Are You Like An Ant?

Photo by Roy Toft

 I’m taking part in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Summer Short and Sweets, a creative writing exercise that would be fun for elementary students as well.  Click on her link and get all of the details.

Today’s challenge was to pick an adjective and then an animal that adjective might be associated with…here’s my entry:

 Tenacious
Is a steadfast ant
Tirelessly laboring with strong jaws excavating
In the subterranean tunnels under my feet
Creating a new home for his queen.

 I’ve always been fascinated with ants…such tireless goal-setting creatures!

Tireless and goal-setting can also define the firefighters who battled the Waldo Canyon Fire last month here in Colorado Springs.

Fortunately, many of the homes were insured.

What about the forests?

The trees had no insurance policies.

Fortunately, there are some individuals who are trying to help.

 

One of these is a neighbor of mine who has put together a photo-journal.

The pictures show the impact of the fire on the forest.

Visit www.WaldoCanyonRehab.org to find out how you can purchase it.

Proceeds will go to the Waldo Canyon Burn Scar Rehabilitation Project.

I’ve also been liked to an ant and have been called tenacious by those who know me.

If I believe in something, I am tireless and never give up.

One thing I believe in is the importance of building self-esteem in children.

That’s why I started the Show Me How! School Initiative.

Please don’t forget to leave a comment, nominating a deserving school.

A dozen copies of Show Me How! will be awarded at the end of September.

Would you like your favorite school to get a copy?  Just leave a comment!

Show Me How is in the News!

THE SUMMER IS MORE THAN HALFWAY OVER!

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE…KIDS ARE OUT BUYING NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES….AND TEACHERS ARE GEARING UP FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR.

This post is a summary of some of the projects I have underway and some of the events that have been taking place recently, here in Colorado.

WE’VE BEEN POUNDED BY TRAGEDY…FIRST THE WALDO CANYON FIRES RIGHT HERE IN COLORADO SPRINGS (AND VARIOUS OTHER WILDFIRES IN THE REST OF THE STATE) AND JUST LAST WEEK, THE AURORA THEATER MASSACRE, WHERE TWELVE PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES AND DOZENS OF OTHERS WERE SERIOUSLY INJURED.

MANY ASK…HOW CAN WE STOP THIS TYPE OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE?

UNFORTUNATELY, I DON’T THINK THERE IS AN ANSWER…NOT UNTIL EVERY PERSON’S HEART IS FILLED WITH LOVE FOR OTHERS.

WHAT WE CAN DO IS PRAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN IMPACTED.  WE ARE ALL ONE FAMILY.  WE CAN REACH OUT TO EACH OTHER WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION BECAUSE, IN THE FACE OF TRAGEDY, LOVE IS WHAT HEALS.

WE CAN ALSO TRY TO MAKE OUR OWN LITTLE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.

SOMEONE WHO DOES THAT VERY WELL IS picture book author, SUSANNA LEONARD HILL.

DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR, SHE HOSTS A PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY  WHERE SHE INVITES OTHERS TO LINK UP WITH A PICTURE BOOK REVIEW AND RELATED ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES.

FOR THE SUMMER, SHE HAS COME UP WITH A WHOLE NEW CHALLENGE: SUMMER SHORT AND SWEETS.

DO YOU LIKE TO WRITE?  ARE YOU AN ASPIRING AUTHOR?

JOIN SUSANNA AND FRIENDS FOR THIS CREATIVE WRITING EXERCISE.

I hope you will check out this fun-filled writing exercise!  Here is my entry for week #3:

I am Castle.
Gray as weathered stone in a cloud-filled twilight.
With tall turreted towers.
Decaying.
Crumbling.
Adjacent to an ancient herb garden where quartz paving stones glisten in the moonlight.
Guarding a hidden secret.
Protecting a forgotten treasure.
Waiting for eventual discovery.
Like a tightrope walker holding his breath.
I am Castle.

Another project for me this summer was to submit a picture book to Rate Your Story.  This amazing website is hosted by several children’s authors, illustrators and editors.  They provide professional manuscript critiques and other services…but will look over your story for FREE and rate it from “1”…great story, you should consider submitting…to “10”…consider this story as practice and write another one.  In addition, some of the judges may even give your story some constructive suggestions to help make it better.

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted, “The Boots of Dylan McGee”.  This is a rhyming picture book that tells the story of a little boy who wants to be a cowboy and loves his boots so much that he never wants to take them off. 

Here’s the first verse:

Dylan McGee was a cowboy-in-training.

Boots were his garb, whether sunshine or raining.

“It’s time to go nighty-night”, Momma would say.

But take off his boots?  Nada, nix, no and nay!

 When his boots begin to hurt his feet because they are too small, “he tried to remove them but couldn’t succeed…those boots wouldn’t budge ‘cause he’d grown like a weed.”

Early this week, I got the reply back…”The Boots of Dylan McGee” scored a “3”… which means: good story, get a critique or two and polish before submitting.  I was really excited because the judge gave me three awesome suggestions which I am working on implementing to make the story better and ready to put out there in publishing-land.

I’m also continuing in Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge.

I’ve been having so much fun since January…writing a picture book draft each month.  Thanks to Julie and the encouraging group of more than FOUR HUNDRED participants, I now have seven picture book drafts waiting to be revised and polished and revised and polished and revised and polished some more.  July’s picture book draft is completed!

Another project for me is to de-clutter my garage. 

 

As the comic strip character, Cathy, would say, “AACK!!!!!!”

I know that clutter is a problem for many of us.  Objectively, I understand that clutter creates stress.  Subjectively, it is difficult to decide what to keep and what to toss.

But I have done a little work on this and plan to do more every weekend until I am done.

As Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way would say, “Aaaah, that’s better.

And now I’d like to share some lovely news.

Lovely news #1: Last week, I got an email from WordPress notifying me that I had reached a milepost in “likes”…1000 of them.

For that I have to thank all of you, my readers!  Sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to write, especially because I love to read and comment on everyone else’s posts.  I’m thrilled to have connected with so many people all over the world…what an exciting journey this has been!

Lovely news #2: I just got word from TaRhonda Thomas, Emmy-winning anchor for the 9News Morning Show in Denver.  She will be interviewing me on August 27th and we will be discussing an extremely timely topic for the opening of the new school year…how parents can detect the subtle signs of bullying.  I’ll share more details in future posts.

Lovely news #3: Diane Kress Hower over at bookwisdombydiane did an amazing review of Show Me How! and also one of Cindy Moo.  She has a spot on the local NBC affiliate KKCO TV 11 News morning show where she spotlights children’s books.  On Tuesday morning, she talked about the importance of self-esteem and how those two books were wonderful resources for parents and teachers.  Diane is offering a copy of each of the books as a giveaway on her website…you just need to leave her a comment.

Lovely news #4:  My daughter and her family will definitely be moving to Colorado Springs within the year…I can’t wait to be able to spend more time with my grandson!

Save The Bookstores Day…Indian Two Feet and His Horse Book Review

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children. 

Did you know that June 16th is Save The Bookstores Day?  Mega-stores like Walmart are putting bookstores out of business and bookstores in small towns and big cities continue to close.  Tara Lazar has a great post about this: http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/support-save-the-bookstores-day-on-june-16th/ and I hope everyone will spread the word about this event.  I’ll be stopping and shopping in at one of our local Indie bookstores here in Colorado Springs, Poor Richards.  What will you be doing?

As a child, I was fascinated with books and I would have been happy to live in a bookstore.  One day that almost happened!  My mom needed to buy a junior high school graduation dress for my older sister.  We went to Abraham and Straus, a big New York City department store and my mother left me in the book department which covered the entire eighth floor.  Floor to ceiling bookshelves lined the rooms and tables filled with books crowded the space so there was little room to walk.  Finding a little kneehole desk amidst the book strewn tables, I took a copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (one of my favorites), crawled into the space under the desk and proceeded to read the entire book from cover to cover. 

Like many of you, when I am reading, I become one with the book and get lost in the story between the pages.  So engrossed was I that I never heard my mom and sister calling for me a couple of hours later.  It wasn’t until I turned the last page and stood up that I saw the store security guards, police and my mom and sister, frantically searching for me.  They had been looking for an hour.  You can read more about that day in a blog post I did last year.  You’ll get a bonus if you go there because I was doing picture book reviews back them and you will find a review of Don’t Worry, I’ll Find You by Anna Grossnickel Hines as well as some great tips for Shopping with Kids.  With summer just around the corner and kids tagging along when parents are shopping, those tips might come in handy!

Today’s classic picture book pick is about as far away in time and place from the above book as you can get…but with a similar theme…listening to our parents and following their instructions.

 

 Indian Two Feet and His Horse

Written by Margaret Friskey

Illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats

Publisher: Children’s Press (1959)

Ages: 3 – 8

Themes:

Books for boys, goal setting, problem solving, responsibility, self-reliance, family, diversity, maturation

Opening:

“There was a little Indian.  He wished he had a horse.  But he did not have a horse.  He had to walk, walk, walk.”

Synopsis:  

Little Two Feet wishes he had a horse.  He can sing and dance and draw and swing across the river from a tree.  But he can’t ride a horse because he doesn’t own one.  His father suggests he go and look for one and little Two Feet decides to look in places he would go if he were a horse.  In the end, a horse finds the boy and they develop a friendship based on mutual trust and caring.

Why do I like this book

The story text and message is simple enough for very young children to understand and enjoy, while older kids will identify with the boy who could master many tasks and skills, but dreamed of riding a horse of his own.

Ezra Jack Keats (Peter’s Chair, The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willy, etc.) is one of my favorites author/illustrators.  This book is one of his lesser known illustrating gems.

Related Activities:

Indian Headband Craft (from Cool Kids Crafts)

You will need: Construction paper, crayons or markers, scissors, glue or tape…real feathers, beads and string are optional.


How to Make an Indian Headband Craft

Step 1 Cut a strip of brown paper about 2 to 3 inches wide. Make it long enough so that when you bring both ends together it will sit on the child’s head comfortably.We used some craft scissors with a wavy design to cut ours just to give it a bit more flare.Tip: If you need it to be longer, just cut two strips and tape it together.

 

Step 2 Using your crayons or markers, decorate the outside of the strip (the side you will see once you tape both ends together).

 

Step 3 Bring both ends together to form the headband and tape or glue together.

 

Step 4 Cut out several feathers using colored construction paper. Cut small slits on both sides of your feathers leaving about 1/2″ in the middle uncut.

 

Step 5 Glue the feathers to the back of the headband.

 

Step 6 Optional:Cut out one more feather. Then glue some real feathers to the bottom of the feather (so that when you hang the feather upside down, the bottom becomes the top and the top becomes the bottom – see picture). Add a string of beads and glue this onto the feather.

 

Step 7 Glue this feather to the side of the headband and hang it upside down so that it will hang down when you wear the headband.


This Native American Indian headband craft is a fun kids Thanksgiving activity and has been a traditional craft for many during the holidays.   However, kids will enjoy making it at any time of the year.  In addition to this indian headband craft be sure to check out these Native American Indian coloring pages.

Talk about different animals people can take care of…which ones would make good pets?  Which ones would be difficult to keep in the city?  What are some of the responsibilities a pet-owner has?  What did little Two Feet do to be a good horse owner?

Official website of Ezra Jack Keats with tons of info and activities.

Lovely site that gives interesting background on Ezra Jack Keats and a number of activities here.

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.