Will Write for Cookies: Anna Forrester

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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ANNA FORRESTER

Anna and I connected in the Picture the Books 2017 group. We are on the same page about so many things.

Anna has taught kindergarten (me, too) and second grade, and advocates for and designs landscapes for play; her debut picture book, BAT COUNT came out with Arbordale Publishing in February 2017. BAT COUNT introduces bats, white nose syndrome, and the empowering practice of citizen science in a story of action, reassurance and hope.

 Welcome, Anna! I’m thrilled to have you visiting with us today.

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

 ANNA:

I definitely connected more with books than with authors as a kid. We had a lot of Dr. Seuss around our house (I was terrified of those empty green pants), and Sendak. My lesser-known favorite books were Marie Hall Ets’s PLAY WITH ME and Evaline Ness’s SAM BANGS AND MOONSHINE. That little girl who narrates PLAY WITH ME was such a good girl, and Sam, in SAM BANGS AND MOONSHINE was so flawed in such a deep and human way. The two present a pretty interesting contrast.

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

ANNA:

When I started writing, I was totally focused on getting published. And while getting more books out there is still a goal, I’ve found writing, all by itself, to be its own reward. It is such a profound and generative thing — it is this incredible excuse to explore questions and ideas that I love, and to dig into craft; for me, just writing, every day, is the real gift.

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

ANNA:

I used to write a lot by hand – morning pages, first drafts, etc. – in these great little notebooks that my husband brings me from his job. But the truth is: my brain is SO much faster than my hand, so my fingers cramped up. Plus my handwriting is almost illegible – even to me.

            Now I mostly write a lot on the computer –even my morning pages. I feel a little bit guilty about that, but it’s good to be able to read what I write.

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            I still write a few things by hand, in those notebooks: workshops and meeting notes (I seem to focus and absorb better if I’m writing) and occasional poetry (always free verse – I’m hopeless at more structured poetry).

            I have an old typewriter (manual — not electric) that sometimes I write on as well. When you’re typing you can’t constantly self-edit like you do on computer (technically you can, but it’s not worth the effort), so the words just flow. At the same time it is SO physical and tactile: your fingers have to really work, and it is noisy. I love it – and am always blown away by how different my writing is when I type. Plus it’s legible.

            As for where: absolutely anywhere – though I do log a lot of desk time.

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?

ANNA:

Notes and scribbling happen any time. But otherwise: mornings. My brain is so much better earlier in the day. If I have a deadline I’ll do late, but I am so much slower and foggier.

ME: Why do you write for children?

ANNA:

Kate DiCamillo said about writing for children, “I love that books for kids allow for magic and demand hope.” HOPE is the real magnet for me. It is such a powerful – and necessary – ingredient in children’s books and in life.

            A couple of weeks ago I went to hear the essayist Rebecca Solnit speak, and she put another overlay on the idea of HOPE that really resonated with me as well. She was talking about the tools that artists and writers need to have at their disposal in order to work through the overwhelming helplessness that so many of us feel in the face of the challenges of what’s been dubbed the Anthropocene Era: climate change and mass extinctions and their seemingly inevitable outcomes.

            Solnit talked about HOPE as a critical tool, because hope is forward-looking – focused on the future — and it contains, within it, the seed of POSSIBILITY. And when you think about it, POSSIBILITY is what we all seem to always be exploring in our stories, and what we want children to experience a sense of, too.

            Aside from writing about writing for children or – in my other life – about their play, writing for adults was never something I felt drawn to.

ME: That is so exciting, Anna. Yes, possibility! That’s what my #50PreciousWordsforKids is all about…creating an opportunity…a platform…for kids to become the storyteller and use their imaginations. Is there anything you’d like to say directly to parents and teachers?

ANNA:

Apropos of HOPE and POSSIBILITY: both are incredibly empowering. It is so important that we are always offering children opportunities to experience their own agency and cultivating in them a sense of their own ability to impact their world for good. Skills are important, but only to the degree that they enable us to DO.

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 To find out more about Anna and her books:

Her website: Hmmmm: www.annaforrester.com

 or on Twitter @annaforr.

And Anna has a special recipe to share with us.

CHEESIES

 This super-simple recipe is my great, great grandmother’s. It makes a savory treat that is one of my – and my kids’ – all- time favorite comfort foods. (My mom used to make them when company came over; we make them all the time.)

 INGREDIENTS:

2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1 c. soft butter

2 c. sifted flour

1 t. salt

dash of cayenne pepper

pecan on top (optional)

 INSTRUCTIONS:

Cream the cheese and butter together. Add flour, salt and cayenne and mix until dough is smooth and well-blended. Roll and shape dough into rolls about one inch in diameter.

 Chill two hours, or until dough is firm. (We often double the recipe and leave a few logs in the fridge for a few days.)

 Preheat oven to 350. Slice the dough into thin rounds – roughly ¼” thick.

 Place on ungreased cookie sheets about one inch apart add set a pecan of on top of each.

 Bake for 12-15” or until slightly brown.

 Remove cheesies from sheet with spatula and let cool on a brown paper grocery bag (the grocery bag is a key part of the tradition).

This looks really yummy, Anna! Thank you so much for sharing your great-great-grandmother’s recipe with us.

I think this would be fun to do with my grandson…he loves Cheese Doodles.

Have a great weekend, everyone! And stay tuned for tomorrow’s #50PreciousWordsforKids post.   

#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge WINNERS!!!!!!

#50PRECIOUSWORDS WRITING CHALLENGE BY THE NUMBERS

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#50: Number of words each story can contain.

#251: Number of fabulous stories entered.

#234: Number of courageous writers (some did more than one story).

#2100: Number of comments on this blog post.

#3: Number of hours of sleep I got the last few nights.

#1: Number of stories created about me. WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY? SOMEONE WROTE A STORY ABOUT ME? Yes, indeed. Fellow-writer Debbie Vidovich gives a nod to the wonderful Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On.

Vivian Reads On by Debbie Vidovich

In a chair in a room,

Of her great big house,

Through a pile of stories,

But without her spouse.

Snuggled in a throw,

With her specs on tight,

She reads through the day,

And she reads through the night.

Stories so cute, so sad, so sweet.

That her heart feels full, she says,

“What a treat!”

Eyes grow weary and her head goes plop, but

Vivian reads on.

On she reads through stories galore,

Til she picks a winner and can snore once more.

 

Elizabeth Barret Browning wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways?”

Let me count the ways I love all of you.

  • You accepted the challenge.
  • You wrote your story.
  • You put your work out there for the world to see.
  • You generously and kindly commented on the other stories. Many of you lifted up other writers by commenting on dozens and dozens and dozens of stories. And I saw some names over and over again…your fellow-writers are grateful for your support.
  • You taught me so much. I learned about Pangolins from Christina Rowe and Periwinkle snails from Beth Gallagher. Joanne Roberts shone a spotlight on a mule-riding, cigar-smoking, former slave woman. And Cathy Stenquist invented a new language (tip of the hat to Du Iz Tak?).
  • Special thanks to Maria Marshall, my other set of eyes…Maria graciously agreed to join me in reading ALL of the entries so she could help me make difficult decisions. And she commented on just about every story. Your help was much appreciated, Maria! I’m extremely grateful.
  • Many of you commented that this was the FIRST time you had ever submitted your work or entered a writing contest or challenge…I am honored that you felt my platform was a place where you felt safe and comfortable. I hope you always feel that way.
  • EVERY story I read has the potential to be published…to become a book that a child will connect with. I’m really serious! I hope whether your story placed in the top thirty or not, you will PURSUE it…think about if it should be expanded. Or not (some were perfect at just 50 words). Send it to critique buddies. Because your stories are unique…with universal truths that all children can relate to. I was blown away by the quality of the entries. You did NOT make this easy for me. There were heart-wrenching stories about refugees and illness. There were hilarious stories that twisted the tongue and caused me to laugh so hard, my stomach ached.

 

These were the rules:

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.

Are you wondering what MY guidelines were in choosing the winners?

  • Child-friendly/appropriate (EVERY ENTRY WAS)
  • 50 words or less (EVERY ENTRY WAS)
  • Had a beginning, a middle, and end…with a story arc or concept that made sense.
  • If it was rhyming, the rhyme had to be pretty spot on…no inverted phrasing or frivolous words just to make the rhyme work.
  • If it was a concept book, like a counting story, it still had to have a thread that pulled it together and some quality that would make it stand out.
  • The beginning needed to hook me and make me want to keep reading.
  • The ending needed to be satisfying whether it was an ah-ha, a haha, or an aww moment. (tip of the hat to the incredible Linda Ashman, author of dozens of books, including a fantastic writing craft book, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books).
  • Readability…I had to want to read it over and over again…and being a good read-aloud was important for the stories that were geared for the very young crowd.
  • And of course, since as you all know, this is a very subjective business, in the end, I had to like it, love it, and connect to it.
  • You’d think, with all of these necessary elements, there would have only been a few stories that rose to the top. But no. There were so many, I had to make painful cuts. Which is why I urge EVERYONE to take their story and work on it and make it the best it can be. Vet it with your critique partners. And send it to agents or editors. Because I read a whole bunch of promising children’s books that are lurking in your #50PreciousWords.

 

Thanks to generous kid lit mentors, we have some wonderful prizes. I had planned to award 21 prizes, but I just could not distill the winner’s pool to less than 40. First-place winner gets first pick of whichever prize he/she wants. Email me and I will connect you with the prize donor. And then second place gets to pick. And so on. So please be patient…it may take some time to work our way through the list. As I had mentioned previously, books, unless they are e-books will be mailed to U.S. addresses only.

  1. A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White.

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  1. A seat in author Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing Making Picture Book Magic online writing class (the first writing class I ever took and it set me on the path of writing wonderful picture book manuscripts).

mpbm3. A seat in author Kristen Fulton’s incredible Nonfiction Archaeology online writing class (that was the class that opened the door for me to discover the joy of writing nonfiction picture books).

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4. Coupon for 50% off author Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).

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5. Or, if you have already taken Alayne’s wonderful class, you can choose a coupon for 50% off an in-depth critique from Alayne Kay Christian (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).

