Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Most Magnificent Thing PLUS The Goodnight Ark Giveaway Winner!

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

Boy do I have the most magnificent book to share with you today!  It’s one of those books that makes you revel in how perfect it is when you get to the end and want to read it again right away in case you missed anything and then again just to enjoy how much fun it is 🙂  I hope you all like it as much as I do!

Title: The Most Magnificent Thing
Written & Illustrated By: Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press, April 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: creativity, perseverance, perspective, emotion (frustration)

Opening: “This is a regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world.  They do all kinds of things together.  They race.  They eat.  They explore.  They relax.  She makes things.  He unmakes things.  One day, the girl has a wonderful idea.  She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing!

Brief Synopsis: A little girl sets out to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing with the help of her best friend and assistant, her dog.  Imagine their shock when the thing turns out not to be magnificent!  In fact, it’s not even “good. It isn’t even kind-of-sort-of okay. It is all wrong.”  So she tosses it and starts again.  But it’s not easy to turn her vision into reality.  Frustration leads to anger, and anger leads to defeat.  Luckily, her assistant suggests a walk which brings calm and clarity and a new perspective… and a most magnificent thing 🙂

Links To Resources: supply a variety of craft items and/or found objects and encourage kids to think up and create their own “magnificent things”; Goldie Blox Toys (which encourage girls to put down the dolls and pick up the tools and might give you some invention ideas)

Why I Like This Book:  I love that this story addresses what may be the most common of all childhood emotions: frustration!  The little girl has a great idea.  She can imagine it perfectly.  She knows exactly how it will look.  But she has a hard time translating what she sees in her mind’s eye to the physical reality of her most magnificent thing.  Her escalation of emotion is real and believable (and kids will relate to it so well!)  And the message that sometimes a little distance and a little time to calm down can help improve your perspective is a wonderful one.  In the end, she makes something that is just perfect (but I won’t tell you what it is :))  The art is cute and full of humor.  The depiction of emotion is spot on.  The story touches on imagination and creativity, making things from found objects, dealing with frustration and disappointment, keeping/finding your perspective, not giving up, the idea that it’s okay to make mistakes, and the importance of having a good friend.  All around, a book kids will enjoy and parents will be glad to read multiple times.

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

Now, before we all trot off so see what everyone else picked this week, I’d like to take a moment to announce the winner of last week’s giveaway.  Laura Sassi and her publisher, Zonderkidz, generously contributed a copy of GOODNIGHT, ARK and the lucky winner is . . .

Sandy Perlic!!!

Congratulations, Sandy!  Please email me so we can organize getting you your book!  And thanks to everyone who shared their bedtime routines – we all had so much fun reading about them!

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can’t wait to see what’s on the list for today 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Aaand… We Have A Winner!

Happy Monday, Everyone!

You would think, given that it’s Monday, the start of a new week full of possibility, that I would have something pithy or inspiring or at the very least entertaining to share with you all.

And I do!

I have exactly ONE THING!

(Prepare for the shortest post in the history of this blog!)

I’m sure you will all recall that on Friday we held a giveaway thanks to the generosity of Lori Degman.  One of the commenters on Friday’s post was promised a signed copy of Lori’s new book, Cock-A-Doodle Oops!

Lori and I were amazed and delighted by how many of you stepped up to admit you were donkeys, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, cows, sheep, ducks, and wow! a whole lot of barn cats!  Also, we loved your creative and original crows!

Random.org has done its thing, and I’m thrilled to announce that Farmer McPeeper and his barnyard menagerie will be winging their way to sunny Italy, because none other than the lovely Renee has won Lori’s book!

Lori, thank you again for generously donating a copy of your wonderful new book!

Everyone who commented, thank you so much for joining the fun, and I hope you all get a chance to read Lori’s fabulous book!

And Renee, please email me your address again because although I’m pretty sure I have it somewhere you will get your book a whole lot sooner if you just send me your address than if I start rooting around for it.  I’m very ADD when it comes to searching… or house cleaning… and have a tendency to get distracted from my original task and go off on unrelated tangents and would likely end up sending myself a box of Perugina Chocolate instead of figuring out where in Italy to send your book 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Girl Who Heard Colors PLUS A Contest Announcement!

Boy, oh, boy are we going to have tons of fun today!

(Which is good because we’re back in sub-zero temperatures around here and I might get cranky about that if not for all the fun! :))

First of all, it’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and what’s not to love about that?

Second of all, we have a winner of today’s book from our meet the author post on Monday!  (You can see the post HERE if you missed it.)

Finally, someone around here, who clearly cannot be left unsupervised for a second!, has been hatching a hare-brained scheme, and I suppose it’s about time I let you in on it 🙂  But first – our perfect picture book!

Title: The Girl Who Heard Colors
Written By: Marie Harris
Illustrated By: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Nancy Paulsen Books, September 2013, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: synesthesia, differences, acceptance, perception, five senses

Opening: “Jillian loved the world with all her five senses.  She loved the tickling touch of her bunny’s whiskers on her cheek.  She loved the taste of warm maple syrup on waffles.”

Brief Synopsis: When Jillian hears a dog barking, she sees red.  When she rings her bike bell, she sees silver.  The wind in the pines is soft gray, and the rain, light purple.  Jillian has synesthesia – a way of perceiving that causes sound to have color.  But when the kids at school tease her, suddenly it doesn’t feel like such a great thing to have.  It takes a special teacher to help them all see it for the gift it is.

Links To Resources: The back of the book has information about synesthesia.  Neuroscience For Kids has information about synesthesia as well as a test you can try.  Science News For Students also has a lot of information.  HERE is a test to see if you might be a synesthete.  Talk about what it would be like to hear colors or taste sounds.  Are there times when experiencing the world like that would be an advantage?  A disadvantage?

Why I Like This Book: I always like books that encourage acceptance and tolerance.  There is too much variety in the world for any one way to be the “right” way to be or believe or perceive.  So I like this book for that reason.  But it’s also a beautifully written story that any child who has ever felt different will relate to.  The language is poetic (not surprising since it was written by a New Hampshire poet laureate :).)  And synesthesia itself is absolutely fascinating.  I finished this book and found myself wishing I could be a synesthete for a day, just to see how cool it would be to experience the world that way!

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

The next item on our agenda of excitement today is to let you know who won the book so generously donated by Marie.  Random.org has chosen our winner and it is Tracy Campbell!  Woo-hoo, Tracy!  Come on down!  Your prize is a signed copy of THE GIRL WHO HEARD COLORS!  Please email me with your address (which I probably have but can’t find! :)) and I’ll get it right out to you!

And now, one last item before we all head off for the weekend….

It’s been a long winter.

We’ve had a lot of snow, and more is coming Sunday into Monday (according to the local weatherman who seriously needs to be replaced by a new weatherman with better news!)

It’s been bitterly cold, day after day, for weeks on end.

The icicles have icicles!

I think it’s time for some fun!

And it seems to me, we haven’t had a writing contest in nearly 3 months…

SO, boys and girls, hold onto your hats, because we’re taking Hare-Brained Scheme to a whole new level!

Announcing

The March Madness Writing Contest!

The Contest: Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words, that is a fractured fairy tale.  Feel free to add a theme of spring, or mix in one of the spring holidays if you like – St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools Day, Easter or Passover, Arbor Day, Earth Day…  Have fun with it !  The madder* the better! 🙂
*as in wild and wacky, not angry 🙂

You do not have to include spring – that is optional.
The story can be a picture book or a short story – whatever you like.
If it’s a picture book, you may NOT include art notes, because we get into a weird area of whether that’s fair in terms of word count and added description etc.  So if you write a picture book that’s wonderful, but make sure art notes aren’t necessary to understand it.
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Thursday March 20 at 12:01 AM EST and Monday March 24 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official  post which will go up on my blog on Thursday March 20 (no PPBF March 21!) and remain up through Wednesday March 26 (no new post on Monday March 24, no WYRI on March 26).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my March 20th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)

The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Thursday March 27 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 5PM EST on March 30 and the winner will be announced on Monday March 31.

The Prizes!:  

 – 1st Prize is a read and critique by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary!!! (Unless for some reason you don’t want a read and critique by an agent, in which case you may swap for any of the other prizes)
 – 2nd Prize is a picture book manuscript critique (for rhyming mss only) by Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and the forthcoming COCK-A-DOODLE-OOPS! OR a picture book manuscript critique (for non-rhyming mss only) by Cori Doerrfeld, author/illustrator of LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO and PENNY LOVES PINK as well as illustrator of many others.
 – 3rd Prize is personalized signed copies of THE THREE NINJA PIGS and GOLDI ROCKS & THE THREE BEARS by Corey Rosen Schwartz PLUS a $25 Amazon Gift Card
 – 4th and 5th Prizes are your choice of any two of the following picture books PLUS a $20 Amazon Gift Card:
     – THE THREE LITTLE WOLVES AND THE BIG BAD PIG by Eugene Trivizas
     – CINDY ELLEN: A WILD WESTERN CINDERELLA by Susan Lowell
     – LITTLE RED WRITING by Joan Holub
     – THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE SOMEWHAT BAD WOLF by Mark Teague
     – THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS by Caryl Hart
     – THE WOLF’S STORY: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD by Toby Forward
     – GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS by Mo Willems

Now.  The really hare-brained part of all this is that it will be followed by a related Illustrator Contest in April!!! (to be announced and elaborated on later! :))

I know!!!

That kind of excitement bowls you right over, don’t it? 🙂

And with that, I wish you a lovely time perusing the rest of today’s perfect picture books!  PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links in the list below.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!  (And fire up those thinking caps!)

Would You Read It Wednesday #116 – The Witch’s Brew (YA)

Happy New Year Everyone!
(Which I’m saying again because I don’t think too many people were here on Friday.  After all, even I wasn’t really :))

I hope you all had wonderful holidays!

I thoroughly enjoyed mine.  The only hard part was sending all the kids back to school – I hate to see them go 😦 – and, oh, yeah, getting back to work!

As you know, I took about 2 weeks off.  I didn’t think I could do it, but I did.  It turned out to be easier than I thought 🙂  I spent lots of time with family, which was really wonderful, and I even got to read a couple books!  I admit it.  I’m a die-hard Jack Reacher fan – not the movie (I’m sorry, but Tom Cruise cannot pull off fair-haired, blue-eyed, 6′ 5″ and 250 lbs!) – but the books.  The whole time off thing was a real treat.  And now I’m finding it a little harder than I expected to get back in the groove 🙂

Since the Holiday Contest (and my time off) kind of took over December, a few things fell by the wayside.

I’m pretty sure I never announced the winner of the November Pitch Pick, so, without further ado, it was Steve with his pitch for Rashad Saves The World!  Congratulations, Steve!  You had some tough competition!  (And if I DID announce that before and just forgot, let’s all pretend I didn’t and be excited for Steve!  And let’s also all pretend I’m not going prematurely senile :))  Steve, your pitch is in Erin Molta’s inbox (yes, it really is – I did actually remember that :)) and I’m sure you’ll hear from her shortly.  Congratulations to the other brave pitchers as well because they all gave excellent pitches for stories which sounded terrific!

I also don’t think I ever announced the winner of Sharon Stanley’s lovely book The Little Dog In The Middle Of The Road and the accompanying stuffed toy!  So without further ado, the winner, as chosen randomly by random.org, is Diane Tulloch! 🙂  Diane, I will put you in touch with Sharon so you two ladies can work out mailing the goodies 🙂

Also, I didn’t get a chance yet to tell you about Elaine Kearns’s fabulous new website for writers – KidLit411!  It’s got everything!  You should definitely go check it out!  But after Would You Read It, please, because once you click over there you’re going to want to explore and it might take you awhile 🙂

I’d also like to remind anyone who might be interested that Meg Miller’s ReViMo is coming up next week – January 12-18.  It will be a full week to work on picture book revisions in the company of other picture book writers with prizes and everything!

It seems that everyone else is posting inspirational messages about their word for the year, their goals, their aspirations.  I have goals and aspirations too, but as you all know, I am not that organized.  So for now, I’m just going to sum up my goals for 2014 as Get Stuff Done 🙂

I think there was something else I forgot but, I forget… 🙂

You know what’s helpful when you forget things?

Something Chocolate!

How about cake?

courtesy of OMG Chocolate Desserts – recipe here

It doesn’t help you remember, but it makes you not mind that you forgot 🙂

If any of you all think of something else I’ve forgotten, please feel free to remind me!

Now then, enough with the catching up.  Let’s get on to Would You Read It!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Rena.  Rena J. Traxel writes silly picture books for kids and murderous novels for teens. Find her on twitter @renajtraxel or on Facebook

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Witch’s Brew
Age/Genre: YA (mystery/legal thriller/fractured fairy tale)
The Pitch: When the body of Gretel is unearthed the residents of Rosia are ready to burn the candy Witch everyone except 16-year-old Amy Faye. Fuelled by her own false arrest, Amy—lawyer in training— is willing to risk her reputation, her family and maybe even bend a law or two to prove her crush’s mother isn’t a murderer. But will the truth set the Witch free or will she be rightfully executed alongside Amy’s reputation. Grisham’s The Accused meets Willingham’s Fables.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Rena improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in February so you’ve got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for a chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Rena is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing everyone on Friday for Perfect Picture Books.  And now that this post is done, don’t forget to go check out KidLit411 and ReViMo!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Day The Crayons Quit PLUS A Giveaway Winner!

Yay!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I have a FANTASTIC book to share with you today, and I know I usually try to put the book at the very top of the post for people who visit later just to see the book, but today I have to squeeze one little housekeeping detail in first.  (And a mention to please read to the end for the announcement of who won Erik’s book from Monday!)

As you know I intended (ahem) to catch up on the updating of the PPBF list over the summer.  Well, that was a ridiculous fantasy.  I can never seem to remember that I have LESS time in the summer, not MORE.  Needless to say, I haven’t done it yet.  But, I am doing it now!  Yes I am!  And I have a new plan.  Which I hope is going to work and make it much more user-friendly for everyone!  (It’s only a little bit hare-brained :))

But I need to ask you guys one little favor.

Well.  Two.

Er.  Three.

1. Can you please be sure to put the intended age range on your post.
2. Can you please say if it’s fiction or nonfiction.  I usually assume fiction if it doesn’t say, but sometimes it’s just not clear.
3.  Can you please just list the 3 or so most prevalent themes.  It’s a time-consuming job to update the list, and adding a book to 1- 4 theme groups is manageable, but 12 makes me want to crawl in a hole 🙂 And if I haven’t read the book it makes it very hard for me to know which 3 or 4 I should pick.

I promise to reveal the whole scheme when it’s a little closer to completion, but I’m still in the early stages of working on it and have a LONG way to go, so bear with me 🙂

Oh, and one other thing.  Penny very kindly let me know this week that the old Perfect Picture Book link was no longer working.  Aarrgghh!  Somewhere along the line the URL for Perfect Picture Books changed.  I have no idea how.  But Beth was able to ascertain that it happened last January.  I, of course, was oblivious.  So, could you all please check that the link back to PPBF that you’re adding is the correct one from here on out?  It should be:  http://susannahill.blogspot.com/p/perfect-picture-books.html

Alrighty!  Now onto this book which you are going to LOVE! 🙂

Title: The Day The Crayons Quit
Written By: Drew Daywalt
Illustrated By: Oliver Jeffers
Philomel Books, June 2013, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: colors, emotions, getting along, humor

Opening: “One day in class, Duncan went to take out his crayons and found a stack of letters with his name on them.
Hey Duncan,
It’s me, RED crayon.  We need to talk…

Brief Synopsis: One day when Duncan wants to color, he opens his crayon box to discover that the crayons have quit.  RED needs a rest.  PURPLE wants Duncan to be neater.  BEIGE is tired of feeling less important than BROWN.  What’s a boy to do?  Luckily Duncan comes up with the perfect solution!

The green page from The Day The Crayons Quit
copyright 2013 Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Links To Resources:  In this book, Duncan’s crayons write to him to express their feelings about the way he uses them.  Try writing a letter back to one or more of the crayons.  Write a letter that you imagine one of your toys might write to you.  Why would the toy be happy or sad or jealous or angry or any other emotion you can think of?  Classroom activities, writing activities

Why I Like This Book:  This book is imaginative and clever and fun!  The letters are laugh-out-loud funny.  The drawings are perfectly and believably child-like (and all done in crayon!)  It’s a perfect marriage of text and pictures which is what picture books are all about 🙂  And because the crayons all behave like kids, there are plenty of feelings and behavior that kids can understand – jealousy, competition, feeling unappreciated, etc. – all things that everyone struggles with from time to time.

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

Now, before you all go off to read each other’s PPBF selections and then onto your weekends,  I’d like to announce that the winner of Erik’s book from Monday’s giveaway (as randomly chosen by random.org) is…

 Robyn!!!

Yay for lucky Robyn!!!  (Who, very fittingly, claimed that the vegetable she was most like was chocolate.  My heart over-floweth!  Someone besides me is finally counting chocolate as a vegetable!  After all, it does come from a BEAN! :))  Congratulations, Robyn!  Please email me so we can work out how to get your signed copy of The Adventures Of Tomato And Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea to you!!!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  And PPBF bloggers, make sure to add your links below!

Would You Read It #105 – The Superhero Rejects (MG) PLUS The August Pitch Pick!

Good Wednesday, Everyone!

First off, I have to apologize for not posting the winner of Friday’s book giveaway on Monday as I promised.  Monday’s post was all about Erik and his new book, and I didn’t want to steal any of his thunder. (Also, that post was WAY long enough already and I was afraid you might doze off and not fully appreciate the news :))

So, that being explained, I would like to announce the winner NOW.  Are you ready?

The winner (as randomly chosen by random.org) of Iza Trapani’s brand new, hot-off-the-presses, beautiful, fabulous Little Miss Muffet which shall be personally signed by Iza is:

Sue Heavenrich!!!!!

Congratulations, Sue!!!  Please email me so we can organize Iza signing and mailing you the book!  And thanks to everyone for reading about Iza’s wonderful book, bravely sharing your fears, writing some pretty amazing Muffet verses, and just generally joining in the fun!

Now, before we go any further, I realize many of you are fainting from lack of proper nutrition, so let’s get right to Something Chocolate, shall we?  There’s a nip in the air this morning, so I’m in the mood for a lovely mug of hot chocolate.  How does that sound?

Mmmmm!!!  Delish!  In case you were wondering, yes, there are mini marshmallows under the whipped cream 🙂

Now that you’re feeling fortified, let’s give someone a chance to have their pitch read by editor Erin Molta!  It’s time for the August Pitch Pick!

Our 4 wonderful pitches are:

#1 Darshana
Karina The Dancer (PB ages 4-8)

Free-spirited Karina wants to be a dancing star like her older sister. So she signs up for Indian classical dance, but her colorful attire, hip-shaking moves, and improvisations land her in hot water with Guruji, the teacher. Karina learns that to be a star, you just follow your heart, and do what you love.

#2 Lisa
The Golden Egg (PB ages 5-8)

The golden egg that doesn’t hatch creates quite a stir among the feathered friends on the farm. The Eggsperts are called and the Whisperers weigh in. In the end, Mother Hen must decide whether to follow their advice or listen to her heart.

#3 Carrie
The Cartwheel Queen (PB ages 3-6)

Overjoyed with her new-found ability to do a cartwheel, Queen Carina assumes the throne over her backyard kingdom of Cartwheelandia. Cheers and cartwheels explode through the crowd, but stop short with Carina’s heart-broken little brother. Carina makes it her mission to turn her brother’s “I can’t” into the confidence of a Cartwheel King.

#4 Alicia
The Savage Queen (YA)

Roma Whitewood is charged with treason for trying to protect the only family he has ever known as they are murdered before his eyes at the hands of the King’s Royal Army. The country Roma has always called his own, betrays him as his punishment is to be stripped of his citizenship and sent to work in the treacherous labor camps, where he meets Lyra and she opens his eyes to the truths of the world that he had been overlooking his whole life. All of the stories his mother told him as child, that he never even dared to believe, all begin to come true and Roma must face the ultimate decision: be oppressed or join the Uprising with Lyra. There’s more to Lyra than she’s telling him, but Roma can only put his trust in the hands of the girl who had been by his side every moment in the camps. She was going to escape, or die trying, and Roma was going with her, no matter the outcome.

Please choose the one you think is best and most deserving of a read by Erin and cast your vote in the poll below by Sunday September 22 at 5 PM EDT.

Thank you!!!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Wendi.  Wendi Silvano quit teaching in 1994, when her 3rd child was born. She has been writing for children ever since. She writes picture books, emergent and early readers, early chapter books and educational materials. Two of her picture books have won the Children’s Choice Award. She lives in Grand Junction, Colorado. You can visit her website at www.wendisilvano.com. This pitch is for her first MG book.

Working Title: The Superhero Rejects
Age/Genre: Early MG
The Pitch:  Morphus is ashamed that he doesn’t have a normal, exciting superhero skill. All he can do is morph into lame objects like paperclips, rubber bands and light bulbs. And it’s particularly embarrassing when you are the brother of one of the most infamous graduates of ZITS (The Zapdor Institute for the Training of Superheroes). He and the other Superhero Rejects are relegated to practice their pathetic skills in the old gym in the basement when the villainous Scorpius attacks the school and puts everyone into a hypnotic trance… everyone that is, except the Superhero Rejects. Can they save the school and prove they are “real” superheroes too?


So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Wendi improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in November so polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Wendi is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to sharing a very fun book with you on Friday for Perfect Picture Books and also announcing the winner of Erik’s very first published book, The Adventures Of Tomato And Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea!  If you haven’t had a chance to read his interview and enter to win, there’s still time!  Hop on over HERE.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!  May the muse be with you 🙂

Beating The Odds: Guest Post From Author/Illustrator Alison K. Hertz AND A Giveaway!

Today I’m delighted to share a guest post from author/illustrator Alison Hertz, whose debut picture book FLAP! was released from Magic Dreams Publishing in November!

One quick thing first: seriously, you guys have to remind me when I space things out!  I forgot to mention in Friday’s post that the winners of my blogiversary giveaway, who shall receive a 5 pack of Tracy Campbell’s gorgeous hand-crafted greeting cards, are Rhythm (who is technically a dog, but I’m pretty sure s/he’s got a mom who will enjoy the cards :)) and Laura Anne Miller!!!  Laura, it’s entirely possible I have your address from sending the Perfect Picture Book bookmarks, but Rhythm, I’m going to need yours, so please email me when you get a chance!  (Handy Email Me button in right side bar or you can do it the old-fashioned way and type in susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com.)  Congratulations to the winners, and thank you ALL for being such wonderful involved participants in my blog – you guys are what make it all such fun 🙂

Oh wait!  One more quick thing.  For the first time in WYRI history, we had a tie for the November Pitch Pick!  Kim and Larissa scored the same number of votes!  I can really only send one pitch per month to Erin, so I’m going to have to ask you all to vote again and choose between these two talented writers!

#1 Kim
How The Bull Lost His Feathers – PB – ages 4-8
Long, long ago in a faraway land, bulls actually had feathers.  And they were big, colorful peacock-like feathers at that!  Discover how one very stubborn yet lovable bull lost every one of his feathers– not only for himself, but for all the bulls born in the world after him. This fable-like tale also reveals why the color red will always make a bull’s temper flare!

#2 Larissa
Dim Sum Dog – PB – ages 4-8
With business dwindling, Chang and his family fear they will have to close their dim sum stand. But with the help of a special dim sum-loving dog who entertains customers, they may save the stand after all.

Please vote by noon tomorrow EST (tomorrow being Tuesday Dec. 11) so I can announce the winner on Wednesday!

Okay!  On with the show!

Alison K. Hertz, author/illustrator of FLAP!

Welcome, Alison!  And thank you so much for joining us today!

I’m very happy to be guest posting on Susanna’s blog today. As a writer and an illustrator, I often get asked about how I work. How does an illustrator write stories? How does a writer illustrate stories? How did you create FLAP!? Well, that’s actually kind of complex to answer. The process that I used for FLAP! was quite different from how I write and illustrate stories now. Let me explain.
When I wrote the manuscript for FLAP!, I didn’t plan to illustrate it. In fact, I submitted it to editors and agents describing myself as a writer (not mentioning any art training or design experience at all). Actually, I have two college degrees in art (city planning and toy design) and was a professional toy designer for many years. I designed hundreds of toys that were produced and sold in major retail stores but all of that changed in an instant. On my way to the toy company, to finalize some models for a major toy retailer presentation, I was in a terrible car accident.  My left arm was broken and permanently dislocated (and I’m a lefty). I also had a bunch of other horrible injuries but there’s no need to go into that now. In short, I was told by the doctors and physical therapists that my arm would have basic function but never be near the level of fine motor movement that I had before. I temporarily became a righty, earned a teaching degree, and began teaching middle school art and technology (both art and tech are used together constantly as a toy designer).
Alison’s work space
Fast forward to 14 years later…Shortly after sending out FLAP! for submission, I received a call from a small traditional press in Illinois that explained they were expanding their line and starting an imprint for children’s books. I had sent it to them because their description was pretty general. They loved my story and wanted to publish it. After the contract was signed, they began their search for the right illustrator for my story. At the same time, the economy tanked and budgets tightened. I was told a year later that they could not afford to hire an illustrator for my story and would probably have drop it from their line. I cringed as I explained to the publisher that I had been a toy designer and an art teacher and that I could illustrate the book. I had not been drawing for many years (except to model examples for my students, which was nowhere near the same thing as illustrating a presentation quality piece). I sent her sketches. She loved them and I became the illustrator for FLAP!
Alison drew sketches by hand
I was excited at the opportunity to get published as a writer and an illustrator but scared that my arm couldn’t handle creating 30 finished pieces. It was incredibly difficult to draw for long stretches of time (more than 40 minutes), my wrist and my arm could not handle the extended use of holding a pencil or stylus and the movements required for drawing. I was on a very tight schedule because of the planned publication date and had only 10 weeks to create all of the illustrations from sketch to final. I created the roughs (sketches) by hand. (See above) Once the roughs were approved by the publisher, I scanned the drawings in and taught myself how to use Sketchbook Pro as I created the line drawings. Those drawings went through another approval by the publisher and I was given the okay to create the final, color illustrations.
some interior artwork from FLAP!
When the illustrations for FLAP! were finished, I accepted that I could be an artist again. I had retrained my left arm to draw.
I now use a much different method of writing and illustrating. When I submit manuscripts to editors, I refer to myself a writer and an illustrator and send samples along with a link to my online portfolio. I challenge myself to things like SkADaMo that require me to draw everyday. I will prove the doctors and physical therapists wrong. I believe that someday I will get back the fine motor function of my left arm if I continue to draw everyday and rebuild those muscles. As Watty Piper once wrote, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
FLAP! is available through 
And my website at: www.AlisonHertz.com– (autographed copies available here)
Places to find me:
My website (listed above)
Twitter: @AlisonHertz
In addition to writing and illustrating, I am using my graphic design skills to design bookmarks, postcards, coloring sheets, business cards, etc… for authors and other professionals. Check out AH Designs at: http://www.alisonhertz.com/graphic-design.htmlfor details, samples, and pricing.
Thank you so much for joining us, Alison.  Your story is so inspiring.  I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say I’m glad you pulled through with such flying colors and proved those doctors wrong.  I hope you sent them an autographed copy of FLAP! to serve as inspiration to future patients 🙂  And if you haven’t had a chance to see Alison’s work, hop on over to her blog and check out the sketches she did for SkADaMo – they’re wonderful!  (And as many of you probably know, Alison designed 3 different sets of book marks for me and they’re all terrific – I can highly recommend her work!)
Alison has generously offered to give away a signed copy of FLAP! to one lucky winner!  In the book, twins Max and Katie decide to teach their little sister Lilly to fly.  At the end, Max says, “I have an idea for tomorrow.”  To qualify for a chance to win the book, please write in the comments what bright idea you think Max had – what are those kids are going to get up to tomorrow?  Or, if it’s too early on Monday morning and you’re not sufficiently caffeinated to be creative, you can just say who you’d like the book for 🙂  Of course, what Alison would really love is pictures of people flapping – especially kids – so if you can add such a picture to your comment you will get an extra chance at winning!  Please enter your comment by Wednesday December 12.  Winner will be chosen by random.org.  And it could be a holiday gift for someone 🙂  For a nice review of the book, please go HERE.

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Marathon Mouse AND Giveaway Winner AND Hallloweensie Contest Winner!!!

It’s finally Friday!  Hooray!  That means I finally get to show you Marathon Mouse!  Also, I will be announcing the winner of Monday’s giveaway signed copy of Marathon Mouse at the end of the post (I know – so much excitement!) so stay tuned!

Oh, and there is one other thing… halloween related… 🙂

But first things first, and you know the Perfect Picture Book always has to go at the top of Friday’s post.  Those are the rules.  And the person in charge around here made the rules so I really have to follow them 🙂

Marathon Mouse
Written By: Amy Dixon
Illustrated By: Sam Denlinger
Sky Pony Press, October 2012, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 3-8

Themes/Topics: Running, Marathons, Goals, Believing In Yourself, Determination

Opening: “Every New York City mouse dreamed of living under the bridge bewteen Brooklyn and Staten Island.  There, they didn’t have to dodge taxi cabs or escape hungry sewer cats.  And when they wanted to visit, the bustling city was just a hop, skip, and a scamper away.  But there was one day each year that their life under the bridge was not dreamy…

Brief Synopsis: Preston Mouse lives beneath the Verrazano Bridge and dreams of running the New York City Marathon.  “Mice were not made to run,” says Papa.  “A mouse could get crushed,” says Mama.  “You? Run 26.2 miles?” his sisters tease. With this lack of faith, Preston trains secretly, but train he does because he believes he can do it.  At least, he wants to try.

