I had a lovely surprise the other day. I received two beautiful picture books in the mail. Written by author Sarah Glenn Marsh, they are bright and bold and so much fun. I knew I had to share them with you today. One is about taking selfies. How awesome is that! And the other is about camping and finding the courage to be a real friend. And because my bookshelves are overflowing, I plan to give both of these away. So please make sure you leave a comment. And don’t hop off until you scroll through the entire post BECAUSE after the picture book review, I’ll be giving everyone a heads up about #50PreciousWordsforKids which is COMING ON MONDAY!!!
Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Illustrated by Florence Weister
Published by Sterling Children’s Books (2018)
Themes: Friendship, travel
Synopsis: From Amazon:
You can’t take the perfect selfie if you’re all by yourself.
Sebastian is one handsome fox—and he really, really loves to take selfies. But somehow, no matter how camera-ready he is, his pictures always lack a certain something. And he can’t put his paw on exactly what. So Sebastian sets off on an elaborate quest to take the perfect selfie, dashing from a glamorous red carpet in Hollywood to the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon. He even zooms to the Moon! Still, none of Sebastian’s photos make him happy. Could it be that the secret to his special selfie is right where he started . . . at home, with his friends?
Why I like this book:
- I loved the relevant theme of taking a selfie…even young kids want to do it.
- I enjoyed the travel/geography layer to the story – kids will love to guess where Sebastian is.
- GREAT illustrations – the front and back covers are amazing!
A CAMPFIRE TAIL
Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Illustrated by Ana Gomez
Published by Sterling Children’s Books (May 1, 2018)
Ages: 4 and up
Themes: Friendship, courage, camping
Synopsis: From Amazon:
Ever been stuck with a friend who’s totally uncool—and worried that it will rub off on you?
Welcome to Camp Wildwood! It’s Dragon’s first day, and his buddy would LIKE to show him a good time. But Dragon doesn’t seem to fit in with the boys and girls. He overturns the boat, ruins the puppet show, and even sets the tent on fire. Then, just as his buddy is about to give up, Dragon comes through in a pinch. This sweet, funny picture book teaches an important lesson about the true meaning of friendship—and in accepting the strengths and weaknesses of others.
Why I like this book:
- I love friendship stories!
- The illustrations are fantastic…just love the main character!
- Text is full of heart and humor…great combination for a picture book!
Activities for both stories:
- Make a list of how to be a good friend.
- Take selfies with friends and create an album of friendship.
- Role play with your kids…different scenarios where being a good friend might be difficult.
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. If you’d like to see more picture book reviews, please go to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture book Friday link up. And remember the best gift we can give the authors of our favorite stories is to buy their book or ask the library to order their book or write a review on Amazon or other book review sites.
And now, dear friends, a few words about #50PreciousWordsforKids! Last year, I hosted an international writing challenge for kid writers in grades K-6. I invited them to create a story for children in 50 words or less. #50PreciousWordsforKids drew participants from 15 states and 4 foreign countries. What amazed me was the incredible creativity that was unleashed by the restrictive word limit. Click here to see the stories from last year’s challenge.
MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT!
As a former kindergarten teacher, I’ve always been on a mission to help kids become lovers of books and reading. What a thrill it was to invite them to become their own storytellers!
This writing challenge is ALL-INCLUSIVE and INTERNATIONAL!
#50PreciousWordsforKids coincides with Children’s Book Week, April 30-May 6. Every child in grades K-6 is invited to participate. Teachers can have each child write a story of 50 words or less…then the teacher and/or class will choose one story to submit. Last year, some classes formed teams and wrote collaborative stories – that is totally fine. Parents who homeschool their children can submit one story per child. The official #50PreciousWordsforKids post will go live on Monday morning!
Here are the guidelines.
- Each child, grade K-6, writes a story of 50 words or less.
- Title not included in word count.
- Story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
- Happy or sad, silly or serious, true or make-believe.
- Teachers/students choose one story to submit per class.
- Homeschooling parents submit one story per child.
- Please email story to: firstname.lastname@example.org by May 7 at 11:59pm.
- Stories post on my blog: viviankirkfield.com on May 11.
- Teacher/parent receives a certificate to copy and present to each child who wrote a story.
- Giveaway of seven mini-Skype author classroom visits.
Questions? Contact me at email@example.com
I’m asking all of you who have connections with elementary schools or homeschooling families in any state and any country to please spread the word. Last year, I contacted the Children’s Book Council and they agree – it’s a perfect activity for Children’s Book Week. Click here to read last year’s stories.
The challenge runs April 30-May 6 and the stories need to be emailed to me: firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday, May 7th. I’ll post those stories on Friday, May 11th. Teachers and parents will receive a certificate that can be copied and personalized with the name of each child who participated. And there will be mini-Skype author classroom visits randomly awarded—one per grade level if I get enough volunteers.
Let’s help our kids stretch and grow their imaginations.
Which brings me to the next request…I still need volunteers to do mini-Skype author or illustrator visits. If you would like to donate a mini-Skype author or illustrator visit, please contact me ASAP either by email or on FB or Twitter. It’s a wonderful way to connect with our audience of parents, teachers, and kids!
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
Today is the day, dear friends! Ready! Set! Go! The #50PreciousWords 2018 Writing Challenge is now OPEN!
For those of you who have not participated before, let me give you a bit of back story. 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. And I hope we have a great turnout again this year because I am passionate about helping others follow their dream of writing for children.
In 2012 I had a dream. I wanted to write picture books. And I wanted to be traditionally published. And one of the most important things I did was to participate in writing challenges like Susanna Hill’s contests. Why was that important? Because it got me writing. It got me revising. It got me submitting. Hmmm….writing/revising/submitting. I believe that if we do those three things enough times, our writing improves and agents and editors get a chance to see our work. And as much as I am thrilled with my own success, nothing makes me happier than to hear about the success of others in our kidlit community.
So, please sharpen your pencils. Fire up your computers. And share your #50PreciousWords with us. Read the rest of this entry
My next picture book has just been announced in Publisher’s Weekly!
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.
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!
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.
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
- 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.
- It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
- Title is not included in the word count.
- No illustration notes please.
- 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 post. If you have any trouble at all posting the story, please email me and I will be happy to do it for you: email@example.com.
- Deadline for posting the story in the comments is Tuesday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
- Winners will be announced in a special blog post on Sunday, March 11.
- 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!
- 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!