6. A seat in one of the KidLitCollege webinars (I’ve attended a few and they are FABULOUS!) OR $19.99 off a critique, donated by Jodell Sadler, JCLA Editorial Agent and Founder of KidLitCollege. Winner choses one and will get a special code.

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7. A manuscript or query letter critique from author Rebecca Colby.

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8. A picture book manuscript critique from author Lori Degman.

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9. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.

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10. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein

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11. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova

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12. A picture book critique from Maria Marshall.

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13. A book on the craft of writing from Rosie Pova

 

14. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from Annie Silvestro.

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15. A book on the craft of writing from author Maria Marshall

Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

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16. A copy ofHello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.

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17. A copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus an adorable SEAL NECKLACE from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.

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18. A copy of CLAMS ALL YEAR by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.

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19. A SUPER HAPPY book prize package from author Marcie Colleen with copies of Super Happy Party Bears Gnawing Around and Super Happy Party Bears Knock Knock on Wood.

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20. A copy of Mutt’s Promise,  a middle grade dog adventure written by Julie Salomen…donated by author/illustrator Jill Weber.

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21. A signed copy of Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by author Stacy McAnulty.

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22.A picture book critique from me and a copy of my parent-teacher book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

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  1. through 40: A Kindle copy of one of the following books:

Picture Books the Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas

Rhyming Picture Books the Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas

Writing Children’s Books: 1001 Creative Prompts for Stories Kids Will Love by Anthony Fredericks

Writing Children’s Books: How to Generate Thousands of Creative Story Ideas by Anthony Fredericks

 

WOW! What a generous Kid Lit community we have! I’m grateful to all of the generous prize donors…I hope you all visit their websites and buy their books!

And this has been a long post…I’m sure you are ready to get up and stretch…maybe get a snack or go throw out the trash.

Oh wait…it seems I’ve forgotten something.

AND THE WINNERS OF THE 2ND ANNUAL #50PRECIOUSWORDS ARE:

IN ORDER OF THEIR PLACEMENT (which was incredibly hard to do)..WITH THEIR STORY (because with over 2100 comments, it would be pretty annoying to have to go and find them to read them):

 

  1. DIVERSITEA by Cheryl Kim

Fancy hats,

tasty treats-

sandwiches,

trays of sweets.

Sugar cubes,

porcelain cups,

etiquette-

pinky up!

Tea for two-

Mom and me.

Formal bow,

bamboo whisks,

tatami,

matcha mix.

Mini cup

in-between

two warm hands-

powdered green!

Tea for two-

Grandma and me.

Little lady

growing up,

Diversitea

within my cups!

 

2. INSIDE THE TIDE POOL: by Sam Altmann

 

Removed by request of author – going out on submission!!

3. Dog’s Best Friend by Jean James

Snow Dog,

Show Dog

Come on with me Dog.

Sleigh Dog,

Play Dog

Ride along with me Dog.

Run Dog,

Fall Dog

Hey! Bring back my mitten Dog.

Cold Dog,

Tired Dog

Let’s lay by the fire Dog.

Sleepy Dog,

Dreamy Dog

I love you next to me Dog.

 

4. DANDELION DREAMS by Derick Wilder

Dandelion

Drifts past scampering

Squirrel

Drops nuts on friendly

Frog

Hops in pond, KER-SPLASHES

Beaver

Sinks teeth in weeping

Willow

CRASHES, startles snoozing

Hawk

Soars into puffy

Cloud

Saunters under springtime

Sun

Conjures color-filled

Rainbow

Splashes blue on

Butterfly

Softly lands on little

Girl

Makes a wish on

Dandelion

 

5. A Single Rose by Saba Negesh

New School, strange faces.

Different languages. A lonely place.

Bintu watches other children play.

Tap. Tap.

“Na’am?”

A single rose, a sweet smile.

“Hello.” “Salaam.”

“Play?” “Laa-i’b?”

“Swing.” “Arjoohah.”

“Slide!” “Mezlaaqan!”

“Crayon.” “Qalam Shama’. ”

“Book.” “Kitaab!”

“Shhh.” “Shhh.”

“Tap.” “Tap.”

“Yes?”

A single rose, a sweet smile.

“Fuh-rin?”

“Friends!!”

 

6. A Cucumber Kind of Day by Michael Samulak

Today was a cucumber kind of day.

Cool.

Crisp.

Green.

Clean.

A wee bit wet

With a hint of something sweet.

No sharp edges,

Flexible

Yet firm.

A little too long.

Maybe tomorrow will be like…

A big sweet juicy strawberry!

Today was definitely a cucumber day –

Without seeds.

 

7. The Ballad of Mary Fields by Joanne Roberts

Mary Fields comes chug-chuggin’ from the saloon,

A thundering locomotive,

Streaming smoke from her cigar.

Wolves on the trail,

Four-legged or man-sized,

Won’t slow her down.

Slapping the mail sacks across Moses’s saddle,

She rolls out of town.

Her smile wide as Montana skies,

Freest soul ever born a slave

 

8. A Brief for CF by Erin Buhr

Ever think about your breaths?

Air in. Air out.

Put on shoes. Off you go.

Legs fast. Lungs pumping.

Air in. Air out.

Some kids work for every breath.

Legs fast. Lungs fighting.

Every in. Every out.

They hope one day it will just be

Air in. Air out.

 

9. GNU SHOES by David McMullin

Hugh Gnu’s gnu shoes were used, so Hugh pursued new gnu shoes at SUE SHREW’S SHOES.

“Two and two,” said Hugh, “plus two,”

“Plus two?” asked Sue.

“I choose to chew shoes, too.”

“My shoes are not to gnaw, gnu.”

“Who knew,” said Hugh Gnu.

“Not you,” said Sue. “Shoo!”

 

10. Izzy (or A Zebra & Her Hitchhikers) by Katelyn Aronsen

Two birds perch

on Izzy’s back.

Two o’ pinions

white and black.

Feathered ‘friends’

who kindly

TWEET!

-where she should go!

-whom she should meet!

-what she should eat

for her ice cream:

“Choc’late!” “Vanilla!”

‘Til Izzy screams,

“RAINBOW SHERBET!

…Let ME be ME!”

The birds depart.

Izzy is free.

 

11. BADGER’S GIFT by Jen Bagan

Badger reviewed her delivery list:

Slippers for Skunk

Gloves for Grizzly

Hankies for Hedgehog

She locked her store and began walking.

Badger returned at dusk, sat down and rubbed her sore paws.

“Hmmm … what’s that in the corner?”

She gasped at the attached delivery slip.

Bicycle for Badger

 

12. Little Leaf by Mary Rudzinski

Long branch bends low,

soft breeze swirls

little leaf floats slowly to the rocky creek

Through dark woods to the rushing stream

Into the thundering waterfall

Down the sleepy river

Round the wide bend

Out to the calm bay

Past the busy town

to the deepest ocean

Journey’s end.

 

13. ROSE PETAL SOUP by Heather Kinser

Rose bud.

Bloom!

Sweet perfume.

Rose dud.

Gloom.

Sweeping broom.

Petal pile.

Brainstorm…

smile!

Petal style!

Petal necklace. Petal sash.

Petal blush. Petal lash.

Petal pen. Petal ink.

Petal portrait, rosy pink.

Petal pocket smells divine.

“Rose Sachets for Sale” sign.

When our blooming roses droop,

1-2-3…

make petal soup!

 

14. A Periwinkle Paints by Beth Gallagher

A tiny artist,

dragging his delicately spiraled home,

paints his magnum opus

on the glistening salted surface.

Slow to finish his work,

he toils on

as gulls whirl above looking for lunch.

At last his masterpiece is completed,

just as the white foamy sea stretches up to wipe his canvas

clean.

 

15. ISHAAN’S GARDEN by Candace J Andersen

India is far away, Ishaan.

This is home now.

It is safe.

Here; some earth to make your own.

Onions

Tomatoes

Cauliflower

Potatoes.

Rain.

New school; strangers.

Sun.

New places; rules.

Patience.

Finally…

a

little

sprout.

Summer.

New friends; sharing.

Familiar scents, tastes.

This is home now.

It is safe.

 

16. I’M UNIQUE. I’LL BE LOVED. by Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD

Mommy is happy.

Daddy is nervous.

Pépère is delighted

Abuela is excited.

My nursery is decorated.

My crib’s a-waiting.

Plenty of visitors

Gifts to be opened

Onesies, bottles, diapers, and books

What about my looks?

Dark or fair?

Not important!

No one cares.

I’M UNIQUE. I’LL BE LOVED.

 

17. GIRAFFE’S BLUE SWEATER by Angela Hawkins

Giraffe has lost his blue sweater.

Monkey hasn’t seen it,

Lion doesn’t know,

Hippo isn’t sure, just where could a sweater go?

He’s wandered all around the park, gone here and there times two,

now back at home he’s surprised to find,

a wild and wooly blue…sweater-wearing zoo!

 

18. Papa Pasta by Amber M. Bouchard

Every night Papa and Stella ate together.

Every night Papa cooked Papa pasta.

Linguini, tortellini, fettuccine, ziti.

“No more pasta,” said Stella.

So every night Stella made Stella salad.

Cesar, chef, garden, greek.

Until Papa said, “Enough!”

The next night Stella and Papa made dinner together and enjoyed…

Pasta Salad.

 

19. My Mom is a Ninja by Megan Haslem Jones

Brave.

Prepared.

Problem solver.

I think Mom is a ninja.

Stealthy.

Ninja.

Accurate throws.

Ninja.

Cuts, chops, dices.

Ninja scream.

She must be a ninja.

“Powerful kicks,” I overhear.

Stretchy clothing.

Afternoon meditation.

She IS a ninja!

“Mom, I know your secret.”

“Excited? Future big brother!”

“Huh?!?”

Not a ninja.

 

20. Letter Home by Tracy Helixon

She blinks the tears away

To watch Grandad

Waving

From the Dublin shore

Until the ocean carries her

Too far to see him

Across the sea

The statue welcomes

“Tis Lady Liberty herself,” says Da.

“Gather your things,” says Mam.

“Dearest Grandad,” she writes, in her best penmanship,

“We’ve arrived.”

 

21. Slash, Delete, Chop by Jim Chaize

“50 word limit!” I complained.

My third-grade teacher nodded.

“But I have a lot to say.”

“I know.”

Words flowed.

I counted.

