Posted tagged ‘Friendship’

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?

 

 

 

PB Review: Sloth to the Rescue

May 28, 2020

Sometimes we need to move slowly, but sometimes there is a need for urgency. Sloth in Sloth To The Rescue written by Leanne Shirtliffe and illustrated by Rob McClurkan needs to move quickly even though it may be uncomfortable and scary for him. 

Sloth’s friend, Patti, spent the summer writing a report due on the first day of school. His favorite thing about Patti is she is never in a rush. When Sloth sees Patti has forgotten her report on a bench at the Rainforest Rescue Center, Sloth needs to hurry to get it back to her, but Sloth is not someone who hurries. He realizes he needs a little help from his friends. Sloth enlists Peccary, Boa, Capuchin, and Ocelot. With Patti’s report in hand, they leave the comfort of the Rescue Center and take a field trip to Patti’s school to search for her. They search in the schoolyard, in the coatroom, in the classroom, in the gymnasium, but Patti is nowhere to be found. Sloth remembers that to calm down he must take his time. That’s when he finds Patti, dawdling near the water fountain. Patti is thrilled to see her friend and her report. The animals stay and listen to Patti’s report. Sloth is happy to be with Patti who, like Sloth, isn’t in a rush. Leanne Shirtliffe has written a delightful story about friendship and overcoming the fear of stepping outside one’s comfort zone. Her use of clever comments and wordplay will put a smile on readers’ faces as will Rob McClurkan’s charming illustrations of rainforest animals.      

 

Seven Questions for Vivian Kirkfield and a Giveaway!

January 23, 2020

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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!

Ella Marilyn cover

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.

ella and marilyn in nightclub

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.

inside spread nightclub

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.

inside spread nightclub 2.jpg

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.

 

 

 

Friday Night Fights – Joe Louis

November 21, 2019

When I was growing up, my brother, my grandfather, and I spent many Friday evenings watching boxing on television. We cheered for the boxers and sang along with the Gillette Razor Company’s commercial. Those times are long gone, but the warm memories of my grandfather and Friday Night Fights are still alive.

Joe

A Fist for Joe Louis and Me written by Trinka Hakes Noble and beautifully illustrated in soft watercolors by Nicole Tadgell brought back good memories of my early childhood and my grandfather. The author sets the story in Detroit, Michigan during the Great Depression and the coming of World War II with Nazi Germany. Trinka Hakes Noble weaves the story together with the real-life event, the Fight of the Century, which features Joe Louis, an American boxer from Detroit, Michigan and Max Schmeling, a boxer from Germany. The year is 1938 and Gordy is a young African American whose father gives him boxing lessons on Friday after he gets home from work. When dinner is over, the two of them listen to Friday Night Fights on the radio. Like many people living in the Detroit area at that time, Gordy’s father loses his job at the automobile plant. Gordy’s mother begins to take in sewing from Mr. Rubinstein, a Jewish tailor whose family left Germany to escape the Nazis. When Mr. Rubinstein drops off the sewing at Gordy’s house, he brings along his son, Ira. The two boys find they have a lot in common. They both like boxing, Joe Louis is their favorite boxer, and they watch Friday Night Fights with their fathers. Their friendship grows, and when an older student bullies Ira at school, Gordy channels thoughts of what Joe Louis would do and does the right thing to help Ira. Meanwhile, Ira’s father starts talking to Gordy’s father about boxing and the rematch between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. A friendship grows between the two men as they realize they have many things in common, too. Trinka Hakes Noble has written a heartwarming story about unlikely friendships that blossom during a time of hardship and unrest in the world and a hometown boxing idol who gives hope to the American people in the Fight of the Century.

 

 

 

MAKING A FRIEND Tammi Sauer’s Way

September 19, 2019

More than anything, Beaver wants a friend, but he doesn’t know how to make one. Things always seem to go wrong. Readers will fall in love with Tammi Sauer’s adorable book, MAKING A FRIEND, that has delightful illustrations created by Alison Friend.

friend

When “an idea fell from the sky” (snow), Beaver goes to work, making a friend. Raccoon happens along, and soon Beaver and Raccoon are working together to make a snowman friend. But something is missing. Pizzazz! Beaver and Raccoon add just the right accessories to create a snowman with pizzazz. Reader’s will love the end result as much as Beaver and Raccoon do. They celebrate their success, but when the snowman doesn’t say anything both are disappointed in their new friend. That’s when they realize that they had fun making a snowman, but the best part was making friends with one another. Clever repartee between Beaver and Raccoon along with bright and colorful illustrations make this story of friendship a perfect book to add to your reading list.

 

BEAR CAME ALONG

September 12, 2019

If you’re looking for a story that has hilarious illustrations and is a delightful tale, BEAR CAME ALONG is the book for you!

bear

Richard T. Morris’ raucous cumulative story begins with a river that “didn’t know it was a river” until Bear comes along and falls into the river. Morris keeps adding animals to Bears’ adventure – Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Raccoons, and Duck. Until…their adventure takes a turn for the worse. In several wordless spreads, the reader sees what looms ahead for the unlikely crew of animals. LeUyen Pham’s colorful illustrations are addictive. Kids will love the animal antics and their facial expressions as they cling to one another and brave the approaching disaster. And all this happened because “the river came along.”

This is a story of friendship and fun that happens when you’re least expecting it. It’s sure to entertain everyone!

Knock, Knock

June 7, 2018

A friend is what the heart needs all the time. ~Henry Van Dyke

May I Come In?  written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Jennie Poh is an engaging picture book about a thunderstorm and friendship that will delight young readers.

may i come in

When a fierce thunderstorm frightens Raccoon, he looks for safety with Possum, Quail, and Woodchuck. What bad luck! No one has room for poor Raccoon. A shimmery light in the distance catches Raccoon’s eye, and he makes his way through the storm to Rabbit’s door. When the door is opened, Raccoon sees ten little rabbits hopping and bopping about. He knows there will be no room. What good luck! Rabbit invites him in and offers him a cozy chair and warmth. As the storm rages on, there’s another knock at Rabbit’s door. Who do you think is there? Possum, Quail, and Woodchuck are looking for comfort from the scary storm. Of course, Rabbit welcomes all her friends just as it should be. Readers will enjoy Jennie Poh’s colorful illustrations and Marsha Diane Arnold’s cleverly worded text that shows how a good friend and neighbor can make room for everyone and chase storm jitters away.

 

 

 

Mary Had a Little…What?

May 17, 2018

mary lamb

We all know Mary had a little lamb, but did you know that Mary Had a Little lab? That’s right! It seems she loves science and spends all of her time in her lab. Then one day she realizes she’s lonely and doesn’t have any friends. Being a very innovative scientist, Mary decides to create her own friend. She makes a Sheepinator machine. She adds a mixture to some sheep wool and…voilà! Out comes a very useful pet sheep. As the nursery rhyme goes, he followed her to school one day. Mary’s classmates are so impressed with her pet they want one, too. At Mary’s lab, she presses the duplicate button. It gets stuck, and suddenly, chaos ensues. Sheep, sheep everywhere! Her classmates pitch in and help fix the jam, round up the sheep, and give them to farmers. In the meantime, Mary comes up with a new idea. What is it? You’ll have to read this book to find out how Mary, her pet sheep, and her new friends work together for a successful ending to this hilarious story. Sue Fliess‘ rhyming test flows effortlessly, and readers will laugh at the entertaining illustrations by Petros Bouloubasis. This book has it all – girl power, science, innovative thinking, cooperation, and friendship. What more could you ask for?

A Gift of Imagination

December 7, 2017

If someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I’d say a green umbrella. Why?  Because it’s much more than an ordinary umbrella. It’s an object that tickles your imagination and takes you on extraordinary adventures.

umbrella

The Green Umbrella is written by Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni. On a rainy day, Elephant is taking a walk with his umbrella when he meets Hedgehog who insists Elephant has his boat and tells him of his boat adventures. When Elephant says Hedgehog is mistaken, Elephant offers to share his umbrella with Hedgehog. Along comes Cat who insists Elephant has his tent and tells of his tent adventures. Elephant says Cat is mistaken but offers to share his umbrella. The story continues as Elephant meets different animals who are convinced his umbrella is not really an umbrella but something else. In the end, despite their differences, they all become friends. Maral Sassouni’s illustrations are whimsical and rendered in soft pastels. The Green Umbrella is a delightful book of imagination, sharing, and friendship.

Get me that green umbrella!

 

 

Get Ready to Turn these Pages

September 14, 2017

 

birds2

If you’re looking for a book to get your toddler/preschooler moving, take a look at Lucy Cousins’ picture book, Hooray for Birds. This book is filled with bold, bright colors and invites the child to imagine he/she is a bird and do what the birds do. The fast–paced rhymes begin with a “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” in the morning and continue throughout the day until it’s time to say good night. Don’t be surprised if your little one insists you read the book again and again, and you’ll oblige because this book is fun for everyone!

bear

Bird, Balloon, Bear written and illustrated by Il Sung Na is quite the opposite of Hooray for Birds. This is a gentle story about finding the courage to make a new friend. The text is spare and the illustrations in the book are muted and soft with a fun double page spread. What makes this book special is it lends itself to cuddling together as you turn the pages to reveal how a friendship blossoms.

These two books are looking for a space in your library.

 


Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50

Navigating the second half of my life

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

VIVIAN KIRKFIELD - Writer for Children

Picture Books Help Kids Soar

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