Perfect Picture Book Friday: SALAMANDER SKY Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday!

One of the first bloggers I connected with many years ago was already a published author. Her blog, Non-Toxic Kids, was near and dear to my heart. So when I discovered she had a picture book debut earlier this year, I knew I wanted to feature it here. And author Katy has graciously agreed to host a giveaway – she has several books and I’m not sure which one she will send the winner – don’t you love surprises!!!!

salamander sky

SALAMANDER SKY

Written by Katy Farber

Illustrated by Meg Sodano Continue reading

Cover Reveal: DIBS! by Laura Gehl

I’m a big fan of Laura Gehl’s books. And so are lots of kids. Especially One Big Pair of Underwear! So, when I heard that Laura had a brand-new picture book releasing next year, I knew I’d want to spread the word. And guess what? 

I get to do the COVER REVEAL!

Welcome to the world, DIBS! Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY plus Picture Book Manuscript Critique Giveaway Plus Book Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends! I’m continuing on my journey through the fabulous debut picture books of 2018. And today, you are in for a treat.  I think most of you know how much I LOVE non-fiction picture book stories. And here is one that is going to go to the top of the charts!

book cover

THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: The Creations of Diamonds & The Life of H. Tracy Hall

Written by Hannah Holt

Illustrated by Jay Fleck

Published by Balzer & Bray (October 2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Inventors, curiosity, bullying

Opening lines: “A ROCK named graphite. A BOY named Tracy.

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Told in a unique dual-narrative format, The Diamond and the Boy follows the stories of both natural diamond creation and the life of H. Tracy Hall, the inventor of a revolutionary diamond-making machine. Perfect for fans of Rosie Revere, Engineer, and On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein.

Before a diamond is a gem, it’s a common gray rock called graphite. Through an intense trial of heat and pressure, it changes into one of the most valuable stones in the world.

Before Tracy Hall was an inventor, he was a boy—born into poverty, bullied by peers, forced to work at an early age. However, through education and experimentation, he became one of the brightest innovators of the twentieth century, eventually building a revolutionary machine that makes diamonds.

From debut author Hannah Holt—the granddaughter of Tracy Hall—and illustrator Jay Fleck comes this fascinating in-depth portrait of both rock and man.”

Why I like this book:

  • Based on the life of her grandfather, the author had access to fabulous research resources…and it shows. The book has an authenticity that you don’t often find, even in nonfiction.
  • I love that there are so many layers in this story…the life of the diamond, the life of H. Tracy Hall, bullying, staying true to who you are, following your dream.F
  • The talented Jay Fleck brings the story to life with vivid colors and fabulous illustrations.

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Diamond Shaped Craft for Kids

diamond-shape-activity-for-preschool-childrencourtesy: http://cleverlearner.com/shapes/diamond-shape-activity.html

For detailed instructions and other crafts: http://cleverlearner.com/shapes/diamond-shape-activity.html

Diamond facts for kids: http://www.scienceforkidsclub.com/diamond.html

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a picture book manuscript critique from Hannah Holt. It will be a priceless gift to one lucky winner!

PLUS…I’m adding another giveaway…a brand new copy of THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY. Here’s the back story: I ordered a copy from Amazon months and months ago. And then, for some reason, I forgot (life has been a bit busy and distracting for me this year)…and so I ordered one from my local indie bookstore. And I picked that one up  a few weeks ago…and then the other day, I got a message from Amazon saying my book order would arrive on Thursday. So, now I have two copies and I want to share the joy! I’ll choose one winner for the critique and a different winner for the book. Make sure you comment on today’s post and tomorrow’s and Tuesday’s Book Birthday post. That way you will have three chances. 

And I want to thank everyone who shared and/or commented on my Facebook post about the new cover and corrected launch date for Sweet Dreams, Sarah…I’m getting really excited about 2019…I’ve received the hard copy of Pippa’s Passover Plate and I can’t wait to share the cover of Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book…I think it will be ready to reveal in the next month or so!

For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Enjoy your weekend, dear friends! The autumn leaf colors are deepening. If you are driving or traveling, please be safe.

 

Happy Book Birthday to THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY plus PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! 