Two hundred nineteen. “Ahhh!”

I slashed.

One hundred forty. “Grrr!”

I deleted.

Seventy-four. “Waaa!”

I chopped.

Fifty!

The teacher smiled.

“That was fun. Can I write another?”

 

22. BE HOP-PY! by Deborah Weed

Go!

Kangaroo hopped faster than Grasshopper.

Leaves crunched,

dirt flew,

underneath Kangaroo’s hind paws.

Grasshopper leaped up,

landed on a branch,

then rolled up into a ball.

As planned,

friend Hare

held onto the branch,

pulled backwards,

then let go.

Grasshopper catapulted through the air.

Sadly,

right into Kangaroo’s pouch!

 

23. An Epicurean Delight? by Pamela Courtney

Flabbergast Forest,

Cool and green.

Lizard spies a scary scene.

Venus stre-e-e-etches,

Opens, closes.

Snaps up Beetle as he dozes.

“En garde Flytrap, you carnivorous barbarian!”

Venus gasped, “But I’m vegetarian.”

Venus trips her trap.

Beetle’s awake.

“Settle your mettle Lizard. You’ve made a mistake.”

“Beetle?”

“Yes, Lizard.”“Let’s eat.”

 

24. CLAM I AM by Vicky Fang

Everyone says I should be happy.

“Happy as a clam,” they say.

I am NOT HAPPY.

If only I could swim like that fish…

Or that shrimp.

Or that squid.

Or – OH NO A SHARK!!!

Feeling pretty good about being a clam right about now.

 

25. THE LION TAMER by Ellen Levanthal

Kyle creeps into the moonless night.

Dark, scary,

silent.

Then…

ROAR!

Kyle is brave.

He tiptoes closer and closer.

ROAR!

He digs deep into his pack,

flings something into the air.

CHOMP!

Mmm…peanut butter.

The beast sleeps.

Contented.

Kyle smiles.

He puts his pen down.

A new adventure tomorrow.

 

26. The Play by Mary Warth

Pitcher Mikey threw a zinger,

But the hitter was a swinger.

Coach yelled, “Keep on running kid, they haven’t got the ball!”

As the fielder’s catch was fumbled,

Rounding third, the hitter stumbled.

The Ump ran down the third base line in time to make the call.

“You’re out!”

 

27. Nuts! By Julie Abery

Crow found a nut…

“My nut!” he cawed greedily.

Jay squawked loudly as crow flew over his tree.

Crow dropped the nut!

Jay caught the nut.

“My nut!” he squawked cheekily.

Squirrel bounced along the branch.

Jay dropped the nut!

Squirrel caught the nut.

“My nut!” he squeaked gleefully.

Woodpecker hammered!

Squirrel dropped the nut!

The nut

t

uuuu

m

bbbb

l

eeee

d

to the ground.

Pig walked under the tree.

“My nut!” he grunted and gobbled it up!

“NUTS!”

28. SLUGS AREN’T SLOW bY DEBBIE DAY

Frog was smug.

He never lost a race.

Then a slug said, “I can beat your pace!”

“Slugs are slow.”

“Then race me to the shoal!”

Mark, set, GO!

Then slug began to ROLL.

Zzzzzip! Slug won!

“You see, you never know.

Slugs can’t run-

that doesn’t mean they’re slow.”.

 

29.BUTTON MEMORIES by Ann Magee

Annie dumped the buttons onto her bedspread. “Tell me another story.”

Grandma’s gnarled hands spooned through the shiny discs, finding the tiny white one.

“Once upon a time, a beautiful baby girl was born. This was on her christening gown.”

“That’s how my favorite story begins, Grandma.”

“Mine too, Annie.”

 

30. ME HUNGRY by Zainab Khan

“Me hungry.”

“Banana?”

“Yuck.”

“Apple?”

“Blech.”

“Grapes?”

“Eeew! Me hungry- not starving.”

“Then get your own food.”

“Fine.”

Sniff.

Hmmmmm.

Whirrr.

Vroom.

Crunch.

Thump.

“What are you doing?”

“Eating.”

“Dust bunnies???”

“Yum!”

“WHY?”

“They fill me up.”

“But those were mine!”

“Not anymore.”

“Ugh! Little vacuum sisters.”

 

31.Bright Bulbs by Dr. Anne Lipton

See the yellow daffodil,

sunning on the window sill?

If you have a pot and spoon,

you can grow your own bright bloom.

Plant a bulb deep in the dirt.

From its top, green leaves will spurt.

But a lightbulb yields no shoots.

Pick a bulb that will take root

 

32. Meowcus Welby, D.V.M. by Gregory Bray

“Mr. Furrypants, I have the results of your cat scan and it shows hairballs in your tummy.”

“You’ve got to be kitten me, Doc. What can I do?”

“I’ll give you a purrscription for catnip.”

“Will I need to see a purrgeon?”

“No. You’ll be feline.”

“Pawsome!”

 

 

33. Tree Entreaty by Stephanie Salkin

Chickadee,

Sit with me.

You see,

I’m hopelessly

Stuck in your tree.

Poor little me.

Wait! Don’t fly away!

What can I say

To make you delay

Your get-away?

Phoo! You took flight.

Now you’re gone—out of sight.

I’ll be stuck here all night.

What now?

Descend? How?

Meow!

© Stephanie Salkin

 

34. HELLO BABY by Keila Dawson

You’re quiet inside mama’s belly. What are you doing in there?

Listening?

Sleeping?

Dreaming?

You’re moving inside mama’s belly. And I can feel what you’re doing in there.

Kicking.

Stretching.

Twisting.

You’re noisy outside mama’s belly. I can hear and see what you’re doing now!

Screaming!

Squealing!

Smiling!

Hello baby!

 

35.WHAT’S THE POINT? By Jeanne Curtin

“Ho hum. I am so dull.”

“Take a spin with me. I’m all the buzz.”

And so Pencil met Sharpener.

Together they created ideas, art, and became best friends.

When Pencil hit a breaking point, Sharpener was there.

And Pencil shared Sharpener’s daily grind.

Until Pencil’s life ended short.

 

36. POW, BOOM, WHOOSH by Beth Schneider

Cooper pulled his blanket over his eyes.

POW!

Water beat against the car window.

“You’re fine,” Jake said.

BOOM!

Wind shook the car.

WHOOSH!

Cooper’s toes curled up.

Then silence.

Sunlight.

“Open your eyes,” Jake said.

Cooper smiled. “That wasn’t bad.”

“Told you.”

“Car washes are fun.”

 

37.The Race by Linda Hofke

sun falls

night calls

owl hoots

mouse scoots

snake hisses

strikes

misses

mouse flees

owl sees

WHOOOOSH!

faint squeak

mouse in beak

GULP!

 

38. Mommy? What Will I Be? by Ingrid Boydston

“Mommy? What will I be when I grow up?”

“You can be anything!”

“Anything?”

“A doctor,

a chef,

a teacher,

maybe a great leader!”

“Thanks Mommy, I know what I’ll be!”

“What?”

“All those things!”

“I’m afraid you can’t be ALL of them.”

 

“Sure I can. I’ll be a mommy!”

 

39. EDAMAME DELIGHT by Charlotte Dixon

Maisy counted at the table…

“One edamame…

two edamame…

three edamame…

FOUR!”

Six edamame plopped on the floor.

THUMP…

“Uh-oh!”

“Is your plate clean?” asked Mom.

“Almost,” said Maisy.

Crawling, Maisy counted…

“Five, six…

seven, eight…

nine…

TEN!”

Maisy sowed her edamame…

in Mom’s macrame!

“All done,” shouted Maisy.

 

 

40. CURLS by Jennifer Broedel

One day, while Nonna was visiting, she said my curls looked like a lion’s mane.

I smiled and said:

“My curls are where my courage lives,

Where my ‘crazy’ climbs,

Where my warm heart gives.

My curls are where my ‘sillies’ shine.

My curls are ME!

And they’re all mine.”

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!  Sometimes at the bottom of posts, you might see the words: THE END. But not here. Oh no! Because this is not the end for all of the #50PreciousWords everyone wrote. Whether you placed first…or didn’t get a prize…your story is a living thing…play with it, work with it, breath life into it…and send it out to the world.

Thank you so much, dear friends. I hope you will join me here, same time next year!

And please, if you aren’t exhausted from my posts, come back tomorrow for Perfect Picture Book Friday. One of 2017’s picture books, Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Petersen, will be in the spotlight. And on Saturday…hold on to your hats…we’ll be chatting with Jessica on Will Write for Cookies and there will be a book giveaway as well!

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

 

 

#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge is OPEN

TA-DA!

THE 2nd ANNUAL #50PRECIOUSWORDS WRITING CHALLENGE IS OFFICIALLY OPEN!!!

dr-seuss-stamp

I am so very excited to read all of the #50PreciousWords entries. For those of you who are visiting here the first time, please let me give you a sentence or two or three about how this all came about.

green-eggs-and-ham

March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Last year I put together a little contest based on Bennet Cerf’s challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

I thought it would be fun to try to write a story for kids with ONLY 50 words. With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. And then I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! Ayear has past…and it’s time to DO IT AGAIN.

Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. You have until March 6th at 11:59pm to post your story. Here are the guidelines:

#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CHALLENGE GUIDELINES

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count of the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. Between March 2nd and March 6th, post your story on your blog if you have one and want to and put the link in the comments of this post. Or copy and paste the entire story in the comments of this post. I ask for the link so that people will visit each other and find new friends in the kid lit community. Please make sure you put your name in the post. If you have any trouble at all posting the link or the story, please email me and I will be happy to do it for you: viviankirkfield@gmail.com.
  6. Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Monday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
  7. Winners will be announced in a special blog post on Thursday, March 9.
  8. Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too!

21 winners…21 prizes…1st place takes whichever prize she/he wants, then 2nd place gets to pick, and so on. I will reach out to 

  1. . A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of last year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency!)

essie

  1. A seat in author and mentor Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing Making Picture Book Magic online writing class (the first writing class I ever took and it set me on the path of writing wonderful picture book manuscripts).

mpbm

3. A seat in author and nonfiction writing guru Kristen Fulton’s incredible Nonfiction Archaeology online writing class (that was the class that opened the door for me to discover the joy of writing nonfiction picture books).

kristen

4. Coupon for 50% off author Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).

art_of_arc_v3

5. Or, if you have already taken Alayne’s wonderful class, you can choose a coupon for 50% off an in-depth critique from her (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).

