Posted tagged ‘Picture Books’

Memories and Egg Magic

March 29, 2018

My grandmother came to America from what is now called Slovakia. She was a thrifty woman. She lived in a small bungalow in the city of Milwaukee. She never owned a car. Instead, she walked everywhere or took public transportation.  She made her own clothes and poo-pooed spending money on frivolous things. Her backyard was a garden filled with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. We ate them fresh in the summer and canned in the winter. The aroma from her kitchen was always inviting – especially during the holidays. Her breads and pastries were to die for. I was convinced my grandmother could do anything. She even made magic with Easter eggs. She used natural dyes – onion skins, cut beets, spinach … I was always amazed to see what color the eggs would be when they came out of the pot. Whether it be taking a special bus trip downtown, picking vegetables from the garden, or helping make apple strudel, being with my grandmother was always a magical and memorable experience.

Make a magical and memorable experience with your kids. Try using natural dyes to color your eggs. It’s a great science project!

https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/2012/03/28/day-4-egg-week-dying-easter-eggs-naturally/

Below are some other links to help you along the way to beautifully-colored eggs.

https://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally-with-everyday-ingredients/

http://www.kaleyann.com/naturally-dyed-easter-eggs/

https://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/EasterEggDye.htm

Speaking of memorable, here are some of my favorite classic books for this season.

golden

The Golden Egg Book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, Golden Books, 2004

country

The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes written by Du Bose Heyward and illustrated by Marjorie Flack, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1939

eggs

Rechenka’s Eggs written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, 1988

velvet

The Velveteen Rabbit written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 1958

peter

The Tale of Peter Rabbit written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, Warne Frederick & Company, 2009

 

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An Interview with Pat Zietlow Miller

February 22, 2018

Me_Books

Pat Zietlow Miller is an author of renown. Her picture books have received starred reviews and multiple awards. Pat has an innate talent to create books children love. She is an amazing writer and gives the most incredible presentations. She is the author of eight published picture books and counting. The most recent is BE KIND. Pat is upbeat, clever, and funny, and I’m honored to call her my friend.  

Be_Kind

Welcome, Pat!

BE KIND is such a timely book in that we need to be reminded how a simple act of kindness can make a huge difference in our everyday lives. How did you come up with this idea? 

Well, I can’t take credit for the initial idea. Connie Hsu, my editor at Roaring Brook Press, came up with the book’s title and asked me to write it – for which I am so, so grateful.

But, I did come up with how the idea was executed. I remembered being a shy, quiet, nervous kid who wanted to do the right thing but sometimes did nothing because I was scared it would be taken the wrong way. It took me a while to learn how to step in and speak up and – I hope – be as kind on the outside as I wanted to be on the inside.

That’s why I wrote the book about a child who tries to be kind and then has to rethink things when it doesn’t go well and ask: What does it mean to be kind?

You’ve sold thirteen books and have received numerous awards and starred reviews. Amazing! Besides being a very talented author, what do you think you did right at the beginning of your writing career in order to have editors take notice of your manuscripts?

Well, editors didn’t notice for a while. I got 126 rejections before I sold my first book. I’d like to think that it was my focus on writing well and learning the craft of picture book creation that helped me out the most. I wanted to write the very best stories possible, and I focused on doing that, rather than jumping into chasing publication the first time I had a halfway decent draft.

Having said that, I’ll also say that some of the early stories I sent out were, indeed, awful. I didn’t know that at the time, though. I had written and rewritten and revised and reworked and I thought they were good to go.

I was wrong.

What type of writer are you? Do you always know the beginning, middle, and end of your story, or do just go with the flow of an idea?

I’m more of a go-with-the-flow person. I usually have the first sentence of my story when I start writing and an idea of how things will end. Then, I have to connect them in an engaging and plausible way. Which is not easy.

Do you ever give up on a manuscript you’ve been writing, and is there any part of writing you find particularly challenging?

Absolutely. Not all stories work right away and some don’t ever work. And you can’t know which is which until you try. Most of the stories I’ve given up on are ones that I know aren’t working, so I don’t feel bad about it. But there are one or two I’m quite fond of that have not yet found an editor who feels the same.

In terms of what I find challenging, I sometimes struggle with plot. I’m very good at lining up the words in an order that sounds good and flows well. But, I often have to go back and make sure the structure is there to support them.

You work full time. How do you eke out time for writing and everything else that comes with being a published author?

I’m perpetually exhausted? There is a lot to balance, and the only way I can do it is by focusing on whatever task is in front of me until it’s done and then moving on to the next thing. I do my writing at nights and on weekends and try to take care of the emails and requests as they come in so they don’t build up.

You have a wonderful agent. How did you go about finding the right person to represent you? And do you have any advice for those looking for representation?

I stumbled upon my agent, which isn’t necessarily a technique I recommend, although it certainly worked out well for me.

I sold my first book through the slush pile. After I got the offer, fellow writer Jessica Vitalis said to me: “You’re going to get an agent, right?” I said: “Oh, no. They only want picture book writers if they illustrate too, and I don’t.”

Jessica said: “You at least have to TRY!”

So, mostly to tell her I had tried, I emailed the book and the offer to Ammi-Joan Paquette, an agent I’d heard speak at a writing conference. She emailed me back asking what else I had. I sent her five other stories, we talked on the phone and then she signed me.

I later found out she’s part of one of the best-regarded literary agencies in the country and that she’s generally awesome, but it’s not like I did any research to find that out beforehand. So I got very lucky. I’d recommend that other writers do research.

How do you go about promoting your books?

I do a lot on social media. I truly enjoy Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, so I use them to talk about my books, to talk about other people’s books and to share photos of my kids and cats – which I don’t think increases sales, but makes me happy nonetheless.

I also blog at www.picturebookbuilders.com with several other children’s authors and illustrators. We feature picture books we love and talk about what makes them work.

What’s next? Any new books coming out?

LORETTA’S GIFT comes out in August from Little Bee Books. It tells the story of Loretta and her new baby cousin. She wants to get him the perfect gift, but what could that be?

Thanks, Pat. It has been such fun interviewing you. Best of luck with your upcoming books.

You can find more about Pat here:   www.patzietlowmiller.com

You can find BE KIND here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound 

Books A Million

See my review of BE KIND here.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts from this Year

December 21, 2017

My love of picture books has made me realize our lives are imitating the art and text found in picture books.

Two-year-old twins and a four-month-old have reduced my daughter and son-in-law into babbling, sleep-deprived parents. They now greet us with, “Welcome to the circus!” Yup, Dr. Seuss’ If I Ran the Circus pretty much says it all for them!

As for Mimi and Poppy (a.k.a. grandma (me) and grandpa), The Poky Little Puppy and The Little Engine that Could aptly describe us as we try to keep up with the endless energy of the little ones. There’s never a dull moment when it comes to babysitting. Our only downtime is when all three are asleep. That’s when Mimi and Poppy enjoy a glass of wine and do a happy dance before we collapse.

The twins are a mixture of classic picture books. They can…

be great friends like Frog and Toad

cause a rumpus like Max in Where the Wild Things Are

misbehave like David in No, David!

share like in A Weekend with Wendell

have a cranky day like Alexander, and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Or they can be adorable and loving like in Guess How Much I Love You

Our newest granddaughter takes it all in and holds her own. She’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, slowly finding her place in the world until she joins the “Twin Pack,” and they become “Three Amigos,” who, undoubtedly, will be up to some mischief.

We love being close to our family, but it’s also nice to be surrounded with the peace and quiet of our home, to enjoy our friends, and to reminisce about our youthful days when we, too, had an endless supply of energy. Luckily for us, we struck gold with our family and friends. Life is good. We hope yours is too!

IMG_3108

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

Goodnight Everyone

November 30, 2017

We’ve all had those nights when our kids just don’t want to go to sleep. Well, Chris Haughton knows how to solve that. He’s the author/illustrator of many award-winning books, including my favorite, Shhh! We Have a Plan.

haughton

In his book, Goodnight Everyone, the forest animals are sleepy – the mice, the hares, the deer, and Great Big Bear. However, Little Bear is wide awake. He wants to play, but all of his friends are too tired. Soon Little Bear gives a huge yawn and decides it’s time to go to sleep like everyone else. The story is simply told, but the techniques used by Chris Haughton are what make this book so likable. The color palette is vibrant and reminiscent of the evening sky after the sun sets. The cut pages will delight readers as they see the animals get bigger with each page turn. As the size of the animals grows, so do their yawns and their sleeping sounds. The endpapers are another treat to behold. The beginning of the book depicts the southern night sky and its constellations and the placement of the planets, moon, earth, and sun. The end of the book depicts the northern night sky and the placement of the planets, moon, earth, and sun and the constellations where Little Bear and Great Bear are easy to pick out. This charming book is sure to get your wide-awake youngster yawning and ready for some zzz’s.

 

 

 

 

See You Around

November 2, 2017

A ball. A wheel. A pie. These are a small sampling of circles that are all around you. Today happens to be “Look for Circles Day.” Have some fun with your youngsters. Whether you’re young or old, keep the circular ball rolling and read, sing and count together today.

Books with circles:

hole

The Book with a Hole by Herve Tullet

round

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table written by Cindy Neuschwander and illustrated by Wayne Geehan (Check out the series.)

circle square

So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban

spots

 600 Black Spots by David A. Carter

city

City Shapes is written by Diana Murray and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Songs about circles:

Circle Song – Jack Hartmann

Circle Songs for Early Learners 

The Circle Song with Didipop Music

If you’re counting, did you remember to count all of the circles in this post? Don’t be surprised if by the end of the day you find yourself going in circles. Have fun!

It’s a Wonder!

September 21, 2017

 

Wonders

We’re All Wonders is a picture book written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio. It’s based on her award-winning novel, Wonder. As in her novel, the main character, Auggie, has a physical disability. On the first page, readers meet Auggie and his dog, Daisy. We find out immediately that Auggie is different. Even though he does things like every other kid, he is not ordinary. His mom calls him “unique” and “a wonder.” Because Auggie’s face doesn’t look like everyone else’s face, people stare and say things, which makes Auggie feel bad. When this happens, Auggie puts on his helmet, and with his dog, Daisy, the two blast off into their own world. They hope for better things because as Auggie says, “We’re all wonders!” R.J. Palacio tells the story with spare text that easily elicits an emotional response from readers. Her colorful illustrations invite readers to keep turning pages as they become part of Auggie’s story. I recommend this book for its themes of acceptance, kindness, and hope.

Take Your Pants for a Walk Day

July 27, 2017

We all wear pants at some time or another, and most of us do some walking. Well, today it’s National Take Your Pants for a Walk Day. So, put on some fancy pants and go for a walk. If you’re not in the mood to do that, maybe one of these pantsy picture books will tickle your fancy.

greenpantsGreen Pants written and illustrated by Kenneth Kraegel, Candlewick Press

petePete With No Pants written and illustrated by Rowboat Watkins, Chronicle Books

grumpyGrumpy Pants written and illustrated by Claire Messer, Albert Whitman & Company

whereWhere Do Pants Go? written by Rebecca Van Slyke and illustrated by Chris Robertson, Sterling Children’s Books

ohOH, NO! Where Are My Pants? edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch, HarperCollins

Coming in September 2017

princessPrincesses Wear Pants written by Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim and illustrated by Eva Byrne, Abrams Books for Young Readers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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