And the Winner Is…

Posted February 6, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags:

Ella Marilyn cover

The winner of Vivian Kirkfield’s Giveaway is Beth Anderson!

Congratulations, Beth!

I’d like to give a shoutout to everyone who participated in the giveaway!

THANK YOU!

Celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Posted January 31, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Multi-cultural PIcture Books

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Imagine embarking on a journey without a map, a GPS, or specific directions to guide your way. If you take a wrong turn, you could be lost forever. Earthwaves written by Michael Smith and beautifully illustrated by Gayle Garner Roski is a story of Pacific Islanders set in the 1500s. Without the modern technology that is ours today, these seafarers relied upon the sun, moon, stars, ocean currents, and birds to guide them to their destination.

From the first line, readers quickly find out that young Akela will accompany Grandfather on a voyage to another island in the vast ocean to trade with other villagers. Through Grandfather’s character, Michael Smith expertly weaves information into the story about island cultures – those that are friendly and those that should be avoided. From Grandfather, Akela learns about the movement of waves, the position of stars in the sky, the angle of the sun, and what the look of the distant sky at sunrise and sunset means. These are all clues to navigate the canoe in the right direction to find their intended island. When preparations are complete, Grandfather, Akela, and nine other villagers begin their journey. Grandfather is wise and respected. He knows the dangers of such an expedition. As the seafarers move farther away from their island home, the waves get bigger. The blue hues of the ocean change. They encounter a dangerous white shark and tumultuous weather. Dense fog and no wind cause Akela to become restless. Throughout the journey, Grandfather keeps a careful watch on the sky and the ocean to make sure they are traveling in the right direction. Michael Smith’s text and Gayle Garner Roski’s colorful illustrations complement one another. Each page turn offers something new. Lyrical language describes the surroundings, and the detailed illustrations invite the reader to join in Grandfather and Akela’s voyage. This is a story of bravery and ancient navigational skills used by seafaring Pacific Islanders. The author’s note provides additional information and pictures of a traditional “Yap canoe” and a stick chart that displays wave patterns around islands.

My journey through the pages of this book was extraordinarily satisfying.

Earthwaves was generously gifted to me to review for the Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 event and opinions are my own.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

 Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

 Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is One Day Away!

Posted January 30, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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Join me tomorrow for a special post as I review the picture book, Earthwaves. We’ll take a journey back to the 1500s and learn about the extraordinary navigational skills of Pacific Islander seafarers. #ReadYourWorld #MCBD2020

 

The winner of Vivian Kirkfield’s Giveaway (a copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD or a picture book critique) will be announced on next Thursday’s post. The giveaway ends tonight, 1/30/20 at 11:59 pm EST. 

Seven Questions for Vivian Kirkfield and a Giveaway!

Posted January 23, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Author Interview

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Once again, I have the privilege of interviewing author extraordinaire, Vivian Kirkfield. Her newest book, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, launches, January 28th. See my review here. And there is a giveaway!

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Thank you so much, Cathy! I’m thrilled to be here on your blog just a few days before the launch of the new book!

And I’m thrilled to have you here. In your newest nonfiction biography, Making Their Voices Heard, why did you decide to focus on the friendship Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe had for each other rather than their enormous talents?  

I knew I wanted to write a story for children…a story that children could relate to. Even young kids know about playdates and going to a classmate’s birthday party and how it feels when your friend is mad at you. How to be a good friend is an important lesson for kids. And although it’s true that each of these icons had enormous talent, each was being limited because of discrimination of one kind or another…and it was their friendship which helped break those barriers.

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Ella and Marilyn

When you begin to do research for a nonfiction work, do you have a specific plan you follow?

I begin my research on the internet…scrolling through whatever sites I can find. Then I turn to the local library and if necessary, reach out to the reference librarian to ask if she can connect with the larger libraries. I’ve also contacted the libraries and historical museums and historical societies in the cities where my subjects were born or worked. These often contain archives that are specific to the person I’m researching. In addition, if there are any living relatives whose names pop up during my research, I do try to connect with them.

How do you organize your research to make it easy for you to refer to it? Handwritten notes? Binder?

As I read, I take notes in a dollar store composition notebook…usually (and unfortunately) handwritten (unfortunate because I often can’t read my own handwriting). But I also print out pages from online sources (sometimes an online source can disappear between the time you read it and the time the manuscript is bought – at least you will have a hard copy of your information if/when the editor/fact-checkers ask about something. Then I use a manila folder for all the printed sheets and the notebook. I wish I were more organized…but so far, this system has worked pretty well. The most difficult time was when I was writing the nine nonfiction PB bios for From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 21, 2021). In only 9 months, I had to go from idea to polished submission-ready manuscript…seven polished submission-ready manuscripts (I had already written two of them when we signed the contract). If it weren’t for my fabulous critique partners, I never would have been able to accomplish such a feat in such a short period of time.

What are some of the places you go to find information? (Primary sources?  Newspaper clips? Documentaries? Videos?)

As I mentioned previously, online sources are my first line of inquiry. Then the library…with books/journals/newspapers. I also LOVE YouTube…there are amazing documentaries AND interviews…if your subject is fairly modern (within the last 100 years) there may be a wealth of information, some of the primary sources (an interview, for instance) available at your fingertips.

Another great source of information is the library…but not just the bookshelves. Many libraries have subscriptions to various databases – old newspapers, ancestry sites – and if you have a library card, you may be able to access a lot of it from the comfort of your own home and computer.

When do you know when it’s time to stop researching and start writing?

I know it is time to stop researching when I start reading the same information. Also, I try to write my pitch (what-you’d-say-to-an-editor-if-you-only-had-30-seconds-to-talk) and my one-sentence (kind of a synopsis of the story) before I start writing. If I feel I have enough information to create a strong narrative that answers the promise of my opening lines (yes, I write my opening lines early on), I stop researching and start writing. But, I’m always willing to go back and dig deeper if there are questions that remain unanswered.

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What is your secret for making your manuscripts shine?

I don’t know that it is a secret. 😊 It’s certainly something I share with all of my critique buddies, all of my critique service clients, and at any conference or webinar where I am presenting.

  1. I write about people/topics I am passionate about
  2. I dig deep with my research
  3. I search for a golden nugget that will strike a chord with my child reader
  4. I craft strong opening lines that hook the reader
  5. I utilize various techniques from the picture book writing toolbox (including assonance, alliteration, the element of three, refrains) that help keep the reader engaged and move the story forward
  6. I formulate a satisfying ending that often echoes the opening lines
  7. I read mentor texts in the genre I am writing (this happens before, during, and after I write the manuscript)
  8. I record myself reading the story aloud…and then listen back to catch the places where I trip up or where the reader will lose interest
  9. I share the manuscript with critique buddies and revise with their feedback in mind
  10. Then I record myself again…revise/polish…send out the manuscript to a couple of other critique partners…and revise/polish again.
  11. I know I am done when I listen back and am engaged from the first word to the last…and can utter an AHA, HAHAHA, or AWWW when the last word is uttered.

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Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

No manuscript will ever be perfect. Please don’t try to make it so. Pour your heart into the writing and be willing to revise if several critique buddies point out similar problems. Polish until you feel the story sings. But at some point, we need to go from writing and revising mode to submitting mode because the song of your story won’t be heard if it’s sitting in your drawer/computer/notebook. And even after an editor acquires your manuscript because she loves it, there will probably be additional revisions required…or at the very least, requested. Be open to the perspective of the editor and illustrator…but advocate for this story because you are responsible for putting an accurate, authentic, and consistent book into the hands of children. Never forget that this is YOUR story. Your words. Your heart on the page.

Thank you so very much, Cathy, for the opportunity to share my thoughts and spread the word about my newest picture book that launches January 28: MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, illustrated by Alleanna Harris).

As always, Vivian, it is my pleasure to have you as my friend and as a guest on my blog!

THE GIVEAWAY!

Vivian has generously agreed to give away a copy of her newest book or a fiction/nonfiction picture book critique.

For a chance to win, please leave a comment below. For an extra chance to win, post this giveaway on social media, and make sure you state where you posted it in your comment. Please note:  You must be a resident of the U.S. and at least 18 years of age to enter. The giveaway ends on Thursday, 1/30/20 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be randomly picked and announced on my 2/6/20 blog post. Good luck to all!

Learn more about the fabulous Vivian Kirkfield:

Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. A retired kindergarten teacher with a Masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author of numerous picture books. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.

 

 

 

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted January 16, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , ,

On Monday, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929, and became a well-known figure as a Civil Rights activist. His “I HAVE A DREAM” speech in 1963 was one of his most inspiring speeches. Check here to see more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For young readers who want to know more about the life of this inspirational speaker, here are some books to check out.

a place mlk

A Place to Land:  Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation written by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, Neal Potter Books, 2019.

big dreams

Martin Luther King Jr. written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Mai Ly Degnan, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2020.

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Be a King:  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You! written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by James E. Ransome, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2018.

peaceful

Martin Luther King Jr. A Peaceful Leader written by Sarah Albee and illustrated by Chin Ko, HarperCollins, 2018.

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My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King Jr.  written by Bonnie Bader and illustrated by Sue Cornelison, Golden Books, 2018.

Celebrate the life and ideas of Martin Luther King Jr. and follow your dream.

 

Resolution: Turn Your Kids on to Books!

Posted January 9, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Reading

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“From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover you have wings.”~ Helen Hayes

Here are ten easy reading resolutions for the new year to encourage your child to read:

Frequent the library

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Fill your house with books

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Read to your kids

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Choose a variety of books to have on hand – fiction and nonfiction

Share books

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Keep books in the car

Create a cozy reading space or let your kids find a place of their own

(Poor dog just lost her cozy spot)

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Create a fun activity to go along with a book

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Don’t forget about children’s magazines – a different feel, a different look

Be a role model and let your children see you reading

“There are many different ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” ~Jacqueline Kennedy

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“Turn the pages of your imagination…READ!”~Author Unknown

 

A New Home for the Holiday

Posted January 2, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

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My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” ~Forrest Gump

Truer words were never spoken. This year instead of hosting Christmas festivities, my daughter, her husband, and their three daughters hosted us and my son-in-law’s family – his mother, two brothers/wives and a two-year-old. For three days there were thirteen people—nine adults, two two-year-olds, and two four-year-olds—walking, running, jumping, and tumbling around my daughter and son-in-law’s home.

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On Christmas Eve we celebrated an updated Slovak meal – Oplatky (a traditional Christmas wafer), oyster stew (a New England addition), Grandma’s Katie’s fried fish, coleslaw, French fries, and Christmas cookies.

Christmas Day brought Santa gifts, a gift-wrapping mess, and some wild and crazy little ones!

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The afternoon was spent preparing for Christmas dinner, taking naps, and quiet reading time for the non-nappers.

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The dining table was readied. No kid’s table allowed. Everyone had a place at the big table set with Christmas china, shiny silverware, and red and green cloth napkins, a beautiful centerpiece, and one more surprise gift that acted as a place card.

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Dinnertime is what our family calls the “witching hour” for the little ones. Usually, no one is happy with anything. My husband and I hoped for the best as we all gathered around the table. Dinner began with a prayer said by the grandchildren. We clinked our glasses, shared delicious food, talked about our favorite part of the day, and laughed. As I looked around the table, I saw the joy of a family gathering together, and not one child asked to be excused from the table early. It was a Christmas miracle!

Behold the happy family!

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Don’t look for us there. My husband and I had returned to our home to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Christmas season!

I wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020!

 

 

 


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