Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends! For more wonderful book reviews, don’t forget to hop over to Susanna Hill’s blog.

Before we get to our super book, I need to announced some winners of a past giveaway. Earlier this month, we had a double decker prize: a copy of I AM A THIEF by author Abigail Rayner and a pb manuscript critique by the illustrator, Molly Ruttan.

And the winners are:

A copy of I AM A THIEF – Hedy Frazier

A pb ms critique – Lynn Rogalsky

Congratulations! I will be contacting you both shortly!

And the kidlit awesomeness keeps on coming. I’m SOOO excited about our book today…I’ve known the author, Dawn Young, for almost as long as I’ve been in this incredible kidlit world. She and her publisher are providing a copy of the book as a giveaway…so make sure you leave a comment. She was the genius behind Continue reading

Monday Writing Magic – 3rd Annual Holiday Writing Contest and ReviMo Info

Entering contests is a great exercise in creative writing. It hones your writing skills, brings you into fellowship with other writers and helps you gain courage to put your work out there. For the past three years, I’ve been participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Holiday Writing Contests – today begins;

The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!!
 crashing sleigh


The Contest:  Write a children’s story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster (a la Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer :)).  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words.

For more information about rules, judging, voting and prizes, please go here.
I thought about what I should write. My trash can is filled with discarded ideas. I hope you will enjoy the story I decided to go with.
SANTA’S NEWEST ELF (157 WORDS)

A letter came for me today.

 Dear Jack O’Lantern, don’t delay.

 Please come to Santa right away

And help make balls and bikes and clay.

A strong wind blows – I rock, I roll.

I barely miss a huge mole hole.

No hole will stop me from my goal

Of elfing at the cold North Pole.

 I cross the street – the light is red.

A tire almost hits my head.

I fear the car will squash me dead.

It pushes me along instead.

And in a muffin shop nearby,

The baker gives a battle cry.

She wants to put me in a pie.

I quickly tumble past – “Bye-bye!”

I see the lights of Santa’s shop.

I slip and slide and belly flop.

I’m turning like a spinning top.

What if I never ever stop?

I hear a jolly Ho-Ho-Ho.

It’s Santa standing in the snow.

He says, ‘The workshop’s down below.”

Elf Jack O’Lantern, come, let’s go!

I hope you enjoyed my little Christmas story – I’ll be linking up on Susanna’s website and you can go and read ALL of the amazing entries here. For the Halloweensie Contest, there were 79 stories!

A couple of important items to mention:

1. The Authors for the Philippines auction is over – they raised over 55,000 British pounds (not sure how many US dollars that is…but it is a lot!). I’ve just packed up a copy of my book that I donated – it is going to a mother of two in Staffordshire, England.

2. Please don’t forget the Kid Lit Giveaway Blog Hop Holiday Extravaganza that is still happening here and on 48 other blogs around the blogsphere. There are so many books and gift cards being given away.

KLGH-Holiday-Button

3. I guest posted on the PreK and K Sharing Blog – one of the most incredible blog resources I have ever seen…please go and check them out.

4. Pull out those old manuscripts and dust them off – Meg Miller is hosting a challenge for the New Year – REVIMO will encourage you to REVISE – REVISE – REVISE. There will be prizes, inspiration and information.

5. And, one more reminder about the limited time only Holiday Sale of my book on Amazon – only $10!

Parenting Tip - How To Teach Problem Solving

PPPF: Arianna and the Strawberry Tea…Celebrating Uniqueness

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Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

Did you know that December is READ-A-NEW-BOOK MONTH?

The holiday season is upon us…I know that many bloggers will be reviewing holiday-themed books.  Here’s one that celebrates, not Christmas, but a child’s unique qualities.

Show Me How Build Your Child's Self-Esteem,Vivian Kirkfield

Arianna and the Strawberry Tea

Written by Maria Faulconer

Illustrated by Katy Arnsteen

Publisher: Ideals Children’s Books (Hambleton Hill Publishing) 1998

Ages: 4 and up

Themes:

Believing in oneself, confidence, rule-bending

Synopsis:

One snowy evening, Arianne and her parents arrive at a posh hotel.  While her parents are dealing with the taxi and the luggage, little Arianna walks into the hotel and charms the housekeeping staff, the doorman, the manager of the hotel dining room and all of the restaurant patrons.  When her parents discover her in the dining room and inform her that this hotel does not allow children, all of Arianna’s new friends refuse to let them leave and Arianna and her parents are given the Presidential Suite.

 

Why do I like this book:

As I read this story, I was reminded of the Fancy Nancy series.  The illustrations and story are charming…and Arianna charms everyone she meets.  This is a wonderful book for children who need an infusion of confidence…and, at the back of the book, are some recipes for the items Arianna ordered, an infusion of Strawberry Tea and delicious-looking Chocolate Tarts.

Related Activities:

MAKE SOME CHOCOLATE TARTS

Chocolate_Tarts

Photo courtesy: http://www.devonportchocolates.co.nz

The recipe in the picture book calls for heavy cream and is, perhaps, a little complicated for very young children and busy parents.  Here’s a much easier way to do it so that your child can help and it will take only a few minutes.

You will need: One package instant chocolate pudding, milk, small ready-made tart shells, can of whipped cream and a bowl.  If you want to make this treat a little healthier, you can use organic pudding mix and whipped cream.

  1. Make the chocolate pudding according to package instructions.
  2. Spoon chocolate pudding into each tart shell.
  3. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
  4. You can decorate the whipped cream with candy sprinkles or other mini-candies for a more festive look.
  5. Keep in the refrigerator in a covered container.
  6. These make lovely gifts for neighbors or teachers.

Why not have a tea party for your child and a few of his or her friends?

Three Holiday Gifts From Show Me How!

The Holiday Season is here and we have three holiday gifts for you from Show Me How!

Buy a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking on my website.

You will receive:

  • Gift #1: FREE SHIPPING!
  • Gift #2: Beautiful HAND-CRAFTED fabric bookmark for you!
  • Gift #3: Shiny new pencil for your child!

Who should buy a copy of Show Me How?

  • Parents and grandparents of children ages 2-8
  • Teachers of children ages 2-8
  • Daycare Providers
  • Children’s Librarians
  • Childcare facilitators, social workers and adoption agencies

How will Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem help your family?

  • Builds your child’s self-esteem…kids with a positive self-image are more willing to accept new challenges and keep trying if they fail at first.
  • Quick and easy activities…cut out the planning time of trying to think up new things to do with your kids.
  • Helps strengthen the parent-child connection and creates a life-long parent-child bond.
  • Encourages kids to become lovers of books and reading…they will have greater success in school and in life.

And don’t forget…THREE HOLIDAY GIFTS FROM SHOW ME HOW!

Who recommends that you buy this book?

DON’T DELAY!!!  When you buy the book, you will receive THREE HOLIDAY GIFTS FROM SHOW ME HOW!  And, did you know that a portion of your purchase is always donated to several children’s organizations…so you are helping others as well.  This coming week, we will be donating to the STAR PROGRAM (Sit Together and Read) sponsored by the Community Partnership for Childhood Development.  Many families cannot afford to buy picture books for their children…Show Me How is going to make sure that some of those children WILL have books this holiday season!

A Christmas Memory

 

 

Deutsch: Apfelkuchen English: Apple pie

Image via Wikipedia

 

One of the best things about blogging is reading the posts of others.

There are some really super cool writers out in the blogosphere.

I meet new friends and learn new things all the time.

The other day, I discovered Things I Want to Tell My Mother, heartfelt posts written by a woman whose mother has Alzheimer’s.  Please take the time to visit her blog, especially if you are a mother or a daughter…you will be glad you did.

Marylin, the author of that wonderful blog, is having a contest and is asking for posts of one hundred words on Christmas memories with your mother or grandmother.  Since I lived with my grandmother for many years, my Christmas memory will be about this special lady who was a role model for positive parental participation long before spending quality time with young children was considered crucial to building self-esteem.

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Baking for Christmas

            As soon as I opened my eyes that morning, I knew it was going to be a special day.  The delicious aroma of apples and cinnamon filled the little bedroom I shared with my older sister.  This was the day before Christmas, and although my parents and sister were still sleeping, I knew that someone was already awake.  I tiptoed down the stairs and entered the old-fashioned kitchen. My grandmother’s words were welcoming and her flour-dusted arms enfolded me in a loving hug. “There you are, Vivian.  I’ve been waiting for you.  Come and help me make these apple pies.”

****************************************************************************************************** 

Memories like this one encouraged me to use cooking activities with my own children, the children in my daycare and as part of the self-esteem building activities in Show Me How!  Allowing kids to help prepare food builds true self-esteem as they master tasks and skills in the kitchen.  It also encourages fussy eaters to try new foods…if a child has helped prepare a meal; he or she is more likely to eat it.  Or, at least try it.  Here’s a cool tip: my niece who is a clinical psychologist, encourages her children to take a “no thank you” bite of every food that is being served.  They know that if they really don’t like it, they can try it and say, “no thank you” and they won’t have to finish the portion.  Experts say that it takes at least seven tries before we develop a taste for certain foods…so just because a child doesn’t like something the first time he tries it, doesn’t mean you should never serve it. 

I’ve got several school and library programs coming up this week and next and I am really excited about sharing the picture book stories and craft projects from Show Me How!  This is a back-to-basics program that builds self-esteem, develops better literacy skills and strengthens the parent-child connection.

 

Please pass the word and help others get on the back-to-basics bandwagon.  This will definitely be the gift that keeps on giving, long after many of the toys you buy have been discarded.

NO BATTERIES REQUIRED…POWERED BY YOUR CHILD’S IMAGINATION

SHOW ME HOW!  NOW ONLY $19.95

Festival of Trees Festive Family Fun Days: A Few Reflections

I spent this past Saturday and Sunday at the DoubleTree Hotel near the World Arena in Colorado Springs. 

Sponsored by the Ecumenical Social Ministries, the Festival of Trees Family Fun Days was a many-splendored event.

In the main ballroom dozens of vendors with beautiful tables filled with amazing items provided gift-giving purchase opportunities to the people strolling by.

Gaily decorated Christmas trees were displayed and offered for sale.

 

Ornaments on the Crayola Tree...a hit with every child!

 

Santa-land had volunteers doing awesome craft projects with the children…and kids had the opportunity to meet Santa, as well as the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Hundreds of door prizes had been donated by area businesses and the Ecumenical Social Ministries volunteers called out names every half hour…centerpieces, candles, hand-made quilts and gift certificates for free meals at local restaurants were among the wonderful prizes awarded to the lucky recipients.   When my name was called, I was thrilled!  My prize…the most beautiful handmade Christmas quilt.

On-going live entertainment added to the up-beat party-like atmosphere and we enjoyed bell choirs, drum groups, singers, dancers and more.  The entertainment alone was worth the $5 per person entry fee…children 12 years old and under got in for free!

I had a wonderful time at the Show-Me-How table…talking to parents and children about building self-esteem and literacy skills with picture books and how easy it is to spend a little quality time with your child…reading, crafting and cooking.  Parents who picked up my book were impressed with how many activities it provides.  They loved the easy-to-use format with the picture book summary and parenting tip on the left and the quick craft and child-friendly recipe on the right.

Speaking with hundreds of people in a two-day period can be somewhat exhausting, even when you are passionate about the subject.  I’d like to share some of my reflections and observations.

  • There are lots of parents out there who really care about their children.
  • Many parents are doing an awesome job of teaching their children important skills, such as saying “Thank you” when someone gives you something.  We were giving a free gift to every child who stopped by the table…a fancy new pencil and a bookmark.  I was impressed with the parent who told her child, “You need to look at the lady when you say thank you.” 
  • I fear we are moving away from a time when a child would be excited about receiving something new…no matter how small.  Most of the children were delighted to come over and pick the pencil of their choice…but a few shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads…perhaps if I had been offering an iPad they might have thought it was a worthwhile gift.
  • It doesn’t matter how beautiful or uplifting the atmosphere…some people will always bring their negative attitude to a situation.  I don’t know whether you will want to laugh or to cry when you read this.  I chatted a moment with a woman who stopped at the table to look at the book and after I told her that the book had quick and easy activities to help build self-esteem and literacy skills, she replied, “I’m already an excellent parent!”  To me, that is kind of sad…I know how to cook, but that doesn’t mean I will never look at another cookbook in my life or enjoy getting a new recipe from a friend.  And I’m always excited when someone gives me a new approach to teaching or a fresh tip on parenting.  Life is a journey of constant learning and we need to be open to acquiring knowledge, even on subjects we may have expertise.  Another woman looked at the book and when I said it’s for anyone involved in the care and education of young children, she replied, “I hate children…this is definitely not the book for me!”  I guess not. :}

If, however, you think this might be the book for you…or you know anyone who might enjoy having 100 picture book recommendations, each paired with a quick and easy craft project and a simple child-friendly healthful recipe, please pass along the information.  Show Me How! available on my website: $19.95 for a brand-new copy…and personally inscribed for the holidays if you wish!  After observing the children at the Festival of Trees event and those of friends and family, I can tell you that many children have too much STUFF already…they don’t need the latest toy or gadget.  What they do need is their parents’ time and attention!  Buy the book and give them the gift of your positive parental participation that will last forever.

Cinema Sundays: My Picks of Great Flicks…Valentine’s Day Special

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...

Image via Wikipedia

My husband and I love watching movies.

We rarely go to the theater.

Instead, we frequent the shelves of our local library which offer brand-new-to-DVD movies, as well as many treasured classics and a great collection of foreign films…all for free!   Our local stores also have red boxes (and black boxes and perhaps other color boxes as well) which are vending machines that disperse a wide range of movie DVD’s for the cost of $1.00 per night.

Looking back, I remember going to the movies on a Saturday with my older sister or several friends.  Fifty cents was the admission price…and you got to see a double feature, newsreel and several cartoons…at the end of the showing, you were allowed to remain in the theater and see it all again!  Clutching a precious quarter in my hand, I would approach the concession counter and make my selections…weighing the cost of bonbons (chocolate covered vanilla ice cream balls…five or six to a narrow rectangular package) against the box of spearmint leaves and jumbo popcorn which together cost the same as the bonbons.   Once in a while, the bonbons won out…I really loved them!

With Valentine’s Day so close, I’d like to recommend a movie (actually two…one is the sequel) that will warm you heart and remind you that there are many types of love and many ways to show it.

It may surprise you that both are “Christmas” movies…but perhaps that is not so surprising…under all the commercialism of the Christmas season these days…the message is still about abiding love.

The Christmas Shoes, and its sequel, The Christmas Blessing, are both movies on my not-to-be-missed list.  With top performing actors, both will make you smile and cry with joy…and both will remind you of what is really important in life.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  Stop by tomorrow for Make-A-Meal Mondays…and something special for Valentine’s Day.