalist and nursery school teacher, Katharine definitely knew what she was doing when she created the much beloved character of Angelina Ballerina. Angelina recently ‘celebrated’ her 30th birthday – and the books have been translated into over fifteen languages!

I’m so happy to have her here to share her thoughts with us.

Welcome, Katharine! I know that so many writers were avid readers when they were young. From what I read on your website, you were a lover of books also.

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

 

Katharine: My grandmother had a beautiful collection of fairy tales illustrated by Arthur Rackman and Kay Nielson, and I still remember the romance and power of those fantastic stories and illustrations. Later on I read everything by E.B.White and Frank Baum, and adored Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House On The Prairie’ series. Not surprisingly, most of the books I loved had strong female heroines!

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ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

 

Katharine: I wish I’d known more about how the publishing world works and been a little cannier about my choices. When you first get published it’s such a thrill, and it’s easy to be naïve about contracts and fine print. A good agent should advise and encourage, and also keep an eye on all the contract details.

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ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

 

Katharine: Recently my husband and I moved back to the USA after thirty-five years in London, and that’s changed my writing habits in many ways. I used to write in a quiet upstairs room in London, but we travel a lot more now, and luckily laptops have made writing on the go very easy. I sometimes write ideas and thoughts in notebooks, but most of my writing is now on my laptop computer. I do a lot of revisions, and for each story I keep a file with dated changes and rewrites in the computer – it really helps keep me organized! I find all I need is a quiet space where I can sit down and concentrate with the laptop. The location doesn’t matter so much now – if you’re engrossed in a story an airplane can be surprisingly good place to write.

 

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?

 

Katharine: I love the idea of a muse, because there’s always a touch of magic about writing, as with all creative work (Elizabeth Gilbert has a wonderful TED Talk about working with her muse). So yes, I write when the muse inspires me, though deadlines are also inspiring! When I have a story due I become a binge writer and go at it for a entire days at a time, but then there are periods when I’m just humming along, waiting for the next spark of an idea to arise. I’m now writing a new series about ‘TWINKLE, a little fairy who lives in a magical fairy world and goes to the Fairy School of Music and Magic – it’s a big change from Mouseland, and I’m enjoying the challenge. (TWINKLE is a Barnes & Noble exclusive, available from B&N and Amazon)

Meet TWINKLEroll

ME: Why do you write for children?

 

Katharine: I started writing for children when I was in my thirties, at home with two young daughters (and then a son). My daughters loved to dress up and dance, just the way I’d danced with my sisters growing up in Chicago. My oldest daughter was a very determined character, and all she wanted for her fourth birthday was a pink tutu. As soon as Tara put on her pink tutu she magically became a great ballerina, and wore it everywhere. I was doing free lance writing for my husband’s publishing company, Aurum Press, and worked on Helen Craig’s first mouse counting and ABC books. When Aurum proposed doing a storybook with Helen I knew it was my chance to write something special for my daughters. I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote a first draft about a little dancing character I called Primrose, and this became Angelina Ballerina. It’s now been 35 years since Angelina Ballerina was published, and recently Helen Craig and I donated all our Angelina archive to the Seven Stories Children’s Museum in Newcastle, England. I was there in September to see ”Twists and Tails – the story of Angelina Ballerina,” a show created from our archive materials, and it was amazing to discover my first hand written draft proudly displayed in a glass case in the center of the room!

There’s more information regarding the Seven Stories Children’s Museum on my Facebook page.Family portrait Sept 14

 

 

 

 

Thank you so very much, Katharine! I’m excited about your new Twinkle series. My little granddaughter will be two years old in April…and she and her parents love fairies.

I know you have grandchildren and we are so happy to have this special smoothy recipe that you make for them.

 

Katharine: I have two adorable grandsons (still waiting for a little girl who loves pink!)

I’m not much of a baker, but the boys and I like to make smoothies together – they’re so delicious, and I add some Green Superfood flavoured with chocolate!

 NANA’S SMOOTHIE:

2 Cups milk or almond milk

1 banana

1 cup cleaned strawberries, blueberries or raspberries (or combination)

1 peeled Kiwi

1 tablespoon Green Superfood – Chocolate flavour

Blend until smooth and yummy!

Wow! Thank you for your candid and helpful answers, Katharine. And I can’t wait to try your smoothy recipe.

