Great Picture Books for Summer and Beyond

I’ve had the pleasure of reading some great picture books recently that I want to share with you.  In no particular order they are:

1. DOG GONE by Leeza Hernandez follows the antics of a naughty dog who, when scolded, runs away.  Will he repent?  Will he find his way back home?  Read this delightful book and find out.

2. THE MONSTORE by Tara Lazar, illustrated by James Burks, is a fun-filled story about a boy named Zack who decides to buy a monster that to help scare his pesky little sister. The only catch is, be careful which monster you choose. At the Monstore, there are no refunds, no returns, and no exchanges.

3. CREEPY CARROTS by Aaron Reynolds illustrated by Peter Brown, tells the tale of Jasper the rabbit who loves eating carrots from Crackenhopper Field.  He eats them all the time until…they start following him home. The illustrations in this book won the Caldecott Honor this year.

For more picture books and other children’s activities, visit the blog of Susanna Hill.  Her Perfect Picture Books post lists over 750 books in more than 100 categories recommended by 50+ children’s book reviewers.  http://susannahill.blogspot.com   Click on Perfect Picture Books.

Happy Reading!

Want Butterflies?

Tis the season for that beautiful insect that even bug hating people can’t resist…butterflies.  If you want to lure these colorful creatures to your backyard, try planting MILKWEED.  (see photo)  Go to: http://www.monarchwatch.org  to find out which varieties of milkweed will thrive in your area.  The plants are easy to grow and come back year after year.  You can also mix them in with your other flowers.       milkweedYour garden should be aflutter in no time.

If you’d like to watch the MIGRATION of the Monarch butterfly, catch the IMAX film FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES IN 3D at a museum near you.

Summer Theatre for Children

My blogger friend Gail Terp: http://www.gailterp.com   came up with a wonderful list of books that have scripts for children to put on their own plays. So, for the budding actors in your family, check out some of these titles.

Books for Summer Drama Fun

Want to add a little drama to your summer days? Put on some plays! Your plays can be straight out of your head, ones someone else has written or a combination of both. Here are some books to get you started. In case your library system doesn’t carry some of these books, I’ve added the library call numbers so you can browse for summer drama.

12 Fabulously Funny Fairy Tale Plays by Justin McCory Martin

The author has taken well-known fairy tales and given them a new twist. The titles give a pretty good idea of what to expect: Spiderella, Rafunzel, The Emperor’s New Hair, Slurping Beauty and 7 more.

The Jumbo Book of Drama by Deborah Dunleavy, illustrated by Jane Kurisu

This book has many ideas to get your creative drama ideas started. There aren’t many scripts, just countless ideas for creating your own plays and other bits of drama. Some of the chapters are: Magic, Clowning Around (really fun ideas), Puppets and Puppetry, Comedy and Tragedy.

Fifty Fabulous Fables by Suzanne I Barchers

Did you know that Aesop was a slave in Greece and wrote his fables around 550 B.C.? That’s over 2,500 years ago! I love knowing this fact. This book is filled with fables that Aesop wrote, rewritten as short plays. The plays are written for 2-4 players and at 4 different reading levels.

On Stage: Theater Games and Activities for Kids by Lisa Bany-Winters

Although there are a few scripts in this book, it is mostly filled with games and activities to get players thinking like actors and play-writers. There are all kinds of games that promote silly pretending, working together to create ideas, pantomime, creating characters, costume making and lots of others.

Putting on a Play by Paul Dubois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender

This small book covers all aspects of play production (casting, scripts, makeup…) and then suggests different topics such as pirates, princesses, the circus, explorers… Each topic gives suggestions for costumes, props and 3 different storylines.

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Summer Fun…Right in Your Own Backyard

Now that school is out for the summer, you may be wondering how to keep your children entertained without spending tons of money.  If finances are tight, don’t despair.  There are plenty of fun filled activities you can do with kids to make the summer a memorable one.

1. Pitch a tent for the GREAT AMERICAN BACKYARD CAMPOUT.  You can sleep under the stars in your own backyard. Identify constellations, make s’mores (check out my recipe under the recipe section of this blog). Tell stories, sing songs, eat hotdogs, and do everything you’d do at a camp far away.  Visit: http://www.nwf.org/great-american-backyard-campout.aspx

2.Check out: http://www.parade.com/summerschool   for 14 days of how-to steps and expert tips on everything from building a sand castle, to how to skip stones. You can also learn things like HOW TO HOST A BACKYARD MOVIE NIGHT, SPOT CONSTELLATIONS, TEACH KIDS TO FISH,  and even HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN ICE CREAM.

3. Put on a Show.  A Puppet Show that is.  There are tons of videos and sites on how to make your own puppets and puppet theatres.  To get you started, enter: Making puppets in your search engine and a load of sites will appear.  Here’s a good one:

http://www.about.com/od/puppets                                      cookie pupppets

You can also use stuffed toys, pencils with funny tops, or socks with painted faces.  Or even cookies!  (see photos) Let your imagination run wild.

To make it a real event, sell popcorn and lemonade.

smile face pencils  4.And…you can’t go wrong with water.  If you don’t have a pool, a sprinkler on a hose works great.  Squirt guns and water balloon fights are sure cures for boredom and cool everyone off on a hot day.  For little ones, fill up a bucket with water and let them “paint” the sidewalk to their hearts content.  Add a few cups for pouring and you’ll keep them entertained for a long time.

Make Dad Feel Special – Part 2

Here’s the easy, kid-friendly recipe for a breakfast casserole you can assemble the night before and bake for breakfast.

BREAKFAST CASSEROLE: 1. Spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.

2. Line the dish with 2 slices of bread torn into pieces.  3. Cook 1 lb. of bulk sausage and crumble it over the bread layer.  

4.Mix 2 C milk, 6 eggs, 3/4 t. dry mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the sausage.

5. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese.  Sprinkle with paprika.

sausage,cheese and egg casserole

6. Refrigerate overnight.  Next morning, Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set.  Serve with fruit or a salad at brunch.

While it’s baking, why not do something special for/with Dad.  Here are a few ideas:  back rub, wash the car, sweep the steps and pick weeds in the garden, take out the trash, challenge him to a game of thumb wrestling, make him some popcorn and watch a movie together. offer to do an errand, 

Happy Father’s Day!

Disney World Tips for Families

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World this summer, check out these excellent tips from my fellow blogger Karona Drummond

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(This is me in the classic “Singing in the Rain” pose at Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve saved the money for that big trip to Disney World. Congratulations! Planning can be
part of the fun. My husband, the two kids, and I just got back. We had a blast! Here are a few tips that we gathered in out process. We took a road trip. So some of my trips will pertain to traveling by car.

1. Order a planning kit from Disney several months in advance.
Hop over to http://www.disneyworld.com get the process rolling. They will send you a free video with lots of info. about the Disney World parks and accommodations. If you are planning a road trip, you would benefit from going to Florida is full of beautiful tourist destinations. Maybe you can squeeze in a couple while you’re in the neighborhood.

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NJSCBWI June Conference Review

More great news and photos from the Children’s Writer and Illustrator Conference.

Writing and Illustrating

The theme for this years artist exhibit and contest at the NJSCBWI Conference was “Down the Rabbit Hole” There were four different awards. Below is Deborah Cuneo’s winning illustration. She was the winner of the Members Choice Award. Anyone who didn’t attend missed a wonderful display of talented illustration pieces.

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The 259 people who attended the NJSCBWI conference this past weekend included 30 auth/illus speakers. Additionally, we had 32 industry professionals on the faculty. They came from 18 states, various Canadian provinces and one from South Africa.

karen, connie and leezaI just have to sing the praises of RA Leeza Hernandez, ARA Sheri Oshins, former ARA Laurie Wallmark, ICC Karen Romanga and their wonderful committee and volunteers. I had forgotten how much fun attending a conference could be. Having the opportunity to see things from the attendee side gave me the time to talk to the many friends who would not be in my life had I not volunteered to run…

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Malfunctioning Monsters: Tara Lazar Interview

Hadf the pleasure of hearing Tara’s motivational and inspiring speech at the NJSCBWI conference.

Literary Friendships

You can feel the excitement, can’t you? It’s finally happening! Tomorrow! Tara Lazar’s The Monstore, illustrated by James Burks, finally hits shelves tomorrow! And Tara was kind enough to stop by for a quick chat about defective monsters, the power of chocolate moguls and carrier pigeons. Without further ado:
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Can you tell us how The Monstore came to be?
 The Monstore was a title for months before I did anything with it. Then I had to pitch an idea to an agent and I came up with a premise: “A boy wants to return the monster he bought because it doesn’t spook his little sister.” When I finally sat down to write the story and the boy swung back to the Monstore to complain, I figured the only thing the manager could say was, “Sorry…

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