Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Color Machine

December is here, my dear friends.  I’ve always looked forward to this time of year – the joy of holiday celebrations –  the quiet moments of reflection as I think back on what I’ve done and look ahead to what I still want to accomplish.

But it’s been a very difficult year for our country. And there is trouble in so many parts of the world. Perhaps it was meant to be that I discovered today’s Perfect Picture Book when I connected with the author’s wife. The message is one of inclusivity and love.

cover

THE COLOR MACHINE

Written and illustrated by A.H. Taylor

Publisher: A.H. Taylor (2016)

Ages: 4-8

Themes:

Inclusivity, working together

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

The town of Colormazoo has been turned inside out, everywhere you look there’s a scream and a shout. The Color Machine has broken down and the townspeople march to the Mayor.

inside-page

Opening Lines:

“In the town of Colormazoo

where color is very important,

shouts of riot and rumpus grew

when the Color Machine was broken.

 

Why I like this book:

  • If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat, as I am, you will love this book.
  • The text is rhythmical and often rhyming…simple enough for a young child to follow along.
  • The illustrations are unique…bold yet simple line drawings.
  • I absolutely love the message – perhaps the answer to the world’s problems is for someone to break the world’s color machine – it certainly worked in the town of Colormazoo.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Most kids love to listen to a story. But we can extend the learning by discussing and asking questions or participating in follow up activities. You and your child can:

  1. Draw a picture of a favorite character or scene from the story. Mount it on cardboard and cut into pieces to make a puzzle.
  2. Make a list of special words from the book. Older children can construct a word find puzzle.
  3. Think of a different ending.
  4. The author has made a free Kindle edition available for a limited time: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01N0K2R4Y/

 

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’ll be working on my entry for Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest. If you are interested in joining in the fun, click here,

A week from Saturday, we’ll be having a special Will Write for Cookies post spotlighting author Jessica Lawson.

And the week after that, hold on to your hats for the interview with Duncan Tonatiuh and a GIVEAWAY.

And the week after that…will be Christmas Eve and my son and his family will be here from Chicago! There will be lots of cooking and baking and smiling, for sure.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bat Count

What a special time of year! For me, Thanksgiving is for bringing people closer together…and we all need that, right? I hope you had a beautiful day yesterday, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.

Working together is an important skill…we’ve seen lately what can happen when people don’t come together. What impresses me the most about this kid lit community is that many groups are formed to enable people to work towards a common goal. One of the new groups I am now part of is Picture The Books 2017…a group of authors and illustrators whose debut picture books are coming out next year. And one of those books is my Perfect Picture Book Friday selection for today.

But oh my goodness…as happens very often, first we need to make an important announcement.

viv-and-sophie-standing-by-tree-2015

The lovely Susanna Hill has announced her famous Holiday Writing Contest. The rules are simple…a holiday story for children (ages 12 and under) that is 300 words or less. I’ll be participating again this year…will you? Joining in Susanna’s writing contests is a great way for writers to get their work out there and submit to a positive and loving audience. For all the details, please click here. And don’t forget, there are always GREAT PRIZES!

And now, thank you for your patience…it’s time for our #PPBF review.

bat-count-by-anna-forrester

BAT COUNT

Written by Anna Forrester

Illustrated by Susan Detwiler

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Family life, diversity, bats, animal conservation

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm.

Opening Lines:

“The sun is dropping behind the ridge and the red-winged blackbirds have quit their squalling, so I know it’s almost time.”

Why I like this book:

  • If you read the opening line above, you already know one reason why I love this book…the language is so lyrical…the author did a wonderful job of picking just the right words.
  • This is a beautiful family story on two levels…the little girl’s family who track and count the bats…and the bat family that they hope will be there.
  • Much of the story takes place at dusk…the illustrator was able to capture that low light, yet still give the reader wonderful pictures showing true emotion in the faces of the people.
  • I take my hat off to Arbordale Publishing…many of the pages are dark (see above), but they made sure to put easy to read white print in a large enough font that children will be comfortable reading. I can’t tell you how many picture books I am unable to read to my grandson because the contrast between the text and the background of the page is nonexistent…dark gray letters on dark blue background, for instance.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  1. The back matter is excellent…four pages of learning activities
  2. More free activities at: ArbordalePublishing.com
  3. Find out if there are any animal count activities going on in your community and participate with your child.
  4. The book is a fabulous resource for elementary schools plus a wonderful story for every family. It launches in Feburary 2017 and is available on Amazon for preorder.

 

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. It will be December when I see you next.

December is going to be an exciting month…we have TWO Will Write for Cookies interviews AND giveaways. The first is with Jessica Lawson…and the second is with Duncan Tonatiuh. WOW!

And don’t forget Susanna’s Holiday Writing Contest.

To help start the year off, I’m participating in a Happiness Challenge for December: www.truly-julie.com/happiness-challenge

And I’ll also be making a list of the stories I think I’d like to write in 2017…for some I’ll just have a title…for others, just a topic. I’ve done this for the last few years and it really helps me focus and be more productive when I know beforehand what I’d like to be writing/researching about. I learned this from Kristen Fulton in her Nonfiction Archaeology class…but it works even if you write fiction.

In addition, I have work to do for the editor of Sweet Dreams, Sarah…I need to make a list of bloggers who will review my debut picture book or post an interview or Q&A...plus shout out on Twitter, Facebook and other social media when the book launches in the spring. It’s going to be a very busy time if the launch is on schedule because I’ll have just finished the #50PreciousWords Challenge. By the way, some of you have already volunteered to do a post in the book blog tour...please PM or email me if you’d like to be involved. And ditto for the #50PreciousWords Challenge…if you’d like to donate something (kidlit book, class, critique, art, etc), please let me know. My wonderful agent, Essie White, has already offered to do another critique as a prize…and if any of you remember, the 1st place winner chose that and is now one of Essie’s clients. I know it is not until March, but time has a way of sneaking up on us.

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

 

 

 

Artie Bennett: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Tree and me

ARTIE BENNETT

Don’t you love to be around happy people? And when they are funny, it is just that much better, right? That’s why I’m dancing for joy that Artie is my guest today! From the first time I connected with him and reviewed one of his picture books, I knew this guy was a keeper. He’s super sweet and smart…and his books are laugh-out-loud hilarious!

He is the author of several picture books, each one loved by parents and children alike. And his website ‘about’ page will have you rolling on the floor. I’ve read every one of his books and have reviewed several of them…they are among my grandson’s favorites.

I promise you are all in for a treat with this interview…so buckle up, you are in for a wild ride!!!

Welcome, Artie! It is a pleasure having you here. I’ll get right down to the questions.

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Angelina’s Christmas – Reaching Out to Help Others

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s time for a Perfect Picture Book review and craft activity. If you head over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog today, you won’t find her usual picture book link up because the 4th Annual Holiday Contest is underway…check out the scores of incredible original stories – you are in for a treat!

Today’s picture book is especially perfect for this time of year. And I’m really excited because the author, Katharine Holabird, is going to be my Will Write for Cookies guest tomorrow.

index

ANGELINA’S CHRISTMAS

Written by Katharine Holabird

Illustrated by Helen Craig

Publisher: American Girl (2002 – hardcover) Puffin (2008 – paperback)

Ages: 3-5+

Themes: Christmas, friendship, helping others

 

Opening Lines:

“Christmas was coming and everyone at Angelina’s school was working hard to prepare for the Christmas show. Angelina and the other children stayed after their lessons to rehearse and help decorate the hall.”

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

“When Angelina Ballerina sees the postman, old Mr. Bell, all alone at Christmastime, she decides to bring him some holiday cheer. Cousin Henry doesn’t want to help until he finds that there’s a real Santa Claus living in their town!” Continue reading

Top ALA Picture Books Make Great Holiday Gifts for Kids

The gift-giving holidays are almost here. The stores, online catalogs and media are all trying to get you to spend your money – but what does a young child really need or want?

jeremy checking out his new easel

If you want to know the truth – not much! Paper and crayons or markers, some clay or play dough, safety scissors, glue, picture books – and you, of course!

On Friday, I usually review a picture book, but this is a great time of year to check out some of the top picture books of 2014 (all are on the American Library Association’s Notable Books list)…you might want to pick up a couple to put under the tree. I reviewed two of them this year – if you click the links, you’ll also find the craft activity instructions that accompanied each post.

A Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Ball written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan

Bully written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Exclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild written and illustrated by Peter Brown

Nino Wrestles the World written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales Continue reading

Are You Taking Santa’s Advice? Time Management Tip #1

Jeremy with santa

It’s the end of the year. So much to do and so little time to do it.

In the oft-heard jingle, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’, Santa is MAKING A LIST and CHECKING IT TWICE.

One of the most important time-management tools is a list. Every day. Of what you need to accomplish.

Without the list, you will probably waste a lot of TIME, trying to remember what needs to be done.

Without the list, you will surely get distracted by other tasks.

There are several types of lists you can use:

  1. Daily to-do
  2. Long-term projects
  3. Yearly or life-time goals

On my daily to-do list, I put an asterisk next to the items that are MOST IMPORTANT and I try to do these first. I also have a small section of the daily to-do list that itemizes what I need at the store…this part of the list can carry over to the next day. I try to go shopping only once or twice a week. That saves time and money!

jeremy in front of tree

What’s on my to-do list today?

  • Finish reading the entries to Susanna Leonard’s Holiday Writing Contest (over 100 submissions (you can read my entry here) – don’t forget to come back on Monday for the link to VOTE for the winner!crashing sleigh
  • Read Marcie Atkins post, We’re All In This Together (WAITT) – I’ve been participating in her blog feature this year and today’s post is a wrap-up of our 2013 accomplishments.
  • Send out Christmas cards and mail out a couple of copies of Show Me How…ON SALE for $24.99 on AMAZON.
  • Work on revising the manuscript I just got back from author and life coach Alayne Christian. I won a professional in-depth critique from her because of my participation in Sub Six and I know that with the suggestions she has made, this will be a powerful story to resubmit to a publishing house that was interested in it. I also gave it to both of my critique groups and will incorporate their feedback as well.
  • Straighten up the house – we had company yesterday – our son from Chicago had to be in Boston for business and come to spend the day – he got to play with his nephew, 5-year old Jeremy.Jeremy and Uncle Peter -bedtime story

What’s on your list today?