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Joy Keller: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Me&TreeEdited

JOY KELLER

Every year brings a new crop of debut picture book authors. I met today’s Will Write for Cookies guest through the PictureTheBooks2017 group and I’m thrilled to have connected with a talented author like Joy.

Joy Keller isn’t a monster, but she does have experience driving trucks on a blueberry farm. Her debut picture book, Monster Trucks (Henry Holt, 2017), is all about monsters and the vehicles that match their personalities, from the skeleton crew that fixes roads to the werewolf who digs, digs, digs. Joy currently teaches elementary students of all ages and lives in Fairport, NY with her husband, two children, and four cats. You can visit her at www.joykellerauthor.com or find her on Twitter @jrkeller80.

ME: Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Joy! I’m so happy you were able to stop by to chat. If it’s okay, we’ll start with the Q&A.

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

JOY: That’s a hard question to answer! One picture book I loved was my grandfather’s copy of The Hungry Thing by Jan Slepian and Ann Seidler. I thought it was hilarious. What kid like reading about a monster that wants “shmancakes” and “feetloaf?”

I also vividly remember Margaret Wise Brown’s Fox Eyes. There was something about that sneaky fox, and Garth William’s mysterious drawings of the fox peeping in on the other animals, that was really intriguing to 5-year-old me!

As I got older, I was drawn to mystery and fantasy stories. I read all the Nancy Drew books, and the Bunnicula series, and all the tales of Narnia and Prydain and Middle Earth.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

JOY: It took me a while to learn that not all advice is good advice. Authors need to have critique partners they can trust to steer their writing in the right direction, but it’s very important to have the right critique partners. It took a few mismatches before I found people who “got” what I do, and who also weren’t afraid to tell me how my writing could be improved.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper? And when do you write?

JOY: I’m an elementary teacher with two young children, so I take my writing time whenever—and wherever!—I can get it. Typically, this means writing for an hour or so on my laptop before I go to sleep. This might be on the couch, or on my bed, or at the kitchen table. I’m really not picky. I also keep a notebook handy so that I can jot down notes any time an idea strikes. I think the people at both my salon and my doctor’s office are used to seeing me working!

ME: Why do you write for children?

JOY: I’ve taught elementary students for many years, and part of being a good teacher is being a good storyteller. Nothing gets a room full of kids to pay attention quite like an entertaining story. But guess what? Kids are also a tough audience. They’ll let you know if your story is dragging or confusing. They don’t hold back! That’s why it’s so magical when you have twenty-four kids staring at you, a look of intense fascination on their faces, waiting to find out what’s going to happen next.

I think that when I write for kids, it’s an extension of what I’ve done for almost two decades now. I’m just telling fun stories. And I hope that somewhere there’s a kid with a copy of MONSTER TRUCKS, eager to see what happens on the next page.

MonsterTrucks_Cvrs

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. 

JOY: I would advise aspiring writers to write what they like. It’s important to know what books are out there, but it’s too easy to get caught up in the “will it sell?” worries. Write a good book, revise it to make it better, and then believe in your story. If my first three books can be about truck-driving monsters, a pet store that sells mythical creatures, and the world of fungus, then you can write about pretty much anything! (On a related note, picture book stories always sound silly when you try to explain them to other adults. It’s just a fact of life. Even typing that list felt kind of silly to me.)

ME: This is fabulous advice, Joy! WRITE A GOOD BOOK. REVISE IT TO MAKE IT BETTER. AND BELIEVE IN YOUR STORY!!!!!

I think that needs to be taped up near my computer!

Thank you so much, Joy! And I know everyone is waiting anxiously for the sweet treat at the end of the post, so please take it away!

JOY: Here’s the recipe. I thought no-bake Rocky Road Clusters fit nicely with the MONSTER TRUCKS theme!

cookies

Rocky Road Clusters

Ingredients

2 cups chocolate chips (1 cup chocolate and 1 cup butterscotch are also good!)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 10 oz package of mini marshmallows

1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts

Directions

  1. Line a couple cookie sheets with waxed paper and set them aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Heat them for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between heatings. When the chocolate has melted, mix in the peanut butter.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the marshmallows and peanuts. Pour in the chocolate/peanut butter mixture and stir to coat.
  4. Drop the mixture by heaping tablespoons onto the cookie sheets. Let the clusters cool. Chill them in the refrigerator for about an hour to help them set faster.

Store the clusters in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week…but they probably won’t be around that long!

YUM!!! These look amazing! What a great treat for Halloween parties! And speaking of Halloween, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the Joy’s giveaway of a copy of MONSTER TRUCKS.

PLUS, do come back tomorrow for a special HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST post. I still have to write my story to enter into Susanna Hill’s fabulous writing challenge. There’s time for YOU to enter also!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: MONSTER TRUCKS Plus Giveaway

Is it just me, or does Friday come around really quickly every week?  I guess it’s a good thing that I LOVE Friday because we always have a super picture book review and activity.

And today’s choice is especially perfect with Halloween just around the corner.

MonsterTrucks_Cvrs

MONSTER TRUCKS

Written by Joy Keller

Illustrated by Misa Saburi

Published by Godwin Books – Henry Holt and Company (2017)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Vehicles, monsters, humor, rhyme

Synopsis: 

From Amazon: 

All monsters love the autumn air,
just right to sneak and spook and scare.
But other seasons of the year,
they shift into a different gear.

Monsters get to work―paving roads, plowing snow, hauling muck―with their monster trucks in this fun, rhyming picture book. With a gentle bedtime ending, this not-too-scary story is perfect for young monster and truck lovers.

Why I like this book:

  • Fabulous rhyme filled with heart and humor
  • Super cool bold and colorful illustrations
  • Great addition to Halloween, monster, and/or vehicle shelves

RELATED ACTIVITY

Popsicle Stick Monster Trucks

monster-truck-4Photo courtesy: http://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com

Do you have a monster truck lover at your house? Give this craft activity a try…the kids will have a ball!

You will need: Popsicle sticks, glue, markers, construction paper or poster board, scissors.

For detailed instructions: http://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com/2016/04/popsicle-stick-monster-trucks-kid-craft.html

Take a walk in the neighborhood and see how many different types of trucks you can identify.

Play a rhyming game with your kids. Read the story and leave off the last word of the rhyming verse…see what words they come up with.

Debut picture book author Joy Keller is offering a copy of MONSTER TRUCKS, so please remember to leave a comment. Also, she is stopping by tomorrow to chat on Will Write for Cookies, and another comment there will give you another entry. PLUS, on Sunday, I’ll be posting my entry into Susanna Hill’s 7th ANNUAL HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST. Have you heard about it? Have you ever entered? It is one of the most fun filled writing challenges around..I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Here in New England, we’ve had a ton of rain and the fall foliage has to fight hard to hold on. If you are planning on going out Trick or Treating with the kids, stay safe. I know many neighborhoods organize Halloween parties so kids can come to one location to have fun. We used to do it at our church and the parishoners would dress up and take up residence in the many classrooms and offices and then the kids would parade through the halls, knocking on each door. There were games and prizes for costumes and lots of good food and safe fun. 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: MONSTER TRUCKS

Last weekend I attended the SCBWI ENCORE presentation at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. I’m thankful for kid lit friends, Mona Pease, who drove all the way from Maine, and Beth Gallagher, who picked us up and chauffeured us to the event. The fall foliage was astonishingly beautiful and the day-long conference was filled with inspiring and informative programs.

Next weekend, another book event takes place…the Keene State College Children’s Book Fair. I’m hoping to be able to go. The only problem with going to these book events is that it’s tempting to buy every book!

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection is one I actually didn’t have to buy. At our local indie bookstore’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I placed my name in a raffle bowl. And I could hardly believe my ears when the manager from Toadstool Bookshop called and informed me that I was a winner of a picture book which is perfect for this Halloween-is-around-the-corner season. To read all of this week’s Perfect Picture Book reviews, hop over to Susanna Hill’s website.

monster-trucks

MONSTER TRUCKS

Written by Anika Denise

Illustrated by Nate Wragg

Publisher: Harper Collins (2016)

Ages: 3 and up

Themes:

Courage, never give up, you don’t have to be the biggest in order to win

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Readers will delight in this lively read-aloud story with a clever and surprising twist at the end—perfect for Halloween and year round!

 Ready, set, go! The monster truck race is on in this frightfully delightful picture book.  On a spooky speedway, Monster Trucks moan! Monster Trucks grumble! Monster Trucks groan!

 Join Frankentruck, Zombie Truck, Ghost Truck, and more as they race to the finish line. But one of these trucks isn’t quite who you think.

Why I like this book:

  • Love the clever simple rhyme that is matched perfectly with illustrations full of kid-appeal
  • Totally a new twist on a Halloween story for children that has just the right amount of tension and suspense without being scary

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  1. Let your children design their own monster trucks.
  2. Make up silly Halloween rhymes with your children…take turns with each line.
  3. Check out other great Halloween picture books here: http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/holidays/tp/halloween.html

 

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, dear friends and readers. If you enjoy writing children’s stories, don’t forgot about Susanna’s Halloweensie Contest. I’ll be posting my entry to the contest next Friday right here on my blog. But if you want to find out more about the contest, click on this link.

friendly-jackolantern

 

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