Archive for October 2012

Tidbits from a Writing Conference

October 25, 2012

This past weekend I attended a writing conference at what I call “The Nunnery.”

The room and food — not so good. The speakers and attendees — fantastic!

With editors like Melissa Manlove from Chronicle Books, Kristen Nobels from Candlewick Press, and Michelle Poploff from Delacorte Press Children’s Books and authors like Kathi Appelt, Sara Zarr, and George Shannon, who wouldn’t be excited? The weekend was filled with camaraderie, laughs, encouragement, and valuable information.

Alas, I cannot share everything I learned, but I can let you in on some tidbits of information from the faculty.

Find your voice and unique style.

There is magic in words. Use them to your advantage.

Word choice should have patterns of sound, rhythm, a sense of urgency, and pitch that provide emotional impact.

Surprise your reader.

Put personality and place in your writing.

Actively engage your readers.

The number one job of an author is to worry the reader. That will keep the reader turning the pages.

Up the ante to create tension.

Every word counts.

Perfect your craft.

Good writing plus good pacing equals a good book.

If you have a passion for writing, no matter what, stay in touch with what you love.

Suggested Reading:

Dear Genius The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom written by Leonard S. Marcus and illustrated by Maurice Sendak


You’re My Little Cupcake

October 18, 2012

This is your lucky day. Today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. What more could you ask for?

Cupcakes are in, and today they should be in your tummy. A cupcake is little cake you can call your own. You can poke it, prod it, lick it, nibble it, or gobble it down because it’s all yours!

Here’s a perfect way to treat yourself to a cupcake whenever you’re craving one. It’s as simple as 3-2-1 Cupcake!


1 box of Angel Food Cake mix

1 box of any flavor cake mix – chocolate is my flavor of choice

Combine the two mixes in a gallon Ziploc® bag.

For a true “cup cake”…

Put 3 tablespoons of cake mix into a microwave-safe cup.

Put 2 tablespoons of water into the cup.

Stir well to combine.

Microwave on high for 1 minute.

Voilà!  A perfect little “cup cake.”

For an extra delicious treat, I added some whipped topping and a raspberry. Store the bag of cake mix for a “cup cake” treat anytime!

Now please excuse me while I indulge myself!

Take a bite out of one these yummy cupcake books.

Cupcake written and illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper

Little Mouse and the Big Cupcake written by Thomas Taylor and illustrated by Jill Barton

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond

Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes written by Pablo Cartaya and Martin Howard and illustrated by Kirsten Richards

Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes (I Can Read) written by Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

It’s Raining Cupcakes (Middle-Grade) written by Lisa Schroeder

What Did You Say?

October 11, 2012

What do The I-I-I’s Have It, The Town Crier, and Give Me an R have to do with the library? Secretly, they’re my nicknames for a few of my preschool and kindergarten students.

I adore these youngsters. It’s a pleasure to have them come to the library. They’re enthusiastic and full of energy and surprises. Because their speech and language skills are still developing, understanding what they have to say can sometimes be a challenge. Thus, the nicknames.

The I-I-I’s Have It:  This child gets so excited he stutters. He’s determined to tell you some exciting bit of news in his own way as quickly as he can. By the time he finishes, my head is spinning, but I dare not ask him to repeat it.

The Town Crier:  I never know when, but it happens more often than not. It’s a spontaneous crying fit. When asked what’s wrong, all I get is “Wha, wha, he wha me. Ah, ah, ah, wha me.” I’m usually left clueless.

Give Me an R: This preschooler hasn’t mastered the pronunciation of the letter R, and that makes for some interesting comments. When he complimented his teacher on the pretty shirt she was wearing, it came out as, “I like your shit.”

Some of our conversations remind me of the book Hen Hears Gossip written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Joung Un Kim. When Hen hears Pig whisper something to Cow, Hen passes along what she thought she heard to Duck who passes it along to Goose. You know the story – lots of misunderstandings. Of course, in the end, everything is straightened out with a nice surprise.

There are some library days it takes extra patience and understanding from both sides as we try to decipher what everyone is saying. I always hope everything gets straightened out just like in Hen Hears Gossip. No matter what, the enthusiasm of these youngsters keeps me going and some of their comments are priceless.

Banned Books Week – 30 Years of Liberating Literature

October 4, 2012

We’re nearing the end of Banned Books Week, but it’s never too late to speak up for the freedom and right to read. So get on the “banned” wagon while there’s still time.

I’ve included a few websites I found to be useful and informative.

Timeline: 30 Years of Liberating Literature

Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out!

Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century

Frequently challenged Books of the 21st Century

A Family that Reads and Reviews Together

Judith Krug Fought Ban on Books

Banned Books Boards on Pinterest

Reading for Sanity:  A Book Review Blog:  Banned Books Week 2012

17 Banned Books You Read As A Child (or may have)

Pictured are some children’s books that stand proudly in our library that have been banned or challenged. The reasons run the gamut, including nudity, profanity, sexual situations, inappropriate, frightening, animals that use human language, racially offensive, unruly behavior, magic and witchcraft, lewd and twisted, violent, and sexually explicit language.

Celebrate Banned Books Week and the freedom and right to read. Read a banned/challenged book today!

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