PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway over at Sarah Hetu-Radney’s blog

Hello dear friends!

I’m so excited to invite you over to Sarah Hetu-Radney’s new website. She’s one of my in person SCBWI buddies and she kindly asked if I’d be willing to do a three-part interview for her new blog, EYE ON WRITING.

You’ll find out a couple of interesting facts about me from when I was a little girl.

PLUS, I’m giving away a Picture Book Manuscript Critique to one lucky winner who leaves a comment on Sarah’s blogpost: https://sarahheturadny.com/meet-vivian-kirkfield-part-i-friendship-justice-and-determination/

Please share on social media, because I’m sure that everyone wants to find out what happened on that picnic in the park with my best friend, Jane, when I was seven years-old. And it will be nice for Sarah to get to meet all of you!


I’m sure there will be no doubt as to which one is me and which one is Jane.

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. I just finished the revisions for the big HMH compilation book – more news ahead as soon as they sign the illustrator. And I’ll soon be sharing information about my traveling plans for 2019…all I’ll say right now is that I’ll be traveling through FOUR continents! And hope to be hugging lots of kidlit friends in person!

BEA 2013 – Part 2


Book Expo America - New York City

This morning, I had a lovely comment from blogger I didn’t know.

Blogging etiquette demanded that I go and visit her blog.

I am SO glad I did.

BermudaOnion is an awesome writer who blogs about books, movies and food. She just attended the BEA (Book Expo America) in New York City and her post about it made me feel I was right there with her, rubbing shoulders with well-known authors and enjoying the amazing food that is one of the highlights of any trip to the Big Apple.

I had to share this post and hope you will visit her blog to read this and also Part 1 of her BEA adventure.


BEA 2013 – Part 2.

Stellar photo courtesy of: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/wallpaper/photography/photo-tips/color-palette-simply-beautiful-photos/new-york-skyline-richardson/


Quotable Timeless Tuesday: Earth Day 2011…Explore Our National Parks…FOR FREE

Ouzel Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo...

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“O beautiful, for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain.

For purple mountains majesties,

Above the fruited plain.

America, America, God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

This poem was written by Katherine Lee Bates, a thirty-three year old English professor.  In 1893, Bates took a train trip to Colorado Springs to teach a summer course at Colorado College.  What she saw on her trip, especially the view of the Great Plains from the top of Pikes Peak, inspired her to write the poem which was published two years later to commemorate the 4th of July.  The poem was set to music in 1892 by Samuel Ward who wrote the melody while on a ferryboat ride from Coney Island to New York City.  He had no paper to write on and was afraid he would forget it, so he asked a fellow passenger for his shirt cuff.

Earth Day 2011 is quickly approaching (April 22) and what better way to spend it than to explore one of our National Parks

Do you live close to one of them?

We do…Rocky Mountain National Park…is only a 2½ hour drive from us.  We’ve been there many times…to hike, to fly-fish and to look at the abundant flora and fauna with wonder and awe.  It is a wonderful place for children!

One of the fantastic bloggers I have recently connected with did a great post on the National Parks and she lists the days that you can get in FOR FREE!   Check it out at http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/national-parks-week-free-admission/

Tomorrow is the start of the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Blog Event…please stop by….and wish me luck…I hope I post it correctly. 🙂

Quotable Timeless Tuesdays: Friendship…Japan or New Jersey…It’s Not The Where, It’s the Who!

Old Friends

“The friendship that can cease has never been real.” –St. Jerome

How long have you known your best friend?

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” –Henry Ford

I’ve know my best friend for 62 years.  We lived in the same apartment house when we were toddlers and, although she moved “across the water” from New York City to New Jersey when we were in the second grade, we have continued that special friendship through snail mail, phone conversations, email and occasional visits.

“It is not so much our friend’s help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help.” – Epicurus, Greek philosopher

“Without friends, no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” – Aristotle

“The bird a nest… the spider a web…. man friendship.” William Blake

The above three quotations give us a good idea of why we even need friends.  They are our support in times of trouble and our companions in times of joy.

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” –Woodrow Wilson

With the recent tragic events in Japan, there has been an outpouring of news coverage and blog posts expressing concern and offering help to those affected.  I’ve been struck by how easily and quickly people can become friends during times of disaster…and equally amazed at how many of those friendships hold fast long after the tragedy happened.

Being a good friend does not always come naturally.  It is a skill that can be learned and it is an important one to teach young children.

So what advice would I give parents regarding teaching young children about friendship?

The following three quotations contain advice from wiser minds than mine.

Never injure a friend, even in jest.” – Cicero

“Friendship with oneself is all important because without it, one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

Please stop by tomorrow for WHAT’S IN YOUR CHILD’S BOOKCASE WORDY WEDNESDAY.  I’ll be reviewing one of the 100 recommended titles in my book that highlights friendship.  If you visit my website, you can take advantage of the half-price sale AND enter to win a FREE Crafty Easter Basket, filled with craft supplies for your preschooler.

The Day I Almost Changed My Mind About Becoming a Teacher

National Museum

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In May of 1967, I had graduated from college with a bachelor’s in early childhood education, completed my student teaching requirements, and passed the New York City teacher’s licensing exam.  I was fortunate that the principal, of the school where I had done my student teaching had created a new kindergarten class for me that would start in the upcoming school year.  I was excited and thrilled that my life-long goal of becoming a kindergarten teacher was finally going to be realized.  In addition, I was to be married at the end of the summer, right before school started!

So, when the principal asked me if I would do some substitute teaching in June, during the last month of school, I jumped at the opportunity.  I would be getting classroom experience as a “real” teacher…and I would be earning some extra money that would certainly be useful for two newly-weds.

The first call came one early morning in the first week in June.  I would be taking over a second grade.  As I parked my car (parking cars on city streets near schools is a whole other blog post topic) and walked into the school, my heart beat quickly…a little with nervous excitement and a little with happiness at embarking on this new journey.

Many schools divide each grade level into homogeneous classes…that is, most of the students in each class are at a similar learning level.  The 2nd grade students in the class I was assigned to were so smart and self-motivated …they almost didn’t need a teacher. 

I walked into the room…the children filed in a few at a time…smiling at me…taking their seats.  When everyone was seated, I introduced myself.  From that moment on, the day was an absolute dream.  The children knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing in each subject…and they did it…with very little direction from me.  At the end of the day, I was convinced I was a natural…destined to be the best teacher ever!

When the phone rang the next morning, I answered it with a smile.   “I’ll be right there.”  This time I entered the classroom with confidence.  I had been assigned to a fourth grade…even better, I thought. 

Two boys walked in, pushing each other.  Another was shooting spit balls out of a straw.

And it was all downhill from that moment on. 

At one point, I sent one of the girls to the chalkboard with a basin of water to clean it off…one of the boys grabbed the basin and upended it over her head.  Books were purposely dropped on the floor while another child was reading out loud.  One girl began crying that her pigtails had been pulled by the boy sitting behind her.  No one had done their homework…no one knew what lesson they had been studying.  Very few had their books…and those that did were using them to hit any classmate within reach.

They were out of control…and I felt helpless to control them.

By the end of the day, I was almost In tears…convinced that I had been mistaken about my career choice.

When the phone rang the next morning, I ignored it.  During the night, I had given a lot of thought to my experience.  I decided that the money was not as important as the destruction of my hopes and dreams.  I knew where I belonged…in early childhood classes.  It was what I had prepared myself for and I wanted to be able to look forward to the new school year with eager anticipation. 

I did go on to teach kindergarten and Head Start for many years…and I can honestly say that I LOVED every minute of it…from the lesson plans, to the story readings…from the field trips with two lines of boys and girls holding hands, gazing in awe at the museum exhibit or the animals in the zoo to snack time with milk and cookies. 

I have so many fond memories of my teaching days…and I am thrilled to be able to be back in the classroom again.  My SHOW ME HOW Story-Time Program for the local Pre-K and kindergarten students has enabled me to share the picture book stories and craft projects recommended in my new book.  I was also able to share with the parents who attended the presentation on Thursday the importance of reading to young children, talking with them and participating with them positively. 

If you have young children and need some story suggestions, great eco-friendly craft projects and easy-peasy healthy cooking activities, why not grab a copy. Head on over to my website where we’ve slashed the price to $22.50…that’s 50% of the cover price.  It will be the best gift you could give to yourself and your preschooler.

Just Leave Me Alone…I’m Reading!

Title page of the sixth edition of the novel L...

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I held my mother’s hand as we approached the impressive façade of the eight-story building, my older sister excitedly chattering about the dress she was going to buy to wear at her junior high school graduation.  Located in downtown Brooklyn, Abraham &Strauss was a well-known department store with floors and floors of the finest merchandise. 

Taking the elevator to the eighth floor, we entered a paradise for book lovers!  Wall-to-wall books…and in between…tables and tables of books.  Admonishing me to stay there and find something to read, my mother and sister left for the dress department.

I know you are probably shocked and horrified that any mother would leave a nine-year old girl alone in a department store in New York City.  Looking back on the experience, I’m also surprised that she did…but it was another time…over 50 years ago…and people felt a lot safer, even though perhaps they weren’t.

So I wandered around, happy as a clam (are clams happy?), picking up this book and that book and just reveling in the ecstasy of having so many books at my disposal.  I finally choose LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott, one of my favorites.  I sat down on the floor and proceeded to read the entire book from cover to cover.  When I am engrossed in a book, the world outside of the book ceases to exist for me.  Is it that way for you?  I had no watch…time stood still for me until I finished the last page and closed the book.   And crawled out of my quiet little cubbyhole under one of the tables.

THERE SHE IS!!!!  I saw my mother and sister running towards me.  Several policemen, uniformed store security guards and sales clerks were with them.  Later, my mother explained that after several hours of shopping for my sister’s dress, they returned to the book department, but couldn’t find me (I am very petite and at age nine, I was pretty small…I had found a little cubbyhole under one of the tables).   Store personnel and the police were called in to help search throughout the entire store because they believed I had walked away from the book department.  Walk away from a book department?  It’s obvious they didn’t know the real Vivian!

I’m sure my mother never did that again…but at no time during the experience was I frightened or concerned.  I didn’t think I was lost in the store…I was lost in the world of the book…and I was very happy there.  And, although I wasn’t afraid that day, the fear of getting lost or being separated from a loved one is one of the most common concerns of young children.  Here’s another great children’s picture book that you can read with your child that will help open a discussion about this issue.

DON’T WORRY, I’LL FIND YOU written and illustrated by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Sarah and her mother go to the mall to buy Sarah some new clothes.  The little girl insists on taking her doll, Abigail.  After a long and tiring morning of visiting lots of stores and trying on lots of clothing, Sarah puts Abigail on a chair while she tries on shoes and forgets to take her doll when she and her mother leave the store.  Passing a toy store, Sarah remembers that she has left her doll behind and she hurries back to the shoe store without telling her mother.  Although she finds Abigail right away, she soon realizes that she has lost her mother.  Remembering her mother’s instructions to “stay put”, Sarah goes back to the toy store and waits there.  Meanwhile, Sarah’s mother has been checking all the stores and soon mother and child are reunited.

I’m sure Sarah’s mother was tempted to scold her daughter, not only for walking away on her own, but also for bringing the doll, even though she had been advised by her mother to leave the doll at home.  Instead, she chose to commend her daughter for obeying her instructions to stay where she was in case she got lost.  In the future, Sarah will be more likely to follow other rules she is given and, even though she was frightened, she was able to keep some amount of control in the situation by following her mother’s instructions.

Three great tips to talk about during the discussion with your child after reading the story:

1.     Your child should know his name, address and phone number.  Teach your child your first name also.

2.     If you get separated, STAY PUT!

3.     Seek help from a uniformed person or a woman with children.

Stop by tomorrow for one last “getting separated” picture book suggestion and a couple of fun-filled activities.