How to Explain Your Writing Journey to Friends and Family

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It has come to my attention that those closest to me do not understand my writing journey. They wonder why I spend so much time with my nose in books (you have to read what you write!) and my eyes glued to my computer screen. They wonder why I don’t write a different genre. They wonder what webinars and podcasts are. They wonder what SCBWI, 12×12, Storystorm, ReFoReMo etc. etc. etc. are. But most of all they probably wonder why I don’t have a bazillion published books.

Chill it's only Chaos

Image credit: Frog Spot Blog

The publishing world is confusing! So I thought I’d write a little something to help my friends and family understand the process to becoming a published picture book author. And who knows? Maybe this post will help my kid lit pals, too.

Here’s my writing journey in a nutshell:

My love for picture books was rekindled after my son was born 9 years ago.

Okay, rewind.

Remind friends and family about your writing spark.

I have wanted to be a writer my entire life. I wanted to write novels when I was a little girl. I wanted to be a sports writer in junior high school. In high school I wanted to be an investigative journalist. In college I wanted to freelance for feminist magazines. But my passion never burned so bright as it did when I started writing for children. 

Roald Dahl quote

Image credit: Bloglovin.com

Be honest.

When I first started writing picture book manuscripts I submitted to publishing houses that still accepted unsolicited work. I received one form rejection letter. I didn’t know what I was doing. 

Share books that excited you.

I read more and more picture books and started researching self-publishing. I self-published a picture book in 2012. Will I ever self-publish again? No. Do I regret my decision to self-publish? No. I know plenty of self-published writers who are successful. It just wasn’t for me. But it sent me on an informative path. I Joined SCBWI. I started a website and a blog. I became social media savvy. I connected with authors and illustrators. I gained book signing and school visit experience etc. 

Let your friends and family know what new things you are trying.

Then I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 picture book writing challenge. I found an incredible critique group. I watched webinars and took online picture book writing classes. I participated in Twitter pitch parties. Suddenly I wasn’t getting NO responses and form rejection letters. Progress!

Share your small success stories.

Fast forward to this year. I entered a contest for a picture book writing mentorship (Writing With the Stars) and was selected out of hundreds of talented picture book writers. I entered Michelle Hauck and Sharon Chriscoe’s PB Party contest and was selected out of hundreds of talented kid lit writers. 

Don’t overthink. Stay true to yourself. 

My friends and family probably question my sanity. After all these years of hard work, rejection, and tears (my husband sends me flowers), why do I keep at it?

Flowers from Ian

Share your rejections and the goodies you use to cope. 

BTW, it seems like most picture book writers have an obsession with chocolate, cake, and cookies. I’m more of a salt and vinegar chips like of gal. 

Remind them why you write.

On a more serious note, my goal is not to see my name on a book cover. My goal is to write stories that inspire kids or help them relate or offer a different perspective or make them laugh (when I write something that can make my son giggle as much as he does when he reads STINKY CHEESE MAN, I know I’ve made it.)

In the end it is simple. I have to write. It’s in my heart.

Happiness is following your heart quote 

Be clear about your dreams and goals.

My dream is to be a picture book author. My goal is to sign with a literary agent. So how does this process work?

  • Read thousands of picture books (I read 1,005 last year).
  • Get an idea for a picture book (They come out of nowhere!).
  • Write a rough draft.
  • Revise draft a bazillion times.
  • Send draft to critique group.
  • Revise draft a bazillion more times.
  • Send draft to critique group again. If the group gives me the green light, I send the manuscript to my fantastic mentor, Laura Gehl.
  • Revise manuscript.
  • Send manuscript back to Laura.
  • Revise manuscript again.
  • If Laura gives me the green light I’m ready to submit.
  • Research agents.
  • Write a query letter.
  • Submit to agents.
  • Wait. A. Long. Time.

Your life is your story quote

Writing for children is not easy.

People tell me all the time how easy it must be to write picture books. Here’s the thing: most fiction picture books are 500 words or less so every single word has to matter. Every single word must have purpose and add to story. 

Many argue that writing for children is actually more difficult.

Some Writer!

In Melissa Sweet’s beautiful book, Some Writer!, she includes this quote from E.B. White:

Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth…”

I am a member of 12×12, which means that I have the opportunity to submit to one of two agents every month. (These agents read 12×12 submissions before the slush pile). I research the agents and submit to the one I think is the best fit for my work. 

It’s a LONG process.

What happens next? It depends. Here are a few possible scenarios:

  1. No response from agent.
  2. Form rejection letter.
  3. Champagne rejection letter with feedback.
  4. Revision request.
  5. Agent either rejects revision or asks to see more manuscripts.
  6. Agent loves manuscript and asks to see more work.
  7. Agent turns you down after you send more work. (“You’re close, but not quite there.”) OR
  8. Agents schedules a phone call to discuss your work, goals, career etc.
  9. Agent offers representation.

Great! You have an agent! Now what?

Celebrate with friends and family!

Side note: There are very few publishing houses that accept unagented material. Why? Because editors are busy people who only want to read work that is recommended by people they trust. Agents have relationships with editors. Agents know what editors are looking for.

Is your work over after you get an agent? No. More revising! When your agent says your manuscript is a go, s/he puts a submission package together and sends it to editors.

You wait a long time. AGAIN.

The editor says nay OR requests a revision OR says yea! Most publishing houses have an acquisitions process, which means the editor presents the manuscript to a GROUP of folks who work at the publishing house. Group says nay OR yea!

The publishing house makes an offer.

Celebrate with friends and family!

Side note: bonus of having an agent? The agent negotiates the contract on your behalf. 18 months-2 years later . . . your book is released!

Celebrate some MORE!

What next? Promote your published book with school visits, book signings etc. AND . . .

Work on selling your second book.

Work for cause quote

Image credit: Paperblog.com

Never stop learning and writing! Miranda Paul recently made this comment during a webinar:

“When you stop learning your career is over.”

 

Dream big. Never give up.  

The one thing that you have quote

 

 

 

 

2017 Children’s Choice Book Awards

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2017 Children's Choice Book Awards

It’s that time of year again! Be sure to encourage your kiddos to vote for their favorite books in 2017 Children’s Choice Book Awards.

Launched in 2008 by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader, the awards provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about new books being written for them.

How were these finalists chosen? Each year, over 36,000 children from different regions of the U.S. read, discuss, and choose their favorite new books, with supervision from the International Literacy Association. The most popular books in each age group become the Children’s Choice Book Award finalists.

Voting is open March 3 to May 7, 2017. Winners will be announced on May 31st at a special ceremony featuring the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang and publicized nationally!
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In the K-2 category my kiddos voted for Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching.
This adorable picture book captivates readers with vibrant illustrations and humor. Peep and Egg are the perfect duo to show children that “sometimes you just need a little bit of help to break out of your shell.”

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl and Joyce Wan

Peep and Egg I'm Not Hatching

From Goodreads:

Egg is not hatching.

No way. No how.

It is too scary out there.

Peep wants Egg to hatch so they can do fun things together, like watch the sunrise, splash in puddles, and play hide-and-seek.
But Egg is not cracking…

Joyce Wan’s bright and bold illustrations will have young chickies giggling at Laura Gehl’s reassuring tale that takes the not out of I’m not.

Grade 3-4 category:

This debut by Andrea Zuill entertains readers with fantastic illustrations and snappy text. A hilarious representation about what dogs think!

Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill

Wolf Camp

From Goodreads:

Meet Homer, a dog who heads to camp to live like a wolf! Here’s the perfect book for the legions of kids out there who love dogs and funny books.

Homer is a dog . . . but he also secretly fancies himself part wolf. So when an invitation to attend WOLF CAMP (“Where every dog can live as a wolf for a week”) falls out of his kibble bag one morning, he’s determined to go. After his people finally agree, Homer boards the bus bound for Wolf Camp, along with fellow campers Trixie and Rex. They’re greeted on the other end by wolf counselors Fang and Grrr (“they seem nice”), and what follows is an array of wolf activities, including learning to howl, mark, and hunt. Of course, Homer’s a little homesick at times, and the food isn’t very good, but that just makes heading home all the sweeter.

Perfect for all those kids anticipating camp themselves, Zuill’s debut introduces a charmer of a dog and puts him in some laugh-out-loud scenarios.

Grade 5-6 category: 

My son was bummed that The Wild Robot was not an option. He read this book four times in three weeks! He often read it to his little sister before bed. One night I overheard her say, “Pause the story! I have to pee!”

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My children didn’t read any of the books in the grade 5-6 category, but I did! If I could vote, I’d vote for Booked by Kwame Alexander. I am always blown away by exceptional books written in verse because it is extremely difficult to pull off. Booked is a perfect example of how to do it right. 

Booked

From Goodreads:

Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/
can’t nobody cop you…
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER,  soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.
This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!

 I would LOVE to hear which titles your kiddos picked!
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Happy reading!

1000 Picture Books in 2016~October

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I have 161 picture books to go to complete the 1000 Picture Books in 2016 Reading Challenge! I discovered a new favorite wordless picture book this month (Hank Finds an Egg) as well as a new favorite interactive book (Tap the Magic Tree). I am a huge fan of Oliver Jeffers. His new book (A Child of Books) has an incredible message with mind-blowing art. Jane Yolen’s newest book (What to Do With a Box) is also brilliant. Happy reading!

Visit my January-September posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I’ve read in 2016.

Top 19 picks for October!

1. Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

hank-finds-an-egg

2. I Am Yoga by Susan Verde

i-am-yoga

3. Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

tap-the-magic-tree

4. Water Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas

water-can-be

5. How to Track a Truck by Jason Carter Eaton

how-to-track-a-truck

6. Albie’s First Word by Jacqueline Tourville

albies-first-word

7. The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp

the-king-of-little-things

8. The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

the-story-of-fish-and-snail

9. Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

crankenstein

10. Click, Clack, Surprise! by Doreen Cronin

click-clack-surprise

11. Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park

xanders-panda-party

12. First Snow by Bomi Park

first-snow

13. I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino

i-am-a-story

14. The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep by Caroline Nastro

the-bear-who-couldnt-sleep

15. Max at Night by Ed Vere

max-at-night

16. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

a-child-of-books

17. Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer

yellow-time

18. Tea Rex by Molly Idle

tea-rex

19. What to Do With a Box by Jane Yolen

what-to-do-with-a-box

sophie-mustache-boxmason-tv-box

My kiddos LOVE boxes!

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1000 Picture Books in 2016~September

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I read 155 picture books in September. This month I decided to focus on titles from the last three years. I discovered several of these books during a 12 x 12 webinar with children’s librarian and All the Wonders podcast creator, Matthew Winner.

Visit my January-August posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I’ve read in 2016.

Top 26 picks for September!

1. A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara

a-poem-in-your-pocket

2. Blizzard by John Rocco

blizard

3. Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

best-frints

4. Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill

wolf-camp

5. Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein

before-after

6. Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park

yaks-yak

7. Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann

armstrong-a-mouse-on-the-moon

8. Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

hooray-for-hat

9. Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead

special-delivery

10. My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth

my-grandfathers-coat

11. Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

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12. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

they-all-saw-a-cat

13. Roger is Reading a Book by Koen van Biesen

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14. Adventures With Barefoot Critters by Teagan White

adventures-with-barefoot-critters

15. Where Bear? by Sophy Henn

where-bear

16. The Sleepy Songbird by Suzanne Barton

the-sleepy-songbird

17. Rock-a-Bye Romp by Linda Ashman

rock-a-bye-romp

18. The Forgetful Knight by Michelle Robinson

the-forgetful-knight

19. McToad Mows Tiny Island by Tom Angleberger

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20. Ursa’s Light by Deborah Marcero

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21. Peanut Butter & Brains by Joe McGee

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22. Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating

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23. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian

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24. Pond by Jim LaMarche

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25. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

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26. Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan

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1000 Picture Books in 2016~May

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The 1000 Picture Books in 2016 Reading Challenge has encouraged me to read a greater variety of picture books. I hadn’t read many wordless picture books or nonfiction picture books until I participated in this challenge. Hooray for reading challenges!

Visit my January-April posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I’ve read so far this year. Here’s my top 15 picks from my May reading list. Happy reading!

Top 15 picks for May!

1. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Flora and the Flamingo

2. Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow

Have You Seen Elephant

3. How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth

4. What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson

What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot

5. Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Finding Wild

6. Ollie and Claire by Tiffany Strelitz Haber

Ollie and Claire

7. I Am Otter by Sam Garton

I Am Otter

8. Cock-a-Doodle Oops! by Lori Degman

Cock-a-Doodle Oops

9. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Thunder Boy Jr

10. Snoring Beauty by Sudipta Quallen Bardham

Snoring Beauty

11. The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett

The Princess and the Pig

12. I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

I Need My Monster

13. Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson

Sidewalk Flowers

14. The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty

The Snatchabook

15. Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford

Infinity and Me

1000 Picture Books in 2016~April

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Hooray for reading challenges! I am determined to read 1000 picture books in 2016. Visit my January-March posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I’ve read so far this year. This month, I decided to showcase my favorites from my April reading list. Happy reading!

Top 15 picks for April!

1. Chicken Lily by Lori Mortensen

Chicken Lily

2. Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett

Meerkat Mail

3. The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree

4. Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!: An Alphabet Caper by Mike Twohy

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run

5. The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano

6. Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

7. Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

8. My Name is Elizabeth! by Annika Dunklee

My Name is Elizabeth

9. If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano

If You Want to See a Whale

10. Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas

Let's Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy

11. Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Exclamation Mark

12. The Grumpy Pets by Kristine A. Lombardi

The Grumpy Pets

13. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

Last Stop on Market Street

14. Dear Tabby by Carolyn Crimi

Dear Tabby

15. Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague

Dear Mrs. LaRue

1000 Picture Books in 2016~March

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ReFoReMo winner 2016 badge

Reading for Research Month is such a fantastic motivator. The insightful blog posts and mentor text recommendations were outstanding this year. Follow the new site to become a member of the ReFoReMo family!

ReFoReMo helped me revise several WIPs this month. One of the recommended mentor texts gave me an idea for my March 12 x 12 draft. I have always read a lot of picture books, but this reading challenge has helped me hone my craft. I am studying these picture books (with tools I learned in ReFoReMo) and applying what I learned to my own writing.

Be sure to join the One Thousand Picture Books Facebook group as well as the Goodreads group.

Here’s my March reading list with Goodreads links:

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  1. Even Monsters Say Good Night by Doreen Mulryan Marts
  2. The Woods by Paul Hoppe
  3. Deer Dancer by Mary Lyn Ray
  4. Stanley the Mailman by William Bee
  5. The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker
  6. Strega Nona’s Gift by Tomie dePaola
  7. Frankencrayon by Michael Hall
  8. Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
  9. A Night at the Zoo by Kathy Caple
  10. Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne C. Jones
  11. I Don’t Want to Be a Pea! by Ann Bonwill
  12. Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos
  13. Baking Day at Grandma’s by Anika Denise
  14. Quest by Aaron Becker
  15. No Two Alike by Keith Baker
  16. The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits by Douglas Florian
  17. Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt
  18. The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein
  19. Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander
  20. Over the River and Through the Wood: A Holiday Adventure by Linda Ashman
  21. Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
  22. Telephone by Mac Barnett
  23. Seaver the Weaver by Paul Czajak
  24. In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van
  25. Thank you and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell
  26. Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt
  27. Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead
  28. Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle by Cindy Neuschwander
  29. Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie on the Road by Joel Stewart
  30. Dino-Wrestling by Lisa Wheeler
  31. The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens
  32. Little Bea and the Snowy Day by Daniel Roode
  33. The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner
  34. No Nap! Yes Nap! by Margie Palatini
  35. Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
  36. Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
  37. The Biggest Kiss by J.M. Walsh
  38. Orlando on a Thursday by Emma Magenta
  39. I Can’t Do Anything! by Thierry Robberecht
  40. A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer
  41. Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier
  42. Your Alien by Tammi Sauer
  43. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Moe Willems
  44. Art & Max by David Weisner
  45. Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems
  46. Billy’s Booger by William Joyce
  47. The Boys by Jeff Newman
  48. Good Night, Truck by Sally Odgers
  49. Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator! by Mo Willems
  50. I Dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau
  51. Going Places by Peter H. Reynolds
  52. Love, Mouserella by David Ezra Stein
  53. The Day I Lost My Superpowers by Michael Escoffier
  54. This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
  55. Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming
  56. While You Were Napping by Jenny Offill
  57. Pretty Penny Makes Ends Meet by Devon Kinch
  58. Mutt Dog! by Stephen Michael King
  59. Some Days Are Lonely by Young-Ah Kim
  60. Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich
  61. Giddy-Up Buckaroos! by Shanda Trent
  62. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt
  63. Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman
  64. Lucy and Lila by Alison Fletcher
  65. What’s the Opposite? by Oliver Jeffers
  66. The House That Zack Built by Alison Murray
  67. Hide and Sheep by Andrea Beaty
  68. Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint by Femida Handy and Carole Carpenter
  69. Run for Your Life!: Predators and Prey on the African Savanna by Lola M. Schaefer
  70. Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio
  71. My Teacher is a Monster! by Peter Brown
  72. Batman’s Dark Secret by Kelley Puckett
  73. The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
  74. Ten Creepy Monsters by Carey Armstrong-Ellis
  75. Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly Dean
  76. Digger and Tom! by Sebastien Braun
  77. Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner
  78. Pumpkin Time! by Erzsi Deak
  79. Snow Day for Mouse by Judy Cox
  80. The Stupids Step Out by Harry Allard
  81. Don’t Call Me Pruneface! by Janet Reed Ahearn
  82. The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton
  83. Sugar White Snow and Evergreens: A Winter Wonderland of Color by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky
  84. Smarty Marty’s Got Game by Amy Gutierrez
  85. Slow Down for Manatees by Jim Arnosky
  86. No Moon, No Milk! by Chris Babcock
  87. Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett
  88. Who Done it? by Olivier Tallec
  89. Pepper & Poe by Frann Preston-Gannon
  90. Little One by Jo Weaver
  91. Little Why by Jonny Lamber
  92. The Night Gardener by Terry Fan
  93. The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski
  94. Sparky! by Jenny Offill
  95. What if…? by Anthony Browne
  96. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
  97. Lawn to Lawn by Dan Yaccarino
  98. When You Were Born by Emma Dodd
  99. It’s a Firefly Night by Dianne Ochiltree
  100. Stars by Mary Lyn Ray
  101. Light Up the Night by Jean Reidy
  102. Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
  103. Chester’s Masterpiece by Melanie Watt
  104. Chester by Melanie Watt
  105. You’re Finally Here! by Melanie Watt
  106. Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson
  107. Ten Kisses for Sophie! by Rosemary Wells
  108. Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen
  109. The Typewriter by Bill Thomson
  110. My New Mom & Me by Renata Galindo
  111. Gretchen Over the Beach by R.W. Alley
  112. Little Butterfly by Laura Logan
  113. Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues by Kimberly Dean
  114. Chester’s Back! by Melanie Watt

MARCH-ing Books to Kids in 2016

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I am excited to participate in the second annual MARCH-ing Books to Kids book drive. Picture Book Pass it On is encouraging folks to participate in MARCH-ing Books to Kids during the month of March. The founder of PBPiO, Michelle Eastman, has given kid lit lovers and authors a wonderful opportunity to help children in need through the  Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

The number of kids with incarcerated parents has increased nearly 80% in the last 20 years, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than 2.7 million children have a parent who is incarcerated, and parents of another 10 million children have been incarcerated at some point.  The experience can be profoundly difficult for children, increasing their risk of living in poverty and housing instability, as well as causing emotional trauma, pain, and social stigma. http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/reading-inside

But, through programs like the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa Storybook Project, some of that stress melt away when kids and parents are able to share a special book together. Through an audio-tape reading program wherein imprisoned parents/grandparents read books to their children/grandchildren on tape, family bonds are strengthened and literacy skills improve as parents encourage their children to read with them and in their absence. Read this touching NY Times article to learn about the impact these programs have, from an incarcerated mom’s viewpoint. http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/07/behind-bars-finding-meaning-in-a-book-read-aloud/?emc=eta1/

How can you help?  Donate a book. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

Now, through the month of March, Picture Book Pass it On is launching a special initiative called “MARCHing Books to Kids”.

We encourage book lovers to donate a favorite children’s book, and we invite authors and children’s authors to donate signed copies of their books to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

The Storybook Project serves children Birth-17 years. They welcome donations of board books, picture books, early readers, graphic novels, chapter books, novels, non-fiction, etc. The sky is the limit!

To participate in MARCHing Books to Kids, please follow the 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or very gently used children’s book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project. Authors are invited to sign their books. Please include a note stating that your book is part of the MARCHing Books to Kids initiative. Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO. Share it on your blog and on social media. Please include our badge and ‪#‎PBPiO‬, and #‎MARCHingBookstoKids

PBPiO badge

#3 Pass it on. When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #PBPiO giving chain. Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

If distance prohibits your ability to mail books to the Storybook Project, please consider donating books to children in need in your own community. Oh, and be sure to share your giving story on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe. So far, we have people “Passing it On” in the US, the UK, Australia, and Greece!

Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families!

 

burn books

My 3 Calls to Action:

#1 Pledge: I pledge to donate ten signed copies of my picture book, Mama’s Purse, to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

#2 Post: I will share my pledge on the Picture Book Pass it On #PBPiO Facebook page, my blog, and social media:

Facebook author page

Facebook blog page

Facebook book page

Twitter

Pinterest

#3 Pass it on: I challenge YOU to join the #PBPiO giving chain. Take the pledge and keep passing it on!

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1000 Picture Books in 2016~January

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If you are an aspiring picture book writer chances are you are familiar with 12 x 12, PiBoIdMo, Revimo, and ReFoReMo. Reading, writing, and revising challenges help motivate kid lit writers. We hear time and again how important it is read A LOT of books in the genre you write.