Links To Resources: Teacher’s Guide from author’s website.  Also I think reading this story gives an excellent opportunity to discuss with kids what they dream about – what do they think they can do?  what do they hope to accomplish?  Younger kids can draw pictures of themselves working toward or achieving something that matters to them.  Older kids can write a story about it.  Discover Marathon Kids.  And a little about the first marathon and some related activities HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  Ah, so many reasons 🙂  First, it’s really well written, a captivating story told with gentle humor and warmth.  Second, this is the only picture book I’ve ever seen about running/marathoning, so it’s a new, fresh topic and one I think kids will love.  Third, I don’t think there can ever be too many books that encourage kids to work hard toward something that’s important to them, believe in themselves, and follow their dreams.  Finally, when Preston gets out there to run, I dare you not to cheer him on, and I think you’ll be surprised and touched by how the story ends 🙂  And seriously, how cute is this little guy? 🙂

Preston Mouse from Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon & Sam Denlinger

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

And now that you’re all just desperate to own a copy, I’ll tell you who won Monday’s giveaway 🙂  And I would just like to say that I so enjoyed reading about all the things you guys have accomplished (which was what you had to tell us to qualify for the drawing) – what an amazing group!  If you didn’t happen to read the comments from Monday’s post, hop over and have a look – you’re in impressive company over here!  But I digress… 🙂

Cue the trumpets!

The winner of a signed copy of Marathon Mouse is…

JARM!!!
(who it just so happens rode a camel to the top of Mt. Sinai and after sunrise walked all the way down! which is not why she won the book – that was just random.org – but I really thought you should know! :))

Please email me (by using the handy button on the side or by actually, physically, manually typing in susanna[AT]susannahill[DOT]com) and tell me your address and (never mind, Jarm – I have it from the PPB book mark mailing!) how you’d like Amy to sign it, and we’ll get it straight out to you!

So, have a nice weekend everyone!

What?

Oh, you think I forgot something?

Tee hee 🙂

Okay.  You twisted my arm.  I’ll tell you who won the Halloweensie Contest.  And let me just say – it was quite the nail biter!  But the voters have spoken!

And the winner is…

Oh.  I guess we better have trumpets AND a drum roll this time.

Okay.  The winner is…

Wait!  Maybe we should also throw some confetti, wouldn’t that be nice?

Okay, really.  The winner is…

Cake, anyone?  Something festive and Halloween-y?

Okay, really and truly.  The winner is…

Julie with Hallow‘s Eve!!!

Congratulations, Julie, for a fun story that even included the term halloweensie!!! and was artistically presented in the shape of a cat 🙂  (At least, it looks like a cat to me, but I suppose it could be a halloweensie mouse :))  Julie, you are the lucky recipient of the 5 signed picture books from our generous and talented fellow authors.  You will receive Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon, The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Puzzled By Pink by Sarah Frances Hardy, Flap! by Alison Hertz, and The Monster Who Lost His Mean by Tiffany Strelitz Haber!  Please email me and let me know how you’d like them signed and we’ll all get on the case 🙂  You are also the distinguished recipient of the incredible fame that comes with winning a contest of this caliber.  You can now hold your head high and proudly tell everyone you see that you won the Halloweensie Contest!  Not just anyone can say that!  (In fact, at the moment, only one other person in the world can say that – Cathy who won last year :))  Fame, I tell you! 🙂

Second place and a $25 Amazon gift card goes to Laura R for Jack O’Lantern!

Third place and a $15 Amazon gift card goes to Nancy for Halloween Drives Me Batty!

Congratulations to all the winners!

But I’d like to say again how fabulous ALL the entries were, and congratulate everyone who entered.  You all did a great job, and I know how hard it is to put your work out there, so BRAVO!!!  I know I speak for everyone when I say how much we all enjoyed reading ALL the entries!

And here’s a little heads up.  I’m not running the Thanksgiving Contest this year.  I think it’s just too much with everything else going on in November and having just finished the Halloweensie Contest.  But I WILL be running the Holiday Contest during the week of December 19-24.  And I’ll tell you right now that there are 5 (that’s FIVE!) Picture Book Manuscript Critiques up for grabs to the winners of that contest!!!  And maybe some other good stuff too!  So start thinking holiday thoughts.  Make some notes.  And be sure to keep your calendar open enough to participate!  The reason there are 5 fabulous prizes is because we got so many entries for that contest last year, which gave me the impression (possibly misguided :)) that it was popular.  So I hope people will enter, and please spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.  I will post the contest rules in the first week of December… hopefully… 🙂

Okay.  Now for real, go have a nice weekend 🙂  PPBF bloggers, please remember to add your post-specific link to the list below!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Sacajawea Of The Shoshone And a Few Extras!

As promised, today I’m excited to share Sacajawea Of The Shosone for Perfect Picture Book Friday.  If you didn’t have a chance to read the interview with author Natasha Yim, please go HERE – I think you’ll enjoy it 🙂  And I want to thank Natasha from all of us for taking the time to visit repeatedly, respond to people’s comments, and answer with lots of additional very interesting information!  Thank you, Natasha!  After the Perfect Picture Book, I will announce the winner of the giveaway from Monday, so stay tuned 🙂

Sacajawea Of The Shoshone
Written By: Natasha Yim
Illustrated By: Albert Nguyen
Goosebottom Books, September 26, 2012, Non-Fiction

Suitable For: ages 9-12

Topics/Themes: American History, Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Native Americans, real princesses

Opening: “Clouds of dust swirled across the plains, kicked up by galloping horses.  Screams shattered the autumn air.  Arrows arced across the crisp blue sky, sprung from Shoshone bows….

Brief Synopsis: From the book jacket: “One minute Sacajawea was picking berries and the next her Shoshone tribe was being attacked by another tribe. As she ran for her life, she was scooped up and taken far away from her village and family—and into history. When Lewis and Clark happened upon her living amongst a new tribe and chose her to accompany them, they greatly benefited from her skills as an interpreter and guide. From her mountain home to the banks of the Missouri River, over the majestic Rockies to the pounding waves of the Pacific, Sacajawea traveled farther than any American woman of her time.

Links To Resources: Shoshone Facts For Kids, make a map of the route Sacajawea took when leading the Lewis and Clark expedition, How To Draw An Easy Teepee, Goosebottom Books Resources (there isn’t a resource listed yet for Sacajawea, but resources are listed for the other titles in this series so I expect a link will show up soon!) try a basket weaving or bead work activity.

Why I Like This Book:  As you know, this book is a bit of an aberration for me – it’s a non-fiction picture book for older readers, and my usual choices lean toward fun fiction for fours and fives 🙂  The fact that I have chosen it as today’s PPB is a testament to how much I liked it.  The text is clearly written and includes a lot of information I didn’t know about Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark expedition.  I especially loved the side bar type sections which gave extra interesting information about certain things, like the spelling of Sacajawea’s name, what she ate, and how she got chosen for the Lewis and Clark expedition.  The art is beautiful – a combination of painting and photography that works very well.  And I like that this book is a title in the Thinking Girl’s Treasury Of Real Princesses and includes a bibliography of sources.

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

Now that you TOTALLY want to read Natasha’s book, I will announce the winner of the giveaway, which was randomly drawn at random by random.org 🙂  And the winner is:

VIVIAN!!!

Congratulations, Vivian!

Natasha and I thoroughly enjoyed everyone’s creativity and all the wonderful titles that were submitted, but she wanted readers to know that she especially loved:

What to Expect When You’re Exploring with…White Men (Elizabeth)

Helping your Teens Deal with Mean Squaw Bullying Without Resorting to the Use of the Tomahawk (Delores)
Reasons Why You Should Always Let a Woman Lead the Expedition (Robyn)

I would add to that list my two additional favorites (because you guys know I can never stop at 3 :)):

Buffalo Again? How To Get Your Kids To Eat It Every Night (Coleen)
Nodding And Other Techniques To Make Your Travel Companions Think They Are Really In Charge (Katie)

You guys were all great!

I’d also like to announce that so many of you wonderful Perfect Picture Book bloggers have offered to spread the word far and wide about PPBF that I have ordered and will soon be mailing out to you, 1000 book marks!  Isn’t that fabulous?  Thank you all for all the hard work you put into PPBF!  I think it’s a great resource, something that serves people well and will also help make parents, educators, and publishers see the great value in picture books and the continued need to keep them coming!  Anyone who didn’t ask for bookmarks yet but would like some, I have plenty so see me after class 🙂  (Let me know in the comments or email susann[at]susannahill[dot]com)

And, as if we weren’t on fun-overload already, on a non-PPBF theme, I have to thank my sweet, four-legged friend, Cupcake, who bestowed the One Sweet Blog

and Super-Sweet Blogging Awards

on me.  I think she saw all the chocolate treats and donuts and other goodies that find their way onto these pages 🙂  I am truly honored to have been chosen by Cupcake who is one of my favorite people 🙂 As you all know, I am truly terrible at awards, but I’ll give this one a go because it involves dessert 🙂

The rules are, you have to:
1. Give credit to the person who chose you (the lovely Cupcake as mentioned above :))
2. Answer the 5 Super Sweet questions below and,
3. Nominate a Baker’s Dozen (13 blogs)

1. Cookies or Cake? YES!
2. Chocolate or Vanilla? BOTH!  gosh, these questions are easy 🙂
3. What is your favorite sweet treat? Oh.  Not SO easy… Would it be cheating if I said cookiescakepie?  Yes?  Hmm… Well, I do love a really good oatmeal raisin cookie… 🙂
4. When do you crave sweets the most?  All day, every day 🙂
5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?  Hmmm…. Superwoman doesn’t really count as sweet…  How about Piecake?

Now, about those nominees, this is the part I really can’t do because I love you all and hate to choose.  So consider yourselves all nominated.  (I know, taking the wimpy way out!)  But this time I do have one person who must be recognized because she is supplying us with sweet photographs of sweet food.  So Stacy Jensen, come on down!  I pass these along specially to you! 🙂  Oh, and someone else has had a very hard week in which her sweet tooth underwent root canal, so Robyn, you get special mention as well 🙂  Now that I think of it, Natasha was very sweet to visit so much and respond to everyone!  So Natasha, you get them too 🙂  So let see… how am I doing…
1. Stacy
2. Robyn
13. Natasha

I did it!  13!  A Baker’s Dozen!

Phew!  That turned into a long post with lots of goodies, but hopefully pretty much fun too what with all the award winning and passing around!  PPBF bloggers, please add your post-specific links to the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a great weekend, everyone!