6. A seat in one of the KidLitCollege webinars (I’ve attended a few and they are FABULOUS!) OR $19.99 off a critique, donated by Jodell Sadler, JCLA Editorial Agent and Founder of KidLitCollege. Winner choses one and will get a special code.

kidlitcollege

7. A manuscript or query letter critique from author Rebecca Colby.

rebecca-colby

8. A picture book manuscript critique from author Lori Degman.

headshot

9. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.

anna-forrester

10. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein

ariel-bernstein

11. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova

this-headshot

12. A book on the craft of writing from Rosie Pova.

13. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from Annie Silvestro.

headshot

14. A book on the craft of writing from author Maria Marshall.

maria-marshall

15. A copy of Hello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.

tiger

16. A copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus an adorable SEAL NECKLACE from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.

lizzie-and-lou-seal-cover

17. A copy of CLAMS ALL YEAR by author/illustrator Maryann Cocca-Leffler.

clams-all-year

18. A SUPER HAPPY book prize package from author Marcie Colleen with copies of Super Happy Party Bears Gnawing Around and Super Happy Party Bears Knock Knock on Wood.

marcie-and-books-1-and-2

 19. A copy of Mutt’s Promise,  a middle grade dog adventure written by Julie Salomen…donated by author/illustrator Jill Weber.

mutts-promise-cover

20. A signed copy of Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite from author Stacy McAnulty.

fuzzbuster-cover

21. A picture book critique from me and a signed copy of my parent-teacher book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

stackofbooks

 

WOW! That is some list of prizes! What a generous Kid Lit community we have! I’m grateful to the prize donors…I hope you all visit their websites, buy their books, and review them on Amazon. Did you know that when a book gets 50 reviews, Amazon helps promote it?

And now, before I invite you to post your stories, I wanted to share my #50PreciousWords with you. Hopefully, my story is a good enough example…with a beginning, a middle, and an end (and what an end!)…that is kid-friendly (well, remember those Grimm’s Fairy Tales)…that is 50 words or less. I hope it makes you smile.

 

WHY PIGS LOVE THEIR LITTLE FEET (50 words)

Everyone made fun of Pig’s little feet.

An invitation arrived.

                   Please come to Coyote’s feast.

Rooster knew the invitation was for him.

Cow disagreed.

They hurried to Coyote’s den.

 Pig followed.

By the time his little feet got him there, the feast was finished.

And so were Rooster and Cow.

 

I always loved Aesop’s Fables and folktale type stories when I was a kid…I guess I was inspired by those.

Dear friends, please share this around your social media…the more the merrier… #50PreciousWords.

If you have any questions or need clarification, just email me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com

.Are you excited? I am!

Remember…THE MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT!

And I just can’t wait to read all of your precious words.

#50 Precious Words Writing Challenge is Almost Here

.

Are you ready for a whole lot of fun?

As many of you know, I’m a BIG fan of writing contests and challenges.  I love them because

  1. they encourage writers to write
  2. they push us to submit our work
  3. they engage us in the kid lit community and provide us with positive feedback and inspiration.

 

dr-seuss-stamp

March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Last year I put together a little contest based on Random House founder Bennet Cerf’s 1960 challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

green-eggs-and-ham

My challenge is a bit different…yout MAX WORD COUNT for the entire story is 50.

If you are currently writing picture books…or just reading them, you’ll notice that the average word length for many is getting shorter and shorter. So I thought, wouldn’t that be a great challenge…to write a story for kids with only 50 words? With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And now it’s time to DO IT AGAIN.

Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. You have a couple of weeks until you need to post your story. Here are the guidelines:

#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CONTEST

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. The contest officially opens on Thursday, March 2nd, in a special post on my blog.
  6. Between March 2nd and March 6th, post your story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post OR post the entire story in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post. Last year, because the stories were so short, eventually, we had all of them in the comment thread. Please make sure you put your name in the post.
  7. Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Monday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
  8. Winners will be announced Thursday, March 9.
  9. Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too! The book prizes are limited to USA addresses, please.
    1. A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of last year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency!) essie

2. A seat in author Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing Making Picture Book Magic online writing class (the first writing class I ever took and it set me on the path of writing wonderful picture book manuscripts).

mpbm3. A seat in author Kristen Fulton’s incredible Nonfiction Archaeology online writing class (that was the class that opened the door for me to discover the joy of writing nonfiction picture books).

kristen

4. This next prize can be chosen by two people…there are TWO 50% off coupons for Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).

art_of_arc_v35. OR…if you have already taken Alayne’s awesome class, you can choose 50% off an in-depth critique from her (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).