I recently watched the January 12 x 12 webinar with Julie Hedlund and Tara Lazar. Tara offered great advice on improving craft: read 500-1000 picture books. Then I discovered the Read 1000 Picture Books in 2016 reading challenge. Coincidence? I think not! I joined the Facebook group and the Goodreads group. The groups share reading lists so you will never run out of books to read. I encourage you to join the challenge! Here’s my January reading list with Goodreads links to get you started. Happy reading and writing!

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  1. Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light
  2. Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
  3. Nellie Belle by Mem Fox
  4. Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten by Marc Brown
  5. Zora’s Zucchini by Katherine Pryor
  6. Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds
  7. Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
  8. The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems
  9. Leopold by Ruth Westheimer
  10. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
  11. Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Love by James Dean
  12. Wish by Emma Dodd
  13. The Red Hat by David Teague
  14. Sheep Go to Sleep by Nancy E. Shaw
  15. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
  16. Cat Nap by Toni Yuli
  17. What Does it Mean to Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio
  18. Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram
  19. A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
  20. Michael Recycle and Bootleg Peg by Ellie Bethel
  21. Liplap’s Wish by Jonathan London
  22. I Don’t Want a Posh Dog by Emma Dodd
  23. Skunkdog by Emily Jenkins
  24. Shoe Dog by Megan McDonald
  25. A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
  26. This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
  27. Ninja! by Arree Chung
  28. Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  29. Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
  30. No Yeti Yet by Mary Ann Fraser
  31. So Many Days by Alison McGhee
  32. Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds
  33. Sleep Tight Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques
  34. Where’s the Baboon? by Michael Escoffier
  35. Igor Spot Champion by Guido Van Genechten
  36. By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman
  37. Chooky-Doodle-Doo by Jan Whiten
  38. This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary
  39. Snowy Bear by Tony Mitton
  40. Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean
  41. Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin
  42. Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion by Dominique Roques
  43. Claire and the Unicorn Happy Ever After by B.G. Hennessy
  44. Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci
  45. Grandma’s Purple Flowers by Adjoa J. Burrowes
  46. Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
  47. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
  48. Anna’s Corn by Barbara Santucci
  49. I Remember Miss Perry by Pat Brisson
  50. Never Ask a Bear by Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud

 

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea

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I chose a very special book for my second post for Dive Into Diversity. My son, Mason, will be seven years old next month. After he was born, my friend came from Idaho to visit us in Oregon. She brought Mason a beautiful book as well as an inspiring CD for me. I am listening to Women of the World: Acoustic as I write this post. I hadn’t listened to this music in a long time. I also hadn’t read Listen to the Wind in a long time. Mason is now old enough to appreciate this beautiful true story about compassion, celebrating culture, and working together to make the world a better place through education and peace.

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson ~ art by Susan L. Roth

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Greg Mortenson stumbled, lost and delirious, into a remote Himalayan village after a failed climb up K2. The villagers saved his life, and he vowed to return and build them a school. The remarkable story of his promise kept is now perfect for reading aloud. Told in the voice of Korphe’s children, this story illuminates the humanity and culture of a relevant and distant part of the world in gorgeous collage, while sharing a riveting example of how one person can change thousands of lives.

The first page of Listen to the Wind introduces young readers to the children of Korphe.

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The last three sentences draw the reader in and set up the story.

“We study in the school that we helped build.

Before our school was built,

we had lessons outside.

We wrote with sticks,

on the ground.”

We learn how the people of Korphe helped Dr. Greg and how Dr. Greg wanted to give back to the people of Korphe. Dr. Greg asked the wise man how he could help. The wise man said, “Listen to the wind.”

Dr. Greg closed his eyes and heard the voices of the children.

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The language throughout the entire book is inviting. I love the use of “folds” to describe the mountains.

“We watched him walk away until he disappeared into the folds of the mountains.”

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Susan L. Roth’s collage illustrations are breath-taking. I had a difficult time deciding which pages to include in this post!

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The outcome of all their hard work is displayed powerfully in the final spread, which includes a letter from the children of Korphe and an illustration of them studying in their new school.

“We are the children of Korphe. Can you hear our voices?

Listen to the wind . . .”

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The end of the book includes a beautiful Korphe scrapbook as well as an artist’s note.

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My favorite photograph in the scrapbook is of Haji Ali, the wise man who tells Dr. Greg to “listen to the wind.”

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To learn more about the story behind Listen to the Wind visit Three Cups of Tea.

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