Two Winners For Copies of Nancy Churnin’s New PB’S.


Last month I featured the two most recent PB released by author NANCY CHURNIN. Today I am thrilled to announce the winners of signed copies of those books.


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Jane Healy is the winner of a copy of FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.

thumbnail 5Congratulations! to Danielle and Jane and thanks to all who commented. Please send me your address so I can let Nancy know where to send the books.

Got Leftover Turkey? Make Tetrazzini.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy leftover turkey even more than the day it’s served on Thanksgiving.  Grilled turkey sandwiches with craisins and melted cheese, turkey pot pie, turkey soup.  There are lots of ways to use the leftovers.

One of my favorite recipes is easy enough for you to try with the kids. Kids can dice the turkey and mushrooms and grate cheese with your supervision.  They can stir and help measure ingredients.


Ingredients:  2 C cooked, diced turkey      2 C sliced mushrooms   1 C grated parmesan cheese   1 T butter + 1 T oil    3 T flour    1 C chicken broth    1 C milk    1/2 C cooked green peas    3 C COOKED spaghetti (I used Angel Hair pasta broken into 3 inch pieces)  thyme and salt to taste.                 

  1. Saute mushrooms in the butter and oil until browned.  While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare spaghetti and set aside.

2.  Add the flour and whisk until the mushrooms are coated.

3.  Add the milk and broth , stirring until thickened.  You can also throw in the peas to cook here if you haven’t already cooked them.  See below.

4.  Add the parmesan cheese, thyme and salt if needed.  Stir until until cheese is melted.

5.  Add turkey and cooked spaghetti.  Serve HOT with a side of salad.


What is YOUR favorite recipe for LEFTOVER TURKEY?

Need Good Books For Holiday Gifts? Check Out The KidLit Authors’ Club.

The authors of KidLit Authors’ Club have a variety of books for kids of all ages. Picture books, middle grade, YA, non-fiction and more. Check out the titles and award-winning authors. Give the gift of reading to a child and create a life-long learner.


Just in time for Thanksgiving…the story behind the Macy’s Parade brought to you by author Melissa Sweet.

Writing and Illustrating

Melissa Sweet wrote and illustrated a picture book in 2011 titled, BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY and was published by HMH Children’Books. This will be the first year since the Macy’s Day Parade started in 1924 that won’t be open to the public. You will need to watch it in ABC. Melissa created a BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY Activity Book that you can download for FREE. (Scroll down for link.) I wanted to share it with you, since I figure it would be a good thing to do with the kids while watching the parade from home. Melissa has agreed to send a copy of the picture book to one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do…

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Toys of Yesteryear: Do Your Kids Want to Play?

When I do school visits or talk to children about my book WHEELS OF CHANGE they often want to know how kids played and entertained themselves in the early 1900’s.  Without electricity and electronic devices, children of yesteryear had to use their imagination to have a day of fun.  Inventing games and pretend play really hasn’t gone out of style – I witness it every time I visit children on the playground or during their free time.

Toys have changed however.  Many of the things children play with today require batteries and often perform only one function.  Yet there are still some toys that have stood the test of time and continue to be popular.  During my research for the book – set in 1908 – I compiled this list of the top ten toys of the era. Do any of them appear on your children’s list to Santa?

TOP TEN TOYS OF 1900-1920

  1. Teddy Bear (1902)- in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who, on a hunting trip, had an opportunity to kill a bear and didn’t.
  2. Erector Set- invented by AC Gilbert, a gold medal Olympian in the 1908 Pole Vault.
  3. Lionel Trains (1901)
  4. Lincoln Logs (1916)
  5. Raggedy Ann Doll
  6. Radio Flyer Wagon (1917)                                
  7. Tinker Toys (1914)
  8. Crayola Crayons 8 pack (1903)
  9. Tin Toys
  10. Tiddlywinks

Baseball Cards  (1900)    Ping Pong  (1901)   Jigsaw Puzzle (1909)

Other popular toys included:  Snap Card Game, Playing cards, marbles, checkers, chess, yoyos, wooden tops, dolls.


How many of these toys do your children or grandchildren still ask for today?  When it comes to play, some things just can’t be ignored.

Kindness: How Can You Make a Difference?

In a world where we are bombarded by mean words, negative news, and depressing events, it sometimes feels like kindness is hard to find. Even though we are still in the middle of Covid and social distancing, we can spread kindness through the words we say and the things we do.

Friday November 13, 2020 is WORLD KINDNESS DAY. This is a day set aside to reflect on how we might be kind to our fellow man. Buy the person standing in line behind you  a cup of coffee. Pay for the gasoline of the car behind you. Volunteer at a local food bank. Pay the toll of the person behind you. Give a piece of chocolate to the woman who greets you so warmly at the gym. Let the “other” person have the parking spot closer to the store. Say “Thank You” to the cashier at your favorite grocery store. Leave some home baked goodies on the doorstep of a neighbor who is alone and has not been able to get out during this time.

You get the idea.

There are so many ways we can show kindness to others. Many of us do kind things every day. But, why not make an effort to really ramp up the kind quotient on FRIDAY and see how good it makes you feel. When we pass on acts of kindness, it changes the giver as well as the receiver.

For those who want to take kindness to another level, read below.

If you had $1,000.00 to spend, how would you use it to benefit your neighborhood or community?  Entrepreneur Ari Nessel of THE POLLINATION PROJECT, will grant  awards of $1,000.00 each to individuals who want to make a difference. You can apply for one of these awards at:

Here is a perfect opportunity to do something lasting for your neighbors, friends or town.  Pass it on. May kindness follow you wherever you go.

I’ll leave you with one of the verses from my recent middle grade book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston).

What kind of ice cream do you like, Cody? asks Gran
when we’re sitting around the table.
Everyone has a scoop of
butter pecan
or orange sherbet.

Cody looks at Jill with her scoop
of strawberry and says, The same
as Jill, I guess.
You hate strawberry ice cream, Cody, Jill says.
You hate anything with strawberries, remember?
Cody sighs, frowns,
shakes his head. Then I don’t know what kind, he says.

Jill looks like she might cry
until Katy smiles, pats Cody’s arm.
Taste all of them until you find
the one you like, she says.

The rest of the day is just like that, Katy doing
one kind thing after another for Cody,
Mom, Gran, Pops beaming smiles,
me and Jill staring in disbelief.

It isn’t hard to believe Katy is kind. She’s
the princess of kind everyday.
What is hard to believe is how a wish
that was supposed to help Cody
be a boy full of spirit,
a boy once kind himself,
turns him instead
into someone empty.

STEM/STEAM Students Can Rock Their World With Some At-Home Experiments:by Marilyn Ostermiller

Everyone feels like blowing off steam sometimes.

          No time like the present. November 8 is National STEM/STEAM day, the day designated to celebrate all things related to science, technology, engineering, art and math. The idea is to interest kids in exploring these disciplines because of growing demand for those skills. Government studies indicate the number of STEM jobs in America from 2001 to 2010 tripled the rate of growth in non-STEM jobs.

Back to blowing off steam: One sure way is to make a paper mache volcano that erupts. The ingredients for this one, suitable for kindergarten through second grade, are common to most households:

  • cardboard
  • newspaper
  • paper cup
  • acrylic paint
  • liquid dishwashing detergent
  • red food coloring
  • baking soda
  • white distilled vinegar

Plan on two days to complete; one to make the volcano and a second to make it erupt.


Detailed instructions are available at

volcano school project

Education has its own rewards, but this scientific experiment that demonstrates how sugar crystals are formed, also results in sweet sticks of rock candy. Start with granulated sugar and water. Food coloring and flavoring are optional. Supplies include glass jars, wood skewers and clothes pins. Patience is required. Plan to put the crystals somewhere they won’t be disturbed for up to a week.

This Spruce Eats video provides step-by-step instructions.

Sugar crystal rock candy on skewers in bright red and purple

By the way, blowing off steam has two meanings. The original dates back to the 1800s when it referred to easing the pressure in a steam engine. These days it refers to relieving pent up feelings by loud talk or vigorous activity.

Here are some recent PB’s that celebrate STEM and STEAM topics and people:

makers 2

sophie cover - 3x4 - 100dpiMarilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalism who spends much of her time writing for children and experimenting in the kitchen, often with mixed results.

Marilyn Ostermiller

Photo credit: Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

The Story of Simone Biles: A Biography Book for New Readers by Rachelle Burk + A Chance to Win a Signed Copy.

Leave a comment for a chance to win this inspiring bio of a great gymnast Simone Biles.

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

Today I am pleased and excited to feature a new book by Author Rachelle Burk on Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles. Here’s Rachelle:

The Story of Simone Biles: A Biography Book for New Readers by Rachelle Burk (illustrated by Steffi Waltham) is an illustrated chapter book about “The Greatest Gymnast of All Time.” Simone has won more world medals than any other gymnast in history. She went from a life of poverty and foster care to one of Olympic stardom. How did she do it? Her inspiring story demonstrates that through motivation, hard work, and believing in oneself, we can achieve more than we ever dreamed possible.

When Rockridge Press, an imprint of Callisto Media, contacted me early this year to ask if I might be interested in writing Simone’s story as part of their growing children’s biography series, I jumped (and twirled and flipped) at the chance. I was particularly…

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An Interview With Author Artie Bennett On:The True Story of Zippy Chippy:The Little Horse That Couldn’t.

Today it is my pleasure to feature picture book author ARTIE BENNETT with his newest book that just happens to be a true tale of endurance, courage, and determination,The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t. Here’s Artie:

Thank you, Darlene, for this magnificent opportunity to share The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t with your many readers.

It was the sweetest of serendipity that brought me to Zippy Chippy. As I was reading a newspaper article about the remarkable racehorse, I paused momentarily, setting down the paper. A lightbulb went off. “Wow! Wouldn’t this make an enthralling children’s book?!” I thought.

All of the elements of a great story were there. There was Zippy’s quirky but winning personality. There was drama in Zippy’s last-second reprieve from the slaughterhouse when Felix Monserrate, a horse trainer from Puerto Rico, swapped his old pickup truck for the hapless, unwanted horse. There was the horse’s inseparable friendship with Felix’s small daughter, Marisa. There was determination, resilience, and hope. And there was, ultimately, redemption, as the “losingest” horse in history, descended from the greatest racehorses ever to lay hoof to track, becomes a legend, too, and his popularity soars.

The more I learned about Zippy Chippy, the more certain I was that his story would both touch and delight youngsters, just as it did me. And the fact that Zippy Chippy is still alive today, at 29-plus years old, very long in the tooth for a horse, lends even more relevance and resonance. He’s not some distant historical figure. You can go and feed him a carrot today!

 Zippy Chippy ran one hundred races and lost every single one, but he never gave up. I fell in love with this horse. He’s full of mischief and mayhem, and something of an oddball. There was also our shared appetite for ice cream, though he may not be a three-scooper like me. His name alone, preposterous as it is, only adds to the mystique.

I read as much as I could find about Zippy Chippy. And I began to familiarize myself with the sport of horseracing. I had a rudimentary awareness, but there was so much to learn. There was terminology that was unfamiliar to me. But I always love learning new words and expressions. And the fact that the horse was still alive meant that I would be able to interview him—and get the story straight from the horse’s mouth!

Zippy is lovingly cared for at Old Friends at Cabin Creek Farm, a retirement home for aging racehorses in upstate New York, where he has become the reigning celebrity. They host an annual Zippy Day every summer, and people come from far and wide to celebrate the stalwart steed. I visited the horse in his paddock a few years ago and was given a wonderful tour by the kindhearted people who operate the facility. I had a ton of questions, and they helped me fill in the gaps in my understanding.

Zippy Chippy was the embodiment of determination and stick-to-itiveness. He raced until he was fifteen years old, giving it his all, whereas many racehorses hang up their halters by the age of four. There was a time, earlier in Zippy’s racing career, when Felix tried to retire him, but Zippy wouldn’t hear of it. He became despondent and refused to eat. Though defeat never disheartened Zippy, retirement did. Felix had to bring him back to the track for his own well-being. Because the horse’s pedigree included such fabled racehorses as Man o’ War, Bold Ruler, War Admiral, Buckpasser, and Northern Dancer, racing was in his marrow. He just wasn’t terribly good at it.

Lessons for children abound in this timely tale. Zippy teaches us that winning isn’t the only thing that matters. The important thing is to try, to give it your best shot. That’s how we develop character. It’s found in the effort. Youngsters will relate to Zippy’s story. And they’ll be inspired by the trajectory of his life. We all have our strengths. Some of us are great at sports. Some of us aren’t. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We mustn’t be afraid of failure.

Take Zippy. He loved being a racehorse and he loved to compete, despite his palpable lack of success. Once, in an effort to boost Zippy Chippy’s confidence with a surefire win, Felix matched him up against a minor-league ballplayer in the forty-yard sprint. The scoreboard proclaimed “Man Against Beast.” But poor Zippy was dealt yet another setback, falling to the fleet-footed outfielder.

Yet later in his career, a strange thing happened. Huge crowds came to cheer on Zippy, and he developed legions of admirers, even as his losses continued to mount. He would race as the favorite because so many people bet on him to win, although he had never, ever finished first. He was even featured in People magazine, though they did pose him alongside a tortoise. Ouch!

Another important lesson for youngsters is acceptance. We aren’t all blessed with the same gifts—and that’s okay, too. We need to accept our limitations, just as we recognize our strengths. As Felix says, “Not everyone can be a winner.”

Ultimately, I want children to learn that losers can still be winners. Zippy teaches us to never give up on our dreams, even when their fulfillment may be elusive. It’s an equally important lesson for writers.

 Though I had never written a picture-book biography before (I am the author of five superfun rhyming picture books, including the classic kids’ book The Butt Book, and two overstuffed joke and riddle books), I felt a powerful tug to share Zippy’s story with young readers. It would be a horse of a different color for me, but I plowed ahead.

 When I was a boy, my father would take me, on occasion, to Aqueduct Racetrack, in nearby Queens, New York. It was an opportunity for us to bond and I enjoyed our time together. And I especially enjoyed seeing the horses. They were so large and so fast, quite breathtaking. I watched in awe as they would thunder by. These boyhood experiences must surely have planted the seeds of The True Story of Zippy Chippy.

I dedicated the book “to valiant underdogs and underhorses everywhere—and to my dad, who played the ponies.”

I would be woefully (whoa-fully?) remiss if I didn’t mention that the book is beautifully illustrated by Dave Szalay, who captures the soul of a steed. His endearing artwork adds immeasurable value to the story. And that ain’t hay!

There is a wealth of materials and activities in the CURRICULUM GUIDE for the book. It is available at:

Artie Bennett is an executive copy editor by day and a writer by night. He is the author of an inspiring picture-book biography of a hapless, though beloved, horse: The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t. When Artie stumbled upon the story of Zippy Chippy, he found himself champing at the bit to introduce young readers to this remarkable tale of whoa! He is also the author of a quintet of hilarious rhyming picture books: The Butt Book, his first “mature” work and winner of the Reuben Award; Poopendous!, his “number two” picture book; Peter Panda Melts Down!, an adorable departure from derrières and doo; the explosively funny Belches, Burps, and Farts—Oh My!; and What’s Afoot! Your Complete, Offbeat Guide to Feet, which is guaranteed to knock your socks off. And if that’s not enough, he’s the author of two riotous joke and riddle books: The Universe’s Greatest Dinosaur Jokes and Pre-Hysteric Puns and The Universe’s Greatest School Jokes and Rip-Roaring Riddles.
     He and his wife live deep in the bowels of Brooklyn, New York, where he spends his time moving his car to satisfy the rigorous demands of alternate-side-of-the-street parking and shaking his fist at his neighbors. The Show Me Librarian says: “Bennett’s use of rhyme is excellent; his stanzas flow and exude joviality in a manner that few writers since Dr. Seuss have truly mastered. Simply put, these books are a joy.” The Huffington Post says: “It appears there is no topic Mr. Bennett can’t make funny and educational.” Visit . . . before someone else does!

Book Giveaway: WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY by Darlene Beck Jacobson

Even though this post appeared back in the spring, I am happy to give away another copy of the book if anyone would like to leave a comment and share something kind witnessed during an episode of bullying.

Writing and Illustrating

Darlene Beck Jacobson has a new middle grade book, WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY published by Creston Books. Darlene has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Darlene, especially at this stressful time, when authors and illustrators need to promote their books completely online.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know…

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