Kid Lit Author and Advocate

[Review] Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie – Michelle Eastman

Would You Read It Wednesday #266 – Gus’s Big Idea (PB)

Susanna Leonard Hill

Good 6-Days-Until-Halloween-Morning-But-Only-2-Days-Until-Halloweensie-Morning, Darlings! (not that we’re counting down or anything! 🙂 )

I’m sure you were wondering, so let me just say that 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown in the United States each year, and the Top 5 Pumpkin Producing States are (get ready!…and hold your breath to see if you live in one of them!) Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California!

The Largest Pumpkin Ever weighed in at 1,502 pounds!!! on October 7, 2006, grown by Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, even though Rhode Island is not a Top 5 Pumpkin Growing State.

The Largest Pumpkin PIEEver was baked in New Bremen, Ohio in 2010 and was 20 feet in diameter and weighed 3,699 pounds!  Here’s the recipe in case you need to whip up a little pie for your family 🙂  1,212 lbs of canned pumpkin, 2,796…

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The Story Behind the Story: 7 ATE 9 is Here!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Five years ago I was reading Joanne Levy’s SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE—such a clever title and a fun read. I thought to myself…what elementary school joke’s punchline could I turn into a picture book title?

And then…

BAM!

I got whacked upside the head…

Why is 6 afraid of 7?

Because…7 ATE 9!

I felt a powerful surge of muse awaken all my senses, sorta like this…

When I get smacked so soundly, I immediate go research my idea. Surely someone already had to have published a 7 ATE 9 book, right?

Well, I should have searched on worldcat.org, but instead I went somewhere else. You can probably guess where.

And somehow I did not find a picture book with that name. I found other items, like a card game, but no picture book. But it turns out, there were picture books with that title—I was…

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Grace Hopper Meets The Queen of STEM Biographies, Author Laurie Wallmark (plus a giveaway!)

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Today I invited author Laurie Wallmark to pontificate on a female computer science pioneer…and to introduce her new picture book biography, GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE, illustrated by Katy Wu.

Laurie and I first met ten years ago (!!!) when I joined her critique group. Who could imagine that a decade later, we would be celebrating each other’s books?

Laurie, this is your second PB biography about an important female computer scientist (the first being award-winning ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE). What drew you to your subjects?

People say, “write what you know,” but I disagree. If you’re not familiar with a topic or an idea, you can always research it. I’d rather say, “write what you’re passionate about.” After all, you and your story will be together for a very long time. From your initial idea to that first draft, from innumerable revisions to a published…

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Dragons Rule, Princesses Drool…and Author-Illustrator Courtney Pippin-Mathur Does it All (plus a giveaway!)

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Courtney Pippin-Mathur

Today is the day that my second written and illustrated picture book DRAGONS RULE, PRINCESSES DROOL! will be released into the world!

It’s the story of a dragon whose land had been invaded by two adorably horrible princesses who change everything. As you have read on other posts on Tara’s awesome blog and during Storystorm, you know that characters are very important in picture books. A strong character can inspire strong emotions and getting his/her/their look is extremely important to the book.

DRAGONS RULE, PRINCESSES DROOL is comprised of three main characters; a grumpy dragon and the two princesses who have invaded his land.

Below, I’m going to share a quick, edited run through the many, many, many different versions of the Dragon and the Princesses. Just like revisions in the text, there are revisions in the art.

The story originally started out with the dragons invading…

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Giveaway! Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz

The Picture Book Review

[Prize pack and review copy provided by Disney Hyperion]:

Feminist Baby with her cute pink, and sometimes blue, bow and large, adorable eyes is not to be trifled with.  She is her own baby and fully intends to express herself in all her baby-ness and beyond.

Told in a sassy and lighthearted tone, Feminist Baby offers giggles and laughs and ends on an uplifting and determined note that this baby will be whatever she wants to be.

© 2017 by Loryn Brantz. Image Used with Permission.

Feminist Baby is not a gentle, sweet book about how she can be a good helper.  Instead it chronicles a baby as she pukes on you, refuses pants, makes noise, throws her toys, and really doesn’t care what you think of her clothes. She has her own agency, her own personhood, and fully inhabits her own dualities — because not only does she dance…

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Today is the Day! My Picture Book is FREE!

April showers bring…free books! My newest picture book, Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie is free on Kindle until April 12.

It’s the story of a dusty little fairy struggling to fit in. She doesn’t have the “perfect” hair, she’s too loud, and her clothes are a mess. Just when she thinks all is lost, Aggie discovers a way to truly shine. Oh, did I mention she plays the bagpipes?!

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This adorable book makes a unique, sugar-free, Easter gift. Hop over to Amazon, and get a copy for each of your devices.
If you enjoy the story, please take a moment to leave a short review or rating on Amazon. Thank you!

Here’s a short preview trailer:

WordPress Pros-HELP!

Thank you! All is restored! Phew!

Is there any way to revert back to your previous page style after you change it? I do not like the new theme I selected, and I did not realize the change was permanent. Thanks for your insight.

Michelle

Picture Book Personals (28)

Check out Lauri’s fun picture book quiz!

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

newspaper Picture Book Personals

Boy and girl seek playmate to pet bunnies, smell flowers, read books, and play peek-a-boo.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

Pat the Bunny

Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.

And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

Caps For Sale

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Of course!

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Calling all Kid Lit Authors and Book Bloggers-You Can Make a Difference to a Child in Need…


I would like to reach out to kid lit authors and book bloggers to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

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Throughout the month of March, I am collecting new children’s books to benefit children of incarcerated parents. Authors, I hope you will consider donating signed copies of your books. Book bloggers, please help us by sharing this information with your readers.

I am a children’s author, teacher, and mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of children’s books. When I learned nearly 2/3 of children, living in poverty, DO NOT own books, I was moved to act. I founded the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, to raise awareness for literacy issues and get books to kids in need.

Three years ago, the Picture Book Pass it On initiative grew to include a month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids.

Throughout the month of March, MARCHing Books to Kids collects books (ages birth-17 years) for the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project. https://www.vnsia.org/mothers-children-families/volunteer-to-help-children/

VNS of Iowa volunteers travel to The Iowa Correctional Institution, in Mitchellville, once a month. With the aid of volunteers, mothers select one book per child to read via a digital voice recorder.  The audio CD and book are mailed to the child to keep. The mission is to strengthen the bond between parent and child, during incarceration, while promoting reading and literacy.

Since 2015, MARCHing Books to Kids has collected more than 1,500 books.                               Over the years, the drive has received signed donations from notable children’s authors such as    Robert Munsch (Love You Forever) and Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty series). Last year, more than 30 children’s authors donated signed copies of their books. Owning a book, let alone a book signed by the author, is a joy most of these children have never experienced.

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I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have books read to him/her and to own their very own books.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a book and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be…

Imagine, never having that.

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

#1 Pledge to donate a new book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  Authors are invited to sign their books.

When packing your book/s, 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 tags #PBPiO and #MARCHingBookstoKids

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

I appreciate your help spreading the word. Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families in need.

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Why are Picture Books in Prison? 2.7 Million Reasons…

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…

Source: Why are Picture Books in Prison? 2.7 Million Reasons…

Why are Picture Books in Prison? 2.7 Million Reasons…

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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 melts 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 of these programs, 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…

Throughout the month of March, My literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, hosts 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 (MARCHing Books to Kids)

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. I share your posts on my social media, so feel free to include photos, book links, etc. Please include our badge and these hashtags ‪#‎PBPiO‬, and #‎MARCHingBookstoKids

#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, Soloman Islands, Israel, and Greece!

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

burn books

Selling Books—The Struggle is REAL but Not New & What to DO!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Lane Pearman Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Lane Pearman

I know a lot of authors feel overwhelmed in the digital age of publishing and that is perfectly understandable. But today I would like to pan back and maybe offer a refreshed perspective to keep you pressing.

Today we face the challenge of creating a brand. But you might be thinking, “What exactly is a brand?” There is a lot of misinformation floating around so that is a reasonable question to ask.

A brand is the power of a name to drive sales. Our name alone compels action.

No easy task. Overcoming inertia is critical for any author who wants to make a living doing this writing thing. In an age of instant? This is going to take a while, but hopefully I can help 😉 .

But first…

The Struggle is NOT New

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Publishers have always struggled to help authors…

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New Year=New Beginnings (plus a giveaway and free bookplates)

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Happy 2017! 

Peddler Jump_Peddlers BedImage from The Peddler’s Bed

The Peddler is jumping for joy because it’s a brand new year, full of possibilities. It’s also a year full of giveaways! I’ll be giving away a prize each month to folks who comment on a post–any post–during the course of the month. Winners will be chosen at random and announced on the blog. Subscribing to Frog on a Blog is recommended (though not required) to keep track of posts and to see if you’ve won.

Those who share a post, will get an extra chance to win that month’s prize. Prizes will consist of picture books, picture book critiques from me, a set of pilot’s pens (Night Writer–for writing in the dark), and other fun picture book or writing related stuff.

To kick things off, for January, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed. All you…

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Christmas Freebie…

I am celebrating the 2nd Christmas season of Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie with an awesome giveaway. From now until December 25, I am offering a free audio book, free gift wrap, and free shipping with any Absolutely Aggie book purchase (USA only) via my web site www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

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Aggie’s heart-warming story is a perfect gift for the little ones on your list. You can watch a preview trailer here: Absolutely Aggie Trailer

I wish each and every one of you a safe, blessed, and happy holiday season!

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Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie

Wow! What a touching review…

Sweet Tea & Paperbacks

dustfairytales

Oh my word, do I love reading great kids books! The magical world of the Dust Fairy Tales, was recently introduced to me and I fell in love. A book that was cute, rhyming AND uplifting…. this one is a home-run! Michelle Eastman conquered a major feat with this one, because what some people don’t understand, is just how hard it is to write a children’s book that carries a positive message, without being preachy or sounding like an after school special. There is a fine line. What Eastman puts out in her Absolutely Aggie, is a message of belonging. To be and become the person you were created to be. Kids face hard truths each day, they get up, get on a bus or carpool head to school where parents aren’t there to protect them from bullying, crass language, and situations where they aren’t seeing themselves in the best…

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Happy National French Toast Day!

Josh Funk Books

November 28th is National French Toast Day in the U.S. – to celebrate (and honor Sir French Toast), I’m running a giveaway! What am I giving away? One winner will receive:

  1. A signed copy of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (now) … AND
  2. A signed copy of The Case of the Stinky Stench (as soon as I receive my 2nd copy – the first is for me … er, my kids).

Simply retweet the tweet below by midnight Hawaii time to enter!

(if you’re not on twitter, you can share on Facebook and post a comment below to enter)

Note: The Case of the Stinky Stench will be released on May 2, 2017, so I probably won’t…

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Kids Ask The Best Questions!

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

speakwell

I love answering questions asked by kids about my book! Recently, I was interviewed by several enthusiastic second graders from Redwood Elementary School in Fort Bragg, California. The interview has been posted to Jeanette Stickel’s blog SpeakWell, ReadWell. Jeanette is a licensed speech-language pathologist who works closely with these students. SpeakWell, ReadWell is a speech therapy and kid-lit blog that explores language, literacy, and literature, and I’m honored to be featured there. Thank you, Jeanette and kids! 🙂

To read the interview, clickHERE.

If you are a teacher, librarian, or parent, and have kids who’d like to ask me questions about my book, The Peddler’s Bed, or about being an author, please contact me by clicking HERE. I’m more than happy to answer!

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Tilly and the Tooth Fairy Debuts on Amazon!

A place for Fantasy and Fairy Tale Creatives

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Presenting a new little picture book fairy tale

Tilly and the Tooth Fairy

Friends, I am excited to present newly launched on Amazon “Tilly and the Tooth Fairy” written by Brian G Chambers and illustrated by yours truly, Söndra N Rymer.

Published by Fairy Tales Imagery, Inc.

Such a pleasure to work on the cover and art for a sweet children’s picture book story for children preschool age through third grade.

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Tilly and the Tooth Fairy is an enchanting tale featuring a young girl loosing her very first tooth! Tilly loses one of her teeth the day before her seventh birthday. Her mum tells her the Tooth Fairy will give her a silver coin for it while she sleeps. Tilly wakes to find the Tooth Fairy at her bedside. Does this mean she won’t get her silver coin, or is there a great surprise for her? A gorgeously illustrated and…

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Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep

Sweet Tea & Paperbacks

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Having trouble finding the perfect book for the young child on your holiday list? Look no further! Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep, is a sweet story that will leave little ones begging to have it read over and over again. Written by Robin Newman and Illustrated by Chris Ewald, the story will take your imagination to far away lands and leave images dancing in your mind.

Hildie Bitterpickles is a young witch who likes things done her way. In this fun story, young readers will learn how to handle situations when things don’t go their way, and how to implement problem solving skills in their lives.

Newman has written a beautiful character in Hildie Bitterpickles, and pulls in characters from fairytale favorites. Newman’s ability to bring new imagination and life to older characters is a great feat that she accomplished in a way that seems like it’s her second nature.

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Prize Winners & More PiBoIdMo News

November—typically this month I’m a blogging fool, organizing Picture Book Idea Month posts, participants and prizes. But PiBoIdMo has been moved to January, a new year, a fresh start. …

Source: Prize Winners & More PiBoIdMo News

Tips for Writing Picture Books: Story Arc Components

Today it’s all about … Story Arc Components To be clear, I’m not discussing all components of the picture book story, just those relating to the arc. And personally, I am not a fa…

Source: Tips for Writing Picture Books: Story Arc Components

We’ve Come a Long [Marketing] Way, Baby! (plus a giveaway!)

by Ruth Spiro I’ve spent the past few weeks in a flurry of activity, celebrating the release of my new science-themed board books, illustrated by Irene Chan. BABY LOVES AEROSPACE ENGINEERING! and B…

Source: We’ve Come a Long [Marketing] Way, Baby! (plus a giveaway!)

Giveaway-Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie Children’s Book

Enter to win an adorable prize package!

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie Children’s Book Review and Feature on Two Classy Chics blog.

Source: Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie Children’s Book

Simply 7 interview with Josh Funk–“Dear Dragon”

Jena Benton

I’m delighted to bring you another interview with one of the funniest picture book authors I know: Josh Funk.  You may remember him from my last interview with him or you may have heard about him from somewhere else like his website.  He has had 3 picture books published now (“Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast”, “Pirasaurs!”, and “Dear Dragon”) and it’s his third book release we are talking about today.

Me: “Dear Dragon” has gotten a lot of buzz lately as a story that addresses how to make friends despite our assumptions or prejudices. Was this something you had in mind while writing it? Did you anticipate that reaction?

Josh: Absolutely not. When I set out to write DEAR DRAGON, I mostly just thought it would be funny to see the characters misinterpret each other’s writing. I was more interested in the humor of it. Plus, I always…

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Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie by Michelle R. Eastman and Illustrated by Kevin Richter

When your favorite book reviewer takes a crack at your book…in a good way!

The Picture Book Review

aggie_cover_front_v2_hiAbsolutely Aggie is a fantastic book that will make you simultaneously feel as if you’ve been given a hug and told to stand up straight.  It’s a book about accepting who you are and finding the courage and hope to being even better than ever.  This book will put a mirror up to you, analyze your flaws, fears, and self-doubts and then tell you to get over it because you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.

Aggie doesn’t fit in with the other female fairies.  She’s loud, she’s clumsy, she plays the bagpipes, she’s outgoing, her appearance is a bit ragtag, and she can’t quite figure out how to be so “perfect” all the time.  The other fairies try to help her and give her lots of advice, but as much as she tries, it isn’t for her.  She’s most content and truly herself when she’s playing her…

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Picture Book Personals (3)

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

newspaper Picture Book Personals

Boy seeks three portly bakers with a giant pitcher of milk to help make the morning cake.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

in-the-night-kitchen2

Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.


And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

Curious George

curious-george

I bet you got it right!

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Live Online Tomorrow: Reading is Fundamental’s 50th Birthday Bash

Happy Birthday RIF, and go Tara!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

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Three years ago I visited RIF Headquarters in Washington D.C. to deliver a donation from Picture Book Idea Month. I was told an incredible story of how a RIF executive had just returned from one of the poorest areas of Appalachia. She visited a school with children who lived in run-down homes of five families each. Many more lived in tents patched together. These children had no books of their own. The books RIF provided would help give them a chance to succeed.

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I wish I could recall the story in full. I was riveted listening about the sheer joy of the children. Many couldn’t believe the books were theirs to keep.

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Every year I have taken the proceeds from the PiBoIdMo Cafe Press shop and given it to RIF. Every year I wish it were more. RIF is a charity I believe in so deeply. I believe in the power of…

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THE MYTH OF THE RELUCTANT READER by Aaron Becker

There is hope for our reluctant readers…

Nerdy Book Club

I have a confession. I did not read books when I was a kid. Of course, there was the time in 5th grade that I conspicuously placed A Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson on my desk, but that brief brush with literature was meant only to impress the two bookish girls in my class that I liked (one of whom is now a children’s writer but I’m not telling who!). Other kids were skateboarding to look the part. I was pretending to read books.

It’s not that I wasn’t surrounded by these bound bits of paper. My professorial parents lined our living room with volumes of fiction and non-fiction to quickly pull off the shelf if my sister and I needed help with our homework. I was a good student. Valedictorian even. But reading was something I only did when someone made me. Not because I didn’t like…

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Authors-Hollywood is Calling…Sort of…

I recently received this request, and I thought I would pass it along:
 
“I am the Associate Producer for Stephen Folker Films, an indie film company in Davenport, Iowa. We are in need of several books for a low budget feature film titled, Overdue. The movie, Overdue, is about a library janitor that goes after people that have overdue books in order to win the heart of the library director. It is a comedy slasher. The books will be seen in the background on the carts, in the book drop box, the characters homes, etc.”
 
If you’d like to see our past work you can visit the website http://www.stephenfolkerfilms.com
 
Would you or anyone you know be interested in having their book in a movie?
 
Please send your book(s) to:
 
Kristina Smith
PO. Box 281, 226 Main
Alburnett, IA 52202
 
Please include a letter stating that you give permission to Stephen Folker, Davenport, IA, and Stephen Folker Films to show your book (specify the titles) on screen in the feature film tilted, Overdue. And that you understand that you will not be paid.
 
We will be able to add the authors name in the closing credits under the “Thank You’s.” I will let you know as soon as the website and Facebook page are live and you can follow the progress of the film.
 
We will need some books by August 18 and the bulk of them by October 10th.
We appreciate your support!
 
Kristina Baker Smith Associate Producer, Stephen Folker Films

New Kid Lit Site Seeking your Stories to Read to Kids…

Happy summer, everyone. I have been taking a break from writing to spend time with my son; however, I wanted to take a moment to spread the word about a new kid lit site, Storytime Pup. You can also find Storytime Pup on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

In addition to their kid-friendly web site, Storytime Pup hosts a You Tube channel featuring children’s books.

I was delighted to have my book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, featured last week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB_XIeuFdFg/

Storytime Pup was created by Bill McManus. Bill lives in upstate NY with his wife Diane and his 3 kids: Ryan, Colin and Shannon. He is the creator of Storytime Pup.  He is also an author, entrepreneur, inventor and actor. He enjoys entertaining and writing books for children because their joy makes him happy.

If you are a published children’s author (traditional or indie), I encourage you to contact Storytime Pup for submission information. There is no charge for having your book/s featured on the site.

I wish you all a wonderful summer!

scooter

 

 

 

NEWSFLASH – Story Reading Ape Publishes Book…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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“But…but…but…THAT”S not YOUR name as the Author!” I hear you declare indignantly…

That’s TRUE – I’M not the AUTHOR, my Mother is, but unfortunately she is not alive to publish it herself, (she died in 2000), so I’ve published it in her name.

Today would have been Mum’s 90th birthday if she’d still been alive, so my sister and I felt that this book would be a nice way to celebrate Mum’s life and memory.

What’s it about?

As stated in the book description:

We all have dreams, loves and hopes; but what if you are a girl growing up in 20th century Northern Ireland before, during and after the ‘Troubles’?
From the poetic thoughts of our Mother, we get a sense of what it was like, ranging from humour, sadness, wistful thinking and sometimes just downright nonsensical, these are the words of one such girl.

Each poem tells a story.

My sister…

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Book Nerds…Nature vs Nurture…

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I posted this a while back, but with the summer slide upon us, it seems fitting to revisit.

Are you, or someone you love, a book nerd? If so, how did it happen? Was it nature or nurture?

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My son has always been surrounded by books. Even before he was born, his bookshelves bore the weight of the legions of titles I had collected for him. With few exceptions, he has been read to/with every day of his 10 years on this earth. Each week, we visit the library and heap our bag to the top with books. He receives books at Christmas and on his birthday, and for no reason at all. He delights in choosing titles from the Scholastic book order forms sent home from school, and we are regulars at Half-Price Books. Books are ever-present in his day to day operations. In theory, he has all the makings of a book nerd. But, he’s anything but that. He will, on occasion, crack open his copy of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, or his Guinness Book of World Records to entertain himself. But, rarely does he deliberately choose to read for pleasure. Where did I go wrong? Why isn’t my boy a book nerd?

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I, on the other hand, grew up with no books in our house. I, honestly, don’t know if I laid my eyes on a book until I was in elementary school. We were poor, and my parents were teenagers. I was raised on reruns of Batman and Gilligan’s Island. I was also a PBS junkie (we had only 4 channels back then). In my parents’ defense, books were not as readily available as they are today. They were not crammed onto the shelves of Target and Walmart (we didn’t even have Walmart back then). For whatever the reason, no one read to or with me. Nevertheless, I sought out books. I couldn’t wait until the Book Mobile pulled up, in my neighborhood, and I could climb aboard and select my 2 book limit. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read books beyond my years, and books I probably shouldn’t have read. I was not “nurtured” to love books-but I did, and I do.

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So, I ponder the question: Are book nerds born or made? Clearly, despite my efforts, I’ve not nurtured a book nerd. And, despite my parents’ lack of effort, I am a book nerd.

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I welcome your thoughts on this topic.  Please leave a comment, nerdy or not…

Picture Books At The Library 67

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

PB at the library 2 I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all, but I can share them. Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.)

23528351 On his first day of work, Maxi the little taxi zooms around town splashing in puddles and getting very dirty. Soon, no one wants to ride in him–until a little boy convinces Maxi to go to the car wash.

26031269 Pig siblings Henry and Henrietta love their blanket. As much as they each love playing with the blanket, they don’t love sharing it. Will ripping it in two solve all their problems?

25335711 Poco loves birthdays, and he loves inventing things. He invites his amigos over and fires up a new invention, the Cake-Baking Bunk Bed. But things don’t go quite as planned.

25817173 Getting George to…

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Authors-Don’t Quit your Day Dream…

I posted this many moons ago, but I thought it was worth repeating…

I am a writer.  I have met a lot of writers.  Most of us are very hard on ourselves.  Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.

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For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc.  Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch.  The following New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.

As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado…”

Don’t quit your day dream.  Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.

Thanksgiving Weekend Blues

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.

I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.

During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.

I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”

Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.

Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.

The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s your novel, right?”

He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.

“Right,” I said.

He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”

I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.

He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.

Help! PS191 in NYC needs a library

Another great opportunity to help kids in need…

Reading to Big Kids..Don’t Stop, Be Readin’…Hold on to that Feelin’

I posted this piece a while back…

With my son’s 4th grade year coming to an end, I find this information more timely than ever.

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I love picture books, and I often write about them.  In my post, Top 10 Reasons Picture Books Rock, I touch upon the importance of continuing to read aloud to your child even AFTER he/she is able to read independently. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!

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If you are making this transition, you may find the following articles helpful.I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences.

Suggested articles:

7 reasons why reading aloud to older kids is still very important

1. Children listen on a different level than they read. 

2. Life Lessons.

3. Enjoyment.

4. Reading aloud with older children helps builds vocabulary.

5. Physical closeness.

6. Sense of security.

7. Sense of belonging.

The hidden benefits of reading aloud – even for older kids

Here is another great resource for reading to your older child.  This article includes an extensive list of recommended books.

Reading Aloud With Children Twelve & Older

Do you read aloud with your older child?  I’d love to hear about your experience.

 

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Happy D.E.A.R. Day…Drop Everything And Read

April is overflowing with literacy-related events. Rhyming Picture Book Month, National Library Month, and DEAR.

Beloved children’s author, Beverly Cleary is 100 years young today!
Cleary wrote about D.E.A.R. in her book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Since then, “Drop Everything and Read” programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Mrs. Cleary’s birthday. Learn more about Cleary and DEAR at http://dropeverythingandread.com/

I’m celebrating DEAR and the personal influence Cleary has had on me by offering my free children’s ebook.

Here are some fun facts about this American treasure (borrowed in part from mental_floss):

SHE’S A CAT LOVER.

I know many of us can relate to this one-

Cleary’s owned several pet cats over the years, one of whom used to resent having to compete with her typewriter for attention and would sit on the keys in protest.

SHE KNOWS KIDS AIN’T PERFECT.

and this one-

Cleary was annoyed with the books in her childhood, “…because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona … and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the way she expected.”

SHE’S ALWAYS SYMPATHIZED WITH STRUGGLING READERS.

Getting put into the lowest reading circle in first grade almost made her resent books. Phonic lists were a drag and being force-fed Dick & Jane-style narratives was flat-out excruciating. “[We] wanted action. We wanted a story,” she lamented in her autobiography. It was an experience Cleary never forgot. Since then, she claims to have always kept children who might be undergoing similar trials in mind while writing.

SHE’S NOT RAMONA THE PEST. 

Although Ramona and many of her beloved books are about sibling rivalry and relationships, she grew up as an only child.

I grew up loving her books (although I think I referred to her as Beverly Clear-ly until early adulthood).

What’s your favorite Beverly Cleary book or fact?

Fairy Tale Freebie…

April is Rhyming Picture Book Month, so I thought I’d celebrate by giving away my newest picture book, Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie.

Download the ebook for FREE, this week, on Amazon. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0155J4Q7I/

I just discovered that UK Amazon customers are eligible for the free offer as well.

Happy Reading!

 

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Here are some other literacy celebrations going on this month:

National Poetry Month

This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, National Poetry Month has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

National Library Week  April 10-16, 2016

http://www.ala.org/nlw

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

Children’s Day/Book Day – El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día) April 30, 2016

http://dia.ala.org

Children’s Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), is a celebration of children, families, and reading and held annually on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for every child regardless of linguistic and cultural background.

Did I Shave my Legs for This? When Author Fairs aren’t Fair…(reboot)

I posted this piece last fall. But, with spring in the air, invitations to author fairs are beginning to pop up. So, I thought it was worth revisiting, with one slight change to the original…

With warmer weather coming, I WILL have to shave my legs for this!

The term, “fair” brings to mind celebrations, hustle and bustle, excitement, and fun (sometimes creepy clowns are involved).

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For authors, a fair is the opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow writers, meet book lovers, and get your book into the hands of new readers.

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In our mid-western city, author fairs are few and far between. So, when I saw the opportunity to participate in one, I jumped at the chance.

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Ticket in hand, I began preparing for the big day. Coffee in hand, I tackled my to-do list. My must-have list includes: my books, book stands, business cards, a credit card reader, pens, a table cloth, and some cash to make change.

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My want-to-have list is much longer and mostly unnecessary (except, I am a children’s book author, so a gal’s gotta have something for the kiddos). This list includes freebies like: bookmarks, coloring sheets, and candy. Since I write books about fairies, I figured I’d throw in some plastic fairy bracelets, mini fairy dolls, and some bling for my table top (thank you Dollar Store).

yes free

And while I’m at it, why not order a 3 foot tall stand-up display of my main character?

big aggie

The big day finally arrived. I packed up my gear and headed to the fair. After several trips to the car and a lot of zhuzh-ing, I was ready. I anxiously waited for the crowd to file in…and waited…and waited.

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The author fair got much less traffic than I expected. I sold a whopping total of 4 books that day. Although I met some really great people, I was feeling pretty defeated.  But, just as I was getting ready to pack it in, I ran into this guy.

bagpipe dude

Some would call this synchronicity. I am at a book fair, selling copies of my book featuring a bagpipe-playing dust fairy, and this guy is out in front of the venue playing the bagpipes. He was kind enough to pose for a picture, and he even bought a copy of my book.

I may have come away from this less-than-fair author fair only 4 books lighter, but this parting encounter brought the experience back into perspective. This man’s joy comes from sharing his music with others. I don’t imagine he measures his success in album sales.