I’m definitely singing at the top of my lungs because THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall launches today! And this is the debut picture book of one of my critique buddies from the VERY FIRST CRITIQUE GROUP I EVER JOINED! (and we are all still going strong!) I saw this story as a rough draft and watched as it grew more and more polished…until it became a shining gem of a book.

CONGRATULATIONS, dear Hannah Holt!

book cover

Make sure you come back on Friday for a Perfect Picture Book Friday review and craft ideas for kids. PLUS, on Saturday, Hannah will be stopping by to chat and share some of her writing journey with us. And don’t forget to leave a comment here and on the other THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY posts…BECAUSE…Hannah has graciously and generously agreed to give away a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE…and I can tell you from many years experience, this talented author knows how to give unbelievable feedback!

Meanwhile, what can you do? Well, you can head over to pick up a copy of her book on Amazon or at your local indie bookstore. You can write a review on Amazon or Goodreads or some other book review sites. You can go to your library and ask them to purchase a copy or two for their collection, if it isn’t already available there. And you can share this post on your social media channels so the whole world will find out about this fabulous book. It’s going to be such a great #STEM addition to every elementary school and library. And if your kiddos are curious, inventive, lovers of anything science, or have ever been bullied, you definitely want to read this with them.

CONGRATULATIONS, Hannah! This is the first of many more book birthdays to come for you!!!!

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: 100 BUGS: A COUNTING BOOK Plus Giveaway

Hello dear friends! Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday to you all!

Summer is here in New England with hot temps, iced tea, and…

LOTS OF BUGS!

And today’s book is the perfect one for a very buggy day. 

Thanks to the generosity of debut picture book author, Kate Narita, if you leave a comment on this post, you will be entered into the giveaway of a copy of 100 BUGS: A COUNTING BOOK. And, if you don’t win the copy, please consider buying one, asking your library to add one to their collection, telling a friend about it, and leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any of the book review sites. This is the best gift you can give to authors who write the books you love to read!

100 Bugs a counting book

100 BUGS: A COUNTING BOOK

Written by Kate Narita

Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 2018)

Ages: 5-7

Themes: Counting to 100, bugs

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

How many bugs can you count? From walking sticks to spittlebugs, dragonflies to katydids, discovering 10 bugs at a time, you just might see 100 bugs!

Little explorers will learn 10 different ways to count to 10, using 10 different kinds of bugs, and get all the way to 100 by the end of their adventure. With Suzanne Kaufman’s bright, whimsical illustrations and Kate Narita’s clever rhyming text, 100 Bugs! is part look-and-find, part learning experience, and all kinds of fun.

Why I like this book:

  • Bugs, bugs, and more bugs – a topic most kids LOVE to learn about
  • Fabulous illustrations
  • Clever rhymes and super interactivity to engage the kiddos

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  • First off…take a walk and find bugs! 
  • Make a list or chart of all the bugs – place them in different categories like flying, crawling, creeping.
  • Create one of these crafts

16-Creative-Ways-to-Make-Bug-Crafts-with-Kids_A-Little-Pinch-of-Perfect-6-copyPhoto courtesy: https://alittlepinchofperfect.com/creative-bug-crafts-with-kids/

Visit: https://alittlepinchofperfect.com/creative-bug-crafts-with-kids/  for detailed instructions on any of these fun crafts.

Thank you for spending your precious time here…please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the book giveaway. And have a safe and happy weekend!

 

 

Michelle Cusolito: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

 

headshot

Photo credit: Alison Noyce

MICHELLE CUSOLITO

A few years ago, I attended a writer’s retreat and got to meet our Will Write for Cookies guest. I was so impressed with her rapier-sharp focus and spot-on organization for the research she was doing for what sounded like a fabulous nonfiction picture book story. Fast forward to today and…TA-DA. Her debut picture book, FLYING DEEP, launches this week! 

flying deep cover

Michelle Cusolito has been exploring natural places since she was a child growing up on a farm in Southeastern, Massachusetts. She has lived in the Philippines, where she first observed colorful fish in their native environment, and in Ireland, where she and her family hiked “The Burren,” an otherworldly landscape made of limestone. She has trekked to places such as Machu Picchu in Peru and the Sahara Desert in Morocco. She hopes readers will be inspired to explore their worlds. Visit her at michellecusolito.com or follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.

I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Book Help Kids Soar, Michelle! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by to chat. And I know how busy you are with the book launch, so let’s get to the questions right away.

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

MICHELLE: Like many people my age, I loved Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I was also a big fan of the Paddington Bear books. I still have my original boxed set of novels. When I was in 4th grade, I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Clay, who had a huge impact on my life. Two things that really stand out: she told me I would be a great teacher and she gave me the book Zeely by Virginia Hamilton as a gift. I did go on to be a 4th grade teacher, just like her, and Zeely broadened my reading preferences. Zeely was one of many seeds planted in my lifetime that lead me read as widely as I do.

graphics-Cusolito_Strickrott-_DSC7129Photo credit:  Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Michelle with Bruce Strickrott in front of Alvin. He’s an Alvin pilot and the manager of the Alvin Group. That’s some Styrofoam cups before he took down on the outside Alvin last week. The cups shrink, which helps show how much pressure there is down on the seafloor.

shrunken cups

And this is what the cups look like AFTER they’ve taken a deep sea trip in the Alvin. Illustrator Nicole drew the dumbo octopus on the cups and author Michelle colored them in.

 

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

MICHELLE: More often than not, my first drafts are completed at home: in my office, in the screened porch, or sitting on my living room sofa. I need to move around a lot, so I work in different places. When I’m creating something new- say a first draft- I’m usually somewhere comfortable like my sofa or porch. I nearly always write long-hand (Flying Deep is the exception) and my preferred pen is the Pilot P-700, fine point. I love this pen because it’s “fast.” The ink flow keeps up with my hand moving across the page. My best, most creative writing happens when I’m writing longhand. I feel like I’m more connected to my creative brain. It’s usually a big ol’ mess, but as long as I can read it back to myself, that’s good enough. Later, I either type it up or dictate it to Dragon software.

In a real departure from how I normally work, the first draft of Flying Deep was completed while I was out on a walk. I had forgotten my notebook, so I typed it into “notes” on my phone. I had been mulling the topic around for a while, but I hadn’t done any research yet, so I hadn’t planned to write anything. But the first sentence arrived suddenly when I was walking so I had to capture it. Before I knew it, I had written a full first draft. (Note: it was riddled with mistakes because I had not done any research, but I had found the basic structure).

About once a week, I work on revisions in a local coffee shop (I don’t usually write new stuff at the café). I find the change of scenery helps and it pulls me away from the “to do” list at home. As long as there’s a hum of people around me talking or working, I tend to be productive,  sometimes even far more so than if I were at home.  (If it’s quiet and there’s one loud talker, however, I can’t work).

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

MICHELLE: I don’t have a specific writing schedule, but I tend to do my creative writing in the morning when I’m fresher. Like many people, I have a real dip in energy and focus in the afternoon, so that’s when I tend to do administrative kinds of tasks like replying to email, tweeting, or updating my website.

There are exceptions to this rule: The first draft of the manuscript I have out on submission right now was written late at night after I got off a video call with my agent, Jill Corcoran. (I was living in Dublin, Ireland at the time and she is in California, so we were navigating an 8-hour time difference). I had spent 2 years researching the subject for a picture book biography and I could not make the manuscript work. (I had many failed drafts).  Jill and I talked it through. That call freed me up. As soon as I hung up, I sat on my bed and wrote the sloppiest first draft out long-hand on copy paper (yep…using my Pilot pen). I was able to write that first draft completely out of my head.  I knew my subject so well that I didn’t need to look at my research. That had been my problem… too much staring at the research. I simply needed focus on telling the story. 

inside AlvinThis is Michelle, inside the Alvin.

ME: Why do you write for children?

MICHELLE: I write for children because I want to share the wonder of the world with them.

Well, first of all, thank you so very much, Michelle, for sharing so much of your journey with us. And second of all…I’m buying a stack of those Pilot pens right away!!!

I know we all wish Michelle the biggest success with FLYING DEEP…and I can’t wait to see the next books she writes! And I hope you will all go and buy her book, write a review, ask your library to purchase it for their collection, and tell all your friends about it!

Somehow, with all of her busyness getting ready for her book launch, Michelle also managed to share one of her favorite cookie recipes. And I do LOVE ginger!

 

MICHELLE: My daughter and I like to bake these cookies together. This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

Ingredients

1 cup sugar plus ¼ to ½ for rolling (see step 3)

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1 cup blackstrap molasses (dark molasses)

2 eggs

4 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsps. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

Directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together the sugar and butter. Add the molasses and eggs. Mix well.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients and mix them in.
  4. Put ¼ to ½ cup of sugar into a small bowl.
  5. Make small balls of cookie dough, about the size of a walnut. Roll them in the sugar and place them on a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. (NOTE: We’ve found that refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes to an hour before this step is helpful. Once the first batch goes in the oven, we stick it back in the fridge while they cook).
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

I definitely  will be trying these! How about you?

Thank you, dear friends, for spending your precious time here. I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend.

I also wanted to thank everyone who reached out with comforting words, flowers, cards, fruit, nuts, and best of all, shoulders to lean on and ears to listen with.  I’ve been busy going through Stuart’s stuff…he held so many things in high esteem…painting, calligraphy, bamboo fishing rods. antique fountain pens…and my writing. I’m overjoyed and exceedingly grateful for the Highlights Foundation Scholarship Fund that Maria Marshall and Sherri Jones Rivers spearheaded in his memory. As a published author himself, it is exactly the kind of tribute he would have loved!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: FLYING DEEP

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!

Before we get to the review of today’s picture book, thanks to our generous authors and their publishers, we have some giveaways to announce. 

The winner of A Campfire Tail by Sarah Glenn Marsh is…

SHERRY HOWARD!

The winner of SELFIE SEBASTIAN by Sarah Glenn Marsh is…

BECKY SCHARHORST!

And the winner of THE MANIC PANIC by Richa Jha is…

JOANNE SHER!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL…I will connect with you all so we can ship out your books!

Thank you, dear readers, for spending your precious time here on my blog. I truly appreciate it and I know our wonderful authors and illustrators love reading the wonderful comments you leave. And the best way to thank these wonderful authors is to buy their books, review their books, and tell other people  about their books!

Speaking of wonderful authors (what’s that you say…I am using the word ‘wonderful’ too many time?) – I met the author of today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday at a conference a couple of years ago. She was already deep into her research for this story and maybe, when she stops by for Will Write for Cookies tomorrow, we will learn more about that.

flying deep cover

FLYING DEEP: CLIMB INSIDE DEEP-SEA SUBMERSIBLE ALVIN

Written by Michelle Cusolito

Illustrated by Nicole Wong

Published by: Charlesbridge (2018)

Ages: 5-9

Themes: Underwater exploration, Submersible Alvin

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Climb aboard Alvin, the famous deep-sea submersible credited with helping to find the Titanic, and take a trip two miles down to the bottom of the ocean.

Experience a day in the life of an Alvin pilot and join scientists at the seafloor to collect samples and conduct research. Along the way, discover what one wears, eats, and talks about during a typical eight-hour trip in a underwater craft and find out more about the animals that live deep in our oceans. Extensive back matter explains how Alvin works, describes the author’s research, and includes a glossary and further reading.

“An appealing, exhilarating, and informative vicarious journey of discovery” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Why I like this book:

  • Fabulous information written in a very accessible and engaging manner.
  • Super fun illustrations
  • And if you are in the neighborhood of the Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth, Massachusetts, you can join in the launch party: https://www.facebook.com/events/209296316324369/

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

15-Ocean-Crafts-for-Kids-1Photo courtesy: https://iheartcraftythings.com

For details on any of these fun underwater themed crafts, please click on this link: https://iheartcraftythings.com/15-ocean-kids-crafts.html

If you are looking for more picture book reviews, head on over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Do you have plans for this weekend? I’ve promised my daughter that I’ll help her plant tomatoes.  I also need to get herbs and vegetable plants for my own garden. I love the smell of sun-warmed soil. And there is something very healing about planting things that blossom with life.