Would You Read It Wednesday #311 – Hazel Lee Flew A Fighter Plane As Well As Any Man (PB) PLUS The October Pitch Pick!

Hey there, Peeps!

How are things in your reading, writing, teaching, library-ing, and parenting worlds today?

There is snow in my world, and it’s making me want to write a picture book about snow. The Snowy Day has been done 🙂  but there’s got to be another possibility!

snow scout

For any of you who didn’t notice the post I snuck in on Sunday evening, the guidelines for the 4th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Contest have been posted!  And for those of you who did see it, the prize list has been updated! 🙂 So hop on over and check it out.

Then hop back here and make your choice in the October Pitch Pick!

Here are the revised pitches from our talented October participants.  Please read through them and choose the one you think is best and most deserving of a read and comments from editor Erin Molta, then vote for your pick in the poll below by Sunday February 3 at 5 PM (see? you’ll be done before the Super Bowl! 🙂 )

#1 – Katie – The Night There Was No Bedtime (PB ages 3-6)

Mischievous Bedtime decides sleeping is boring. When she and one playful little girl sneak outside for some starlit hide & seek, parents everywhere wonder if their children will ever sleep again—until Bedtime discovers the one thing that makes sleeping sound fun.

#2 – Ciara – Drop The Dragon (PB ages 4-12)

Dragon theft is a real problem for Lily.  Her best frenemy, the family dog, is a pilfering pup.  To thwart the theft of her toy dragon, Lily engineers towers, traps, and more. But when their toy disappears, these two must join forces to save their beloved dragon. 

#3 – Meghan – Weeping Willow (PB ages 4-10)

Todd is a young boy that faces an unexpected choice: one that could ruin or fulfill his new friend’s deepest dreams. She is a tree that yearns to be made into something magical, but the consequence might be too much for Todd to bear. Can he handle the pressure?

#4 – Sarah – The Punching Ballerina   (PB ages 4-8)

KC, a karate student, longs to take ballet lessons.  He weaves all things dance throughout his days, which encourages negative attention at school.  After several minor social losses, a group of kids confronts him on the playground.  He sticks up for himself peacefully, winning confidence, and gaining something else.

Thank you all in advance for your votes!  I think everyone has earned Something Chocolate! I’m on a Valentines theme apparently, started last week with the creme filled chocolate cake hearts, so let’s have heart-shaped butter cookies dipped in chocolate today!

Easy Cream Cheese Butter Valentines Cookies

That’s what I call breakfast/second-breakfast/elevenses/afternoon snack/dessert/bedtime snack/midnight snack! Perfect for dunking in coffee/hot chocolate/milk/maybe even tea 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Fanny who says, “I’m a Chinese-American writer who used to design multicultural dolls and puppets for the early childhood education market. After my retirement, it’s natural I want to write for children.”

Find her on the web at www.fannywrites.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hazel Lee Flew A Fighter Plane As Well As Any Man

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-9)

The Pitch: A Chinese-American woman fighter pilot in WWII? No way! Women shouldn’t be flying alone, they are too nervous, too emotional. But Hazel Lee is not the stereotyped Chinese women!

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 Fanny 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 Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in March, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Fanny is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to writing my snow story!  I hope I get farther with it than I did with last week’s pie story! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

Oh, and P.S.  If I manage to scrape it together, I will post a Straight From The Editor post with the 6 I have hopefully on Saturday or Sunday!

Great Opportunity For Writers

Hi Everyone!

I’ll be back to business-as-usual on the blog this week, but just a quick PSA for those of you who might be interested in a fantastic writing opportunity!

Tara Luebbe is once again running her Writing With The Stars mentorship program and there is still time to apply.

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What is Writing with the Stars?

Writing with the Stars is an opportunity for aspiring picture book writers and illustrators to win a free, three-month mentorship with a published author or author/illustrator. Mentors will help mentees further develop their craft and share invaluable advice and insight into the publishing world.

When is Writing with the Stars?

The application window is from January 9, 2019 through midnight January 13, 2019 EST. Winners will be announced on Twitter (@T_Luebbe) and on my blog on January 31, 2019 at 11:00 am EST, and the mentorships themselves run from February 1 through April 30, 2019.

For official rules click here.

So jump at the chance!  Who knows what you might achieve in 2019!

Have a great rest of the weekend and see you Wednesday! 🙂

Tuesday Off

Today’s scheduled Tuesday Debut must have gotten cold feet 😦

The interview materials did not arrive, so, sorry to disappoint but we don’t have a post today.

Think of it as a day off, though.  An unexpected few extra minutes for you to write something new!

Here’s a prompt if you need one:

Geraldine could not remember whose idea it had been to cross the road, but she was beginning to wish she’d stayed home!

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Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone!

Dog Days

Happy August Everyone!

I hope you’re all on the beach with a great book, a cold lemonade, and people you love, having a wonderfully summery time!

We are Dog Day-ing it like the pros we are here on Blueberry Hill…

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I mean, can we lie down and sleep, or what?!

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It is extremely important not to overtax yourself in the heat 🙂

Traditionally, I take August off from blogging, but this year everything is so topsy-turvy that there’s no point in trying to pretend any kind of organization.

So I will mostly take August off from blogging… except for starting my new series on August 14th (because that’s the day it has to start)… and maybe having a little bit of a party on the 28th because some MONKEYS I know are having a book birthday… which gives us an excuse for cake 🙂

The new series, entitled Tuesday Debuts, will feature debut authors sharing the intimate details of how they sold their first picture book.  It is intended to be educational and inspiring for all picture book writers, but especially for those who have yet to make that first sale.  Who knows what nuggets of insight and wisdom and insider tips you might glean???!!!  I hope you will all read it while you’re on that beach we were just discussing and find out! 🙂

Please tune in on Tuesday August 14 for our debut debut author, Chris Mihaly!

Meantime, read something good, write something great, and don’t forget your sunscreen 🙂 🙂 🙂

Happy Holidays! Writing With The Stars Mentorship Opportunity!!!

Hi Everyone!

Writing With The Stars is running their mentorship contest again and I thought you’d all like to participate because there are so many amazing opportunities!  And someone who heard about it on my blog last year was one of the winners!  This year it could be YOU! 🙂

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Writing with the Stars is a picture book contest where writers and illustrators apply to win a mentorship from published authors and illustrators. The mentors will evaluate the applications and pick a winner to work with for three months. The contest is open to unpublished and un-agented picture book writers and illustrators. All the details can be found at http://beckytarabooks.com/wwts-contest/

Doesn’t that sound amazing?!  And you could win a mentorship with Andrea Loni, Alistair Heim, Stacy McAnulty, Lindsay Ward, Josh Funk, Laura Gehl, Adam Lehrhaupt, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Annie Silvestro, Lori Degman, and many more!

Such an incredible opportunity!

Please share with anyone you know who might be interested!

Full details are at this link: http://beckytarabooks.com/wwts-contest/

Consider it a little holiday gift to you! 🙂  Good luck!!!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday – Maurice The Unbeastly

Darlings!

Right now this very second while you are reading this, I am winging my way to the Lone Star State for the North Texas SCBWI Conference!

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Sing with me!
“The stars at night
are shining bright
deep in the heart of Texas!”

Okay.  I confess that’s all I know.  But I am very excited!  I have only been to Texas once before and that was a drive-thru on a family cross-country trip when I was 12.  My only memory of Texas is of being forced to eat Velveeta sandwiches on white bread whilst we drove.  Yuck!  Seriously, whose idea was THAT?!  So I’m hoping it’s going to be a lot more fun this time… if I survive my presentation… which I have been nailbiting over for weeks already!  If you hear a jackhammering sound, that’s just my teeth chattering with nerves! 🙂

ANYway.

I’m thrilled beyond measure to be sharing this fabulous book today, written by the very talented Amy Dixon.  Such fun!  I love it!  I hope you love it 🙂

Maurice

Title: Maurice The Unbeastly

Written By: Amy Dixon

Illustrated By: Karl James Mountford

Sterling Children’s Books, September 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: individuality, being true to yourself, monsters, humor

Opening: “Maurice was not like the other beasts.  His voice was as sweet and refreshing as dandelion lemonade on a hot day.

Brief Synopsis: Maurice the beast is a misfit, about as un-beastly as they come.  His worried parents enroll him in the Abominable Academy For Brutish Beasts, hoping to help their son be more like he should.  But Maurice is just different… and maybe that’s not a bad thing!

Links To Resources: make a collage of pictures that represents who you are; make a list of at least 5 words that describe you; draw a picture of yourself doing something you love to do; write a poem about someone who makes you feel valued; draw a picture of the animal you feel is most like you and make a list of at least 5 words that explain why you are like that animal (e.g. brave, pretty, strong, fast, etc..)

Why I Like This Book: Maurice is delightful!  He is so gloriously and humorously un-beastly, with his melodious voice like “dandelion lemonade on a hot day”, his love for organic kale, and his smile which makes him “ridiculously photogenic”.  And when it comes to “messy meat eating” he asks for “the vegetarian option” 🙂  You’ve got to love a character who is so much himself in spite of how different he is from his peers.  And this is a message so many kids can benefit from, because we should all be true to ourselves.  The art is perfect for the story in shades of muted rust, green, and black with touches of red and white, and includes fun details like the Academy sign with the slogan “Hear us roar.  Hit the floor.  We’re the mighty carnivore!”, and Maurice pictured with birds and flowers.  A humorous, entertaining but also sweet read!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

And please wish me luck in Texas!!!!!!!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

Well, folks, the groundhogs have spoken!

And apparently they were not all on the same page!

Punxsutawney Phil said 6 more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phyllis was on the fence at first, but reluctantly ended up concurring with Phil when the sun undeniably came out and cast her shadow in all its beauteous perfection 🙂

Staten Island Chuck (short for Charles G. Hogg VII 🙂 ), who has the best track record of accuracy at 80%, said early spring.  (And you may be pleased to know that the current Chuck is actually a girl… so she’s probably right! 🙂 )

Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam agreed with Chuck.

So as you can see there is some furry headshaking and dispute over what will actually happen.  I guess we’ll all have to just wait and see who is right and who should have stayed in the burrow 🙂

Early spring or no, we can still enjoy Perfect Picture Books!

Although part of me wants to share a cozy fuzzy book today as an antidote to all that’s happening in the world, I think sometimes there’s an important place for more serious books that address meaningful issues in a way kids can manage and appreciate.  So today I have what I consider a very special book to share.

stepping-stones

Title: Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

Written By: Margriet Ruurs

Illustrated By: Nizar Ali Badr

Orca Book Publishers,  October 2016, nonfiction – bilingual edition English/Arabic

Suitable For Ages: all ages

Themes/Topics: family life, geographic location (Syria), war, hardship, refugees, settling in a new life

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illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

Opening: “‘Rama, wake up!’
the rooster crowed
every morning when we still lived at home

From my warm bed
I listened as Mama prepared breakfast –
bread, yogurt, juicy red tomoatoes
from our garden.

When I was little, not so long ago,
my brother, Sami, our friends and I
played on sunbaked soil.
We laughed, ran across rocks and sand,
free as birds.

When Papa came in from the fields,
he would sit for a time under the orange tree
and tell stories of our ancestors.

Brief Synopsis: (From the publisher’s description) “Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe.”

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illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

Links To Resources: the foreword of the book tells all about how the author discovered the incredible stone artwork of the artist which inspired the story; the back matter gives information on “how you can make a difference”; the book itself is informational and educational

Why I Like This Book: Although this book deals with a very difficult and sensitive topic, one which has the potential to be upsetting to children, the author handles it so beautifully, so gently, with such poetic language, that the story manages to convey a wealth of information and experience in an accessible and palatable way while maintaining enough emotion to be truly meaningful.  It is really masterfully done.  The story is moving.  The art is exquisite.  The message is one everyone – adults and children alike – needs to hear and understand.  Jane Yolen said that “the text would both break and mend your heart.”  I think that describes it well.  An important book that everyone should have the opportunity to read!  The text is bilingual – English/Arabic.

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text copyright Margriet Ruurs 2016, illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

[Here’s hoping this version will work!  Google forms/spreadsheets does NOT want to cooperate!]

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #228 – When Sheep Fall Asleep (PB)

Well, my friends, what a week THIS has been so far!

For starters, although it maybe wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, we did finally get a little much-needed rain.  This may not sound like a big deal, but after what has to have been the driest summer on record for a long, long time, the parched ground and drooping trees were clearly grateful!  And there’s something very pleasant about a cool, gray day with the gentle sound of rain pattering on the roof while you work diligently at sudoku puzzles  sporcle quizes  catching up on the Game of Thrones episodes you never got to watch your writing!

Then on Monday, my own little thrill of excitement when I discovered my new books up on Amazon and GoodReads!  There’s something about seeing them there that makes it all feel more real! 🙂  And although I knew that WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH and WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES would be out on July 11, 2017, I did NOT know the publication date for THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT until I saw it up on Amazon – June 6, 2017 – so that was especially fun! 🙂

Coming soon… to a library/bookstore/classroom near you…! 🙂

And now, hopefully a little thrill of excitement for you when I hint that I have writing contest news coming soon… because in case you’ve been too busy to look at the calendar, that Halloweensie time of year is approaching…!  I’m working on prizes, but if anyone has anything to offer or great contacts who might have anything to offer, please feel free to let me know.  With 3 big contests coming up, I can use all the awesome prizes I can get for you guys!!!  Keep it tuned to this station… there will be news SOON! 🙂  And start thinking about those Halloweensie stories….!

Now.  We have all been awake for at least 5 minutes, many of us as many as 7 or even 12 minutes!, so that means it’s time for Something Chocolate.  After all, we can hardly be expected to soldier through a morning of hard writing/parenting/teaching/librarianing without a little pick-me-up!  Hmm… what would be good?  I’m thinking Something Cupcake.  Because cupcakes are yummy, portable, and small enough to eat two…or three… without feeling guilty 🙂

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Recipe HERE at HandleTheHeat best-chocolate-cupcakes-02

YUM!  Chocolate/chocolate – simple, classic, elegant, delicious!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Michele who says, “I’m an executive editor at the children’s publishing arm of an entertainment company. As an author, I have published leveled readers, books of word games, a board book set, and children’s apps for iOS and Android–but this is my first attempt at a picture book, and it’s nerve-wracking being on the other side of the desk! I’m a member of SCBWI and Children’s Media Association, and you can find me Tweeting about books, children’s entertainment, and whatever else pops into my mind at @michelewells.”

Find her on the web at @michelewells

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: When Sheep Fall Asleep

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-6)

The Pitch: All Sam wants to do is stay up late. His parents agree to a deal: If he gets into bed and counts sheep all the way up to ten, then he can stay up all night. But the sheep aren’t cooperating, and once the monkeys, elephants, chickens, and even hyenas start crowding in, it’s all Sam can do to keep his room from turning into a zoo!

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 Michele 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 Would You Read It in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in November, so…not so far off at this point!  You could your chance soon to get your pitch up for helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Michele is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to telling all my relatives that my new books are available for preorder (in the hopes that they will honor their familial obligation to support me 🙂 ) and checking Amazon obsessively to see if cover art for the TRUCK book goes up because I can’t wait to see it! 🙂  I am the soul of patience, aren’t I?  Perfectly cut out for a career in the (ahem) fast-paced industry of children’s publishing 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Eat Like A Bear

So there I was, being uber-organized.  My post was written and scheduled not just on time, but AHEAD of time!  And what should happen?

No idea!

But somehow my entire post disappeared – down to the last comma! – so I had to rewrite the whole thing from scratch this morning after barn chores (which was when I realized wordpress had swallowed it whole and my post had never gone up!)  My sincere apologies for the tardiness of this post!

So let’s try again…

It’s May, and on Blueberry Hill, that means the bears are up!

Our bears are black bears – lumbering, relatively peaceful creatures who would just as soon not tangle with people or dogs, but who are more than happy to raid the trash cans in the garage or the bird feeder at every possible opportunity!

We have two regularly-visiting bears in our neck of the woods.  One is young, glossy-coated, and healthy-looking – we have watched him saunter across the yard and help himself to ripe apples from our tree in September.  The other one is an old curmudgeon, scarred and a little thin and scruffy-looking.  His life is much more challenging.  He suffered an injury at some point – caught in a trap? 😦 – and as a result is missing a forefoot.  He has learned to compensate and gets around all right, but I forgive him for raiding the trash cans if I’m foolish enough to leave the garage door open 🙂  Did you know he loves to lick the chocolate residue from inside the foil chocolate easter egg wrappers?  Clearly we are twins separated at birth 🙂

Since I have bears on the brain, today’s Perfect Picture Book is about bears – not black bears, but the threatened brown/grizzly bear that roams the wilds of Alaska and the Rockies and such.  I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Eat Like A Bear

Title: Eat Like A Bear

Written By: April Pulley Sayre

Illustrated By: Steve Jenkins

Henry Holt & Co, October 2013, Nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: nonfiction, animals (bears – brown/grizzly), nature

Opening: “Can you eat like a bear?
Awake in April.  Find food.
But where?

Drink like a bear — from a stream.
Leaping trout?  None about.
Bushes?  Bare.  No berries there.
It’s been four long months since fall,
when you were full.

Brief Synopsis: From the jacket: “Can you eat like a bear?  Be a grizzly bear, waking up in spring.  What is there to eat in April?  In May?  Sniff, listen, and look.  Paw, claw, and pull.  Catch fish, munch berries, and nibble seed-filled pine cones.  But be sure to fill up for the long winter ahead…”

Links To Resources: the back matter in the book is a resource in itself, filled with information on brown/grizzly bears, their habits, habitats, diet, threatened status, and current scientific studies.

Why I Like This Book: the text is interesting, simple and accessible, yet written in engaging language that is fun to read aloud, including little repeated patterns like “paw, claw, pull” that young listeners will learn to anticipate and join in on.  The information presented is age-appropriate and not overwhelming.  The art is a perfect complement for the text – very appealing, making the potentially-scary grizzly bear fairly warm and friendly-looking.  My knowledge of artistic technique is virtually non-existent, but Booklist described it thus: “Jenkins fixes the action in the Rocky Mountains with his trademark cut- and torn-paper collage. Using a variety of materials, including handmade Mexican bark paper for the bears, he achieves a remarkable variety of line and texture, as crisp leaves and flowers contrast with fuzzy fur” which I think gives a pretty good idea of what it looks like 🙂  This is a great title for the nonfiction lover in your life, or for a classroom or library!

I hope you like it as much as I do 🙂

 

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Text copyright April Pulley Sayre 2013, Illustration copyright Steve Jenkins 2013

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what you chose for this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Oops! :)

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Due to a shocking lack of planning, I have no PPBF post for today!  Blame it on the birthday celebrations 🙂  Or possibly the senility of my advancing age 🙂

If I have time this weekend to tackle getting that google form and spreadsheet up for you all I will, but I’m not fast at it yet, and I’m going visiting in the Far North so… I’d say the possibility of that is slim to slimmer.

I apologize for falling asleep at the switch, but anyone who posts this week is welcome to just add this week’s book to next week’s list.

Have a wonderful weekend!!! 🙂