Summer Trips to Channel Creativity.

If you’re looking for a summer vacation or weekend trip that’s a bit different, why not try one with an art focus?  Get creative with your children by visiting a museum art program.  Here are four:

CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE, Easton, PA: Spend a day at the 60,000 square foot factory in the Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania.  There are 25+ hands on exhibits where kids can doodle in the dark on a backlit board, name a crayon color, visit a color playground, and be a star in their own coloring book page.

DALI DOCENT PROGRAM, ST. PETERSBURG, FL: Here children ages 9-13 will have a chance to experience the legendary artist Salvador Dali during the junior docent program.  They can participate in the Breakfast with Dali program.  Graduates share impressions of their favorite Dali works as well as participate in story time and various interactive programs throughout the year.

PEANUTS, SONOMA COUNTY, CA: If you’re a peanuts fan or your kids like cartoons, try a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.  You’ll get to meet professional cartoonists and watch their techniques. You can watch some of Schulz’ cartoon strips in animated form.

ART OF THE SOUTH, AUGUSTA, GA: Visit the first museum dedicated to art and artists of the south at the Morris Museum of Art.  There are family-friendly programs throughout the year, as well as weekday Mommy & Me programs, and special exhibits.



Welcome Summer Solstice.

Sit back and enjoy this simple explanation of why we have summer by Shiela Fuller.  Then be sure to check out the link to 101 great summer activities for kids, as well as a link to our National Parks and the wonders found in these national treasures.  Here’s Shiela:

Ah, sweet summer. We long for the hazy days of summer when we can go outside to play in bare feet, read what we want, and eat ice cream all day. Well, maybe not all day. Summer is one of the four seasons that we experience here on earth, but do we know why?

This year at precisely 6:51 AM, eastern daylight time (EDT), on June 21, summer will begin in the northern hemisphere. Our earth is divided into imaginary long lines that run from top to bottom, longitudinal lines, and lines that run side-to-side, called latitudinal lines. The latitude line that divides the earth from top to bottom is called the equator. If you live in a place above the equator, you live in the northern hemisphere and if you live below the equator, you are in the southern hemisphere.

Our planet also has an imaginary line that runs straight through the center from top to bottom. It’s called its axis. The axis is tilted at 23.5 degrees and it is because of this tilt that we have four seasons. From June through September, the earth is tilted toward the sun and that is why the northern hemisphere has summer. The opposite side of the planet is farthest from the sun and brings winter to the southern hemisphere.

Solstices-and-Equinoxes-The-seasons-are-about-to-changeThe earth spins around the axis and is hit with different amounts of direct sun depending on the date on the calendar On June 21, the earth appears to have stopped in the sky giving those in the northern hemisphere , the largest amount of daylight hours in the whole year. This is the day of summer solstice. Solstice comes from the Latin word, Solstitium: “sol” meaning sun and “stitium” meaning stop. Although it is the longest day of the year, it is not necessarily the warmest. That won’t happen until late July when the land and sea warm up as it absorbs the increased daily sunshine.

It’s summer! Take precautions from sunburn and mosquito bites and get outside for some fun adventures.
Follow these links to find some warm weather activities:

101 fun Things to Do from Parenting Magazine
Read the Wikipedia page to find out about National Parks. You’ll find all 59 listed here.

Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.

Easy To Make Father’s Day Treats

Whether you’ll be having a barbeque or take out pizza for Dad’s big day, homemade desserts are always a great way for kids to show dad their love.  Here is a recipe for Cream Cheese Cupcakes that will be a hit.

2 8oz. packages of cream cheese ( I used Neufchatel)
2/3 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
Vanilla wafers

1. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Set a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each.
2. Mix all other ingredients until smooth.
3. Fill cups and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees F.
4. Chill overnight. You can eat them like this, or top with a variety of fruits such as crushed pineapple, strawberries, cherries.        cheesecakesAnd, speaking of strawberries, it is peak season for these delicious bits of heaven.  Make a few chocolate covered ones by: 1. Melting morsels  in a microwave-safe dish for 60 seconds.  2. Stir and repeat for 30 second intervals until smooth.  3.  Stir in 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil to make the mixture thin enough for dipping the berries into.  4.  Hold the strawberry by the green cap and dip it into the chocolate mixture.  5.  Set onto waxed paper and refrigerate until set. 

