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Perfect Picture Book Friday: Mountain Chef PLUS Giveaway

Life is pretty hectic around here…my husband has been having heart issues and they are doing a cardiac catherization at Mass General in Boston today…which is where I am right now!

But I didn’t want to miss Perfect Picture Book Friday…especially since the author of this book is going to be our guest on Will Write for Cookies tomorrow. I’m reprising the review of her amazing nonfiction picture book that I featured last year because it’s a fabulous mentor text for all of my pb writer friends, because it’s a great read for young kids, and because next month it will be awarded the National Council of Social Studies’ Carter G. Woodson Award. Here’s the link.

cover-mountain-chef

MOUNTAIN CHEF: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service

Written by Annette Bay Pimentel

Illustrated by Rich Lo

Publisher: Charlesbridge (2016)

Ages: 5-9

Themes:

Discrimination, conservation, National Parks, cooking, ingenuity

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness–and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service.

 Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California.

 When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men—writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star—to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook.

 Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck—twice—and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge.

 On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains.

 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916.

 Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.

Opening Lines:

Tie Sing was a frontier baby, born high in the mountains in Virginia City, Nevada. Growing up, he breathed crisp Sierra air and scuffed through sagebrush. He learned to write in both English and Chinese.

Why I like this book:

  • I love unknown gems of history uncovered by writers who weave great picture book stories for kids.
  • This story has so many different levels…National Parks, racial discrimination, conservation, cooking, ingenuity, courage…parents and teachers can use it as a springboard for many different discussions.
  • Wonderful illustrations that help you feel you are camping right alongside Tie Sing.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

 

  •  If you have a National Park in your area, why not plan a day trip. When we lived in Colorado, we often drove 2+ hours to get to Rocky Mountain National Park…in the summer, we’d fish…in the fall, we’d stroll around Estes Park, the town right at one of the park’s entrances, where elk would walk up and down the streets…and in winter, we’d go up for a weekend and stay at one of the local lodges in the park…to snowshoe and cross country ski during the day and soak in the outdoor hot tub in the evening.

 

  • Fortune Cookies

fortune-cookiesPhoto courtesy: Taste of Home

Have you ever made fortune cookies? The kids will have fun thinking up their own fortunes to put in the cookies.

You can find the recipe here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/homemade-fortune-cookies

Please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of this wonderful book…and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the Q&A with author Annette Bay Pimentel.

To find more picture book reviews, hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday page.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles AND When Your Lion Needs a Bath PLUS Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday. I’m thrilled to be reviewing two brand-new books by one of my favorite kid lit mentors, Susanna Leonard Hill. And the picture book awesomeness doesn’t end there. Susanna is on a whirlwind book blog tour for the next couple of weeks. Don’t miss out on any of the blog tour stops BECAUSE there is going to be a SPECIAL PRIZE from Susanna at the end. Get an entry every time you comment and share on social media with the hashtag #whenyourbooks.

 I’ll be reviewing ANOTHER of Susanna’s new books in a couple of weeks. PLUS, Susanna will be here for a short chat tomorrow on Will Write for Cookies.

But before the double your pleasure, double your fun reviews, let’s announce the winner of the giveaway of A BAND OF BABIES donated by last week’s guest, Carole Gerber. And the winner is…

 PATRICIA TILTON

CONGRATULATIONS, Patricia!!!

I’ll connect with you so Carole can send you the book.

And now for our review duet. With the summer upon us, I know that parents are scrambling for reading material for their kids…these will be PERFECT for the littlest listeners…and maybe the older siblings can read them to the young ones.

elephant cover

WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES

Written by: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by: Daniel Wiseman

Publisher: Little Simon (Board Book Edition – 2017)

Ages: 2-4

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

When your elephant has the sniffles, you better make sure he doesn’t sneeze! This charming and hilarious board book highlights the many ways to make an under-the-weather elephant feel better!

 Does your elephant have the sniffles? Make sure to take good care of him because you don’t want him to start sneezing. Gather up your tissues and your pillows and make that elephant feel better! But don’t get too close…or you just might end up with the sniffles, too!

lion cover

WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH

Written by Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

Publisher: Little Simon (Board Book Edition: 2017)

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

When your lion needs a bath, you have to be pretty sneaky! This charming and hilarious board book highlights the many ways to get your lion into that tub!

 Does your lion need a bath? When your lion needs a bath, you must be a little sneaky. After all, have you ever met a cat who likes water? So gather up your towels and rubber ducks and get that lion into the tub! But be careful…or you just might end up in the bath, too!

Why I like these books:                               

  • Simple text is filled with heart and humor.
  • Wonderful read-alouds!
  • Great illustrations.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Make a Paper Plate Lion

MacroniLion1RS6kPhoto courtesy: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/

WOW…I love this one…what a lot of fun!

You will need: Paper plate, spiral macaroni, glue, markers, googly eyes (optional)

For detailed instructions, please go to: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Safari-Crafts-For-Kids.html

MAKE A PAPER PLATE ELEPHANT

PaperPlateElephant5RS6kPhoto courtesy: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com

Another really creative craft!

You will need: Paper plate, construction paper,scissors, glue, marker, google eyes (optional).

For detailed instructions, please go to: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Paper-Plate-Elephant.html

Spending time with your children can be so much fun! A couple of great books, a few pieces of paper, some glue, scissors, markers…and you can build bonds that will last a lifetime.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to chat with Susanna Leonard Hill…and if you participate in Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’d love for you to leave the link to your post in the comments so that others can come and visit your blog.

Thank you for hanging out here a bit.

 Please remember to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of Susanna books! And come back tomorrow when she chats with us on Will Write for Cookies.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Jessica Petersen: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway Prize Package

 WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

JESSICA PETERSEN

Choo-choo! Will Write for Cookies is coming down the track…with another 2017 debut picture book author as our engineer.

Jessica Petersen started inventing new tricks for old tracks when her son was a train-obsessed toddler. Their adventures inspire her blog, Play Trains! (play-trains.com), where she writes about playing, learning, and reading with kids who love trains. She wrote, photographed, and illustrated OLD TRACKS, NEW TRICKS in her home in Seattle, Washington, where she lives with her husband, her son, and lots of happy wooden train tracks.

cover

Is everyone onboard? The conductor says relax, sit back, and enjoy the interview.

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

 JESSICA:

In elementary school, Jasper Tomkins came to my school — I’m pretty sure that was the only author visit I ever experienced as a kid — and I loved his whimsical books that anthropomorphize unlikely subjects, particularly the cloud in Nimby and the mountains in The Catalog. Years later, I was so happy to find copies of those books for my son, and in retrospect, I would guess his books were one of the things that started me down the path to bringing wooden train tracks to life in my own book.

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

JESSICA:

Perfection isn’t a goal on the first draft. Get the story down first, then get the story right, and then you can start trying to make the words sing.

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?

JESSICA:

You may notice that the very blue walls are the same color as the walls in the playroom in Old Tracks, New Tricks. My office is does triple duty as a writing room, photo/video studio, and play room for my son (he picked out the bright paint color, which I love too). I wrote (and photographed) most of the book there, although I also spent a lot of time drawing strange looks as I tapped out the meter of the verse on coffee shop tables.

workspace

I used to write many of my rough drafts longhand as a way of digging deeper into emotions, but I mostly work on my laptop now. When I’m writing rhyming verse or a lot of dialogue, I hear the words in my mind. They don’t stop to wait for me, so I need to type to keep up with them.

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?

JESSICA:

I write anytime I can. I used to be much more particular before my son came along. Children can be a great motivator to learn to write anytime, anywhere, with any amount of distraction. My big challenge now is that illustrating and promoting the book have taken up so much of my time for so long that I’m out of the writing habit. But I have another picture book in the works that I’m really excited about, so I’m hoping to figure out how to balance it all this spring.