With the holiday just around the corner, I know that parents and grandparents are looking for great gifts for kids – I can’t think of a better one than a BOOK. I noticed there are two different Christmas titles for Angelina Ballerina books, and of course, board books, paper backs, Kindle versions, audio tapes and many other ways people can share the beloved Angelina Ballerina. These are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, indie bookshops and from the Penguin Website, Angelinaballerina.com, Hitshopusa.com and HITEntertainment.com.

If you want to connect with Katharine, you can visit her amazing website: http://katharineholabird.com/

And if you are interested in viewing the Elizabeth Gilbert TED talks she mentioned, here they are:

https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius

https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_success_failure_and_the_drive_to_keep_creating

What a way to end Will Write for Cookies for the year. I started this series in January. Have you read all twelve posts? Here is a list with links so you can catch up on any you might have missed:

Iza Trapani

Susanna Leonard Hill

Susanne Gervay

David Seow

Emily Lim

Emma Walton Hamilton

Christopher Cheng

Dianne de las Casas

Anne Marie Pace

Jane Yolen

Julie Hedlund

Tara Lazar

Sandra Beckwith

Laura Purdie Salas

Katharine Holabird

And 2015 will be another exciting year – Katie Davis, Laura Gehl, Julie Rowan-Zoch, Donna McDine, Marty Banks, Suzanne Williams, Artie Bennett, Miranda Paul, Becky Gomez, and more authors and illustrators will be stepping into the Will Write for Cookies spotlight…I hope you won’t miss a post.

And, if you still have any vision left after this ultra-long post, head over to Susanna Hill’s blog and read some of the incredible stories that have been entered in her 4th Annual Holiday Contest: http://www.susannahill.blogspot.com

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Angelina’s Christmas – Reaching Out to Help Others

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s time for a Perfect Picture Book review and craft activity. If you head over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog today, you won’t find her usual picture book link up because the 4th Annual Holiday Contest is underway…check out the scores of incredible original stories – you are in for a treat!

Today’s picture book is especially perfect for this time of year. And I’m really excited because the author, Katharine Holabird, is going to be my Will Write for Cookies guest tomorrow.

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ANGELINA’S CHRISTMAS

Written by Katharine Holabird

Illustrated by Helen Craig

Publisher: American Girl (2002 – hardcover) Puffin (2008 – paperback)

Ages: 3-5+

Themes: Christmas, friendship, helping others

 

Opening Lines:

“Christmas was coming and everyone at Angelina’s school was working hard to prepare for the Christmas show. Angelina and the other children stayed after their lessons to rehearse and help decorate the hall.”

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

“When Angelina Ballerina sees the postman, old Mr. Bell, all alone at Christmastime, she decides to bring him some holiday cheer. Cousin Henry doesn’t want to help until he finds that there’s a real Santa Claus living in their town!” Continue reading

Project 365 and the 2012 Positive Parental Participation Challenge

Last year, bloggers on WordPress were given a challenge to write a post every day…it was called Post-a-day-2011.

This year, another daily post challenge has been issued by WordPress…Project 365.  Why not Project 366 since 2012 is a Leap Year with 366 days?  However, I guess if bloggers are able to write 365 posts in 2012, I’m sure they will consider themselves an unqualified success…I know I would.

I took part in the 2011 Post-a-day challenge and started out 2011 writing posts every day…this lasted about three months.  After that I tried to post at least twice a week…sometimes I succeeded, but other times I didn’t.  I take my hat off (or would if I wore one) to those bloggers who completed the task and made it to the end of the year, still posting every day.

For 2012, I am throwing my hat into the ring (even though, as I’ve already stated, I’m not wearing one) and will try to provide a post of value for every day.

In addition, I’m also issuing a challenge to every parent of young children.  Make 2012 a year of engagement with your child!  Read with your child every day!  Be positive and consistent!  Get back to the basics and spend time with your child doing fun-filled educational self-esteem building activities, like arts and crafts or simple cooking experiences.  Keep a journal of the picture books you read and the activities you do.  Share them here with us.

At the end of each month, there will be a prize of a picture book awarded to one family.  During the year, any parent who is participating in the challenge and wishes to buy a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking will receive an additional $5 off my website price.  I’ll set up a special PayPal button to reflect that discount.  This award-winning book is a unique resource for parents and teachers…it pinpoints 100 picture books every young child should hear and then provides a story summary, parenting tip, simple craft project and easy cooking activity for each of the recommended titles. 

 

Why should parents use Show Me How?  The author of the Angelina Ballerina series says, “Parents will find inspiration in this delightful guide to reading and planning activities with young children.”   And the creator of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series adds, “Show Me How is a wonderful resource for parents who care for their children and hope to better their reading and learning experiences.”

Parents…make this a fun-filled self-esteem building year for your child!

Join the 2012 Positive Parental Participation Challenge!

A small investment of your time will bring a great reward for your child!

The Show Me How program requires no batteries!

The activities are powered by your child’s imagination!

Kids Are Heroes, Too! How Can We Help?

Kids Reach For Confetti

The catastrophic events in Japan occur…and we read about a young child who donates her allowance to help the victims.

A village in Africa is without clean drinking water…and we hear about a child who collects money so that a well can be dug to provide fresh water for children he has never seen.

Children often amaze us with their acts of selflessness.  Sometimes, they seem to see the bigger picture and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish what needs to be done.

I recently discovered a wonderful organization that focuses on recognizing these wonderful children and encouraging others to become involved in their communities and in causes that they believe in.

According to the Kids Are Heroes founder, Gabe O’Neill:

“Kids Are Heroes is a non-profit that empowers, encourages and inspires children to become leaders through volunteerism and community involvement.  We do this by showcasing and supporting children who are making a difference through their selfless acts of giving.

We teach children to follow their passions at an early age.  This will instinctively stay with them throughout their entire lives.

Kids are indeed heroes and each has the power to change the world.

To see how kids are making a huge impact and to see how YOU can become a hero, click on

Meet the Heroes

and then click on the Meet the Heroes tab.

Our kids are digging wells in Africa, helping orphans in India and building homes in Haiti.

They are recycling and cleaning up their neighborhoods, helping their local animal shelters and making life better for their neighbors.

And guess what?  They are ALL just like YOU!”

Kids Are Heroes is a grassroots effort…if you believe that it is important to encourage young children to contribute to the community and to the world while they reach out and help others, please visit the Kids Are Heroes website, find out more about this fantastic organization and help build the Kids Are Heroes Day Wall.  Show Me How’s brick is already there!  

I already donate a portion of Show Me How book sales to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and to www.Bessthebookbus.org, a family/children’s mobile literacy outreach program.  When I wrote the book, I intended to find three organizations that were child-centered in the areas of health, literacy and the environment.  I’ve been missing the third…and I believe I have found it in Kids Are Heroes!

As parents, we are responsible for helping our children become good citizens of the world.  Encouraging your child to take part in community service events, such as cleaning up a local park or play area, is one way.  Listening to your child’s ideas is another…children often have wonderful suggestions on how to make life better for others.  Kids Are Heroes was founded by Gabe O’Neill because his daughter, MaryMargaret wanted to help animals.

One of the cornerstones of Positive Parental Participation is listening to your children with respectful attention.  All too often when we are busy, we push young ones aside because we feel we have more important things to do.   After you read some of the stories of the child-heroes, you may change your mind.

Spend some quality time with your children today!  If you are looking for great activities to do with them, pick up a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  Click on this link to my website and you will be able to purchase a signed copy at 50% off the cover price.  For only $22.50, you will have a tremendous resource of 100’s of easy craft projects and simple recipes and picture book summaries and parenting tips.   And if you want to buy two copies, each is only $20.  This is a value-packed book and a great gift idea for a parent, preschool or kindergarten teacher, nanny, babysitter, grandparent, daycare provider or early childhood education student.

“I wish Show Me How had existed when my children were young.”

–        Suzanne Williams, author of Princess Power series and over 30 other books

“What a lovely book! Parents will find inspiration in this delightful guide to planning activities.”

–        Katharine Holabird, author of the Angelina Ballerina series

“A valuable, timely and timeless book…it’s sure to be a family favorite.”

–        Sheila Glazov, author of What Color Is Your Brain

“Show Me How offers us a great tool to help our children become people of kindness.”

–        Mary Newquist, Assistant Principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School, Selma, TX

“This book is an incredible resource for families wishing to foster their children’s sense of self-worth.”

–        Dr. Jodi Harap, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Chicago, IL

“SMH Is a well-planned learning tool full of engaging, educational and family-oriented activities.”

–        Peggy Hicks, MA, Special Education Teacher, Colorado Springs, CO

 

The summer has just begun…don’t let another day go by without this award-winning book by your side.