Perfect Picture Book Friday – Meet The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, everyone!

I hope you all had lovely a Valentine’s Day!  If you didn’t happen to see Renee’s (abridged) puppet show version of Romeo & Juliet you are totally missing out and I have to recommend that you scoot over there and watch it.  We’ll still be here when you get back 🙂

I have a great book to share today, and also please stay tuned afterwards for the winner of Phyllis’s Fun Photo Contest and a fun announcement!

Meet The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm
Written & Photographed By: Jon Katz
Henry Holt & Company 2011, True Story

Suitable For: ages 4-8

Themes/Topics: jobs, individuality, kindness

Opening: “In the morning after mist has cleared from the path, four dogs go out together for their first walk of the day.  They circle and sniff the wet ground carefully, listening and seeing things that only dogs can sense.  The dogs are called Rose, Izzy, Frieda, and Lenore, and they all live on Bedlam Farm.   They stay together, circling, never running off.  They are a happy group; their tails wag when they see one another.  But it wasn’t always this way.”

Brief Synopsis: Four dogs are good friends.  Each one has a job.  Rose herds sheep.  Izzy visits sick people.  Frieda guards the farm.  But what is Lenore’s job?

Links To Resources:  This book could prompt a wonderful discussion about what kids are interested in and what they are good at; about how different people (just like different dogs) are good at different things.  Talk about all the many jobs there are, (here’s a link to a job index for kids in grade K-5) and ask kids what they’d like to be when they grow up.  Have them draw a picture of themselves doing the job of their dreams, or write a short story in which they get to do that job.  What kinds of jobs can they do now?  At home or in the classroom, make a job or chore chart and let each child have a task they enjoy and can do well.  Here’s a site where kids can “try out” different jobs KidsWork!

Why I Like This Book: If you’ve spent any time at all around this blog, you know I love dogs – especially rescue dogs – so it’s not a big leap to see why I like this book 🙂  Exquisite photographs of Jon Katz’s dogs at home on their farm, doing what they do best, complement a lovely true story about how everyone has value.  Each dog’s story is told – where they came from, how they ended up on the farm, what job they do.  Three of the dogs have traditional jobs.  Lenore does not.  Lenore does not herd sheep, or visit sick people, or guard the farm.  But she teaches Rose the serious worker how to play, she is Izzy’s first friend when he comes to the farm from a sad, bad place, and she keeps Frieda company when she is lonely.  What do you think Lenore’s job is? 🙂

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

Okay everyone, have a great weekend!


Oh!  You want to know who won Phyllis’s Fun Photo Contest and what the fun announcement was?

Okay.  You’ve twisted my arm 🙂

I hope you all had as much fun with Phyllis’s Photo Contest as I did!  There were so many amazing entries – all so fun and creative!  I would never have been able to choose, so thank goodness I’m in charge around here and can make you guys do the choosing 🙂

When all the votes were in, the clear winner was…



Cathy, I think it was Phyllis upside-down in the nut bowl that did it for you.  Were you hinting that Phyllis is a nut?  I think you may be right.  There’s a lot of nuttiness around here 🙂

Congratulations, Cathy!  Please email me and we’ll discuss your prize, because I know you already have a signed copy of PHYLLIS.

A second prize for Phyllis’s Contest, consisting mostly of fame but I’m sure we can come up with something to go along with the fame, is being given at Phyllis’s insistence, and that one goes to ROBYN!  Really, it requires dedication to come up with a video of a tiny paper action figure winning a horse race.  So Robyn, kudos to you too and we’ll talk prizes privately!

And a huge thank you thank you and round of applause to everyone who took the time to color and cut and photograph and provide us all with such wonderful entertainment!  You are all the greatest!

The other fun announcement I mentioned (at least I think it’s fun!) is about Not Yet, Rose which you have seen in English…

… and Dutch…

… but now it’s available in GERMAN!

Is that fun or what?  I love having copies of my books that I can’t pronounce! 🙂  I’m thinking of making a video of myself reading my books in foreign languages to entertain you all… or at least myself 🙂

Alrighty!  That’s all the fun and games for today, folks!  PPBF bloggers, please add your post-specific links to the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a blissful weekend, everyone! 🙂


Would You Read It Wednesday – The 12th Pitch… Plus!

Has anyone seen the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (you know, the good one with Gene Wilder?)

There’s a scene where Charlie’s teacher says, “I’ve just decided to switch our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now take place on Monday before we’ve learned it.  But since today is Tuesday, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.  Pencils ready!”

That’s what I feel like this week 🙂  Columbus Day threw a monkey wrench in my “schedule” (can’t really say that with a straight face because, really, I don’t have much of a schedule :))  So today we’ll have Would You Read It as planned, and then I’ll slide Straight From The Editor in with the Fun Foto Fextravaganza on Friday.  Or maybe just save it for next Monday.  Who can say?  The test will be last Tuesday 🙂

Oh, and BTW, the theme for this week’s Fun Foto will be MIGRATION.  So start rooting around for those 0-12 year-old-friendly photos that shout migration to you!

Okay.  So back to our regularly “scheduled” programming…

Oh, but first, remember that surprise I promised?
Do you?
Are you still interested?
Actually, the surprise is likely a lot more fun for me than it is for you, but I have to share it anyway!

You know my story Not Yet, Rose?  It’s about a little girl who is waiting for a new sibling and isn’t sure how she feels about it.  Well, ROSE has been picked up by, a website that creates all kinds of awesome personalized gifts for kids.  The result?  As of right this very minute you can order Not Yet, Rose in either hardcover or paperback, for the girl of your choice, as in Not Yet, Olivia, Not Yet, Alexandra, or Not Yet, Brunhilda!  How fun is that?

Check it out:

Even if you don’t want to order one, you can play around with changing the name and see how it looks, which is totally fun 🙂

But should you ever have a little girl in your life who is about to become (or has just become) a big sister, now you can make a very special gift just for her.  Plus, I know the author, so I know how you can also get your book personally signed 🙂  The book is exactly the same as the original, with all of Nicole’s beautiful artwork.  They just change the name for your special girl.  And there’s a place for you to add your own printed dedication, too.

So, apologies if you were expecting a better surprise than that, but it seems very fun to me!

Now.  Onto today’s Would You Read It!

Today’s pitch comes to us from the amazing Christie, who blogs about picture books and holds picture book contests over at WRITE WILD.  Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Gleek
Age/Genre: MG Contemporary
The Pitch:  A math whiz but not great at reading and writing, eleven-year-old Art Schaeffer unknowingly stumbles upon the school bully’s rule-breaking science fair project and must find a way to expose him before the judges make their final decisions.

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 Christie 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.
Christie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!

And don’t forget to join us Friday for Fun Foto (Migration) and Straight From The Editor!

(Oh, and should you happen to order a personalized copy of ROSE from Frecklebox, you will earn major brownie points and possibly even be elected King and have a servant whose only job is to bring you fresh donuts whenever you snap your fingers, but of course, you know, it’s up to you :))

Three Tidbits of Interest

Today’s post is a bit of a smorgasbord – a few rather unrelated items but all (to my mind :)) worth mentioning.

First, for any of you who read last week’s post The Wonderful World of Kid Lit, here is a very articulate, thoughtful rebuttal of the Wall Street Journal article mentioned therein which you might find interesting: Deeper Understanding: The Dark Is Rising, from Shelf Awareness, Enlightenment for the Book Trade.  Let me know what you think of Jennifer Brown’s article!

Second, I had a great visit at Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, NY to celebrate Not Yet, Rose winning the Mom’s Choice Award.  Two large groups from three local preschools came to hear the story (about 100 children all together!)  They were a terrific audience.

Phyllis is trying to convince
the kids that Not Yet, Rose
is about her – because she
looks EXACTLY like Rose!