ME: Why do you write for children?

JESSICA:

I used to work on fantasy novels aimed at adults, but I made the switch to children’s books when my son was younger, about four years ago. I loved the books I was reading to him, of course, but more than that, having him around made me think about what kind of work I was putting out there in the world, about how I could help kids learn about the world and how to approach life in a strong, kind, creative way.

creative ways to use tracks

ME: Jessica, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.

JESSICA:

It can be a long, long journey from the first draft of your first manuscript until the day you see your first book in print. Look at that as an opportunity. Take the time to learn your craft, to build your writing community, to try different styles and forms of writing. Enjoy having the time to go down creative roads that don’t seem to lead anywhere. You never know when they’re going to be a shortcut. If I hadn’t gotten distracted from the novel I was writing to play around with fabric designs, I never would’ve been inspired to draw a sad train track, crying because it was left out of a full circle of happy tracks. (And yes, I’m going to use that to justify creative forms of procrastination for the rest of my life!)

One of my favorite things about Old Tracks, New Tricks is that I’ve been getting to collaborate with kids through the website (oldtracksnewtricks.com), where they can have grown ups submit photos of track tricks and adventures, and I add the faces in the same way I illustrated the book. I’ve been surprised and delighted by the creative ideas the kids are sending in — it’s even more fun than adding the faces to my own photos! I also decorated and painted a set of trains and tracks to look like characters from the book, and I’m taking them to train shows and other events so my son and I can share them with other children. It’s so cool to see my trains moving around the tracks, like they’ve rolled out of the pages of the book and come to life. As an author or illustrator, if you can play and create with your audience, it gives you a chance to connect in a significant, memorable way, for both you and your readers.

ME: I love this advice, Jessica. Especially about finding a way to play and create with your audience…great tip for authors to remember at book events.

You can visit Jessica online at http://www.jessica-petersen.com, on Twitter at @j_e_petersen, and on Instagram at @playtrains. And you can meet the little train tracks at http://www.oldtracksnewtricks.com, or on Instagram at @oldtracksnewtricks.

And now for one of my favorite parts of Will Write for Cookies…the treat recipe!

Coal Cupcakes

cupcake

These are by far the best, most moist and chocolately cupcakes I’ve ever tasted — and I trained as a pastry chef before I got into writing! We use a King Arthur Flour cupcake recipe (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/favorite-fudge-birthday-cupcakes-with-7-minute-icing-recipe), but mix them up with black cocoa (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/black-cocoa-12-oz) so they’re super dark. We started calling them “coal cupcakes” (https://play-trains.com/coal-black-chocolate-cupcakes/) when I made them for my son’s third train-themed birthday party in the row. After making a Thomas tiered cake for the first one and a 3D fondant-covered Thomas cake for the second one, I dropped the ball and didn’t have time to even decorate the cupcakes. But I convinced my kiddo that they looked like lumps of coal, and he loved them. The lucky thing is that they’re so good, they don’t even need icing — perfect for those of us who don’t really like icing very much in the first place!

WOW…we always used to threaten the kids that they’d get lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings…I actually would LOVE to get a couple of these!

Jessica…we want to thank you so very much…I know everyone gained valuable insight from your answers…and we’ll all gain a couple of extra pounds on the scale from your ‘lumps of coal’. Congratulations on a wonderful book and on just chugging along on your dream track! Your vision and persistence brought success!

And now, dear readers, please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the awesome gift package giveaway from Jessica. A signed copy of OLD TRACKS, NEW TRICKS, a personalized wooden track, and a sheet of decals for a young child to decorate their own.

giveaway

I hope you all have a beautiful week. Storms are ahead for New England…but THE CLOCKS ARE TURNING BACK! Don’t forget DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME is this weekend.

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