Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Greetings

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday Season!

See you next year!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jama's Alphabet Soup.


For Poetry Friday --  "The world's greatest poems" written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Keith Graves.


This 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. 

Lewis 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 --






Thus begins Lewis' poem "The Longest Traffic Jam" (FYI 1093 miles long, Lyon toward Paris, France, February 16, 1980).

Graves' artwork takes a playful cue from Lewis' words while also reflecting a sense of the Guinness details behind the verse. 

With a record book in hand, students might even be persuaded to write their own poetry. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at Wrapped in Foil.

For Nonfiction Monday - - "The kids' guide to paper airplanes "  by Christopher L. Harbo.

The 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!
Harbo 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.  He  also provides tips on how to achieve maximum air time.  Budding aeronautical engineers will find plenty to keep their hands busy and their minds engaged.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Read, Write, Howl.


Just for Fun!
Florian shares over a hundred humor-filled verses in a variety of forms and on a variety of subjects.  Here's a poem that sums up both the spirit and intent.

Good Humor

The poems in this book
Are meant to humorous.

If they are not,
Please laugh just to humor us.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at AnastasiaSuen's Booktalking.

For Nonfiction Monday - - "The guy who invented home video games : RalphBaer and his awesome invention" by Edwin Brit Wyckoff.

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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by ThePoem Farm.

My selection is "Big talk: poems for four voices" by Paul Fleischman with illustrations by Beppe Giacobbe.

Fleischman 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 with family.
Giacobbe highlights the action and balances the text with well-drawn humor  mirroring the poems with tints ranging from quiet sepias to lively colors.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

For Nonfiction Monday - - "Ben Franklin : his wit and wisdom fromA-Z" written by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by John O'Brien.

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 under discussion.

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.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Greetings

Thanksgiving . . .

It's not just about the beauty of the season . . .

Or the delicious food in abundance . . .

It's about the family and friends who share these blessings with us.

So, from The Gingerbread Cowboy and me -- to all of you . . .


Monday, November 12, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at The Flatt Perspective.

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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today Think Kid, Think!

For Poetry Friday --  "Silver seeds: a book of nature poems" written by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer with paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.

 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

Down goes the moon

And up comes the sun,

Welcoming the

New day.

to bedtime.

The illustrations are lovely and soft-edged seeming to encourage a quiet communion with the subject at hand.

 I've found this book to be an enjoyable introduction to acrostic poems for my students.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Booktalking.

My selection is "Balloons over Broadway: the true story of the puppeteer of Macy's Parade" written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.


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.

Sweet 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.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today  by  TeacherDance.

For Poetry Friday --  "Bees, snails, & peacock tail:patterns & shapes--naturally written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.
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.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today  by Teaching Young Writers.

My selection is "Autumnblings : poems & paintings"  by Douglas Florian.
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."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Wendie's Wanderings.

My selection is The 13 nights ofHalloween written and illustrated by Guy Vasilovich.

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 skeleton key.

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.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today  by WritingThe World for Kids.

My selection is "Please bury me in the library " written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Kyle M. Stone.

Fifteen poems in a variety of forms celebrate books -- words, pictures and the joy of the written language. 
There's the light-hearted --
What if Books Had Different Names?
What if Books Had Different Names?  
Like Alice . . . in Underland?
Furious George,
Goodnight Noon,
Babar the Beaver,
A Visit from Saint Tickle Us.
And the thoughtful -- Necessary Gardens
Lewis draws inspiration from many familiar wordsmiths from Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear to Shel Silverstein and Myra Cohn.

Stone's richly layered illustrations enrich without overpowering the text.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by A Teaching Life.

My selection is "Animals in Fall: preparing for winter" by Martha E. H. Rustad with illustrations by Amanda Enright.


Fall 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.

Enright's easy, cartoon-style art is a comfortable fit with the simple text.

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today  by NoWater River.

My selection is "Wonderful words : poems about reading, writing,speaking, and listening" selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Karen Barbour.

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 and  touch 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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Writers Wednesday

IGNORE THIS POST -- If you are writing a secret journal to be read only by yourself.

However, if you want to see your work enjoyed and shared by an audience of eager readers, you might find some worthwhile thoughts in the following:

"The Stephen King Guide to Marketing" posted by Jason Kong at Jane Friedman's Blog.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Wrapped in Foil.
My selection is "Amazing animals :the remarkable things that creatures do" written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by W. Allan Hancock.

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 --
  • The 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. 
  • The giant 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.
Hancock's paintings offer a realistic look at his subjects rather than sensationalizing the creatures he portrays which compliments Ruurs' straight forward narrative.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday Roundup is hosted today by Books Together.

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 mission. 

The text is informative and illustrated with breath-taking images from deep space provided by the Hubble's cameras.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today  by Write. Sketch. Repeat.

My selection is "There's no place like school : classroom poems" selected by Jack Prelutsky  with illustrations by Jane Manning.
From 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 Prelutsky. 

Short, 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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writers Wednesday

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." Ray Bradbury

Inspiration . . . Often writers moan over the lack of ideas, but sometimes abundance is the problem.

In a recent conversation, a fellow writer expressed her frustration with trying to select a book project from among her many story ideas.

If you are struggling with the challenge of making the right choice, you'll find some excellent thoughts on the subject in K.M. Weiland's post "How Do You Decide Which Story You Should Write?" @ Wordplay.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Simply Science.
For Nonfiction Monday - - "Life in the ocean : the storyof oceanographer Sylvia Earle" written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola.

Nivola 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.

Nivola's 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 lovingly drawn.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Jean Little Library.

My selection is "Eat your math homework: recipes for hungry minds" written by Ann McCallum and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez.

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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Writers Wednesday

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. 

Kathryn Starke

            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 ages.

            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 way.

            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:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Shelf-employed.
My selection is "Magic trash : a story of Tyree Guyton and his art" written by J.H. Shapiro and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

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.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer