Posted tagged ‘Creativity’

An Interview with Author Janie Reinart and a Giveaway!

July 8, 2021

Janie Reinart

Meet Janie Reinart. Whether she’s writing, teaching, puppeteering, performing interactive musical stories, clowning around, or presiding as a poet-in-residence at an elementary school, Janie’s enthusiasm is infectious. Today I have the honor of interviewing this multi-talented author as she talks about her newest book When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children. Readers can see my book review here.

Welcome, Janie Reinart, and congratulations on your beautiful book. Tell us more about the background of the story and why you wrote it.

Cathy, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. It is my pleasure to celebrate the South Sudanese children in the story.

My inspiration and resource for WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN is the National Geographic photographer, Nora Lorek, who took four trips to the Bidibidi Settlement and documented her travels in photos. Nora has graciously answered my questions for the story.

I was inspired by the refugee children at the Bidibidi Settlement; children who invented toys from found objects using their imagination and critical thinking skills. One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein is “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” These children without toys created something from nothing. These children have hope. Their hope becomes our hope.

Your story has a lovely lyrical feel. Can you discuss some of the writing techniques you used to create such a heartfelt story? Did you use mentor texts?

When I started working on the manuscript, I knew I wanted a playful structure to match the heart of my story—children creating, playing, cherished sibling relationships, kindness, and caring. I had fun figuring out the smallest to the largest ways to show mirth—from a grin to a laugh.

Poetry does the heavy lifting of capturing emotions. I enjoyed using animals the children see every day as similes. The repetition in the story helps the read-aloud to be interactive. A picture book that stuck with me and became my mentor text was Miranda Paul’s, Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle illustrated by Janson Chin.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Social and emotional learning through stories helps us feel empathy, make caring decisions, and find out we are more alike than different. I would like to see today’s tech-savvy children disconnect from screens and spend more time using their imaginations and creating. I’m hoping When Water Makes Mud will also inspire people to donate to UNICEF. Publisher’s profits from When Water Makes Mud are being donated to UNICEF.

It’s very impressive of the publisher to make those donations.

Marketing a book can be challenging. What are some of the things you’ve done to promote your book?

It takes a village to market a book. I would like to thank my debut groups @thekidlitcrew and @readingfunin21, and my critique partners Charlotte Dixon, Pamela Courtney, Kathy Halsey, Melissa Rutigliano, Marietta Apollpnio, and Monique Morales Wakefield.

The wonderful thing about the kid lit community is their generosity in sharing news about books on social media and interviews on blogs. I’ve found all you have to do is ask. Thank you again, Cathy, for this interview.

It’s my pleasure, Janie.

Do you do school or virtual visits? Describe what one of your visits would be like.

In previous years, I did live school visits. This past year, I had the opportunity to take the fabulous Kate Messner’s classes on virtual visits. What fun to be able to Zoom all over the place and interact with kids. One of my virtual visits includes jokes, a sing-along with hand motions, creating a group poem, choral reading, interactive reading of the picture book story, five ways to adapt a fairytale, discussion on why we write, and Q & A. I also provide free downloads for activities to go with the story.

Your program sounds amazing. Can you share something not many people know about you?

I obviously do like to play! I coordinated and performed in a gentle clown ministry when we lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. We visited St. Elizabeth’s Hospital adding silliness and play to a child patient’s routine, as well as being comic relief for parents, nurses, and doctors. My troupe was all mimes—no talking when you were in full costume. Laughter is the best medicine!

Janie and her daughters clowning around

What’s next for you, Janie?

I am researching a story that has to do with my childhood. I have several stories out on submission and have others waiting to be revised again. I love the writer’s life and making the writer/reader connection—heart to heart.

Thank you, Janie. I’m so pleased to have you as a friend and as a guest on my blog!

Learn more about Janie Reinart below.

www.janiereinart.com

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Book Trailer

The Giveaway!

Janie has generously agreed to give away a copy of When Water Makes Mud.

For a chance to win, please leave a comment below. For extra chances to win, like this post and post this giveaway on social media. 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 Wednesday, 7/14/21 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be randomly picked and announced on my 7/15/21 blog post. Good luck to all!

An Extra:

A reading of When Water Makes Mud on #StoryTimeWithMrLimata

Thursday, July 8: WHEN WATER MAKES MUD by JANIE REINART, illustrated by MORGAN TAYLOR. Published by BLUE WHALE PRESS

Story Time is 11:00 am PT on Facebook and YouTube Live! Find where to get the book in Mr. Limata’s bio or at https://bit.ly/MrLimata-Find-The-Books

PB Review: When Water Makes Mud

June 24, 2021

When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children written by Janie Reinart and illustrated by Morgan Taylor, Blue Whale Press, 2021

This is a beautiful book about two young girls who are in a refugee camp They arrived there with nothing but their dreams. The older sister sees the sadness in her little sister. So, she picks up a stick to make something from nothing. She uses it to draw pictures from home. The little sister smiles, but happiness fades quickly. The older sister continues to find things to cheer up her sister – pebbles to make a puzzle, a bag to make a balloon… Each time, the little sister is happy, but then sadness takes its place. Until…water makes mud. The older sister sculpts a doll out of the mud. The mud baby becomes a precious toy for the little sister. As the days pass the two add more mud toys and dream. Janie Reinart’s lyrical text and Morgan Taylor’s captivating illustrations will evoke emotions that will melt your heart.

The publisher’s profits from the sale of this book are being donated to UNICEF. I highly recommend adding this book to your home library.

PB Review: A BOBBY-DAZZLER OF A POUCH!

September 10, 2020

Over the years, Janet Halfmann’s books have always created a sense of wonder in me. Her newest book, A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch! is sure to become a favorite.

Joey, a young kangaroo, practices diving into his mum’s pouch. It’s easy when it’s just he and his mum, but when there are other kangaroos around, Joey has a problem. When Mum calls, Joey doesn’t always find the right pouch. Boing! Boing! Boing! He dives into a pouch that’s already full. Boing! Boing! Boing! He dives into a male kangaroo who doesn’t even have a pouch!

Joey is discouraged, but when he sees Willy Wagtail, he comes up with an idea. Joey asks if he can have some tail feathers to put on his mum’s pouch to make it easier to find. Willy Wagtail agrees, and suddenly Rainbow Lorikeet, Echidna, and the Emu Family want to add something to decorate the pouch. Joey and his mum work together to arrange the decorations, but as Joey climbs into the pouch to sleep, he wishes they had MORE decorations. Koala overhears Joey. Even though Mum would rather not have anything more added, Koala, Sugar Glider, Brush-Tailed Possum, and Wombat all add something special. Joey declares Mum’s pouch a “bobby-dazzler.”

The next morning while Joey is playing, he hears his mum frantically calling him. A dingo is on the prowl! Because of Mum’s bobby-dazzler pouch, Joey knows exactly where to find her. Abira Das‘ adorable illustrations accompany Janet Halfmann’s delightful story. A variety of Australian animals, plants, and words are introduced as are the themes of a loving mother-child relationship, friendship, and creativity. This book is sure to entertain young readers with each page turn. The back matter includes Fun Kangaroo Facts and a glossary of Australian terms which help make reading this book a truly enjoyable experience. 

Bobby Dazzler Cover Back copy

 

Can you create a bobby-dazzler of an idea?

 

 

 

Spending Time Together

March 26, 2020

In this time of uncertainty with the coronavirus on everyone’s mind, life has become more stressful than ever. Many parents are now working from home. With child care centers and schools closed, your children may be causing interruptions and demanding your attention as you try to work. It’s not an easy time for anyone. When possible, take a break from your work and spend some quality time with your kids. They, too, are trying to cope with a new way of family life.

Here are a few ideas that might help entertain your children. As an added plus of spending time together, these activities also complement the STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum in schools. You may find that these special moments spent with your family can be fun for everyone.

Craft Day – Choose a simple craft and create.

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Organize and Categorize Day – Organize toys and books. Set aside those that your children no longer want and donate them.

Theater Day – Have the family act out one of their favorite books or make up a play and perform it.

Game Board Day/Card Game Day – Have fun learning a new card game or playing a board game.

Puzzle Day – Grab a puzzle piece and see where it fits.

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Game Show Day – Ask questions dealing with math, books, nature, etc. Correct answers gain points. With the points collected, all participants can choose a little prize – a special snack, a sticker, a small toy you may have saved for an anytime prize, etc.

Family Movie/Popcorn Day – Vote on a movie and enjoy it with the family with a side of popcorn.

Cookie Baking Day – Choose a family favorite recipe and measure, mix, and bake.

Quiet Reading Day – Find a quiet place to read your favorite books.

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Hide and Seek Day – Take turns hiding an object and have others find it with hot/cold prompts.

Zoo Day – Gather stuffed animals and set up a zany zoo.

Dress-up Day – Dress up in old clothes you may have around the house and let your imagination go wild.

Build a Tent Day – Use Sheets and blankets to create a secret place.

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Sidewalk Chalk Day – Draw a town in your driveway with roads, flowers, houses.

Band Day – Use objects around the house to create instruments. Don’t forget your voice is an instrument, too. Sing it out!

Build a House Day – Do you have old boxes? Try making a mini house with your mini family members.

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Old MacDonald Farm Day – With a moo, moo here and a moo, moo there… Keep on singing, adding as many farm animals as you can. Draw your favorite farm animals and house them in an imaginary barn.

Take a Quiet Walk Day – Make sure to keep your distance from other walkers.

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This is an extraordinarily stressful time. We are strong. We will get through this. When we do, we may realize that this was the best of the worst of times — a time when families came together.

Stay safe!

 

 

 

 

Put Some Backbone into Your Poetry

April 12, 2018

If you’re a reader like me, you have books everywhere.

It’s National Poetry Month. Try creating a spine poem. It’s a great activity to do with kids.

Pick out some books and arrange the titles to create a poem.

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You can see what happens when you find just the right titles to create a poem.

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Put some backbone into your poetry and try creating a spine poem. Have fun!

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mistake

October 12, 2017

What if no one ever made a mistake? That would be the biggest mistake of all. Throughout history, mistakes have led to great strides in making our world a better place.

mistakes

A perfectly delightful picture book written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken is The Book of Mistakes. The endpapers begin with a splat of ink and end with a charming surprise. Luyken begins her story with spare text and seemingly simplistic sketches rendered in black ink and surrounded by white space. The reader learns the artist has made a mistake. She corrects it by coming up with a good idea, but then there are more mistakes followed by more good ideas. With each page turn, colors seep into the illustrations. In the middle of the book, there are five wordless spreads in which the artist’s illustrations become more intricate and more colorful. At the end, Corinna Luyken poses the question, “Do you see—” which makes readers pause to think. The final illustrations and text give the reader a closer look into the creative mind of the author/artist who demonstrates how inspiration can change a simple mistake into something amazing.

Make no mistake. Grab hold of this book now!

 

 

 

 

DU IZ TAK?

December 1, 2016

If you have very young children, you know they have a language of their own – uhda, madee, ticka …  They know what they’re saying, but it’s up to us to figure it out. And that brings me to a picture book that fascinates me. When I first heard about this book, I was convinced it was written in a foreign language. When I finally got my hands on it, I was in for a big surprise!

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Du Iz Tak? is written and illustrated by Carson Ellis. The text is sparse, using “invented” words. With that in mind, Carson Ellis has masterfully crafted a fanciful story filled with creativity and imagination. Two damselflies discover a shoot growing out of the ground. Other insects investigate the growth. After some interesting discussion and the help of Icky the bug, they build a tree house in the growing shoot. Drama comes into play with the addition of a huge spider, a hungry, bird, and a blossoming flower. While all of this is taking place, a caterpillar has made its cocoon. At night, a violin-playing insect sits above the cocoon and plays to the night sky. This oversized picture book is one that needs time to absorb. Ellis’ illustrations are filled with the beauty and wonder of nature and what can happen when imagination blossoms. This circular story has a very satisfying ending and lends itself to close examination and discussion.

Another picture book with invented words and fun to read is Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis. See my comments here.

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Imagination: Don’t Leave Home without It

September 13, 2012

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” ~Muhammad Ali

Tuesday was my birthday and I imagined the numbers in my age were transposed. I immediately felt younger. I bounced around like a kid. I had more energy than usual. My mind was sharp, and my tongue was froth with wit. It was a magical day.

That evening when I looked into the mirror, I no longer saw that fresh young face I had worn all day long. I saw my mother! I guess that was her birthday gift to me – to carry on the family genes. Age happens, but imagination rocks!

Without an imagination, you’re stuck. You have no place to go – nothing to fill the empty spaces of your day. Think what this world would be like if we didn’t have “imaginators” like Walt Disney, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Georgia O’Keeffe,  Benjamin Franklin …

Everyone needs an imagination. From early on, children’s minds need to be stimulated to help them develop their creativity and play. How can this be accomplished?  The picture book!

The picture book is an amazing tool. The pictures, words, sounds, characters, and story all work together to expand a child’s imagination and play. The more books children are exposed to the wider their world becomes. Children begin to develop language skills and make connections between what they see and hear. And don’t forget the emotional bond derived from sitting in the lap of a loved one, sharing the whole experience of reading a book together.

Here are some great picture books, both old and new, to get you and your child started on the road to imagination.

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

The Hello, Goodbye Window  written by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Roxaboxen written by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Tuesday by David Wiesner

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Iggy Peck, Architect  written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Teacher Appreciation Week

May 11, 2012

The teacher’s lounge is filled with cookies, cake, fruit, salty snacks, and candy. It’s Teacher Appreciation Week – also known as The Week You Gain Five Pounds.

Normally, the parents in our school are thoughtful and very supportive, but during Teacher Appreciation Week, they go all out. Besides the goodies in the teacher’s lounge, the Home & School Association treat the teachers and staff to a delicious dinner. Along with the meal, everyone is presented with a gift made by the Pre-K through Eighth grade students.

This year we received note cards. They’re something every teacher can use – for thank yous and for those “we need to talk” moments. I love these note cards!

Pictures were taken of art projects classes worked on throughout the year and made into note cards. Creativity abounds!

Some days being an educator can be disheartening. Then something wonderful happens — a smile, a completed homework assignment, an “aha” moment by a student — that makes you remember why you chose teaching as a career. It’s nice to be recognized by students and parents, but I’m glad Teacher Appreciation Week comes only once a year. Otherwise, we’d all have to join Weight Watchers!

A special shout-out to all you caring parents and students!


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