Books, Books, and More.

I’ve discovered two awesome web sites for parents and teachers looking for information about great books for children as well as age-appropriate activities.  Diane Kress Hower’s site: www.bookwisdombydiane.blogspot.com reviews children’s books and coincides with Diane’s appearance in local NBC affiliates who broadcast her recommendations online and on the air.

The second site, by Diane Anton Sherrouse is: http://www.thereadingroad.com. Here she shares her interactive books THE MAGIC OF POLLINATION,  and LEMON TREES AND BUMBLEBEES, with glossary, recipes, information pages, lesson plans, and video clips.  This site has been endorsed by scientists, educators and authors.  Check it out.

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Hot Diggity Dog! My Picture Book, Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep, Is Heading to Creston Books!

It couldn’t happen to a better writer!

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Hildie Bitterpickles is kicking her heels and partying like it’s 2013 because Hildie and her noisy, annoying neighbors are packing their bags and heading to Creston Books.  But the news gets even better because the amazing and incredibly talented, Chris Ewald, is going to illustrate the book. 

But wait! There’s more! I just learned that the amazing and incredibly talented, Deborah Zemke, is going to illustrate, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery.   

Over the moon doesn’t even to begin to describe how I’m feeling.

And I just want to take a moment to shout out a VERY BIG THANK YOU to Marissa Moss for taking a chance on me.  And to Chris Ewald and Deborah Zemke for illustrating my books.  I so look forward to working with both Chris and Deborah, and seeing my characters finally come to life.

And wait!…

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Listen to…Birdsongs.

For many people, birds create some of nature’s loveliest music. Between the songs, whistles, tweeting and chattering, it can be a symphony of sounds not only in spring and fall, but throughout the year. If you want to attract more birds into your yard, here are some tips for doing that.

Birds need a variety of plants and food sources. If your yard has grasses, shrubs, and trees, you’re off to a good start. A simple bird feeder will attract seed eating birds. Try adding nesting boxes for bluebirds, wrens and chickadees.  Provide seed-bearing plants such as sunflowers or cone flowers to attract sparrows and finches. Insect harboring shrubs and moving water will attract warblersMockingbirds and cat bids love fruiting shrubs, dense cover and unraked leaves.  The more variety you provide, the more species of birds you’ll attract.

For more ideas on bringing birds – and their songs – into your yard, check out this book: ATTRACTING SONGBIRDS TO YOUR BACKYARD:HUNDREDS OF EASY WAYS TO BRING MUSIC AND BEAUTY OF SONGBIRDS TO YOUR YARD by Sally Roth.  You can find it at:OrganicGardening.com

Once you have birds coming to visit, it is fun to keep a log of all the different ones you see. Children can draw pictures of them, try to capture them on camera and maybe even record some of their songs. I’d LOVE to hear how you do and what kind of birds come to visit your house.

Happy birding!

Great Middle Grade Books

I recently finished three wonderful books for Middle Grade  readers (ages 8-12) that I’d like to recommend.

1. THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY by Susan Patron is an enchanting story of a ten year old girl named Lucky who eavesdrops on 12 Step programs and overhears mention of a Higher Power.  She sets out to look for her own Higher Power, hoping to gain insight into her life. Lucky is one of the most delightful characters I’ve ever met.  This book is destined to be a classic.

2. THREE TIMES LUCKY by Shiela Turnage takes place in a small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone knows everyone else.  Sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she’s been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her “upstream mother,” she’s found a home with the Colonel–a café owner, and Miss Lana, the café hostess.  She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, and the kidnapping of Miss Lana, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.  This book is a Newbery Honor Book and a must read.

3. THE MARBLE QUEEN by Stephanie K Blake tells the tale of Freedom Jane McKenzie who isn’t good at following the rules. She IS great at marbles.  The boys have a hard time beating her.  Until they make a rule…a No-Girls-Can-Play-Marbles rule.  All she wants is to enter the marble competition at the Autumn Jubilee and show the boys in the neighborhood that she’s the best player.  If she can’t be the Marble King, then she’ll be the Marble Queen.  If she can only convince her mother to let her enter. But with a new baby on the way, Freedom’s daddy drinking too much, and her little brother who is a handful, Freedom wonders if it will ever happen.  She learns that when it comes to love, friendship, and family, sometimes there are no rules. Set in 1959, The Marble Queen is a timeless story about growing up.

Kids’ Corner: The Next Generation of Writers and Illustrators

My fellow blogger and children’s book writer Robin Newman is starting this wonderful activity on her blog for kids who are interested in writing and/or illustrating. Check it out.

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve met a number of kids who are interested in being writers and illustrators when they grow up.  So, this got me thinking.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a kids’ corner on my website, where from time to time, I post the work of the newest generation of writers and illustrators?

So, if your kids are particularly proud of a poem, short story, comic strip, doodle, or drawing that they’ve written and/or drawn, I would be happy to feature it on my blog if:

Guidelines:

  1. Everything is parent approved.
  2. Drawings are photographed and saved as jpg files.
  3. Please include a photo of yourself saved as jpg file (optional).
  4. Please tell me a bit about yourself:
  • Name, age, grade
  • What is your favorite book?
  • When did you start writing and/or drawing?
  • Can you please tell me about your work?

And please e-mail everything to: robin@robinnewmanbooks.com

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Burgher and the Woebegone Caterpillar Craft

On Monday we had the pleasure of reading an excerpt from Kim Chabel’s MG fantasy BURGHER AND THE WOEBEGONE.  When she’s not writing, Kim does amazing crafts with yarn harvested from her own sheep. She was kind enough to provide the directions to a simple craft for making a wooly caterpillar…like the friend Burgher had in the story.

McDougall craftJust follow the step-by-step instructions and accompanying photos, and you’ll have a wooly caterpillar friend of your own that looks like the ones in the photo.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillars

Guest Post by Kim Chatel

Time to complete:  30 minutes  Difficulty: Medium difficulty. Younger kids may need adult help Materials: Purchased goods  Age: 6+  Suitability:  Suitable for large groups. 

 As a child, I was fascinated with pompoms. I had hundreds of them, all different colors, all made by hand. Like dolls, I had them sorted into families and each one had a name. I made houses for them, books and furniture. My brothers teased me endlessly about my pompoms. I don’t know why I was so intrigued by them. I think I just loved to make them so much that I had to come up with some use for all my creations. But each one seemed to have such personality, it wasn’t a stretch to turn them into characters.

This craft combines my love of pompoms with another of my favorite things: caterpillars! In my choose-your-own adventure tale, Burgher and the Woebegone, Burgher is a grumpy gnome whose heart is broken when his best friend, Katie the caterpillar turns into a butterfly and flutters away. Maybe making a Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar would cheer up Burgher. I know they have made some rainy days fun around our house.

 Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar is made of 5 homemade pompoms tied together. The trick is to tie them before cutting the loops. Experiment with different kinds of yarn for different looks. I used teddy-bear eyes for mine because that’s what I had. Large google eyes or round pieces of felt would work just as well. Hot glue is faster, but you can use white glue to fasten the eyes. Just be patient and let it dry properly.

Finally, you can add embellishments like a hat or antennae. We kept ours simple, because my daughter wanted something to cuddle in bed. With less glue, Fuzzy Wuzzy is very squishy and soft.

 Materials:   Yarn in two different colors, (I used purple and white. We’ll use these in the example)  Large teddy bear or google eyes, Hot glue and glue-gun

Cut a 12-inch piece of purple yarn and lay it aside. Wrap rest of the purple yarn around your three middle fingers until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly or your fingers will turn purple too! (see figure 1)     fuzzy3

Carefully remove the yarn from your hand. Don’t let it unravel. Tie it firmly in the middle with the 12-inch piece and double knot it. Your ball should look sort of like a figure 8 (see figure 2).

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If you were making a simple pompom you would snip all the loops at this point. But don’t snip them yet. We’re not done.

 Repeat this process so that you have 3 balls in purple and 2 balls in white.

 

Start with 1 purple ball. This will be the tail. Use the long strings that are tied around the middle of the ball to attach it to a white ball. Tie it firmly around the middle of a white ball and then trim of the extra purple string. Now use the loose ties from the white ball to attach the next purple ball. Complete the row with the next white ball. Then attach the last purple ball on top of the last white one (instead of in a row). See figure 3.           fuzzy1Now you simply snip all the loops to make the pompoms. Give your caterpillar a haircut to even out the strands and then glue on the eyes. Don’t forget to give your fuzzy wuzzy a name!            

Here's my caterpillar. a bit "hairy" but I don't think there's such a thing as a bad caterpillar.

Here’s my caterpillar. a bit “hairy” but I don’t think there’s such a thing as a bad caterpillar.

 

Kim Chatel is an author, fiber artist and photographer. She regularly visits schools and libraries, bringing her art and books to students and inspiring them to create their own. Visit Kim at Chatel Village (www.kimchatel.com) where you can find books recipes, movies, book reviews and crafts. Kim is also the co-founder of Castelane.com a site that helps authors market there books with trailers, cover designs and more.

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The His-Story of Art

Here is a Mini history of women in art. Mt illustrator friend Mary Zisk wrote the piece. http://www.maryzisk.com

Nerdy Chicks Rule

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Georgia O’Keeffe. Mary Cassatt. Frida Kahlo. You recognize these names, right?

These women and the images they created—the macro views of flowers and skulls, the tender moments between mother and child, the bold, revealing self-portraits—are very familiar to us, almost iconic.

Georgia O’Keefe is my favorite artist, especially her New Mexican landscapes. But I didn’t learn about her until I was an adult. When I was in college, H.W. Janson’s History of Art: A Survey of Major Visual Arts from the Dawn of History to the Present Day was the definitive art history textbook. With the book as our guide, we worked our way through Prehistoric, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, and Gothic art.

But just as we entered the early Renaissance in Europe, student unrest over the Vietnam War brought strikes and demonstrations to college campuses. On May 4, 1970, a confrontation between the National Guard and students at Kent…

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