It’s December First! – Do You Know What That Means?

Good Morning and Happy December, Everyone!

You’re probably all surprised I’m posting today, given that my Monday posts have been practically nonexistent  extremely sporadic  somewhat occasional since the summer.
I’m surprised too!
I had no idea I’d be here!
I thought I’d be taking Princess Blue Kitty to get her oil changed, but no!  Here I am!
Because you know what I realized over the weekend (being the extremely Aware and Observant person I am)?
Today is December 1st!
And that makes today . . .
. . . my 4th Blogiversary!
I couldn’t very well let that go by without even a little whispered yippee! 🙂
It’s hard to believe that a mere four years ago this blog was nothing but a newborn whippersnapper, whose little cries for attention went pretty much universally unheard and unacknowledged.  And look at it now!  4 years old… and still pretty much a voice in the wilderness 🙂 but lucky enough to have made some loyal and beloved friends! 🙂
Since I spent most of last week driving Princess Blue Kitty through the Berkshires to Beantown, and entertaining a houseful of family, and barely online at all (due in large part to having no internet for days because of the snow), and hence missed most of the Thanksgiving posts that were up around the web from all you guys, I mostly wanted to take the opportunity of my blogiversary day to say how much I enjoy getting to spend time with everyone who visits my blog, what wonderful, amazing people I think you all are, how grateful I am for the fact that you come to visit so dependably, so ready to take part in whatever is going on, so generous with your time, your wisdom, and your good humor, and how very, very glad I am to know you all!  Thank you all, because really it’s you who make this blog what it is!
Here’s a little present for you.  Open it up, and inside is the thing you would most like to have today.  It can be anything from 10 minutes of peace and quiet to a book contract – you get to choose 🙂
Whatever it is, ENJOY! 🙂
(And feel free to tell us in the comments what was in your gift box! Health and well-being of your loved ones and yourself is automatically assumed :))

ALSO!  Here is a special gift for you and the little ones in your life!  Teresa Schaefer has designed a fun activity for the days leading up to Christmas!

What she has prepared is 24 coloring pages: one to be revealed each day of advent. Other than Christmas images for children, there is no religious content. The idea is to give children something to be busy with as they wait and count each day until Christmas. She calls it her Christmas Advent Coloring Countdown. All parents need to do is go to her website:  Once there they click on the tab labelled DOODLING. A welcome and directions will be there as to how to click on the image to print. They can print as many as they wish and come back each day for the next coloring page. Day one is a set up for a letter to Santa, address included. Use as much or as little of the above as you wish.

Doesn’t that sound like tons of fun?!  I think I would enjoy some coloring myself… 🙂

And now, as long as we’re all here exchanging gifts and not getting our oil changed, what better time to give you a little update on the Holiday Contest prizes?

It is indeed true that there will be two other picture book manuscript critiques available:
 – a picture book manuscript critique from Katy Duffield, author of more than 20 books for children including Farmer McPeepers And His Missing Milk Cows (Cooper Square Publishing 2003) and upcoming titles Loud Lula (Two Lions) illustrated by Mike Boldt and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too (Candlewick) illustrated by K.G. Campbell.
 – a picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!
Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 

In addition, we have a pretty unique and special prize on the table for one lucky person!  The opportunity to have an author/illustrator website or blog built (if you don’t have one yet) or redesigned (if you have one but would like to redecorate and/or improve function) by Arturo Alviar, a very talented computer science and web design major.  Full details on this to come, as well as links so you can see examples of his excellent work!

Pretty exciting, don’t you think???!!!

I hope you all have your Holiday Contest entries well underway, unlike Yours Truly who has yet to give even a moment’s thought to her sample.  You know, it occurs to me that I may have to have a little talk with Yours Truly.  She has very bad work habits.  This leaving-things-to-the-last-minute has really got to stop.  It is very un-Zen.  I’m going to sit her down and point out the error of her ways.  Yessirree bob!  I feel certain I can make her see reason.  I’m going to add that to my to-do list.

Right after “eat left-over pie” 🙂

Have a magical Monday, everyone! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – First Snow (And Some Other Odds And Ends!)

Well, you guys are in for it today!

After several brief (for me) posts in a row, I’ve used up my ability to be short-winded and I have so much to tell you today I can’t even believe it.  I’ll try to be succinct 🙂

First, my Perfect Picture Book, because I like that to be at the top on Friday.

First Snow
Written & Illustrated By: Kim Lewis
Candlewick Press, 1993, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 4-8

Themes/Topics: kindness, helping others, friends, pets, farm life, beloved toy, loss

Opening: “Wake up, Sara,” whispered Mommy.  “Daddy’s not very well today.  I’m going to feed the sheep on the hill.  Would you and Teddy like to come?

Brief Synopsis: To help Daddy, Mommy and Sara and Sara’s bear, Teddy, go up the hill to feed the sheep.  It’s a long climb, and while they’re up there, the first snow of the year begins to fall.  Hurrying to get home before they can’t find their way, no one notices that Sara’s beloved Teddy has been left behind.

Links To Resources: The Working Sheep Dog (video), Sheep Herding Demonstration (video), Fun Sheep Facts For Kids, Facts About Border Collies Talk about what you could do for someone that would be nice or help them in some way.

Why I Like This Book:  I love that whole story takes place because Sara and her mom are trying to do something nice for Daddy.  As they hike, you can feel the steepness of the hill, the cold air, the first tentative snowflakes followed by the real snow.  For children who may never have been out in the real country, the book gives them a taste of it.  The sense of wanting to get back to their cottage pulls the reader along, but on the whole it’s a fairly quiet book.  The art is gorgeous.  It’s drawn in colored pencil and the little cottage where Sara’s family lives is so warm and inviting, and the vistas of the English hills so lovely it makes you want to step right into the pages of the book.  The sheep are beautiful, the border collies exceptional.  But maybe the thing I love most about the book is the understanding it shows between a child and her pet.  It is not Mommy or Daddy or Sara who recovers Teddy 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Next, two things that kind of go together.  When Beth asked to interview me about Perfect Picture Books I was happy to do it to raise awareness of this resource that we all work so hard on (and because Beth is nice and I like her :)) but I never in a million years expected the kind of response we got.  So I wanted to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful comments.  They meant so much to me.  I really can’t find words to tell you how much… which is bad for a writer!  But it was an unexpected gift for which I am truly grateful, and it just makes me value this wonderful community even more.  I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to print out that post and stick it on my wall to read on days when I feel low 🙂  So thank you.

In the same vein, Randy over at Author In Training very kindly gave me the Addictive Blog Award.

In addition to linking back to him (and I hope you’ll go visit him if you haven’t because he does great writing prods and is currently writing a YA novel that you get to read a bit of every Friday and just has an all around great blog!) I am supposed to list 10 blogs I am addicted to.  But I can’t list only 10.  Especially after being reminded Wednesday of just how wonderful you all are.  So consider yourselves all recipients, and feel free to take the award badge and post it on your blog!

The next item I wanted to mention is that tomorrow, December 1 (a Saturday so I don’t post) marks my 2nd Blogiversary!!!  I can’t believe it’s been 2 years.  I have had so much fun here, getting to know you all and dragging you into all my hair-brained schemes!  Anything that’s good about this blog is good because of you, so please give yourselves all a big pat on the back and a round of applause!  Some confetti would be nice, too.  And of course, I think we should serve Something Chocolate, even though it’s not Wednesday 🙂  I would also like to give you A PRESENT!  Of course, I’d really like to give you ALL a present, but I don’t have the resources, so two (that’s 2!) lucky random commenters today will receive a packet of 5 assorted hand-drawn greeting cards by our own superbly talented  Tracy Campbell!  Here’s a little sample:

copyright Tracy Campbell 2012 used by permission

copyright Tracy Campbell 2012 used by permission

copyright Tracy Campbell 2012 used by permission

Aren’t they gorgeous?  Please click on the link to her blog and explore and you can see many other cards!

Second to last (see? there’s a light at the end of the tunnel :)), I wanted to let you all know ahead of time about a special PPBF.  At the suggestion of Pat at Children’s Books Heal and Vivian at Positive Parental Participation, on Friday December 14, which is the anniversary of the date in 1954 that the UN General Assembly recommended there should be a Universal Children’s Day, we are going to be doing our part to raise awareness of the plight of children around the globe and to promote the welfare of children in the world by posting books which focus on multicultural/multiracial issues, human rights, and/or children who have helped to change the world in some way.  For example, Pat plans to post the picture book version of The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.  Beatrice’s Goat and Wangari’s Trees Of Peace are other examples of books in this category (although they’re already on our list.)  Please join us if you’d like to!  But of course, if you’ve already got a book in mind and would like to post a regular PPB that is fine too – all picture books are for children 🙂

FINALLY (here we are! this is the end!) I’m hoping to post the rules for the Holiday Contest on Monday.  Of course, that will depend on whether I make up my mind about what it’s going to be by then 🙂  But here’s hoping 🙂

That’s it!  Go forth!  Run free!  Go see all the wonderful picture books that have been chosen this week!  And have a GREAT weekend! 🙂

(PPBF bloggers, please remember to add your post-specific link below!  And don’t forget, 2 lucky commenters will win beautiful cards, and the winners will be chosen totally by and not at all based on how nice the things you say about me or my blog are :))