Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it really shows how we need to look inside of a person, and not judge by appearance or expect them to be a certain way.
Written and Illustrated by Michael Hall
Hardcover: 40 pages ages 4+
Published by Greenwillow Books on February 3, 2015
Theme/Topic- Being yourself
Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “He was red.”
Synopsis (from publisher) – “Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!”
Why I liked this book- This seems the ultimate “be yourself” book. It shows that if you just judge by appearance, you can get an entirely different outlook than on what’s inside the “wrapper”. The illustrations are quirky and fun to look at. I like how the white page is really “paper” for the crayons to draw on. That was pretty cool. This is a wonderful book, and I was happy to review it. “Red” is a nice crayon who you care for. There is some humor in the story, because the reader instantly knows that Red is blue. This is a nice book for diversity teaching.
Activities and Resources-
There is a printable activity and teacher’s guise to go along with the books at the publisher’s website. Click HERE to get them.
Get some crayons and make an adventure for them! Or, have the crayons DRAW the adventure for them!
Or how about getting coloring pages and have kids color the pages colors that aren’t the “normal” colors for the picture – like this one – I think the woolly mammoth wants to be pink with a little brown. ;)
To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!
I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the February 2015 issue! The street and online version was published a couple of days ago. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 9).
I hope you like the article!
Meet Bucks County Author Kit Grindstaff!
By Erik Weibel
Kit Grindstaff’s bio says she was born near London, and grew up surrounded by rolling hills, old English villages. After a brush with pop stardom, she moved to New York and became a successful song writer. She now lives with her husband in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Her award-winning debut novel, The Flame In The Mist, is a spooky, magical mystery-adventure for fantasy lovers, ages 9 to 90. It takes place in a fantasy world of Anglavia. Anglavia is ruled by the tyrannical Agromond family. The main character Jemma Agromond, realizes how evil they really are, she runs away only to be confronted with her true destiny. Only she can bring peace to Anglavia, but at what price?
Erik: What steps do you take when writing a book?
Ms. Grindstaff: As soon as I conceive of a story, I have a rough idea of beginning, middle and end. The details fill in as I write. Before I begin writing, though, I explore the main characters, making lists of traits, and creating back stories to dig for conflicts, motivations, and possible plot and character arcs.
Then, I always outline; but I like to write freely within that structure. That way, the characters can take on a life of their own, and often move the story in ways that surprise me – and hopefully the reader as well! I always keep the end in mind, though, and if those characters get too unruly I’ll take back the reins and steer the story where it needs to go. Ultimately you have to remember who’s the author!
Erik: Where did the idea for the Rattusses (Jemma’s telepathc pet rats) come from?
Ms. Grindstaff: Jemma’s life at Agromond Castle being pretty bleak, I wanted to give her some light relief, and more constant companionship than her limited time with Marsh and Digby. So who – or what – could offer her that in a moldering old castle? Rats! (Magical ones, of course.)
As for being telepathic, they just happened that way. From word go, Noodle and Pie knew when Jemma needed help or comfort, and Jemma understood each twitch of whisker and tail. The specifics of their communication, though, developed over several drafts.
Incidentally, they were common-or-castle brown rats until a very late draft. Their golden fur was a “Eureka!” moment—obvious, right? After all, they are emissaries of Light!
Erik: Anagrams play a big part in the story. What was the inspiration behind them? Are you really good at them, like Jemma?
Ms. Grindstaff: At the outset, I wrote down a list of Jemma’s traits: some like me, some not. For example her flame-red hair and sea-green eyes (not like me), and her love of food (like me, though I’m not a fan of entrails). I’ve always loved word play and anagrams, and that popped onto the list too, though I had no idea at first how important they’d become to the plot! I don’t think I’m as good at them as Jemma is. I can only decipher them because I made them up.
Erik: The twists in the book not only kept me on the edge of my seat, but also really surprised me. Your writing style really fits with the plot and setting of The Erik: When did you start writing, and how have your surroundings influenced you?
Ms. Grindstaff: I’ve always loved writing. As a kid: short stories. In my teens: anguished poems, then pop songs – the writing of which is still my long-time profession.
I had a growing hankering, though, to write fiction. Eventually I took a couple of writing courses, and The Flame in the Mist was born. Growing up English, in the land of spooky old churches, graveyards and castles, and misty winters, was hugely influential! I’d include literature as ‘Surroundings’ too: I loved adventures, mysteries, classics like Dickens and The Woman in White (lots of fog and ghosts), and mystery paranormals like The Turn of the Screw. Anything steeped in atmosphere.
Erik: The Agromonds are a treacherous family. What helped in “shaping” them?
Ms. Grindstaff: The Agromonds’ personalities are exaggerated versions of people I’ve known, combined with British archetypes: The snob for Nocturna; the conflicted Lord of the Manor for Nox; the typical spiteful girl for Shade, and Feo…poor Feo! Sprinkle in a dark lust for power (look no further than any empire as a model), et voila! the Agromonds.
I’m also fascinated by the “shadow” side of personality: things people don’t want others to know about them, or even hide from themselves; their secrets and lies (a big theme in the book, as you know). Those hidden things (kept in the dark) are often what twists people and manifest as evil. So I played with that idea in creating the Agromonds. It also influenced the dark-light theme: by becoming aware of those secrets (bringing them to the light) and uncovering the truth, Jemma is able to escape the darkness and find the life she’s always longed for.
Erik: Thank you Ms. Grindstaff!
Ms. Grindstaff: Thanks so much, Erik, for your awesome questions! They were fun to answer.
For more about Kit Grindstaff, please visit Kitgrindstaff.com!
For more on books visit ThisKidReviewsBooks.com!
I was fortunate to meet Ms. Grindstaff at the Lititz Teen and Kids Literature Festival last year. That’s how I found out about her great book (and was able to
bug get her to agree to an interview). I’d like to tell you a bit more about her debut novel The Flame in the Mist!
The Flame in the Mist
By Kit Grindstaff
464 pages – ages 9+
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on April 9, 2013
Summary (from GoodReads) – “Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma’s past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia. “
What I Thought: I loved the setting in this book – a world with no sun ruled by magical tyrants. That is my kind of book. The characters in the story are good. Jemma is a good – approaching great – main character. She is smart and spunky. Her character develops through the story and I found myself being drawn into her story. Her telepathic rat side-kicks (Noodle and Pie) are characters that readers will immediately love. The evil Agromond Family is VERY evil and they are the perfect bad guys. The book is written so that is totally appropriate for MG readers, but the length and reading level is something an older reader will like also. I recommend this book to lovers of fantasy!
WHAT BETTER WAY TO CELEBRATE GROUNGHOG’S DAY THAN WITH A CONTEST?!?
(Well – other than having a snow day off of school) ;)
Today is Punxsutawney Phyllis’ tenth Birthday! WOO! Punxsutawney Phyllis is the wonderful character created by the awesome author and hare-brained scheme thinker upper – Susanna Leonard Hill!
Well, Phyllis is
an over-eager a nice young groundhog with a funky spirit, so I decided that she needed something with a nice funky tune.
The rules for this contest are (copied from Ms. Hill’s blog):
“Phyllis and I are looking forward with GREAT anticipation to reading YOUR poems for Phyllis [about Phyllis], and hopefully seeing some videos too…!
If you wrote a poem for Phyllis, and/or have photographs, drawings, videos, or other fun feature accompaniments, please add your post-specific blog link to the list below, or post your poem etc in the comments, or Email it to me and I’ll post it for you so that we can all enjoy everyone’s creativity!”
Because I’ve been
nagging asking Ms. Hill consistently politely and patiently for a video contest for (at least) a year now, I can’t really not do a video.
So, here it is! The lyrics (written by me) are below the video.
Viva Las Phyllis!
Oh Phyllis you are the finest
They should give you a crown and call you her royal highness
As many times as I’ve read your books
People stare and they give me looks
Well – it just isn’t enough – no – it just isn’t enough
Phyllis It’s your special day
And we just want to say
Oh Phylllis, you are the best
Weather predictions better than the rest.
I watch the six o’clock news
and they get me all confused
I just need to ask you
You tell it to me straight
Forget that news at eight
Al Roker says it’s gonna snow
And you say “I don’t think so”
HA! YOU’RE RIGHT!
Happy Birthday Phyllis
Happy tenth birthday!
(and yes, my voice is that deep. :) )
HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY EVERYONE!!!!
Today is my 13th birthday! WOO!
Now that I am 5’9″ it’s hard to believe I was this small once –
The stocking was my baby blanket in the hospital. Now I use it as my Christmas stocking. :)
At 13 years, sadly I am no longer a tween, but am I YA? My birthday party is going on over at Beth Stilborn’s blog. She is asking people to recommend early YA books for me to read now that I am officially not a tween anymore. Click HERE to join the party!
I am excited to read some of the suggestions that are over there already but I think I will always love reading middle grade books… and picture books… and magazine articles… and newspapers… cards at the grocery store… ingredients on cereal boxes… Okay, I’ll pretty much read anything and I find good things in almost everything I read.
I also did an end of year round-up over at Jennifer Alvarez’s blog of some of the books I read this year that really stuck with me. Click HERE to go THERE!
Now that I am 13, I was wondering, should I be This Teen Reviews Books not This Kid Reviews Books? I think I can still be Kid for a while longer (although my parents did reserve http://www.ThisTeenReviewsBooks.com for me). :) What do you think?
The biggest birthday present anyone can give me is more stories, more blog posts, more plot lines, more adventure, more information, MORE TO READ (actually the best present I could get would be an eighth day to the week that is just for reading, but I don’t think that is going to happen). All the writers and bloggers out there who give me the great opportunity to read what you create is the best present of all. I am proud to say I am a reading geek and if YOU keep writing, I will keep reading!
THANK YOU FOR READING MY BLOG!
Hey! Look! It’s snowing on my blog!
WOO HOO! It’s time for the Susanna Leonard Hill 4th Annual Holiday Contest!!!
Here are the rules (from Ms. Hill’s blog) -
“Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) in which wild weather impacts the holidays! Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words. Any kind of weather will do: sun, rain, sleet, heatwave, blizzard, tsunami, monsoon, hurricane, hail, tornado, etc! No illustration notes please.” – To see the complete rules click HERE.
To check out all of the AWESOME entries in the contest, click HERE!
Here is my entry. It is 345 words. I hope you like it!
Once upon a time, there lived a friendly fox. You may say to yourself, “Foxes are not friendly,” but this fox had a change of heart after having an argument with a very angry, somewhat huge bunny three seasons ago over what to have for dinner (the fox wanted to eat the bunny and the bunny disagreed). The bunny, having won the argument, made the fox promise to eat only fish and vegetables from then on, and so he did. Since then, fox’s dinner parties have become legendary in the hollow.
This year Fox planned to have his Christmas feast early, before it got too cold, so that the creatures who hibernate could be at the party.
Fox couldn’t wait for the animals to arrive. Bunny, Deer, Squirrel and Turkey were coming, as well as Bear, Chipmunk, Toad and Raccoon!
The fruit punch was iced, the Jell-O cubes were stacked. The broccoli soup was… cold? The fish tart was… FROZEN!
A wintry wind sent a shiver through Fox. “It shouldn’t be this cold.” Then Fox felt something. SNOW! Something was wrong. “If winter sets in now, my hibernating friends will not come to my party.”
Everything was frosting over- FROST! That was it, JACK FROST!
Fox ran up Mount Shivery to Frost’s Palace.
“Excuse me Mr. Frost,” Fox said. “You don’t seem to realize that it is a bit early for this wintery cold. I was about to have an early Christmas feast and-“
“Yes, but it is winter, Fox,” Frost snapped. “So, toddle back to your hollow, and leave me alone.” The icy Jack wouldn’t budge.
Fox dragged his tail down the mountain. The celebration was ruined. But Fox, even though he was friendly, was still sly. Fox saw Sun behind the clouds and he got an idea.
“Sun!” Fox called out. “Sun, would you like to come to our Christmas feast? It is in the hollow! Please stop by. You will be our guest of honor!”
Sun smiled at the invitation and her glow warmed the hollow just long enough for the feast.
About the Book
Title: A Year in the Life of the Secret Garden | Author: Valarie Budayr | Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters | Publication Date: November, 2014 | Publisher: Audrey Press | Pages: 144 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 99
Book Description: Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book.Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.
A Year In The Secret Garden
By Valarie Budayr
143 pages – ages 5+
Published by Audrey Press (2014)
What I liked about this book- This was a fun and unique activity book! Ms. Budayr has written a wonderful book, full of monthly activities, which is awesome by itself, but she also bases it on a classic book – The Secret Garden! Along with the crafts, recipes, and other fantastic stuff, Ms. Budayr has “Character Studies” which tell a little about the main characters and/or the time period that “The Secret Garden” takes place in. It is a great way of learning a bit more about a book that you really like. I think that I will reread The Secret Garden – with this marvelous book right beside me! I like how the activities and text of the book tie into every month of the year.
My little sister, Josie, was looking at the book, and she decided that she wanted to try an activity. She chose a bird-feeder (a December activity).
She gathered up all the things on the materials list in the book.
Then she spread peanut butter all over the toilet paper roll.
Then, she carefully rolled the roll [*hee hee*] through some birdseed, thoroughly coating it.
She cut a ribbon at a desired length, slid it through the roll, and tied it.
Then she hung it up in a local pine tree that was in our yard!
And there it is!
About the Author: Valarie Budayr
Valarie Budayr loves reading and bringing books alive. Her popular website, www.jumpintoabook.com, inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure.
She is founder of Audrey Press, an independent publishing house, as well as an Amazon and iTunes best-selling author. She has written The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Valarie is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and encouraging families and schools to pull books off the shelves and stories off the pages.
Book Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
About the Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters
Marilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper. Her popular website, www.thetoymaker.com, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things.
She is the creator of a paper toy craft book series The Toymaker’s Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling), and The Toymaker’s Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling). She is also the co-creator with J. H. Everett of the middle grade nonfiction series, Haunted Histories, (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). Ms. Scott-Waters illustrated The Search For Vile Things (Scholastic), and created paper engineering for Pop & Sniff Fruit (Piggy Toes Press).
A Year in the Secret Garden Blog Tour Schedule (2014)
Coffee Books & Art (Guest Post)
WS Momma Readers Nook (Book Review)
Cherry Mischievous (Excerpt)
Hope to Read (Excerpt)
Eloquent Articulation (Book Review)
Enter Here Canada (Excerpt)
Books, Babies and Bows (Book Review)
Monique’s Musings (Book Review)
SOS-Supply (Book Review)
Randomly Reading (Book Review)
Adalinc to Life (Book Review)
100 Pages a Day (Book Review)
Edventures With Kids (Book Review)
Icefairy’s Treasure Chest (Book Review)
Girl of 1000 Wonders (Book Review)
Seraphina Reads (Guest Post)
Juggling Act Mama (Book Review)
Pragmatic Mom (Author/Illustrator Interview)
Purple Monster Coupons (Excerpt)
Stacking Books (Book Review)
Oh My Bookness (Book Review)
Crystal’s Tiny Treasures (Book Review)
The Blended Blog (Book Review)
All Done Monkey (Book Review)
Geo Librarian (Book Review)
Grandbooking (Author/Illustrator Interview)
My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews (Book Review)
Christy’s Cozy Corners (Book Review)
My Life, Loves and Passions (Book Review)
Bookaholic Chick (Excerpt)
Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking (Book Review)
Ninja Librarian (Guest Post)
Jane Ritz (Book Review)
Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)
I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (Book Review)
Deal Sharing Aunt (Book Review)
Mommynificent (Book Review)
This Kid Reviews Books (Book Review)
Java John Z’s (Author/Illustrator Interview)
* $100 Blog Tour Giveaway *
Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: December 7, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
This is a cool giveaway hosted by a great group of authors – the Emblazon Authors. I have read and reviewed a bunch of their books and I think this is a cool idea – win a Kindle pre-loaded with 50 books! The Emblazon authors write age-appropriate novels for tweens and middle school aged kids. Check out the giveaway below!
Attention teachers, librarians, tweens, and parents of tweens! Announcing a contest just for you…
The Emblazon authors are giving away a brand new touch screen Kindle loaded with over 50 of their books. That’s a $300 value and hours of reading entertainment!
Emblazon is a collection of authors who seek to create lifelong readers by creating top-
notch literature for kids. They have a particular focus on ages 11 to 14. They’re hosting this fabulous giveaway to celebrate their first year and to treat you, the readers.
The Rafflecopter contest runs November 3 through November 17 and is open to anyone who loves tween literature.
A Rafflecopter giveaway can be found here.
Note: Signing up for the catalog is required for entry. Current subscribers are also eligible for entry. Winners must reside in the United States or Canada. (Sorry!)
List of Stops on the Blog Tour:
You can help even more by sharing this post with your friends and family. If you know teachers or librarians, let them know about how awesome the Emblazoners are by sharing the link to their website: http://emblazoners.com/
It’s the 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
Get ready for some great Halloween stories! You can check out all the entries in the contest at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE and mine right below!
The rules for the contest are (copied from Ms. Hill’s blog) –
“Write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words pumpkin, broomstick, and creak. Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!). Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT”
Now – onto my entry! I hope you like it!
A Halloween Errand (100 words)
The run-down store was deserted, except for the bored check-out clerk.
I searched the shelves for the trick-or-treat candy Mom wanted.
“Pumpkins and broomsticks,” a voice whispered.
Creeeak, groaned the floorboards.
Goosebumps crawled up my back.
Wasn’t the store deserted?
“Pumpkins and broomsticks.”
“Pumpkins and broomsticks.”
My heart pounded.
Forget the candy! I’m out of here!
A hand grabbed my arm.
I spun in terror.
“I can’t find the pumpkins and broomsticks,” said an elderly lady holding a shopping list. “I’m going to a party tonight. Can you help me look?”
What I am reading now!
- Perfect Picture Book Friday! Simple Machines: Wheels, Levers, and Pulleys by David A.@Adler wp.me/p1i1E2-3sV 12 hours ago
- Creative Kid Thursday! Meet Daniel Johnston Author and Magazine Publisher!: wp.me/p1i1E2-3sN via @ThisKid_Erik @writingsoftruth 1 day ago
- Creative Kid Thursday! The Wrecking Ball Employee by Daniel Johnston AND GIVEAWAY!!!! wp.me/p1i1E2-3sN 1 day ago
- Charity anthology to raise money for Guide Dogs - Book cover wp.me/p3mGq7-6OJ via @Storyreadingape 1 day ago
- @Squishablebaby @StanleyNKatrina Thanks for the shout-out! :D 1 day ago
Card Catalog of Reviews
Top Posts & Pages
- Creative Kid Thursday! Meet Daniel Johnston Author and Magazine Publisher!
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- Perfect Picture Book Friday! Simple Machines: Wheels, Levers, and Pulleys by David A. Adler
- Book Review! Loot: How to Steal A Fortune by Jude Watson
- Book Signing with Michael Buckley and Review of THE CHEERLEADERS OF DOOM!
- Perfect Picture Book Friday! Red: A Crayon's Story
- Contact Me
- ABOUT "THIS KID" -- ERIK!
- Review! The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm