The 5th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest – aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!

Ear of snake and tongue of bat!  It’s finally time for…

The 5th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!


courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words costumedark, and haunt.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 130 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. haunt, haunts, haunted, darkness, darkening, costumed, whathaveyou 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday October 30th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the link list below.  There will be no Would You Read It this week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you!)

The Judging: in a grueling, marathon weekend, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 2nd.  The winner will be announced in a special Thursday post on November 5th.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turn out we did last year, all bets are off.  I may post as many as 10 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 🙂

The Prizes: as always, our generous community has contributed some truly amazing prizes!

 – a read and comments on a PB ms by fabulous agent Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency!!!

Tricia Lawrence – Agent

Tricia is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of EMLA—born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 19 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from kids books to college textbooks, but mostly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.

As agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong worldbuilding, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go.

Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. You can find Tricia’s writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics (for authors and the publishing industry at large) here and here.

 – a picture book manuscript critique by Diana Murray!  website

Diana Murray writes stories and poems for children. She is the author of several forthcoming picture books, including CITY SHAPES illustrated by Bryan Collier (Little, Brown, June 2016), GRIMELDA: THE VERY MESSY WITCH illustrated by Heather Ross (Katherine Tegen Books /HarperCollins, July 2016), NED THE KNITTING PIRATE illustrated by Leslie Lammle (Roaring Brook Press /Macmillan, August 2016), and GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINEillustrated by Bats Langley (Sky Pony Press, Fall 2016). 


Diana was awarded the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Work-in-Progress Grant for a picture book manuscript. She has many poems published and forthcoming in magazines, including SpiderHighlightsHigh Five, and Hello. Diana won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for poetry in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Honor Award in 2013. Diana is represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House literary agency. She recently moved from the Bronx to a nearby suburb, where she lives with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. 


 – a query critique from Heather Ayris Burnell, founder of the Sub It Club

Heather is a mom by day, children’s book writer by night, and librarian on the side. Her picture book, Bedtime Monster, is published by Raven Tree Press. She has far too many manuscripts in various stages of development. If only she didn’t need sleep! Represented by Sean McCarthy Literary Agency.


a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

 – an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books.

 – personalized signed copies of Sarah Frances Hardy’s Dress Me! and Paint Me!

 – a personalized signed copy of Amy Dixon’s Sophie’s Animal Parade

 – a personalized signed copy of Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez’s What About Moose?

a personalized signed copy of Penny Parker Klostermann’s There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight

Please join me again in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

Now then.  Time for my sample entry which I provide because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  Also, in case anyone is worried about the quality of their entry they have only to read my truly horrific attempt to be filled with confidence that their’s is MUCH better!  I have to confess, I was really down to the wire this year (my schedule is a little bit nuts!), so, ahem, yeah.. maybe I’ll think up something better during the week and swap it!

So, here goes nothing…!

Halloween Surprise! (100 words)
Halloween.  Trick-or-treat.
Spooky shadows.  Darkenedstreet.
Suddenly my brother, Jay,
Tugs my arm.  “Let’s go this way!”
He pulls me off the beaten track,
Passes Old Man Clancy’s shack.
Creeping fog licks at our heels.
I don’t like the way this feels.
Something glides in silent flight,
Ghostly shapes against the night.
“Witches!  Let’s go home!” I say.
“Owls.  Let’s go on,” says Jay.
Spidered moonlight through the trees.
Heartbeat pounding.  Shaky knees.
Up ahead this haunted night
Monsters dance by bonfire light!
Turning!  Running!
Then, “SURPRISE!”
Costumed monsters end disguise.
Cake and presents, friends who say,
“Happy Halloween Birthday!”

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still 4 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

And there are 70 fabulous entries in the comment section below that you won’t want to miss! (Names are links)

Lynne – Boo Who?
Julie – The Teensy Weensy Witch
Joyce – Scary Scary Halloween
Amanda S – The Haunted Dash
Sam – Spooky Spies
Marilyn – The Best Treats
Jessica – Peek A Boo Moon Scarecrow
Pamela – Libbybeth, Prettiest Monsterette
Jen – Halloween At Last
Bonnie – Happy Scary Halloween
Sandy – Clothespin Costume
Marty – The Old House
Sherri – A Night Of Fright
Jacqueline – Grow A Ghoul
Anne – The Little Ghost’s Audition
Jason – Peace, Love And Happy Halloween
Linda – Dorchester’s Last Dance
Christine – Charlotte And The Ghost
Maria – Best Halloween Ever
Chrystal – Paisley The Ghostling
Pat C – I AM A Monster
Pam W – The Hidden Costume
Mindy – Dizzy Bat
Michele – Unseen Halloween
Carol – Scaredy Bat
Lisa – Mo, The Ghost Who Said Moo
Polly – Nothing To Wear
Pia – Do Not Open This Door!
Jen W – Jack-o-ween
Jen M – Halloween In The Park
J. Bea – Dark Dark In The Park
Ruth – Nellie Pinkerton Needs A Costume
Jana – The Unicorn Ate My Candy Corn – A Halloween Tall Tale
Eleanor – Lillie’s Magic Halloween Wand!
Jim – Jeepers Creepers
Victoria – Is There Anything As Scary
Jennifer – In The Dark Of Night
Terri – Willow
Marty #2 – No Costume, No Candy
Debbie – Gharret And Marty
JC – Broom Trouble
Stephanie – Mummy Unveiled
Vicky – The Sun And His Silly Trick
Melissa – Bunny’s Costume
Penny – Belle Of The Halloween Ball
Katrina – Early Monster
Lori – Indelible!
Suzy – Trick For Treats
Shelley – A Meaty Trick Or Treat
Sharon C – The Disappearing Candy
Sharon W – The Haunted Well
Juli – Hallow-eek!
Kathleen – Dark Sparkles
Rob – Scratch, Bones And Boo
Anne – The Haunted Halloween Ball
Patricia C – The Pumpkin Pie Witches
Shelley #2 – The Little Witch Who Lost Her Hat
Heather – The Cackle
Sandy – Frank-N-Stein’s Store
Elizabeth – The Ghost Of Mary Jane
Elizabeth #2 – The Bug Ghost
Carol – Haunt Couture
Robin – In The Darkness
Charlotte – Scaredy Cat Ghost
Susan – The House On The Corner
Nancy – Dinoween
Jill – Aaahhh, Aaahhh, BOO!
Sandy P – The King Of Screams
Rhonda – Trick Or Treat Trouble
Rachel – Sweet Matilda Conquers Her Fear

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 🙂

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Perfect Picture Book Friday – Little Boo

Cackle, cackle!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and almost Halloween!  So what better to share than a Perfect Halloween Picture Book?

This is such a cute one!

Title: Little Boo
Written By: Stephen Wunderli
Illustrated By: Tim Zeltner
Henry Holt & Company, August 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: Holidays (Halloween), Emotion (patience/impatience), Nature (lifecycle of a seed), Common Childhood Experiences (wanting to be bigger/older)

Opening: “The wind blew, the leaves fell, and a tiny seed hid in the garden.
“Boo,” the seed said to a leaf rolling by.
“You’re not scary at all,” the leaf said.

Brief Synopsis: A little pumpkin seed tries hard to be scary but he just can’t seem to scare anyone – not the leaves or the grubs, not the snowflakes in winter or the bees in spring!  “Be patient,” the wind tells him, “you’ll be scary soon enough.”  But it’s awfully hard to wait!

Links To Resources: plant a seed and watch it grow – indoors in a container or outdoors in a garden; 40 Things For Kids To Do With Pumpkins9 Easy Pumpkin Recipes For Kids

Why I Like This Book:  It’s just so cute!  Look at that little pumpkin seed face – how can you not love it?! 🙂  The story is simple but so relatable for kids who always seem to want to grow up faster than nature allows.  And within the sweet story we also get a nice little glimpse of the life cycle of a seed – so cleverly slipped in there!  To top it off, the art is absolutely gorgeous –  colorful and warm and so appealing!  This is a wonderful one to add to your Halloween book shelf 🙂

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  And put the finishing touches on those Halloweensie Contest entries!  (You know, the thing I STILL haven’t even started thinking about… 🙂 )  I am so looking forward to the contest which starts MONDAY!!! Woo hoo! 🙂

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Would You Read It Wednesday #190 – Aunt Elvira And The Watermelon Seed (PB)

Howdy, my friends!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far!

Has everyone besides me written their entry for the Halloweensie Contest?

I confess, I haven’t even started my sample.  I haven’t even thought about it!  I don’t have the slightest inkling of an idea… which is a little worrisome given that it has to be posted in 5 days!  GULP!

Lest you think I’ve been totally goofing off, though, let me assure you you’re right I have been very busy!  I spent the weekend at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, and I must say, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, you should come!  It’s as crowded as the country fair, but it’s all about everything sheep!  And the wool!  It’s so gorgeous!  Everyone parades around in beautifully crafted clothing they’ve made themselves – hats, scarves, mittens, shawls and shrugs, ponchos, socks, crocheted bags, I even saw a few women in elaborate knitted dresses!  Every year I go, I’m inspired to spend the winter knitting 🙂  Not so inspired that I actually do it, mind you, but I love the idea.  Maybe this winter… 🙂

Anyway, my dear talented writer and illustrator friends Iza Trapani and Nancy Shaw and I all got to sit together to sign copies of our sheep books, and we got to do a group story time for the kids both Saturday and Sunday which was really fun.

Here we are… like our own little herd 🙂
me, Iza, and Nancy

So you see, I have a legitimate excuse for not getting my Halloweensie sample written yet.

It is making me anxious, though.  I think Something Chocolate is called for to calm the nerves 🙂  Hmm… what should we have today?  I’m in the mood for chocolate cupcakes! (am I ever not?! :))  A cupcake is basically a muffin, and therefore qualifies as a breakfast food, so dig in!

Recipe HERE at Sprinkle Some Sugar
http://www.sprinklesomesugar.com/ultimate-chocolate-cupcakes/

YUM!!!!!

Now that our mouths are full of delicious chocolatey goodness, today’s pitch comes to us from Patricia.  Patricia is a former lawyer who migrated to the not-for-profit world many years ago.  A pre-published author and long-time 12×12 and PiBoIdMo participant, she primarily writes picture books, as these are the books she best loved reading with her three (almost) grown children. Patricia currently lives with her husband, two orange Tollers and almost 400 high school students at a New England boarding school.  Find her on Facebook at Two Orange Pups, on Twitter @ptntweets, or during Susanna’s super writing contests at Wander, Ponder, Write.


Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Aunt Elvira And The Watermelon Seed
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)
The Pitch: A visit from Great-Aunt Elvira happened once in a lifetime.  But why did it have to be during Clarissa’s lifetime? Prim and proper Marissa was sure to shine, but with her slurps, burps and two left feet, Clarissa couldn’t imagine how she could impress her aged aunt.

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 Patricia 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 December so you’ve got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Patricia is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to coming up with an idea for Halloweensie so I can write my sample and stop feeling anxious that I haven’t! 🙂  Also to seconds on that cupcake! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Marilyn’s Monster

Woo hoo!  It’s Friday!!!

And you know what that means, boys and girls…

It’s time for Perfect Picture Books!

What with Halloween coming up and all, I thought a book about monsters would be very appropriate, even if it isn’t specifically Halloweenie. 🙂  I loved this book from the opening sentence.  I hope you will too!

Title: Marilyn’s Monster
Written By: Michelle Knudsen
Illustrated By: Matt Phelan
Candlewick, March 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: patience/waiting, monsters, doing what you know is right

Opening: “Some of the kids in Marilyn’s class had monsters.  It was the latest thing.  Marilyn didn’t have a monster.  Not yet.  You couldn’t just go out and get one.  Your monster had to find you.  That’s just the way it worked.”

Brief Synopsis:  Marilyn longs for her monster to find her.  She tries to be patient and be the kind of girl no monster can resist.  But the longer she waits, the harder it gets, until finally Marilyn takes matters into her own hands.  And it’s a good thing she does!

Links To Resources: Marilyn’s Monster Story Time Kit; Q&A with Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan

Why I Like This Book: Oh, gosh!  Where to begin?  The story is wonderfully original and entertaining, and relates to a theme all kids can understand – having to wait for things!  Marilyn is so believably child-like in her behaviors and emotions.  The art is delightful, full of wacky monsters that are tons of fun to look at, and Marilyn’s face and body language are so expressive.  Marilyn goes against expectation without being disobedient or breaking any rules, so it’s a nice way to model doing what you know is right, or being true to yourself.  And the resolution is surprisingly sweet.  Across the board, this one is a winner!

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

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 shows up on this week’s list!

I will be at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY this weekend, along with Iza Trapani and Nancy Shaw.  Please stop by and see us if you’re in the neighborhood!!!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 🙂

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Would You Read It Wednesday # 189 – Kitten Ciao (PB)

Hey there, friends!

I hope your week is going swimmingly so far!

I’m off in a mad rush this morning to two solid days of school visits, so no time for lollygagging about!  We’re going to get right down to it!

First, we need to attend to the most important meal of the day – Something Chocolate!  (It’s what’s for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, snack, snack! :))

Our Would You Read It pitcher for today recommended chocolate pancakes spread with Nutella!  So here you go – chocolate pancakes!!!

YUM!  Chocolate Pancakes!!!
Recipe HERE at Bakerella
http://greatideas.people.com/2014/07/25/bakerella-chocolate-pancake-recipe/
…and here’s some Nutella to go with… 🙂

Boy, do those look good!  The cross-section really looks more like actual cake than pancake.  This is a breakfast I could grow to love 🙂

Now then.  Today’s pitch comes to us from Lisa (recommender of chocolate pancakes with Nutella) who says, “I am a Northern California based writer and aspiring picture book author who enjoys thinking and rethinking how I would describe myself in one sentence. Some days I am a chocolate pound cake baking, back yard squirrel watcher who keeps thinking I just felt an earthquake.  Other days I am a coffee frenzied, Scrabble player determined to get the 50 bonus points that come with using all seven tiles in one word.  Lately, I am an-empty nester who just gently pushed the last little birdie out into the world.  It is an exciting time for me, and I am thrilled to submit my pitch for Kitten Ciao to Would You Read It.”

You can visit her blog at https://closeddoorandopenwindow.wordpress.com/posts/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Kitten Ciao – A Culinary Tale In Six Bite-Sized Chapters
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)
The Pitch: Kitten Ciao is fed up with the food at home, so he dashes off to dine in Europe, where the food must be better.  He sees famous sights, makes new friends and learns to say “hello” and “goodbye” in each country’s language. But the rain in Paris turns his crepes to goo, there are raisins in his English Pudding, the sauerkraut at Oktoberfest is, well, sour, and there’s no chocolate dip for his Spanish churros.  When he gets to Italy, the worst possible thing happens and Kitten Ciao figures out that the world will never quite be able to top the food at Mama’s table. A glossary of terms is included.


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 Lisa 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… hmm, let me see… I have to consult my calendar… I think due to the Holiday Contest we might be getting into the new year for openings, but there might be room for one or two in December… so you’ve got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Finally, in case you missed the not-normally-scheduled post on Monday, it’s time to fire up your genius for the 5th Annual Halloweensie Contest!!!  Hop over HERE and check out the guidelines and fabulous prizes!

Lisa is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to 2 days, 9 presentations, 30 classes, and your guess is as good as mine how many little smiling Kindergarten – Grade 2 faces of school visit fun! 🙂  Wish me luck!!!

It’s About That Time…!

Happy Columbus Day everyone!

I hope you’re all enjoying days off from school and work!!!

You know what I always say?
What better way to celebrate Columbus Day then by talking about Halloween?!
And what’s more interesting, fun and exciting about Halloween then anything else (except for miniature candy bars that have no calories because of their tiny-ness!)???


The 5th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!

Can you believe we’re at the 5th???!!!


courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words costumedark, and haunt.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 130 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. haunt, haunts, haunted, darkness, darkening, costumed, whathaveyou 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 26th and Friday October 30th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my October 26th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you!)

The Judging: in a grueling, marathon weekend, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 2nd.  The winner will be announced in a special Thursday post on November 5th.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turn out we did last year, all bets are off.  I may post as many as 10 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 🙂

The Prizes:  yeah… I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  Feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  But prizes will include:

 – a read and comments on a PB ms by fabulous agent Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency!!!

Tricia Lawrence – Agent

Tricia is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of EMLA—born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 19 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from kids books to college textbooks, but mostly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.

As agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong worldbuilding, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go.

Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. You can find Tricia’s writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics (for authors and the publishing industry at large) here and here.

Tricia will be attending or on the faculty at the following upcoming conferences and events:

WOW Week of Writing Retreat, July 17-23, 2016
Website

 – a picture book manuscript critique by Diana Murray!  website

Diana Murray writes stories and poems for children. She is the author of several forthcoming picture books, including CITY SHAPES illustrated by Bryan Collier (Little, Brown, June 2016), GRIMELDA: THE VERY MESSY WITCH illustrated by Heather Ross (Katherine Tegen Books /HarperCollins, July 2016), NED THE KNITTING PIRATE illustrated by Leslie Lammle (Roaring Brook Press /Macmillan, August 2016), and GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINEillustrated by Bats Langley (Sky Pony Press, Fall 2016). 


Diana was awarded the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Work-in-Progress Grant for a picture book manuscript. She has many poems published and forthcoming in magazines, including SpiderHighlightsHigh Five, and Hello. Diana won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for poetry in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Honor Award in 2013. Diana is represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House literary agency. She recently moved from the Bronx to a nearby suburb, where she lives with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. 


 – a query critique from Heather Ayris Burnell, founder of the Sub It Club

– a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

 – an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books.

 – a signed copy of Amy Dixon’s Sophie’s Animal Parade

 – a signed copy of Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez’s What About Moose?

Plus whatever else I dream up in the meantime 🙂

I hope those fantabulous prizes fill you with enthusiasm for the contest!

So sharpen your pencils!

Get your butt in that chair!

See what amazing, knock-your-socks-off story you can dream up!

It’s a chance to hone your writing skills, practice your craft, write to specifications and a deadline, win amazing prizes, AND get to read and enjoy the wonderful stories written by all your fellows 🙂

Many, many thanks to Tricia, Diana, Heather, Corey, and Amy for their very generous prize offerings!

I literally cannot wait to read your stories!!! 🙂

Have a Marvelous Monday everyone! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Leah’s Pony

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

There’s nothing like Friday, is there?  Especially before a long weekend 🙂

And Perfect Picture Books just make Fridays even better – tons of great new reading material for your weekend, be it regular or long 🙂

This was one of those odd weeks when my pile of picture books failed to wow me.  I read book after book thinking, “meh” – not what you want in a perfect picture book!  I’m always a little depressed when this happens.  I wonder if I’m missing something, since clearly a whole team of people thought these books were great enough to publish.  But whatever the reason, there was no perfect picture book in this week’s collection, so instead of one of the newer titles from my pile of meh, I went with an older title from my bookshelf (signed to my daughter by Michael Garland :)) a book I have loved for years.  I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Title: Leah’s Pony
Written By: Elizabeth Friedrich
Illustrated By: Michael Garland
Boyds Mills Press, February 1996, Fiction (historical)

Suitable For Ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: historical fiction (1930s Dust Bowl), family, love, sacrifice

Opening:  “The year the corn grew tall and straight, Leah’s papa bought her a pony.  The pony was strong and swift and sturdy, with just a snip of white at the end of his soft black nose.  Papa taught Leah to place her new saddle right in the middle of his back and tighten the girth around his belly, just so.

Brief Synopsis: Leah’s pony was swift and strong.  She loved him dearly, and together they raced across the fields under summer skies.  But then came a year when the corn didn’t grow, locusts blackened the sky, and the earth turned to dust, the beginning of the great drought (the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.)  Leah’s family is faced with losing their farm and their livelihood.  It takes Leah’s strength and courage to save them.

Links To Resources: Facts about the Dust Bowl with links to further resources; Lesson Plan for the Dust Bowl (aimed at 5th grade but can be altered); Dust Bowl info and lesson plans for grades 2-5; Photo Gallery – The Dust Bowl; Dust Bowl Facts & Summary

Why I Like This Book:  This is historical fiction at its best, bringing a slice of history to life in a way that is not only accessible but irresistible for young readers.  The story is simply told with all the right details, and so emotionally compelling I dare anyone not to get choked up at the end!  Michael Garland’s art is absolutely stunning and a perfect fit for the story.  With slightly longer text as well as the historical context, this is a wonderful choice for older picture book readers.

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone, and Happy Columbus Day!  I’m hoping to post the guidelines for the Halloweensie Contest…soon-ish…so stay tuned!!!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday – Sheep Go To Sleep

My goodness what a busy week it has been!  I feel like I keep saying that! 🙂

I already know next week is going to be WAY busier so. . . donations of chocolate will be gratefully accepted 🙂  (A girl needs fuel!)

(Phyllis says groundhogs also need fuel and she will accept donations of strawberries.)

(And Woolliam (aka Baab) says sheep… oh, never mind, he’s asleep.)

As you all know, I am very fond of books about sheep :), and I have the most marvelous new one to share with you today!  It’s as perfect as only a Perfect Picture Book can be! 🙂

Title: Sheep Go To Sleep
Written By: Nancy Shaw
Illustrated By: Margot Apple
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: bedtime, counting, animals, language fun (rhyme)

Opening: “Winking fireflies light the way,
as sheep stroll home to hit the hay.
Five sheep settle in their shed,
using straw to make the bed.

Brief Synopsis: It’s time for bed, but the sheep are having a little trouble settling down.  Fortunately a trusty collie knows just what to do to get them all happy and cozy for the night.

Links To Resources: talk about what things you need to go to sleep – are there some things everyone likes to have at bedtime and other things that are more individual?; Sheep Crafts & Activities; 30 Cute Lamb & Sheep Crafts for Kids & Adults; Marshmallow Sheep Recipes

Why I Like This Book: Delightful rhyme, a sweet, fun story, and adorable art – what’s not to love? 🙂  Just like a lot of children I know, the sheep hear some scary noises and feel a little too worried to fall asleep.  Their friend the collie is as wise and understanding as any parent.  He gives one a hug, one a drink, one a blanket until at last everyone is tucked in safe and cozy, sound asleep.  And in the morning, when the sheep wake up, where do you think the collie has gone?  (I’m not telling. You’ll have to read to find out :))  A lovely, comforting story (which incorporates some counting along the way for an added bonus :)) that is a perfect addition to any bedtime bookshelf.

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday – Kate And Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

And happy first day of May! 🙂

I have SUCH a cute book to share with you today!  You know me – I always love a good true animal story with a happy ending 🙂  I’ll just warn you in advance that I went hog wild with the photos 🙂  Enjoy!

Title: Kate And Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story
Written By: Martin Springett
Photographs By: Isobel Springett
Henry Holt & Co, February 2012, Nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Love, Animals

Opening: “The fawn lay still and quiet.  She was alone and afraid as she waited for her mother to come back.
Every little deer needs its mother to protect it from the many dangers of the forest.
But her mother did not return, and three long days passed.

Brief Synopsis: When a fawn is abandoned by her mother, a nearby couple takes her in, hoping to save her.  Their Great Dane, Kate, though she has never had puppies of her own, knows just what to do to raise a baby deer.

Links To Resources: talk about friendship – what qualities do you look for in a friend? what makes a good friend? who can be your friend?  Talk about family – what makes a family?  Talk about wild animals – what should you do if you see a baby animal by itself? when should you leave it alone and when is it a good idea to try to help it?  http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/injured_orphaned_wildlife.html
And here’s a bonus video of a mama cat who adopts an orphaned squirrel… and it learns to purr 🙂  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHT1nAX46dM

Why I Like This Book:  I love true animal stories.  And I love cute baby animal pictures 🙂  And I love happy endings.  This book has them all.  The story also serves as a lovely model for acceptance, tolerance, and different kinds of families, and allows for discussion about what makes a family and/or what are the important qualities in a friend.  The couple who took Pippin in make no effort to keep her.  She returns to the wild and lives a free and independent life.  But she comes back to visit 🙂

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I always look forward to each new week’s list of fabulous books!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday – Mossy

Thank goodness for Perfect Picture Book Friday!  It gives me an excuse to sit in the library or bookstore and read picture books 🙂

Today’s choice is from one of my favorite author/illustrators.  And it’s loosely related to Earth Day (which was 2 days ago) because it’s about being kind to animals 🙂  I hope you like it 🙂

Mossy
Written & Illustrated By: Jan Brett
Putnam Juvenile, September 2012

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: consideration, kindness, animals in their natural habitat, perspective

Opening: “On a misty, moisty morning, a young turtle stood at the edge of Lilypad Pond.  Her name was Mossy.”

Brief Synopsis: Mossy loves her pond.  She spends so much time in the damp coolness that first moss and then a garden grow on her carapace.  One day, she meets a handsome turtle named Scoot who thinks she’s very beautiful, but just as they are on the verge of becoming friends, Dr. Carolina and Tory spot Mossy.  “She is perfect for the museum!” declares Dr. Carolina.  And so Mossy is carried away from her beloved pond and her new friend.  Dr Carolina gives her everything she thinks a turtle needs, but fails to understand that Mossy already had everything she needed.  It is Tory who sees that Mossy is sad.  So they come up with a way to keep Mossy at the museum but also give her what her heart desires.

Links To Resources:  The back jacket flap of the book tells about the real incident that inspired this story for Jan Brett.  The book provides a wonderful opportunity for discussion about animals in the wild vs. animals in captivity.  Why might it be good to take an animal out of its natural habitat?  Why might it be bad?  Have you ever captured anything (perhaps a caterpillar, a frog or toad, or a garter snake?) and kept it for a while?  How long did you keep it?  What happened to it?  Did you put it back where you found it?  A New York Times Q&A with Jan Brett about Mossy.  Jan Brett Coloring Pages (Mossy isn’t here yet, but she may show up!)  Jan Brett Activity Pages (also no Mossy yet, but lots of other fun things to choose from!)

Why I Like This Book: Well, to start with, it’s a Jan Brett 🙂  That means a good story and gorgeous art!  Add to that the fact that it’s about a turtle who is a walking garden and what’s not to like? 🙂  But the part I like best is how Tory realizes that Mossy isn’t happy in captivity and makes sure that she is returned to her beloved pond.  It’s a beautiful tale about doing what’s right for someone else, and realizing when you’ve made a mistake (even with good intentions.)

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

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 you all picked!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  And maybe I’ll see some of you at the SCBWI conference 🙂

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