6. A seat in one of the KidLitCollege webinars (I’ve attended a few and they are FABULOUS!) OR $19.99 off a critique, donated by Jodell Sadler, JCLA Editorial Agent and Founder of KidLitCollege. Winner choses one and will get a special code.

kidlitcollege

7. A manuscript or query letter critique from author Rebecca Colby.

rebecca-colby

8. A picture book critique from author Lori Degman

headshot

9. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.

anna-forrester

10. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein

ariel-bernstein

11. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova

this-headshot

 

12. A book on the craft of writing from author Rosie Pova

13. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from author Annie Silvestro:

book-cover

14. A book on the craft of writing from author Maria Marshall

maria-marshall

15. A copy of Hello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.

tiger

16. A copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus an adorable SEAL NECKLACE from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.

lizzie-and-lou-seal-cover

17. A copy of CLAMS ALL YEAR by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.

clams-all-year

18. A SUPER HAPPY book prize package from author Marcie Colleen with copies of Super Happy Party Bears Gnawing Around and Super Happy Party Bears Knock Knock on Wood.

marcie-and-books-1-and-2

19. A copy of Mutt’s Promise,  a middle grade dog adventure written by Julie Salomen…donated by illustrator Jill Weber.

mutts-promise-cover

20. A picture book critique from me and a copy of my parent-teacher book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

stackofbooks

I am exceedingly grateful to all of these kid lit pros who generously donated prizes…to find out more about these wonderful people, please click on each link above to visit their websites…follow them on social media..and buy their books!!!!

Please help spread the word and share this around your social media…the more the merrier… #50PreciousWords.

Are you excited?

I am!

And I just can’t wait to read all of your precious words.

P.S. Don’t forget…this is NOT the post you will be using for the contest entries…that post will go live on March 2nd.

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bat Count

What a special time of year! For me, Thanksgiving is for bringing people closer together…and we all need that, right? I hope you had a beautiful day yesterday, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.

Working together is an important skill…we’ve seen lately what can happen when people don’t come together. What impresses me the most about this kid lit community is that many groups are formed to enable people to work towards a common goal. One of the new groups I am now part of is Picture The Books 2017…a group of authors and illustrators whose debut picture books are coming out next year. And one of those books is my Perfect Picture Book Friday selection for today.

But oh my goodness…as happens very often, first we need to make an important announcement.

viv-and-sophie-standing-by-tree-2015

The lovely Susanna Hill has announced her famous Holiday Writing Contest. The rules are simple…a holiday story for children (ages 12 and under) that is 300 words or less. I’ll be participating again this year…will you? Joining in Susanna’s writing contests is a great way for writers to get their work out there and submit to a positive and loving audience. For all the details, please click here. And don’t forget, there are always GREAT PRIZES!

And now, thank you for your patience…it’s time for our #PPBF review.

bat-count-by-anna-forrester

BAT COUNT

Written by Anna Forrester

Illustrated by Susan Detwiler

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Family life, diversity, bats, animal conservation

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm.

Opening Lines:

“The sun is dropping behind the ridge and the red-winged blackbirds have quit their squalling, so I know it’s almost time.”

Why I like this book:

  • If you read the opening line above, you already know one reason why I love this book…the language is so lyrical…the author did a wonderful job of picking just the right words.
  • This is a beautiful family story on two levels…the little girl’s family who track and count the bats…and the bat family that they hope will be there.
  • Much of the story takes place at dusk…the illustrator was able to capture that low light, yet still give the reader wonderful pictures showing true emotion in the faces of the people.
  • I take my hat off to Arbordale Publishing…many of the pages are dark (see above), but they made sure to put easy to read white print in a large enough font that children will be comfortable reading. I can’t tell you how many picture books I am unable to read to my grandson because the contrast between the text and the background of the page is nonexistent…dark gray letters on dark blue background, for instance.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  1. The back matter is excellent…four pages of learning activities
  2. More free activities at: ArbordalePublishing.com
  3. Find out if there are any animal count activities going on in your community and participate with your child.
  4. The book is a fabulous resource for elementary schools plus a wonderful story for every family. It launches in Feburary 2017 and is available on Amazon for preorder.

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. It will be December when I see you next.

December is going to be an exciting month…we have TWO Will Write for Cookies interviews AND giveaways. The first is with Jessica Lawson…and the second is with Duncan Tonatiuh. WOW!

And don’t forget Susanna’s Holiday Writing Contest.

To help start the year off, I’m participating in a Happiness Challenge for December: www.truly-julie.com/happiness-challenge

And I’ll also be making a list of the stories I think I’d like to write in 2017…for some I’ll just have a title…for others, just a topic. I’ve done this for the last few years and it really helps me focus and be more productive when I know beforehand what I’d like to be writing/researching about. I learned this from Kristen Fulton in her Nonfiction Archaeology class…but it works even if you write fiction.

In addition, I have work to do for the editor of Sweet Dreams, Sarah…I need to make a list of bloggers who will review my debut picture book or post an interview or Q&A...plus shout out on Twitter, Facebook and other social media when the book launches in the spring. It’s going to be a very busy time if the launch is on schedule because I’ll have just finished the #50PreciousWords Challenge. By the way, some of you have already volunteered to do a post in the book blog tour...please PM or email me if you’d like to be involved. And ditto for the #50PreciousWords Challenge…if you’d like to donate something (kidlit book, class, critique, art, etc), please let me know. My wonderful agent, Essie White, has already offered to do another critique as a prize…and if any of you remember, the 1st place winner chose that and is now one of Essie’s clients. I know it is not until March, but time has a way of sneaking up on us.

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi