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

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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.

Danielle Dufayet wins a copy of BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING.

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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.

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

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

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.

Danielle Dufayet wins a copy of BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING.

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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.

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Wowie…Boom. A Poem For July 4th

The following poem is taken from my novel-in-verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston). WoCCover01

On this July 4th, I am dedicating it to all those who mourn a loved one, those who have lost someone, those who grieve for a better world, those who celebrate kindness, friendship, and love.

BOOM
Wowee booms are what Katy calls
fireworks since she learned
to talk. Wowee for what you see
bursting in the sky and boom for the
noise it makes a few seconds later.

It’s the best definition
for something spectacular,
not like anything else.

Dad is the one
who likes to celebrate things
in a big wowee boom kind of way.

Even though these fireworks
are just as spectacular as ever,
there is something missing.

Someone who made
everything around us seem
louder
brighter
shinier.
I miss that kind of boom.

I imagine Dad staring at the
same moon, watching fireworks
like us, imagining that we are together.

Where are you Dad? Are you MIA
in a place that has fireworks?
Can you see them, hear them?
Are you someplace safe?
This is my wish for all on this Fourth of July, this day we set aside to celebrate our nation’s birthday:  May you all be safe, may you all feel love, may you all be kind and treat your fellow men and women as you wish to be treated. May you have a “WOWIE BOOM” kind of day.

fireworks

DIY Backyard Activities.

There is still plenty of summer fun to be had even if we stay close to home.  You can get kids out of the house and keep them busy by making your own backyard a fun-filled oasis for the kids.  Besides the usual sprinkler, water balloon fights, and assorted water games, check out these really cool outdoor activities from Buzz Feed.  There’s backyard dominoes, lawn twister, bean bag toss, giant bubbles and a do-it-yourself slip and slide.

Many of the activities use things already on hand, so there is no need to invest in new gadgets.

hopscotch

https://www.buzzfeed.com/cieravelarde/suns-out-funs-out?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Parents%20614&utm_content=Parents%20614%2BCID_04fc34111fe2dc9b39baa67b7b04ef20&utm_source=BuzzFeed%20Newsletters&utm_term=.poglK3NawX#.cdy5Aw7rVb

summer pic

Happy summer fun!

Whistling Grass

Here is a simple and fun activity everyone can enjoy when you’re outdoors and anywhere near grass.  Just take a wide blade of grass and place it tightly between your thumbs.  Blow onto the small opening and the grass will whistle!

It actually sounds like a turkey call.  Try different blade thicknesses and widths to see if you can change the sound.

 Can you make up a song using this whistle from nature?

Free Rice: Increase Your Vocabulary and Feed the Hungry.

There is a wonderful site that I go to now and then to challenge my vocabulary.  It’s called Free Rice.  Not only are there levels of difficulty to help develop vocabulary skills, every time you successfully define words, grains of rice are added to your account.  This number quickly adds up.

Where does this “Rice Money” go?  To those in need.  For each answer you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

We spend so much time on social media and computers.  Why not take a few minutes to help ease hunger while doing it.  Here’s the link to the site:

http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1458

Over 96 billion grains have been donated to date

WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance.  It also makes you feel good.

 

National “Go Fishing Day”…Take a Kid Fishing.

Tomorrow, June 18, is NATIONAL GO FISHING DAY.  Fishing has been around as long as man and women have.  It is a major industry that yields billions of dollars worldwide annually. It is also a great recreational activity for everyone, young and old. It’s a way to add food to the table and an opportunity to bond with family and friends.

The benefits of fishing are numerous. Did you know fishing actually boosts your immune system? When you do something you enjoy, your body responds by healing and strengthening itself. Being out in nature helps promote relaxation and is a way to practice calm and patience. It can lower blood pressure and can be done individually or with others. You can fish from the shore, from a boat or by standing in a stream.  However you decide to do it, why not teach a kid, your kid or a friend’s kid, to fish.

Check your local recreational areas for competitions and rules regarding proper fishing etiquette. Even during this Covid-19 pandemic, it’s okay to go fishing. 

kid fishing

When you go fishing, or teach a child to fish, you never know what you might catch.

Here’s a case in point, where eleven-year-old JACK takes his five-year-old sister KATY to fish for the first time from my newest MG novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston)   WoCCover01

FISH
Katy feels sorry for worms
and won’t fish with them.
I make balls of dough
from the crusts of our sandwiches to
bait her hook.

She breaks every rule about fishing.
Making loud noises, scaring the fish.
She can’t stand in one spot
more than a minute without
dancing
wiggling
spinning
tangling the fishing line,
asking so many questions
my ears are ready to
EXPLODE!!!

When are we going to catch a
FISH!!! she shouts for the
tenth time, dropping her pole to
chase a butterfly.
Fish don’t come around when it’s noisy,
so zzzzip your lips, I say.

She pretends to zip her lip,
humming the tune to
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Good grief.

FRED

After lunch I’m ready to leave.
No fish today, let’s go, I say.
Maybe the fish don’t like worms.
Maybe they’re veterinarians, Katy says.
She means vegetarians because
she hands me a grape and says
put it on the hook, Jack, please?

Can you sit without making a sound,
quiet as a stone?
She puts a finger to her lips, Shhhhh.
I hook the grape, toss the line,
hand the rod to Katy.

Before I settle onto the grass,
the line gives a tug.
Too heavy for me, I can’t do it, Jack.
I grab the rod and pull a fish out,
a fish with one eye.

It’s Fred, I tell her.
Katy strokes Fred’s tail with a pinkie.
A special fish, I say.
Like magic special?
Katy’s two eyes as wide as Fred’s one.
Don’t know, I say.
Katy frowns, so I say,
make a wish, quick before Fred goes back.

Pancakes for supper! she wishes,
kissing Fred on the tail.
Pancakes, I agree. As I slip
Fred into the water, he seems to
wink his eye before he swims away.

While you may not catch a fish that grants wishes, taking a child fishing will be something you’ll both remember for a long time. 

Six New Children’s Books For Summer Reading + a give-away.

I’ve been enjoying some wonderful books during this “sheltering in place” season. Here are three recent reads that are perfect for summer enjoyment for kids from 4-9.

OUR FRIEND HEDGEHOG: THE STORY OF US by Lauren Castillo is a tender, sweet, and thoughtful story that will delight young readers. Endearing illustrations add whimsy and heart to a friendship tale destined to become a favorite.

SWASHBY AND THE SEA written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.

Old Salt Swashby loves the quiet life by the sea. So salty and serene. No time or need for noisy new neighbors who disrupt his peace. He writes his displeasure in the sand. But the sea knows what’s best and changes his messages until Swashby realizes maybe the sea is right. Delightful for sea lovers big and small. Illustrations add heart and soul to a tale that dances and sings the magic of the sea.

WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade is a lyrical story of caution, celebration, and endurance. The words are a tribute and honor to the thing most important to life – water. Illustrations flow, undulate, and embrace plant and animal life and remind us how we are all one on this Mother Earth.
The author and illustrator are members of indigenous tribes who know what it means to be one with the land and all its living creatures. They show how taking action and standing up for environmental justice is important and necessary. We need books like this now more than ever.

HELLO FROM RENN LAKE by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Hello From Renn Lake cover

Annalise and Renn Lake, the beloved lake at her parents resort, are connected to one another ever since Annalise was a baby. An abandoned baby found after an unexpected flood at the lake.

Annalise talks to Renn and Renn listens. Renn answers. Renn knows things about Annalise that no one else knows. Renn is a comfort, as dependable as a friend. Until one day Renn is silent.

As an algae bloom threatens to choke the life out of the lake, Annalise is determined to do something to save Renn.

A brave and beautiful tale of our interconnectedness to nature, and how when one thing in the chain of life is sick, it affects us all. Annalise and her friends become environmental heroes who

take activism to the next level and do what needs to be done to make change.

A perfect story for our time. A story that reminds us we all need to listen to as well as observe what is happening around us. Nature speaks. We just need to listen. Should be part of every STEM classroom curriculum.

The book back matter lists links to numerous science sites about lakes, rivers, algae blooms, and how to get involved in environmental causes.

TODAY IS A BEACH DAY by Nancy Viau

Beach Day cover jpeg

Come along for a trip to the beach in this lively, sensory story written in alliterative rhyme. Little ones will experience the sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and feelings a day of sand, sun, and surf have to offer. A perfect read-aloud for the youngest beach lovers.

 

 

And finally, my own book, filled with summer fun: WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston).

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Here is what three teachers had to say about the book:

Darlene Andre  5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging book with important life lessons

 “Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand up to a Bully is a brilliant book written in verse that gives readers a look into the world of Jack, his family, and friends as they navigate difficult issues. This book, while taking place in the 60s, resonates with readers today. So much wisdom and hope are spread throughout the pages of this book. My fifth graders loved it.”

Trish Lugo  Apr 21, 2020 Trish rated it 5 stars: it was amazing

“This beautifully written novel-in-verse tugs at the heart strings. Jack and Jill have reeled in a magical one-eyed fish that grants wishes. When Jill’s wish doesn’t quite go as planned, Jack realizes that it really is important to be careful what you wish for. I couldn’t put the book down, and my class enjoyed it just as much as I did. This one will be read year after year with my fourth-graders!”

May 14, 2020 Hallee Adelman rated it 5 stars: it was amazing

“Wishes, Dares, & How to Stand Up to a Bully is a wonderful book filled with heart. The characters are sweet, relatable and lovable. They grapple with big issues, which Jacobson handles deftly and honestly. Like books by Linda Mullaly Hunt and Donna Gephart, readers will feel how much Jacobson cares about young readers. A fantastic historical fiction story in verse that I’d not only read again, but also share with other educators for their students.”

I will give away a signed copy of WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY + a classroom activity packet to a teacher who leaves a comment sharing one of the books you recommend for your student’s summer reading. If you share this post on your social media, let me know and I will add your name a second time to the list. One winner will be drawn at random and announced on this blog later in the month.

 

Once You Get a hold of Yeast…Make Fool-Proof Soft Pretzels.

I’ve made these soft pretzels with developmentally delayed Pre-K classes for years and have never had an instance when they didn’t turn out well.  The only prep needed are clean hands, a sheet of waxed paper for each student, and an oven. ( I used a toaster oven in the classroom and they turned out great.)

SOFT PRETZELS: 1 pk. yeast,  4 C. flour ( I use 1 C. whole wheat, 3 C. regular),  1 1/2 C. warm water,  1 T. sugar,   1 T. salt,   1 egg beaten for glaze,  poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

1. Mix yeast, water, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

2. Stir in flour. Knead until smooth. Here comes the fun part. Give each child a glob of dough to roll and shape into the first letter of his/her name.  This will ensure that each child gets his own pretzel when it comes out of the oven.  Once they are shaped and placed on a cookie sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice.

3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15- 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. They may look crazy, but they will taste great. Guaranteed! The texture is like a bagel and it’s hard to eat just one.

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes. I’d love to see the results.

Virus Vocabulary Adds To Our Shared Experiences by Marilyn Ostermiller.

“Social” and “distancing” weren’t usually found in the same sentence before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Now “social distancing” is “short hand” for leaving plenty of space between you and everyone else.

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Quaranteen (note the spelling) is also part of the virus vocabulary. It refers to the socializing restrictions that have hit teens especially hard, especially high school seniors who are missing proms, varsity sports, and graduation ceremonies.

Vernacular English are the words we use to describe common experiences. Say “9/11”, and everyone will know you’re talking about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the World Trade Center.

Most words coined to describe what’s happening in our society aren’t somber, but they can confuse. And, sometimes the meaning changes with the times.

For example, these days moonshot is a technical term to describe an ambitious or groundbreaking project. Its origin was the challenge President Kennedy issued in September 1962 to America’s scientific community: Get a man on the moon within the decade. That challenge was accomplished July, 1969 when Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind.”

Meltdown is another term with a varied history. It was used as early as 1922, according to etymonline.com, as a process for melting metal. In 1956, it was updated to describe the accidental  melting of the core of a nuclear reactor. Since about 1979, it’s come to describe lack of self-control. Go figure.

The Roaring Twenties gave birth to lots of colorful expressions. Someone extraordinary in those days was the “Bee’s Knees” or the “Cat’s Pajamas.”

The thing with slang is that words come in and out of fashion and it’s difficult to keep current. One of the books that provides an overview is “A Very Modern Dictionary: 400 new words, phrases acronyms and slang to keep your culture game on fleek,” by Tobias Anthony, published in 2017.

https://www.amazon.com/Very-Modern-Dictionary-phrases-acronyms/dp/1925418308/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=slang&qid=1588634471&s=books&sr=1-2

What are some of your favorite additions to our collective vernacular? We’d love to hear from you.

Marilyn OstermillerMarilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who enjoys writing about children’s literature, cooking and the English language.