Unbeknownst to me, one of the adults in the back was videoing with her phone.  Quel horreur!!!  Although watching and listening to myself give a presentation was quite horrifying and made me want to go hide in the closet with a burlap sack over my head, I have been told I should edit the video and put it on my website so that interested teachers/schools can see a sample of a presentation.  What do you think?  Should I do it?

Finally, when I went to shut my computer down Friday night, I discovered a google alert in my inbox for Can’t Sleep Without Sheep.  Following the link, I was amazed and honored to see that Can’t Sleep has been nominated for the Alabama Camellia Children’s Choice Award (the state children’s choice for Alabama!!! click on the 2011-2012 NEW list to see.)  It’s up against some much better known books, so I don’t know if it has a chance of winning, but it was SO nice to be nominated!  Thank you to every child in Alabama who voted for Can’t Sleep!!!  Ava and Woolliam and I appreciate it 🙂

Coming Up Roses

The writing life is not for the faint of heart.

Writing is hard work.

Creativity, rather surprisingly, takes what feels like a physical effort.

The ability to be creative on demand takes years of butt in chair, and even then, it doesn’t always happen.  (Although writers may corner the market on the sensation of having their butt fall asleep…)

In today’s marketplace, it isn’t enough to write well.  There are so many wonderful, talented authors and illustrators out there whose work is as good if not better than mine.  The recipe for success requires a healthy dose of luck along with the hard work.  (Maybe a healthy dose of pigheadedness, too, although I prefer to call it by its euphemistic moniker – determination :))

Even if you get published, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.  A book can be well written, beautifully illustrated, well-reviewed, and still not sell.

And with publishing and the economy in their current states, not only the writing, but the marketing and promotion are almost completely up to the writer.  I think I speak for all of us when I say $%^&*^!!!

(Lest you think I’m trying to depress you and/or ruin your day, I assure you I am not!  I do actually have a point… which I’m getting to… in my own round-about way… 🙂  Look!  Here it is!)

In spite of these difficulties, those of us who write can’t imagine doing anything else.  While it’s entirely possible that, at heart, we’re all incurable optimists 🙂 it may also be because we have stories to tell – stories we hope to share with readers.  We love words and language and writing.  We love the excitement, the thrill, of a new idea.  We love the creativity.  When it’s going well, it’s so amazing that it makes up for a lot of slogging time.  For those of us who write for children the opportunity to interact with our readers on school visits is priceless.  Even without publishing, most of us would still write, though there are few moments that rival the phone call saying, “I’d like to publish your book!”

And every once in a while, when you least expect it, you might get a little bonus 🙂

Last week, I received notification that Not Yet, Rose, my new baby story that was published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers in August of 2009, was awarded a Gold Mom’s Choice Award!

(I would have told you immediately, but we were in the middle of Ryan’s week, and I didn’t want to steal his thunder!)

It’s true!  My little story is going to have one of those beautiful gold medal stickers on the front!  I can’t believe it 🙂  Maybe not the Newbery or the Caldecott, but when it comes to this story – a story about a little girl who is waiting for her new sibling and doesn’t know what to expect – maybe even more valuable.  Because moms are the ones who do most of the choosing when it comes to making purchases, and moms are most likely the ones who might be looking for ways to help their preschoolers understand what having a new sibling will be like, and comfort them with the knowledge that conflicting emotion is normal, healthy, and completely OK.  I hope this award, which is like the highest form of recommendation from other moms, will garner a little much-wanted attention for Rose.  It’s a story that is near and dear to my heart because, underneath, it’s about my own two-year-old daughter struggling to re-imagine her world to include a younger sibling.

I don’t have the actual stickered copies yet, but look how pretty…

Thank you all for indulging my moment of excitement 🙂  I’m a little uncomfortable shouting it out – it feels like bragging – so please feel free to brag about your own accomplishments in the comments to balance it out – I will cheer loudly – I love to hear about your successes! –  and the next time I’m complaining about something, give me a swift kick in the pants and remind me that one of my books has a gold sticker 🙂