Monday, May 21, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Apples With Many Seeds.

My selection is "The cornflake king : W.K. Kellogg and his amazing cereal," written by Edwin Brit Wyckoff.

Wycoff tells the rags-to-riches story of breakfast cereal giant W.K. Kellogg in simple language that is enriched by period photographs.  Kellogg, born in 1860, had only a sixth grade education.  His first job was working in his father's broom factory.  He eventually became an accountant for his brother's sanitarium, where he developed the process of making flaked cereal . . . the rest, as they say is history. 
Kellogg went on to become a well-known philanthropist -- founding the W. K.  Kellogg Foundation which focuses on helping children and the disadvantaged.  His interest in Arabian horses led him to create the Kellogg Arabian Ranch.  He donated the facility to the State of California and it is now the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center, a research and educational facility on the campus of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Friday, May 18, 2012

On A Personal Note

Just received an email from HarperCollins.

Scholastic Education has requested to license the audio rights to The Gingerbread Cowboy.

The audio components will be used as part of an educational program titled: Comprehension Clubs.  Comprehension Clubs is a Grade K-5 supplemental reading comprehension program designed to allow students of varying reading abilities to meet and form “Book Clubs” to discuss the books they are reading in the classroom. Each grade level will contain six units of the Read Aloud books (1 copy per title) and four bookclub books (8-10 copies per title). To increase the program’s success rate, teachers will also have access to streaming audio recordings. The audio books will be available only via a program specific Web portal that is accessible with in-classroom passwords and will not be available individually. The audios are non-downloadable.

Nice to know The Gingerbread Cowboy is still finding new avenues to explore.

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Katya Czaja's Write. Sketch. Repeat.

My selection is "Eureka!: poems about inventors" written by Joyce Sidman with illustrations by K. Bennett Chavez.

Sidman chronicles  inventors from the moment when an imagined woman first shaped a bowl of clay to Tim Berners-Lee of the World Wide Web.  Written in first person from the inventor's point of view, the sixteen poems take a casual, conversational tone as each inventor shares their thoughts with readers.  Sidman divides her work into four sections that touch upon inventions from the life-altering to the whimsical.

  • The Tapistry of the Past: which includes Gutenberg and da Vinci
  •  The Age of Invention: From French balloonists of the 1700s to the first chocolate bar 
  •  A Light Interlude: Inventors whose names are synonymous with their work
  • Dawn of the Modern Age: The invention of the bra and the Frisbee to Noble Prize-winning scientist Barbara McClintock.
Chavez's portraits are thoughtful counterpoints to the verses.

Biographical notes round out the book.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Ms. Yingling Reads.

My selection is "Emi and the Rhino Scientist" written by Mary Kay Carson with photographs by Tom Uhlman.

Carson documents biologist Terri Roth's work with rare Sumatran Rhinos.  At home in the Cincinnati Zoo, Terri, who specializes in endangered species reproduction, cares for Emi, the first Sumatran Rhino to give birth in captivity in 112 years.  This is a remarkable achievement in the ongoing quest to protect the smallest and most endangered rhino on the planet.  Twenty years ago there were a thousand in the wild.  Poaching and loss of habitat has reduced that number to only 300.

Uhlman's photographs -- up close and personal -- bring the reader an intimate sense of this important work and these amazing animals.

A Rhino Field Guide provides maps of habitat and interesting facts about each of the rhino species.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Live Your Poem with Irene Latham.

My selection is "Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: how to write a poem" by Jack Prelutsky.

Poetry writing tips from Jack Prelutsky, Children's Poet Laureate -- I could probably stop right there. 
But let me add that Prelutsky offers readers some insider advice on how to write in a variety of poetry forms along with some thoughtful suggestions about where to find ideas. He's not at all shy about demonstrating how some of his personal memories found their way into verse.  He also provides an analysis of some of his poetry that is a delightful peek at how this very successful mind works.  Aspiring young writers will find some exercises to get the poetical ball rolling.  Even if you never intend to craft a verse, this book is fun for anyone who appreciates word play.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writers Wednesday


Over the last couple of weeks, I've had several people ask how to go about publishing stories they were writing.

Your first priority, of course, is to finish writing the book. 

You should understand right from the beginning that there are a number of qualities you will need to succeed.  In addition to the ability to skillfully craft a story worthy of publication, writers must have patience and perseverance.  Writing "the end" on the last page is only the beginning. The story must be rewritten until it is polished like a jewel.  I spent a year fine-tuning THE GINGERBREAD COWBOY and I can explain the conscious decisions behind every word choice, plot point, and character in the story and it's less than a thousand words.

Once your manuscript is as perfect as you can make it, you will need to find a way to workshop it with other writers to get it critiqued and  provide you with feed back for revisions.  It's fine to have your family and friends read it over if you want, but unless they are published professionals in children's literature you'll need outside suggestions. Family and friends love us and want to be kind and they don't know what an editor or agent requires. 

If you write for children, SCBWI is an excellent source for finding local critique groups, workshops and writers conferences where you have an opportunity to have your work critiqued.  Writer's for adult audiences can benefit from membership is organizations devoted to their particular genre such as mystery or romance.  Local colleges, and community sponsored adult education programs offer writing classes that can be beneficial and introduce you to other writers in your area.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by The Swimmer Writer.

My selection is "A black hole is not a hole" written by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano and illustrated by Michael Carroll.

DeCristofano takes young readers grades 4-6 on a cosmic voyage of discovery as she delves into the physics of black holes in simple, understandable language.  Her conversational voice is engaging and her approach in explaining the formation and structure of black holes is logical, easy to follow and vibrant.   

Carroll's vibrant illustrations, and well constructed diagrams are enhanced by spectacular photographs courtesy of NASA.

A timeline, glossary, author's note, and suggested resources complete the book.

A fascinating read for astronomy fans and the general public.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writer's Wednesday


For self-published author, Tanya Maude , writing her debut book "Monty Banana and the Roller Skates" (Silverwood Books, UK, 2011) was only the beginning of her challenging path to a market-ready book.

"The story is the easy part, but then you have the full process of illustration, presentation, editing etc, it all takes a long long time. (a year minimum)" Tanya explains.  The time element is also what led Tanya to make the decision to self-publish.  " The Young Children’s book market is very saturated. I did thorough research and it seemed extremely hard to find an agent or publisher for new writers. I made the decision to self publish as for me it was just about getting my book out there. I didn’t have the patience to wait to see if some day I would manage to find an agent."

Tanya found inspiration in the picture books she read to her twins.  The stories and illustrations appealed to her creative mind set.  "One of the 1st books I read over and over to my children was “Room on the Broom”, by Julia Donaldson. It is such a great story and so readable. As a parent you want to find a book that you enjoy as well as the children, as you will be the one having to read it over and over again! Axel Scheffler has a great way of illustrating and the fact that it is written in rhyme, gives the story a constant flow.  I also love Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake, Enid Blyton, Roger Hargreaves, Lydia Monks the list is endless. They all have such fantastic imagination."

Imagination is certainly evident in the story of Monty Banana who acquires a pair of roller skates that go spinning out of control and teach him the importance of good manners.  Tanya wants readers to know that, "The general message is to enjoy the story, whilst underlining the importance of manners."

Writing her book taught Tanya some important lessons and she offers these words of advice for aspiring writers:
  • "... you really need to research your audience. Something that you think will appeal is not necessarily the case!
  • Keep to the point, no need to explain every detail, when illustrations are involved. 
  • Check the story length. A child’s attention span is only so long.
  • I think everyone probably has moments when no idea comes to mind, I think you need to try and not worry about it and know that it will not last forever and eventually an idea will come.
  • It is always important to take time out from your book. Like a fresh pair of eyes, leave it for a day and you will probably notice something which you may have missed before.
Tanya's first book has inspired her to work toward future publishing success. " I would like to create a memorable and loveable character with Monty Banana, so I will continue to write books based around him for the foreseeable future. I would also like to continue writing the books with the focus remaining on an educational subject/theme."

When asked about her current plans, Tanya announced, "I am currently working on some ideas for a TV series, and will shortly start writing the 2nd book in the Monty Banana series."

For more information on Monty Banana and the Roller Skates click HERE.


The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer