A PW Announcement and a Peek at the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge

 GUESS WHAT???

My next picture book has just been announced in Publisher’s Weekly!

PW announcement screen shot

FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK started out as a PiBoIdMo idea in 2012. Thank you, Tara Lazar! The next year, I wrote it as a 12×12 draft. Thank you, Julie Hedlund! I revised it many many times. Thank you, critique buddies! And sent it for feedback and it got a ‘1’. Thank you, Rate Your Story. And this past year, the manuscript went out on submission. And my agent paired it with Mirka’s amazing illustrations because she just knew that Mirka’s art and my text were a match made in heaven. Thank you, Essie White!

I’m truly enjoying the collaboration of the entire team…editor, illustrator, and me, the author. I know that many times, authors and illustrators are kept apart…but Mirka and I have helped each other–we have each other’s back. Let me share what happened.

I had researched each animal before I wrote the book. I wanted animals local to an area in Colorado where I flyfished many times with my husband. And I chose animals that were endangered or threatened because I know that it’s important for young children to develop an awareness of our fragile environment and how each of us can make a difference.

But when Mirka began illustrating…as every good illustrator should…she did her own research. And messaged me one night…the Golden Cheeked Warbler doesn’t live in Colorado!!!!

Sure it does, I told her. It lives in Colorado Bend State Park! 

So she sent me a link to Colorado Bend State Park…and, after reading more carefully, I discovered that Colorado Bend State Park is in…

…TEXAS! And the Golden Cheeked Warbler is ONLY found there. Oops!

We researched some more and picked another wonderful bird…the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. And I can’t thank Mirka enough for her careful attention to detail. That is why making a beautiful book is really a collaborative effort between author, illustrator, and editorial team.

Mirka has been amazing…sharing the illustrations with me–I love them all! And she agreed to let me share an illustration she made for Valentine’s Day that has a few of the animals that appear in our book…the otter, the turtle, and the fish…oh yes, and the butterfly.

Lovely pic and quote from Mirka

 

The quote is by Gregory Brown…perfect for us to keep close to our hearts as we travel through this somewhat crazy, often tragic world where we are trying to spread hope and love with our writing.

SPEAKING ABOUT WRITING…are you ready for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge? I hope so!

logo

 

 

 I wanted to give everyone a heads-up for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge that is just around the corner. I want to make sure everyone has plenty of time.

green-eggs-and-ham

March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. For the last two years, I’ve hosted a little contest based on Bennet Cerf’s challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

In 2016, I thought it would be fun to try to write a story for kids with ONLY 50 words. With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. And then I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And last year, there were 253 entries.

Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. On March 2nd, I’ll post the opening of the contest and you will have until March 6th at 11:59pm to post your story. Here are the guidelines:

#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CHALLENGE GUIDELINES

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count of the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. On March 2nd, I will put up the contest post and you will need to post your story in the comment section of that post. If you have your own blog and want to post your story there also, please do. And let us know your post link.  I ask for the link so that people will visit each other and find new friends in the kid lit community. Please make sure you put your name in the postIf you have any trouble at all posting the story, please email me and I will be happy to do it for you: viviankirkfield@gmail.com.
  6. Deadline for posting the story in the comments is Tuesday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
  7. Winners will be announced in a special blog post on Sunday, March 11.
  8. Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too!

I’m still putting together the prizes (hint,hint, hint…if anyone would like to donate a prize, please email or PM me. But here are a few so far: 

  • A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of the first year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency and THAT story, plus a sequel to it, will be published next year!

essie

  • Your choice of ONE of the following from author, mentor, and founder of Sub Six FB group, Alayne Kay Christian: Picture Book critique or Chapter book critique (first three chapters), or Complimentary Art of Arc course.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Lori Degman.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Melissa Stoller.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Amber Hendricks.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Katey Howes.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Julie Abery.
  • Signed copy of OFFICER KATZ AND HOUNDINI from author Maria Gianferrari
  • A piece of original signed art and a copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus a silver seal necklace from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.
  • Rest & Relaxation package with two picture books and a surprise from author Maria Marshall.
  • A signed copy of CAT IN THE CITY from author/illustrator Jill Weber.
  • $15 credit in her TeachersPayTeachers store from Barbara Leyne (GradeOnederful)

And there will be more!

So dear friends, many good and hopeful things going on amidst the sad happenings. Our prayers are with the families who have been impacted by this latest tragedy. Many ask what we can say to our children. I think what is most important is for us to reassure our children that we love them and that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe.

Please do stop by tomorrow for our Q&A Will Write for Cookies chat with author and circus guru Jackie Leigh Davis, a yummy cookie recipe, AND a giveaway!

 

 

#50 Precious Words Writing Challenge is Almost Here

.

Are you ready for a whole lot of fun?

As many of you know, I’m a BIG fan of writing contests and challenges.  I love them because

  1. they encourage writers to write
  2. they push us to submit our work
  3. they engage us in the kid lit community and provide us with positive feedback and inspiration.

 

dr-seuss-stamp

March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Last year I put together a little contest based on Random House founder Bennet Cerf’s 1960 challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

green-eggs-and-ham

My challenge is a bit different…yout MAX WORD COUNT for the entire story is 50.

If you are currently writing picture books…or just reading them, you’ll notice that the average word length for many is getting shorter and shorter. So I thought, wouldn’t that be a great challenge…to write a story for kids with only 50 words? With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And now it’s time to DO IT AGAIN.

Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. You have a couple of weeks until you need to post your story. Here are the guidelines:

#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CONTEST

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. The contest officially opens on Thursday, March 2nd, in a special post on my blog.
  6. Between March 2nd and March 6th, post your story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post OR post the entire story in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post. Last year, because the stories were so short, eventually, we had all of them in the comment thread. Please make sure you put your name in the post.
  7. Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Monday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
  8. Winners will be announced Thursday, March 9.
  9. Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too! The book prizes are limited to USA addresses, please.
    1. A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of last year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency!) essie

2. A seat in author Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing Making Picture Book Magic online writing class (the first writing class I ever took and it set me on the path of writing wonderful picture book manuscripts).

mpbm3. A seat in author Kristen Fulton’s incredible Nonfiction Archaeology online writing class (that was the class that opened the door for me to discover the joy of writing nonfiction picture books).

kristen

4. This next prize can be chosen by two people…there are TWO 50% off coupons for Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).

art_of_arc_v35. OR…if you have already taken Alayne’s awesome class, you can choose 50% off an in-depth critique from her (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).

6. A seat in one of the KidLitCollege webinars (I’ve attended a few and they are FABULOUS!) OR $19.99 off a critique, donated by Jodell Sadler, JCLA Editorial Agent and Founder of KidLitCollege. Winner choses one and will get a special code.

kidlitcollege

7. A manuscript or query letter critique from author Rebecca Colby.

rebecca-colby

8. A picture book critique from author Lori Degman

headshot

9. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.

anna-forrester

10. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein

ariel-bernstein

11. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova

this-headshot

 

12. A book on the craft of writing from author Rosie Pova

13. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from author Annie Silvestro:

book-cover

14. A book on the craft of writing from author Maria Marshall

maria-marshall

15. A copy of Hello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.

tiger

16. A copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus an adorable SEAL NECKLACE from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.

lizzie-and-lou-seal-cover

17. A copy of CLAMS ALL YEAR by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.

clams-all-year

18. A SUPER HAPPY book prize package from author Marcie Colleen with copies of Super Happy Party Bears Gnawing Around and Super Happy Party Bears Knock Knock on Wood.

marcie-and-books-1-and-2

19. A copy of Mutt’s Promise,  a middle grade dog adventure written by Julie Salomen…donated by illustrator Jill Weber.

mutts-promise-cover

20. A picture book critique from me and a copy of my parent-teacher book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

stackofbooks

I am exceedingly grateful to all of these kid lit pros who generously donated prizes…to find out more about these wonderful people, please click on each link above to visit their websites…follow them on social media..and buy their books!!!!

