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!

Guest Post From Author Amy Dixon! (And A Giveaway!!!)

Happy Monday Everyone!

Boy did I wrestle with this post.

As you know, today is our day for a guest post from Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE.  (And did I mention there’s a giveaway?!!)

It was also supposed to be the day I posted the Halloweensie Contest Finalists (of which there are a lot more than 3 because at final count we had 38 entries and 3 finalists was simply not a number I could get down to with so many fantastic stories!!!)

I actually started writing the post thinking I’d put everything in.

But by the time I got to the end of Amy’s part, I knew it wasn’t going to work.  Wonderful as you all are, I felt it was just too much to ask you to go on from Amy’s post to the contest finalists – it was getting VERY long.  So since today is her scheduled day, I hope you will all thoroughly enjoy her post, which is full of inspiring words for writers!  I will post the Halloweensie Contest finalists in a separate post either later on today or tomorrow (which I realize is not a normal posting day for me) – feel free to tell me in the comments which you’d prefer!

So without further ado, heeeeerrrre’s AMY!

Amy Dixon

When I was growing up, some of my favorite books involved one Miss Ramona Quimby. I’m sure I related to her trials as the little sister, and to her attempts to prove herself worthy of admiration and acceptance. I will say though, that Ramona went to much greater lengths to gain such admiration. I never accidentally cracked a raw egg on my head, or wore a Chiquita banana sticker on my face in order to be a part of the latest fad. But I was always delighted by her antics, and always wished, in spite of what seemed like constant embarrassment, that I could be more like her. What perhaps now I would categorize as impulsiveness, I then regarded as bravery. Ramona was brave. I wanted to be brave, too.
It was my affection for Ramona that made the nickname I earned on the soccer field when I was 10 a little more palatable. My sister and I both played on a team called The Golden Touch. I wasn’t a flashy player. I don’t think I ever saved or scored a goal. But our coach would put me in the midfield, point out one of our opponents and say, “Don’t you let her get by you.” I took his charge seriously. I followed that player around on the field like a stray puppy who was once given a scrap and was hoping for more. I would not leave her alone for a second. And so, on the soccer field, I became Amy the Pest.
When I started writing for children six years ago, I had no idea the tenacity that would be required to make things happen in this business. It definitely called for a bit of…pesty-ness.  Not a bombard-agents-and-editors-with-e-mails-and-phone-calls-till-your-name-is-engraved-on-their-list-of-psycho-writers kind of pesty-ness. But a persistent, persevering, resilient kind of pesty-ness. A pesty-ness that revises the same manuscript 27 times until it is just perfect…and then starts from scratch because an editor thinks it would work better in third person.  A pesty-ness that takes in each painful rejection and yet still finds a way to send the story back out again. A pesty-ness that makes us certain those rejections will be fun to share later in a “look how many times my amazing, award-winning story was scoffed at before it sold!” presentation.
And so, 20 years after my days as a half-back for the Golden Touch, Amy the Pest was resurrected. I wrote. I revised. I critiqued. I conferenced. I submitted. I was rejected. I revised some more. I submitted some more. I was rejected some more. I buzzed in the ear of the publishing world, and was swatted away again and again.
But like Ramona and her questions about Steam Shovels and their bathroom habits, I wouldn’t go away. I believed in my work. I had critique partners who believed in my work. And somewhere in there, somewhere in between growing as a writer and learning the business of publishing, I became brave. Brave enough to send out MARATHON MOUSE, even after getting some discouraging editor feedback. (So…all that happens in this book is…he runs? Am I missing something?) Brave enough to get a publisher’s offer on MARATHON MOUSE, and ask the editor for 2 weeks to follow-up with agents before saying yes. Brave enough to now say out loud, “I am a writer.”
Get your copy today! 🙂
So here I am…Amy Dixon, Age 37. Here to encourage you to channel your inner Ramona. Release your pesty-ness.  Learn to be brave. You will grow as a writer, even if, every once in a while, you end up with a little raw egg on your head.


Wasn’t that just terrific?  Thank you so much for those inspiring words, Amy!

I will tell you all that I have read MARATHON MOUSE and will be posting it this Friday as my Perfect Picture Book – it’s fantastic and I highly recommend it and you should all find any excuse you can to buy it! 🙂

In the meantime, one lucky, lucky reader is going to win a signed copy, because Amy is just that wonderful!  All you have to do is leave a comment telling about something you accomplished (like a marathon :))  For example, I could say that once I was Sneezy in our third grade play of Blanche Neige – and if you’ve ever tried to sneeze in French you will know just what an accomplishment that was!  But I realize it’s Monday morning and many of you may not be fully caffeinated yet, so if you can’t remember anything you’ve accomplished at this hour you can just write why you’d like the book 🙂

Stay tuned for the Halloweensie Contest Finalists and don’t forget to let me know if you have a preference for later today or tomorrow.  The post is already written because it used to be half of this one 🙂

Have a lovely Monday 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – All The Places To Love, And A Teensy Halloweensie Update

You know me.  Planning is not my strong suit.  I’m definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal.  But for today, I planned.  I had a book in mind.  I was all set.  I ordered my copy well in advance.  Unfortunately the release date was shifted.  Fortunately, it still shipped in time.  But… thanks to Sandy… delivery has been delayed, so today’s book, which was supposed to have been Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon, just in time for the NYC marathon and in advance of her interview here on Monday, ain’t happenin’.  Sad face.  Apparently I am not destined to be a planner!

So instead, in the aftermath of Sandy when so many have lost so much, I’ve chosen a book I dearly love.  I know.  This makes two quiet books in a row.  But after the craziness of this hurricane week it seemed like a good choice.  I dare you to read it without feeling touched 🙂

All The Places To Love
Written By: Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrated By: Mike Wimmer
HarperColllins, 1994, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 3-8

Themes/Topics: appreciating what you have, love, family, new baby

Opening: “On the day I was born my grandmother wrapped me in a blanket made from the wool of her sheep.  She held me up to the window so that what I first heard was the wind.  What I first saw were all the places to love…”

Brief Synopsis: Everyone in Eli’s family has a favorite place – Mama loves the blueberry barren, grandmother loves the river, grandfather loves the barn.  “Where else,” he says, “can the soft sound of cows chewing make all the difference in the world?”  Eli knows that no matter where he goes in the world, all the places to love are right here, connected to his family, and always to be cherished.  Then one day, Eli and his grandfather wait together in the barn until grandmother holds someone new up to the window, wrapped in a blanket made from the wool of her sheep – Eli’s sister Sylvie – and he looks forward to sharing his joy, showing her all the places to love including his favorite, which is revealed in the end, but I won’t spoil it 🙂

Links To Resources:  here is a nice Teacher’s Guide, but I also think this book lends itself perfectly to discussion of the places YOU love and why.  Draw a picture of a place you love.  Make a list of places you love.  Talk about why you love them, what makes them special.

Why I Like This Book: I don’t just like this book – I absolutely love it.  The language is poetic and lyrical with a rhythm that makes it wonderful to read aloud.  The art is warm, loving, and so appealing.  The story is all about love, appreciation, and family.  It’s a quiet book, just right for bedtime or those moments when children need to settle down.  It brings all the warmth and comfort of love and family to the surface, giving children a model whereby they can revel in their own experience of the people and places they love.  I read this book many, many times to my kids and after all those readings, even now, it makes me teary every time (in a good way :))  Simply a gem.

Here’s the only other picture that was available on the internet for a glimpse of the beauty inside:

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

And now, before you all rush off to read everyone’s wonderful offerings for today, a teensy Halloweensie Contest update.  We had an INCREDIBLE turn-out – 37 entries at the time of this writing (and I did say I’d extend the deadline to the end of today to help people who lost their power and couldn’t post or link up.)  If you haven’t had a chance to read them, please go HERE and have fun following the links and checking the comment section for the 6 that were entered there.  All these writers worked so hard, and produced such wonderful, entertaining stories I’d hate for you to miss any of them.  And a couple got added late and I’m worried they didn’t get many visitors 😦 so please, if you’re looking for a little light reading over the weekend, check them out!

Now, if all you amazing PPBF bloggers would kindly leave your post-specific links below, we’ll all come visit you with a piece of paper and a pencil so we can make extensive library lists 🙂  OH!  And don’t miss Monday’s post – with Amy Dixon, author of Marathon Mouse, and the vote for the Halloweensie Contest Winner (assuming my assistant judge and I have any luck narrowing this unbelievable field!)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and GOOD LUCK to anyone who is running the NYC Marathon (and that includes my better half! :))!!!