I write fun books for kids. People like my books, and that brings me joy. Selling books or not selling books should not get in the way of that.

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And on a lighter note-It’s fall in Iowa, so I did NOT shave my legs for this!

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You are welcome to share or re-blog any of my posts. I enjoy getting to know you, so please feel free to leave a comment. Thank you.

Behold the Art Show

Creative inspiration…

A Teacher's Reflections

Children were sitting together as I carefully picked up each ‘masterpiece’, mounted and framed, and labeled with a title.  They knew this was IT, seeing the results of their love and labor.  I held up each piece, one at a time, as if it were the Mona Lisa.  Then, I slowly panned each work of art to the audience and simply said the title and artist;  “The Storm the White House and the Grass, by Dillon”, “The Big Scissors, by Hannah”, “Charlotte, by Ella”.  Twenty-two pieces of beautiful art, and each one brought spontaneous comments from their peers:  Eleni said, “That is so beautiful.”  Jackson said, “Whoa!”  Frankly, each piece of art they saw drew a wonderful comment.  When I asked children, “What will all these masterpieces look like hanging together on a wall?” Miles immediately shouted out, “An art museum!”  He was right.  After carefully hanging all the art…

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RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 3 Agent Tricia Lawrence

Angie Karcher

We have an agent in the house!

Erin Murphy Lit Ag logo

        Today, we are fortunate enough to have an agent’s perspective on rhyme. Raise your hand if you’ve heard, “We don’t accept rhyming manuscripts.” or “We don’t publish rhyme.”

We all know that’s not true. Brilliant, singing rhyme is published every day and the children who listen to it love it. So why do they say not to write in rhyme?

Answer: shhhhhh….listen carefully…

“It’s a trick so that unprofessional writers won’t send stinky rhyming manuscripts.”

 Only the good stuff gets through, is published and blesses the laps of parents everywhere. Today’s guest blogger is here to share why this winning title is one such book.

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 I’m pleased to introduce

Agent Tricia Lawrence with

Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Tricia Lawrence

Agent Tricia Lawrence

Rhyme From Acquisition to Award

It’s the quintessential children’s book ideal. A sweet, rhyming story, sold in bookstores everywhere…

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How (Not) to Write a Rhyming Picture Book

WRITERS' RUMPUS

It’s very easy to write bad rhymes. Lots of people do it. Therefore, there is a stigma associated with rhyming picture books.

Note: The following advice has been taken from Lesson 8 (Don’t Write in Rhyme) and Lesson 9 (Rhyming Is All About Rhythm) of Josh Funk’s ‘Resources for Writers – Guide to Writing Picture Books’ and from a ‘Mistakes You Can Make When Writing a Rhyming Picture Book’ list on TheListApp.

Also note: Despite everything Josh Funk says below, he is the author of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (a rhyming picture book), the forthcoming Pirasaurs! and Dear Dragon (both rhyming picture books), and several other upcoming picture books (nearly all of which are also written in rhyme).


If you’re going to write a picture book, the best advice I can give you is:

Don’t Write in Rhyme

“Why not?” you ask.
“But publishers are constantly printing new…

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Happiness — It’s An Inside Job!

James Milson - Writing & Things

Most of us have goals, intended to keep us moving progressively forward in a positive way, and frequently aimed at improving our life and happiness.  To-Do lists of progressive, sequentially timed steps.  Frequently aimed at acquiring bigger and better “things.”   But examining our lives today at this moment and looking back, how many completed goals and fulfilled ambitions produced a lasting and enduring sense of joy and happiness?   Or was that fleeting feeling gone upon setting the next “Happiness Target?”

Quote- Happiness Starts With You

Constant striving and yearning for “more and better”, along with unfulfilled desires create their own anxieties, stresses, competitiveness, anger and discord.  This is not a prescription for laziness, but rather a realization that happiness is an inside job.   It is not to be found in the world outside, achieved with the acquisition of more and more and more bigger and better things, recognition, awards or accolades, or arrived…

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Emily Arrow’s “Curious Garden” song for a Lennon Award

Josh Funk Books

The John Lennon Song Writing Contest voting opens today. Emily Arrow’s song “Curious Garden” inspired by Peter Brown’s 2009 picture book The Curious Garden is a finalist in the children’s category. I highly encourage you to visit the JLSWC Voting Page and vote for Emily Arrow and “Curious Garden” – if you haven’t listened to it, you can do so on that page (I’m doing that right now).

You can vote once per day during the month of April.

Here’s How Emily Will Thank You For Voting

(Screen shot your vote and tweet, post, or fb message it to her)

Vote 1x – raffle for free album
Vote 10x – raffle for free album AND kazoo
Vote 20x – raffle for free album AND kazoo AND 3 books
Vote 30x – you’ll receive an album, kazoo,
and be entered in a raffle for a song written about YOU!

How will…

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Top 10 Reasons to Create Little Free Libraries in Your Community by Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan

Nerdy Book Club

We often support schools and communities with promoting summer reading.  We want students to continue their “readerly lives” over the summer.  A few years ago, we were researching ideas to get books to students in different communities and we came across Little Free Libraries.   We immediately feel in love!  We were so enamored by this idea we decided we had to give it a try ourselves.  We put a Little Free Library in Tammy’s yard.

Tammylittle free library

After several years of having a Little Free Library in Tammy’s yard, here are our top 10 Reasons why we plan to create more Little Free Libraries.

  1. Share Your Books – If you are like us, you have books sitting on your shelves collecting dust. Instead of dusting, share your books with your community.

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  1. Meet Your Neighbors – I can’t tell you how many neighbors I have met thanks to the Little…

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Picture Books At The Library 55

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

PB at the library 2 I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all, but I can share them. Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Rating System: 🙂 Good, 🙂 🙂 Great, 🙂 🙂 🙂 Excellent. Don’t let my ratings keep you from reading a title just because I didn’t give it a smile. You may absolutely love it!

23719264 A vegetable garden appears to be a quiet, peaceful place. But appearances can be deceiving.

24941005 Kids celebrate happiness as they have fun doing everything from riding a hot air balloon into outer space to dancing on clouds, laughing with emojis and rocking out as a band.

25159257 One rainy day, Sam spots a perfect spring puddle. With his very first jump, he is off on an adventure of the imagination.

24885593 :)…

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Self-Publishing…The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease…

As a self-published author, I have to find the humor in my daily existence, or I would go insane. Each morning, I sit down and commence work on any number of projects, in various stages of development. As my eyes drag my brain from one work pile to the next, I try to determine which hamster wheel I’ll climb into today. As with most things in life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease (in my case, elbow grease). Most recently, this hamster has been doing laps on the book promotion wheel. And, I can tell you, promoting a book is no walk in the park.

hamster

I released my first children’s picture book in 2014 and my second in 2015. With both books, I hopped on my wheel and convinced several stores to host signing events, and I scampered my way onto the shelves of local bookstores and libraries. Since then, I’ve sold around a thousand copies. I am self-published, so that means I have to hustle and work for every single book I sell. I am up for the challenge, and I actually enjoy cultivating these local connections.

cog

It’s when I venture out into the online world that I feel the pressure of the rat race. It’s easy to get caught up in Amazon rankings, Goodreads reviews, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Ironically, I find myself becoming the squeaky wheel, vying to be greased, “Buy my book. Review my book. Get my book for free.”

openreg

Despite my best efforts, my online sales are slow moving (under 150 books sold). But, I lick my paws and hop on the wheel for the next go ‘round. And, a little elbow grease never hurts.

Don’t be shy, leave a reply. There’s plenty of room on this wheel. How’s your publishing journey rolling?

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

Ask an Author to Help, and this is what you Get…

When I learned that nearly 2/3 of children living in poverty do not own books, I started my literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On. My intention was to celebrate picture books and encourage people to donate books to kids in need. Fast-forward, a year later, and the grass-roots effort I began has grown into something truly remarkable.

PBPiO badge

Last March, I created a special initiative to collect books for children of incarcerated parents in Iowa. I reached out to friends, online and in person, to help with the month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids. The books benefit the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project. Each month, the Storybook Project volunteers record incarcerated parents reading aloud to their children. The audio CD’s and books are then mailed to their children to keep.

In just one month, we collected over 350 books, 450 incarceration-themed Sesame Street book/CD sets, and loads of books signed and donated by children’s authors from across the US and several countries outside of the US.

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This year, MARCHing Books to Kids is going strong. I reached out to authors I know, and they came through in a big way! So, I thought I’d reach out to some authors I don’t know and see what happens. Well, this is what happened yesterday…

kitty covers

I was delighted to learn that Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of the Bad Kitty series, donated a bundle of his books. Not only did Nick donate his books, he signed and added a doodle inside each one.

signed kitty

Owning a book signed by an author may not seem like a huge deal. But, the children and families served by the Storybook Project would likely never know that joy.

I truly believe books have the power to change lives. I am grateful to all of the authors who have already donated books to the 2016 MARCHing Books to Kids drive. Thank you for making a positive impact in the lives of kids in need.

The VNS of Iowa Storybook Project serves children birth-17 years of age. You can post your own pledge and learn more about the project at https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO/ If you’d like to donate a new or like-new book, please mail it to the address below.

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project
c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to Kids)
1111 9th Street Suite 320
Des Moines, Iowa 50314

 

Show me the Bunny! Easter Giveaway…and a Shameless Plug

WARNING-

This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…

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What’s cuter than kitties in bunny costumes?

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My new picture book! And it makes a much more practical Easter gift. For a chance to win a copy, head over to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks/

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Post your favorite bunny picture on my Facebook page, and you are entered to win a free hard cover book and the audio book CD (US residents).

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Meanwhile, the real Easter bunny will be kissing winter good-bye…hello razors!

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