Please help spread the word and share this around your social media…the more the merrier… #50PreciousWords.

Are you excited?

I am!

And I just can’t wait to read all of your precious words.

P.S. Don’t forget…this is NOT the post you will be using for the contest entries…that post will go live on March 2nd.

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: I DISSENT: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark

OCTOBER is National Bully Prevention Month. Next week is International Day of the Girl Child. And today is Bald and Free Day. (For a detailed list of EVERY wacky and not-so-wacky special day in October, click here.

 Bald and Free Day might not apply to all of us, but the first two definitely need to be uppermost in our minds, as parents, educators, and writers. And today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection is a Mighty Girl book that addresses both. For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

i-dissent-ruth-bader-ginsberg

I DISSENT: RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK

Written by Debbie Levy

Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

Publisher: Simon and Schuster (2016)

Ages: 4-8

Themes:

Gender discrimination, women’s rights, self-worth

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable!

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

Opening Lines:

“You could say that Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s life was one disagreement after another.”

 

Why I like this book:

  • A mighty girl book about a woman who refused to accept the role that society handed her – and she used her dissent and disagreement in a constructive way.
  • I love that the story begins when she is a child…and we see how supportive her mother was and how growing up surrounded by books was such a positive influence on her life.
  • Fabulous text…language is so powerful…and lots of action.
  • Incredible illustrations…and I love how the words of ‘dissention’ are set apart and bolded.

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.

Here are some other ideas: http://www.kumon.com/resources/20-things-to-do-before-and-after-you-read-to-your-children/

 

 

 

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.

Monday is Columbus Day…and my grandson’s 8th birthday…I bought him a pile of…you guessed it…chapter books…went to our local indie bookstore and lost myself there for a couple of hours. I was going to take a photo of all of the books, but I had to leave them there until Monday…they are having a 25% off sale for educators and retired educators. I love our local bookstore…I walked in and the manager said,”Oh, do you have another book coming out?” Indie bookstores support the community and local authors…let’s keep them strong and vibrant.

For Jeremy’s birthday, are going to an indoor skydiving facility…this grandma is just going to watch…I did the actual skydive a few years ago…it was so much fun…but once was definitely enough: Click here if you’d like to see this daredevil jump out of a perfectly good airplane. (if you do go to the link, there should be a space for my email: viviankirkfield@gmail.com and my zip code: 03031…at least that’s what it asks me. http://www.lifepursuitvideo.com/asppublic/Video60520.aspx?VF=46836#.V_gdOOArKCz

Thank you so much for stopping by…I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

PPBF: Separate Is Never Equal

Can you believe this is the LAST DAY OF SEPTEMBER?

A couple of weeks ago, I promised that at the end of the month, I would give away a copy of my parent-teacher book book pic from wordpress blogin celebration of National Library Card Sign Up Month. Thank you to all who commented on that post. And the winner is

JEN BAGAN

Congratulations, Jen…I will be in touch to get your mailing address.

For me, September always meant the start of a new school year…as a kid, I always loved the first day. My sister and I each got a new outfit and a shiny new pair of shoes. And I looked forward to seeing my friends after the long summer.

But even though the main character of today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick has a shiny new pair of shoes, her first day of school is not going well.

61dudfausl

SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (2014)

Ages: 6-9

Themes:

Discrimination, desegregation, bullying

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

Opening Lines:

“Sylvia had on her black shoes. They were shiny new.”

Why I like this book:

  • One of my favorite nonfiction picture books of 2014, this story is written and illustrated by the amazing Duncan Tonatiuh who is going to be our December Will Write for Cookies guest!!! And I’ll be reviewing his NEWEST book that month, The Princess and the Warrior. PLUS…there will be a giveaway of one of Duncan’s books!
  • Powerful text combines perfectly with bold distinctive illustrations.
  • Wonderful springboard for discussions on discrimination, segregation, and equality…and also bullying.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  1. Interview and read aloud with Duncan Tonituah: https://youtu.be/n7-kzJVcOUw
  2. A teacher’s guide – grades 1-5: https://laii.unm.edu/outreach/common/educators-guides/2015-Americas-Award.pdf
  3. Book trailer: https://youtu.be/KlyGKQdPePQ

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

 

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on here name and find an archived page of over 1000 picture book posts with activities. Click here for this week’s new reviews.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Joan Leotta: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

head-shot

JOAN LEOTTA

One of the best things about this writing journey is that I get to meet so many incredible travelers. But no matter what genres they write, they want to share their words with the world.

Joan Leotta has been playing with words since her own childhood. She is a journalist, playwright, short story writer, poet, and author of several mysteries and romances. She has seven books in print at the present time. Simply a Smile is a book of short stories, each inspired by an object. She often uses this book to teach short story writing to middle and high school students. Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for an announcement!

Marissa Moss of Creston Books has bought Vivian Kirkfield‘s debut picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah, the story of Sarah E. Goode, the first African-American woman to own a U.S. patent; Chris Ewald will illustrate. The story showcases not only the invention but the spirit and determination of the inventor herself. Publication is set for spring 2017; Essie White of Storm Literary Agency represented the author and Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency represented the illustrator in the deal for world rights.

As you can imagine, I am over the moon about this. Sweet Dreams, Sarah will one day sit on library shelves and be heard by young kids. Now that is a sweet dream come true!

Nonfiction picture books are fun for me to write…I love researching and finding little gems of history that time has forgotten. And they are fun for me to read, for myself and with kids. Here’s today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection:

miss moore thought otherwise

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise:

How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children

Written by Jan Pinborough

Illustrated by Debby Atwell

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2013)

Age: 6-9

Themes: Mighty girls, libraries, following your dream

First lines:

“Once in a big house in Limerick, Maine, there lived a little girl names Annie Carroll Moore. She had large gray eyes, seven older brothers, and ideas of her own.”

Synopsis:

From Amazon: “Once upon a time, American children couldn’t borrow library books. Reading wasn’t all that important for children, many thought. Luckily Miss Anne Carroll Moore thought otherwise! This is the true story of how Miss Moore created the first children’s room at the New York Public Library, a bright, warm room filled with artwork, window seats, and most important of all, borrowing privileges to the world’s best children’s books in many different languages.”

Why I love this book:

  • First of all, I love libraries and have used them since I was a little girl. I was fascinated to find out that children were not allowed in libraries originally. And it was Miss Moore who campaigned for them to be able to take books out when they finally were admitted.
  • This is a gentle story…a beautiful read aloud. It shows how a person can follow their dream and get things done.
  • The illustrations are detailed, colorful, and perfect.

How parents can use this book:

  • Wonderful story to enjoy with your children -lots of history woven into the pages.
  • If your child doesn’t have a library card yet, PLEASE help them get one…libraries are one of the last and best free resources we have.
  • Check out the various programs that are available at your local library…there are often story hours, activity programs, and even presentations and classes for aduts.

Related Activities

  • Visit your local library
  • Make a reading goal chart and let your child earn stickers for every book he reads. Plan activities, like a craft or cooking project, around the stories to enrich the learning experience.
  • You can find the ALA’s Most Notable Children’s Books here.

Parents and teachers…are you looking for more picture book recommendations? Head over to Susanna HIll’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends. I know there is bad weather and big snowstorms in some part of the country…stay safe and stay warm!

PB 14:14 – Top 10 Picture Book Story Elements – It’s Time for Rhyme

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is the first day of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14…fourteen days of immersing ourselves in picture books – probably the best Valentine’s day gift I could ever get!

I was honored to guest-post on Christie’s blog today: http://christiewrightwild.blogspot.com/2015/02/pb-1414-in-2015-day-one-with-vivian.html

And I’m thrilled to be participating in this challenge – examining ten different elements that make a picture book sing. Here is the list Continue reading