is not what you think -- there's no pedantic analysis, best of the 20th (or any
other) century's verses or top ten poets anthology here.
has done the delightfully unexpected by offering readers twenty-five poems
inspired by The Guinness Book of World Records.What could be a better antidote for the verse-phobic reader than works
based on the wonderfully whacky, strange or amazing records for which Guinness
is famous.The Kookiest Hat leads off a
collection that includes The Most Cobras Kissed Consecutively, and concludes
with The Highest Air On A Skateboard.Lewis thoughtfully includes the details from the Guinness account along
with the verses.
Is "Rush Hour" a problem for your commute?Consider this --
begins Lewis' poem "The Longest Traffic Jam" (FYI 1093 miles long, Lyon toward
Paris, France, February 16, 1980).
artwork takes a playful cue from Lewis' words while also reflecting a sense of
the Guinness details behind the verse.
a record book in hand, students might even be persuaded to write their own
holiday season is filled with advertising for digital and electronic games and
toys, but sometimes fun can be found in the simplest of items -- paper!
provides easy-to-follow fold-by-fold directions and clear illustrations for the
creation of a variety of craft from the simple to the complex.Healso provides tips on how to achieve maximum air time.Budding aeronautical engineers will find
plenty to keep their hands busy and their minds engaged.
Today's post is for all the
students and teachers who are looking fresh topics for those classic biography
reports. How about inventor Ralph Baer -- the
man who created the first home video console.In
recognition of his pioneering work in the creation and development of video
games, Baer was given a National Medal of Technology by Former President George
W. Bush in 2006.
Wyckoff includes archival photographs and concludes the biography with some background information, timeline and suggestions for additional reading.
builds on the success of Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (a Newbery
Medal winner) with a collection of poems that will challenge, inspire and
delight both readers and audience. Meticulous
attention to detail in "The Quiet Evenings Here" offers readers a
contrast between the apparent quiet of an evening at home with the subtle
energy beneath "Clock tick-tockin'
/ Sister hummin' / Grandpa strummin' / Raindrops rappin' / Toes a-tappin' /
Roof-leak droppin'," and so
on."Seventh-Grade Soap Opera" raises
the energy index as voices ring with lively gossip that ends in a well-crafted
chaos.Quiet thoughtfulness and longing imbue
Ghost's Grace with a gentle melancholy as spirits remember the joys of dining
Giacobbe highlights the action and balances the text with well-drawn
humormirroring the poems with tints
ranging from quiet sepias to lively colors.
Schroeder's book is a rich collection of Franklin miscellany neatly
arranged as an entertaining alphabet book that touches on the personal,
professional, and political life of one of America's most talented men."A" covers almanac (Franklin's Poor
Richards Almanack), his apprenticeship in a print shop, describes the glass
armonica (Franklin's musical invention) and includes a mention of Abiah
(Franklin's mother).The text is
enriched by the inclusion of quotes and sayings related to the various topics
O'Brien has illustrated a number of biographies and he brings his
cartooning background to this work.The
pictures capture the text with warmth and humor.
In honor of the day, my selection is "Veterans Day" written by Marlene Targ Brill with
illustrations by Qi Z. Wang.
Brill explains who Veterans are, why they are honored, and provides the
history of Veteran's Day for primary students in this straight forward introduction to this holiday.He also offers suggestion for "What can
you do on Veteran's Day" and includes a Timeline and Websites.
The book is available in both English and Spanish versions.
SILVER SEEDS appears deceptively
simple, but a closer read reveals a thoughtful collection of acrostic poems
that invite the reader to contemplate a variety of nature's most fundamental
pleasures and perhaps see them in a new way.The works are arranged in a chronology that takes readers from
goes the moon
up comes the sun,
illustrations are lovely and soft-edged seeming to encourage a quiet communion
with the subject at hand.
found this book to be an enjoyable introduction to acrostic poems for my
When November arrives my thoughts always turn to one of my
favorite holidays -- Thanksgiving -- and all the memories and experiences
associated with this special time of year.Of course, that must include the Macy's Day Parade.
shares the story of Tony Sarg, the gifted marionette creator responsible for
the remarkable helium filled balloons that are a trademark of this Thanksgiving
tradition.She skillfully paints a
portrait of the man and the evolution of his giant balloon puppets while giving readers an
entertaining peek into this historic American event.
Franco introduces her young readers to the natural world through
poems that celebrate nature's geometry -- from the delicate artistry of a
spider's web to the brilliant design of a male peacock's tail.Her poetry often mimics the shapes as when
the verse spirals like the snail shell she's describing.
Jenkins clever paper collages are perfect counterpoints to the text
and beautifully rendered.
Additional scientific information on the various subjects of the
poems is provided in an appendix.
Florian brings fun to autumn verses with a flourish by his inventive
wordplay and through the simplicity of his artwork colored in the warm, rich golds
and reds of the season.The season's holidays
and nature's changes are some of subjects treated to his signature punning humor
with favorites such as: "Hi-bear-nation"-- "Autumn falls in late
September" and -- "Owlphabet."
Inspired by THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, Vasilovich gives his young readers
a ghoulish countdown to Halloween. A young big-eyed Witch leads the audience
through the series of creepy gifts provided by her Mummy, beginning with:
"On the first night of Halloween my mummy gave to me: a bright shiny
Drawing on his extensive experience in animation, Vasilovich employs inky
blacks, vibrant purples, and shimmering oranges and yellows in a gothic cartoon
style that gives a nod to Tim Burton with its angular look.
has finally arrived and here is a book for young readers that explores how
animals use this season to prepare for winter.Five short, easy-to-read chapters: Animals In Fall, Some Animals Go
South,Some Animals Sleep, Some Animals
Change, and Ready for Winter lead youngsters through the basics of migration,
hibernation and camouflage.The text is
completed with four sections titled: activity, glossary, learn more and index.
easy, cartoon-style art is a comfortable fit with the simple text.
I couldn't resist sharing this
fun collection of poems that encourage creativity and invite readers to
discover the power and fun of words.Hopkins'
selected verses are by some of our best known poets andtouch on a variety of topics both broad and
specific: from finding your own creativity and embracing the joy of reading to
works entitled "Metaphor" and "The Period."
Barbour's boldly colored
illustrations are a delight to the eye.
Teachers will find multiple
uses for this book as both an introduction to and inspiration for writing.
Ruurs introduces young readers to a variety of creatures ranging from the
ostrich (which can run at speeds of 44 miles per hour) to the black ant
(capable of lifting ten to twenty times its own weight) as she offers brief discussions
of their most remarkable qualities.Size, strength, speed, diet, and how they care for their young are some
of the interesting details provided in thumbnail descriptions that offer the
curious reader glimpses into the unusual or bizarre side of animal life --
heart of a blue whale weights almost as much as a small car.
A slug has three noses.
The sturgeon can live
over one hundred years.
Pacific octopus can grow to a length of thirty feet.
An earthworm has no eyes, no nose, no ears, and no
lungs, but it has five hearts.
offer a realistic look at his subjects rather than sensationalizing the
creatures he portrays which compliments Ruurs' straight forward narrative.
Scott acquaints readers with the remarkable science and glorious images
provided by the Hubble .She leads readers through a brief history of the
telescope, explains the work of the Hubble and describes the present
discoveries and future potential offered by the Hubble as it completes its
The text is informative
and illustrated with breath-taking images from deep space provided by the
the rush to the morning school bus, through show and tell and the lunchroom to
the closing bell -- it's back to school with eighteen poems by some of the
craft's most well known names including Lee Bennett Hopkins and Jack
light-hearted and fun, the verses delve into some of the familiar experiences
and asks age old questions such as why the teacher only seems to call on me
when I don't know the answer.
invites young explorers to discover the undersea world through the life of
renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle.Sylvia
was Introduced to the warm clear waters of Gulf of Mexico at the age of twelve
when her parents moved to Florida.That
introduction became a lifelong passion with ocean life that took her from swimming
with dolphins to a dive 3000 feet below the surface.
enthusiasm for her subject enlivens the narrative and informs her extensive
author's note at the end of the text.Her beautiful watercolor illustrations are exuberant, detailed, and
McCallum entertains while she informs in this collection of math
inspired recipes.After providing some
basic kitchen tips, she explores the Fibonacci sequence with snack sticks
arranged on skewers. Fractions feature chips
and Tessellations are tasty in two-color brownies.Probability Trail Mix, Variable Pizza Pi, and
Milk and Tangram Cookies, round out the collection of treats.The text is completed with a math review,
glossary, and index.
The colorful cartoon style illustrations by Hernandez add an
additional layer of exuberant fun.
Many of the writers I meet
at workshops or critique groups are teachers who were inspired to write a story
that relates to their area of curriculum interest or expertise.These educators often struggle with finding
an appropriate venue for their work once it is completed.
Today's guest post is by Kathryn
Starke who has founded a successful company that targets the market for educator/writers.
Each day in my position, I motivate
children and teachers to enjoy the writing process.I am an urban elementary school literacy
specialist, children's author, public speaker, freelance educational writer,
and the founder of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, a global
educational company based in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I have my BS
degree in elementary education and my Master's degree in Literacy Culture from
Longwood University. I have been in the field of education for a decade, but I
have been writing since I was a very young girl. I never imagined that I would
become a children's author and be able to share my passion with readers of all
Having taught in Title I and inner
city schools, I realized that engaging and educational literature is necessary
for my students to learn to read, and in turn, read to learn. I wrote Amy's
Travels, a multicultural children's book based on a true story, to teach
the seven continents to my second graders. I originally started Creative Minds
Publications to publish and market this trade book to schools in Virginia. This
spring, Amy's Travels was released in its second edition and is used in schools
on six continents. Our mission is to ensure quality literacy instruction for
all students, which is why CMP publishes books written by educators; all our
books are complete with curriculum and comprehensive guides to use at home or
in the classroom. Turtle Without a Home is an example of environmental
literacy, written by educators in northern Virginia, which is also published
under the Creative Minds Publications imprint.
From presenting at reading and
writing conferences, I have met so many teachers that have an idea for a title;
I now use my experiences to help fellow educators become published authors. I'm
never looking for any particular topic, but the story has to match an objective
that can be utilized in school curricula. They also have an illustrator or
graphic designer ready to take on the project. My clients come to me as
unpublished writers simply sharing a manuscript and goal for themselves and for
their work. I am most impressed by a story that readers can make a personal
connection to as well as learn a life lesson from; a story that makes you think
long after you finished reading is a plus. And remember, your target audience
is children, so you must use a simple sentence structure that can be read with
ease. Many people have a wonderful story idea but do not present a great
children's book because there is too much text on a page, which is overwhelming
for children and the vocabulary is far too advanced. Think about how you would
speak to a child in conversation or teach a child in your class and write that
Thus far, all of my authors have come
to me with their own educational materials to match their book, which is very
characteristic of teachers. Creative Minds Publications is able to develop and
write lesson plans and book guides for any titles published through us or
through a publishing company in which we have a partnership. For example,
Brandylane Publishers in Richmond, Virginia, publishes nonfiction materials,
and we create materials or programs to complement the book to be used in
schools or institutions. Danger on My Doorstep is a Holocaust story
written for middle schoolers and published under Brandylane's imprint; Creative
Minds Publications markets and distributes the book and programs in the
educational realm, which is my expertise.Keep writing, and do not get discouraged by what others may express
about your work. Everyone has a story to tell, but it's how you present and
market your manuscript or book that truly makes the difference.
For more information about Kathryn Starke and Creative Minds follow these links:
Shapiro's picture book biography tells the colorful story of The Heidelberg Project, Tyree Guyton's modern
art redemption of his dilapidated neighborhood.As a child -- Guyton was introduced to art by his grandpa Sam.As an adult -- Guyton returned home to
discover a neighborhood of abandoned houses, litter, and crime -- and set out
to make a difference.He transformed his
community with paint and turned trash into treasures that decorated porches,
walls, yards, and streets.
Shapiro's engaging narrative is
interspersed with short sing-song rhymes that celebrate Guyton's energy and
delight in art.
Brantley-Newton's illustrations echo Guyton's style through her mixed-media
use of collage.
of the great things about summer is baseball. Hopkins acknowledges America's
passion for the game with a collection of 19 verses by various poets richly
illustrated in handsome oils by Medlock. The opening verse sums up the collection's
focus on the game for players and fans with: Analysis of Baseball by May Swenson
I've found that writing can be a voyage of self-discovery -- finding what motivates us to put pen to paper, creating that personal connection with young readers, and learning how to listen to and trust our uniquely individual voices.
How does John Everson, known to his audience as an award-winning mass market horror author discover his inner child and end up writing a children's picture book?
John shares his journey in today's guest post --
From telling tales of
the crypt to spinning stories about Peteyboo
and the Worm
y John Everson
I never set out to be a children’s
author. Not that there’s anything wrong
with that! But I’ve spent the last 20 years writing horror stories for
My first novel, Covenant, won a Bram Stoker Award when
it came out on an independent press and was subsequently released by a New York
publisher in mass market paperback – that was a dream come true for me; my book
was in stores everywhere on the same shelves as Stephen King and Clive Barker. Over
the next few years, I followed that with five more horror novels.
But something else happened during
I had a son.
Shaun is an amazing, beautiful, smart
and funny kid who at 18 months old knew his alphabet and was starting to spell
simple words. He’s the best thing that ever happened in my life.
Fast forward a couple years, and while
I was still telling creepy stories to adults, I was also indulging in fanciful
stories with my son. Shaun and I frequently played a game of imagination –
telling each other silly stories, trying to top each other with crazy
characters and situations.
And that’s how Peteyboo, a bug
with 37 eyes and 18 legs was born. I made that story up on the spur of the
moment for Shaun when he was around four years old, and he loved it.
Shaun turns 7 years old this week,
and while we’ve long forgotten most of the impromptu stories that we made up
during that time, Peteyboo has survived. Shaun kept asking me to tell him the
story of Peteyboo and the Worm, and almost every time, he’d stop me, because I
forgot a part. So eventually, I wrote the whole thing down, so I wouldn’t
forget. (I have a terrible memory… maybe that’s why I am a writer – I put
things on paper to remember them!)
I loved those seat-of-your-pants
storytelling sessions, because they made him so happy. But they did another
thing. They also freed my inner storyteller to a level he hadn’t reached before.
When you’re making things up for kids, you can really let your imagination roam.
Every time we told stories to each other, it pushed me to be a better
storyteller… because I had to come up with inventive things fast and
on-the-fly. If they didn’t hold his interest, I knew it pretty quick.
I think Shaun loved Peteyboo for a
One – he was a weird creature,
with lots of legs and eyes.
Two, he was a sad creature,
because he had no friends. Shaun is an only child, and so yearning for someone
to play with rings true with him.I
suppose I knew that when I told him the story, and that’s why Peteyboo forges
an unlikely friendship with a worm… and the two creatures find ways to help
each other and play together. Peteyboo shares a strawberry with Worm, and then
shows Worm how to overcome his lack of legs. And later, Worm teaches Peteyboo
to trust, as they take a swim in the pond (where not having legs turns out to
be an advantage). Together, they’re a better team than either of them are as
individual creatures alone.
If ours was a normal household, Peteyboo
would have eventually just disappeared into a stack of Shaun’s discarded
drawings. But our house isn’t quite that normal – I have lots of books on our
bookshelves with my name on the spine. And Shaun would come with me sometimes
to book signings at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores. One day he asked me,
“Dada, when is Peteyboo going to be in a real book, like your other stories?”
I gave that some thought and
realized pretty quickly that trying to start a whole new career as a kids book
writer wasn’t going to happen overnight. If I submitted the story to publishers
and waited for them to A) buy it and B) pair me up with an artist to illustrate
the tale… it would take months or years before the Peteyboo book was out. By
then, Shaun probably wouldn’t care much anymore. So I decided to pull together
a homemade chapbook version of Peteyboo and the Worm for Shaun. My day job was in desktop magazine publishing, so
the layout was no issue, but I needed something to make the book special, not
just a bunch of words. And I didn’t want to use clip art.
So I asked Shaun to help. The
Peteyboo book became a joint project for us -- I asked him to draw for me what
he thought Peteyboo looked like. And then I asked him to draw a strawberry. And
the worm… and little by little, he drew a bunch of illustrations for the book,
after each one asking me, “is that OK, Dada?” Sometimes I asked him to fill in
the sky better, or the grass… and he’d comply, very serious about the whole
Eventually, I scanned them all in,
designed the pages and printed out a nice chapbook with color art from my son…
and thought that was the end of it.
But then the book made its way to
kindergarten and First Grade when first his teacher and then my wife read it to
the classes. And his friends started asking if they could get copies for their
I took the next step, and turned
the chapbook into an ebook. I even recorded
an audio narration of the story, so kids can listen to me read it while they
follow along (there’s a link to the audio file at the back of the ebook).
And here we are. Now kids all over
the world can download the book from Amazon and read the story of a bug with 37
eyes and 18 legs.
Before Peteyboo, I had written
fantasy stories with a teen as a lead character, and those stories could be
enjoyed by both kids and adults… but most of my catalogue? Definitely for older
Now, I have somewhat accidentally
written and published a book for young children. And Shaun and his friends
think it’s pretty cool.
Actually, I think it’s pretty cool
too. I loved the process of creating Peteyboo, and I loved its purity of
message. I’d love to spend more time working on stories that children would
enjoy, because those are the kinds of stories that turned me into a reader… and
eventually, a writer.
Of course, I have an adult novel
about mutant spiders that I’m contracted to finish first… but there is another
story I have in my back pocket that I’d like to get out in time for Shaun to
read while he’s in grade school. It’s a story of goblins and half-breed trolls
and a witch.
I’m hoping he and his friends
enjoy that as much as they have Peteyboo
and the Worm.