Want some NO COST gifts?  Try making some “coupons” with jobs the kids will do for dad such as, back massage, car wash, weeding flower beds, etc.  Any time your child can pitch in and help Dad  it will be appreciated.

There are also some great websites that have crafts kids can make for Dad on his special day.  Here are a few:

Parents Magazine:

Better Homes and Gardens:

Martha Stewart:



I had another informative and inspirational weekend at the annual New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in Princeton, NJ this past weekend.  Lots of opportunities to reconnect with writer friends and make new ones. Workshops on perfecting craft, Keynotes from Author/Illustrator, DENISE FLEMING, Agent/Author JOHN CUSICK, and a report on the state of children’s publishing.  (doing well, we’re happy to hear). Plus lots of time for sharing success stories.  An exhausting but always motivating event.  Here are some highlights in photos.

With Annie Silvestro and Kim Pfennigwerth

With Annie Silvestro and Kim Pfennigwerth

Signing books with Charlotte Bennardo, fellow KIdLIt Author's Club author.

Signing books with Charlotte Bennardo, fellow KIdLIt Author’s Club author.

Musician and author Jonathan Sprout

Musician and author Jonathan Sprout

The LRA crew: Laurie Wallmark, me, Agent Liza Fleissig, Robin Newman

The LRA crew: Laurie Wallmark, me, Agent Liza Fleissig, Robin Newman

With Jennifer Reinhartz

With Jennifer Reinharz

Hanging out on Friday evew. with Jody Staton, Laurie Degman, Corey Rosen-Schwartz, and Robin Newman.

Hanging out on Friday eve. with Jody Staton, Laurie Degman, Corey Rosen-Schwartz, and Robin Newman.

Finally meeting blogging friend Katey Howes.

Finally meeting blogging friend Katey Howes.

Another new friend Katya.

Another new friend Katya.

Books for sale...

Books for sale…

With Marilyn Ostermiller

With Marilyn Ostermiller

The LRA Club

The LRA Club

Another awesome weekend of writing and social connection.  Thanks NJSCBWI.  You Rock!

With Eileen Holden

With Eileen Holden

Summer Activity Tool Kit by Vivian Kirkfield

I was watching ‘educational’ television the other day with my six-year old grandson and I couldn’t believe how many commercials there were.  6month13It’s no wonder that kids, who are watching and listening and absorbing everything they see and hear, come to their parents with requests…and sometimes, demands, of what they want.
Many parents spend more than they can afford to provide their kids with expensive electronic gadgets and ‘must-have’ items.
How much is too much?

Logo final BB 3-98 inch 100 dpi.jpg2

To be honest, many young children would prefer the box the toy comes in! And although you may enjoy the peace and quiet of a kid absorbed in Minecraft videos or Angry Birds’ computer games, it’s really important to make sure kids have balance in their day.

Now that summer is around the corner, why not put together a tool-kit for your kids – one that requires NO batteries because the activities are powered by a child’s imagination. You can use a plastic tote with a lid (available at department stores for just a couple of dollars) with a several smaller shoebox-sized plastic containers to make things a bit more organized.

Here’s a list of my top 10 picks of what belongs in this tool-kit of magical imagination:
• Paper: Colored Construction paper, tracing paper, finger paint paper, sketch paper
• Crayons/markers/colored pencils
• Glue stick/Scissors
• Paint/brushes/sponges
• Paper plates
• Paper lunch bags
• Clay and/or play dough
• Pretend play clothes
• Musical instruments like drums, bells, triangles
• Flannel board pieces and puppets for storytelling and role play

If you only have 15 minutes, here’s an idea. Grab several pieces of paper and on each, write down an activity that takes about 15 minutes…playing with clay, making a paper plate animal, telling a flannel board story, dressing up and retelling a favorite story or fairy tale. Fold each paper and put it into a jar. Invite your child to pick one – open it – and that will be the activity you will do with him or her. Having the summer tool-kit of magical imagination prepared, you and your child will have 15 minutes of joyful interaction, without having to run around the house searching for supplies.

My grandson and I started reading the first book in the Magic Tree House Series…a new favorite of his. Dinosaurs Before Dark was exciting. We read a couple of chapters every day and when it was finished, I told him he could pick one activity from the jar. MAKE CLAY FIGURES OF THE DINOSAURS was the paper he unfolded.
We pulled out the tool-kit and he got out the clay. Jeremy decided to make the T-rex.

DSCN7821This type of interaction is so valuable for kids…for developing literacy skills, mastering tasks like cutting and pasting, and sparking the imagination. My parent-teacher resource, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, is filled with 100 quick and easy craft projects that use the contents of the tool-kit.
For example, if you and your child have read I Feel Happy and Sad and Angry and Glad by Mary Murphy (or any other book about emotions), you can make happy and sad faces door hangers. Cut out a shape for the head or use a paper plate Punch a hole in the top and string a piece of yarn or ribbon through it. Let your child draw a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other. Then your child can role play or you can ask how he would feel in certain situations (if someone took his toy, if he won a prize, if he zipped his jacket all by himself, if the kids in his class laughed at his lunch) and he can turn the plate to the side that shows how he feels. The door hanger can then be placed on the knob of his door…if you see the face on the sad side, you can initiate a chat…maybe something is bothering him.    DSCN4670DSCN4671

The best thing about this summer tool-kit isn’t that the supplies are inexpensive, although that is definitely a plus. The best thing is that all of the items will spark your child’s imagination and creativity. And that’s a good thing!

Vivian’s Bio:               Picture 158 B 2
Although she is not a fan of heights and was always a rather timid child, Vivian Kirkfield is constantly taking leaps of faith. She self-published Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking,    SHOW ME HOW KINDLE Cover 01 went skydiving with her son, flew half-way around the globe to speak at the 2013AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore, and is amassing a respectable pile of submission-ready picture book manuscripts. When she isn’t scribbling stories, Vivian is hiking and fly-fishing with her hubby, reading, crafting and cooking with kids, and sharing self-esteem and literacy tips with parents and teachers.

To learn more about her mission to help every child become a lover of books and reading, you can follow her on:   Blog:    Email:



Sign up for Vivian’s informative Newsletter:

Stop by next month for a second post from Vivian where you’ll have a chance to win a copy of her wonderful book:Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

Kidlit Creativity Camp & Retreat with Deb Lund! I’m Going! (plus a giveaway!)

Looking for a “Creative” Vacation option? Try Creativity Camp.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

deblundKidlit Creativity Camp
with Deb Lund
September 15-18, 2015
Letchworth State Park
Glen Iris Inn
Genesee Falls, New York

Tara, I’m so excited for our Kidlit Creativity Camp play date in September! I’ve already started packing my creative play toys…

Springs, sprockets, my word purse, pictures, improv prompts, puppets, gadgets, gimmicks, doodles, dance shoes, dice, anti-inner-critic spray, troublemaking dares, a jillion idea generators, and assorted missing pieces for revision puzzles. I might have to pay for an extra bag on the plane—especially when I add all the Whidbey Island (no woo-woo) wishing stones and magic wands! (Yes, you get to take them home with you.)


In case that sounds like too much silliness, it’s not. In case someone might be thinking it’s only for picture book creators, it’s not. In case it appears too elementary (pun intended), it’s not. Our days together will have all the usual craft activities like…

View original post 536 more words

Meet…Kid Lit TV!

KidLit TV: A Place That Brings Out the “Kid” in Kid Lit
By: Katya Szewczuk                 IMG_9170

Are you looking for great children’s literature authors or illustrators so your kids or students will jump into the reading world and go on all kinds of adventures? If so then KidLit TV is the place to be. Here you’ll find all kinds of fun and interesting kid lit books, interviews from well-known authors, tech savvy information about the latest technologies and some great advice that will have your kids reading in no time.

Julie Gribble,owner of New York Media Works, realized there was a need for creating and producing content to support the children’s literature community. So in November 2014 she founded KidLit TV, a resource for children’s book creators, industry insiders, booksellers, librarians, teachers, and parents. Julie’s vision was to open a communication channel between kid lit authors, illustrators and experts, with parents and educators. She also saw the importance of technology in the world today and wanted to ensure that these new literacy tools were made accessible to everyone.

KidLit TV is more than just a resource or a website.  It is a community of authors, illustrators, educators, and parents all working together to create great books for kids.
The KidLit TV Headquarters is always busy creating original videos and content. Every week, KidLit TV has a highly anticipated show called Storymakers. On this show the charismatic host of StoryMakers, Rocco Staino, interviews an author, illustrator or industry expert and gets the inside scoop of what goes on behind the scenes of that individuals’s life and career. Storymakers is a fan favorite, too, because the interviewee always brings signed books to give away! You can view past StoryMakers interviews on KidLit TV’s website or Youtube Channel. KidLit.TV also provides Red Carpet interviews at children’s literacy events around New York City which is a must see for everyone in the kid lit world.
In addition to the StoryMakers exclusive interviews, KidLit TV also shares original content. Every Tuesday is Kidlit Kibbles day; Readers will discover what hot topics or fantastic events are going on in the kid lit world, such as:
• book awards
• interviews with authors, illustrators or other experts in the industry
• book birthdays
• kid-friendly fun

Thursday is “Tech Thursday”, a day that the KidLit TV team shares tips and tricks for learning new technologies, video editing software, apps or simple, tech savvy advice to keep everyone up to date with the latest and greatest virtual tools. On this day readers will find a series of ‘how to video edit’ articles that will provide a basic rundown and understanding of video editing software. From simple, free programs to advanced software that Hollywood uses; the KidLit TV team knows how to lend a helping hand in the video-editing world. .

At KidLit TV you’ll see:
• Inspiring and diverse videos from authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, and more
• Informative videos to help you navigate the world of kid lit
• Video tutorials on using new technology for creating and promoting books
• Entertaining videos about contemporary and classic books

Having the latest news relating to everything in the children’s literacy world is important to Julie Gribble and her team. Every day new content is curated from all our favorite resources around the web and shared on the KidLit TV website. Authors, illustrators, parents, teachers or kid lit fans can use this content for reference, advice or take part in any of the activities promoted on the site. For all the latest happenings and information on kid lit related to publishing, writing, technology, community and more, be sure to check our website for daily news updates. We are a team who invites every new idea and supports our community with open arms.

Want to learn more about us? Visit us on:               kidlit-sitelogo-small
• YouTube––Subscribe to our channel for KidLit TV’s original videos, our curated video collection, and our special live streaming events!
• Facebook––Join our KidLit TV Facebook Group where authors and illustrators help each other create and fine-tune book trailers, how-to videos, welcome videos, and more.
• Twitter––Follow @nymediaworks to see what we’re up to, get behind-the-scenes sneak-peeks, and get the latest industry news!
• Pinterest––Follow our Pinterest boards for everything fun, education, and inspiring in the world of children’s literature.

Musings on Ice Cream and Picture Books

Musings on Ice Cream and Picture Books
by Beth Ferry                     beth Ferry

I’ve been thinking a lot about ice cream lately.
Maybe because summer is finally more than a distant memory or enticing dream.
Maybe because dream rhymes with cream.
Or maybe because Tom Lichtenheld sketched this adorable scene of Stick and Stone.

s&s ice cream


(For more of Tom’s brilliance, check out: or his website:

But whatever the reason, there it is – ice cream.
At the forefront of my brain.
I am a little amazed by the sheer variety of ice cream flavors that exist.
Over 1,800 according to The Committee for the Analysis and Debate of the Various Aspects of Ice Cream.

Some are tart; some are sweet.
Some are creamy; some are crunchy.
Some are rich; some are light.
My favorite is mint-chocolate chip.
It is sweet, yet refreshing.
Creamy, yet crunchy.
But I also like soft chocolate with chocolate sprinkles.
And vanilla with almonds and peanut butter.
And root beer floats.
It all depends on my mood and the weather and if pumpkins are growing in my garden.
Sometimes their names appeal to me almost as much as their taste.

Blondies are a Swirl’s Best Friend
Monkey Wrench
Pumpkin Praline Pecan
Twixx Fixx
Winter White Chocolate
Witches Brew

There’s alliteration
and word play
and rhyme.
So, of course, my mind wanders to picture books.
The sheer volume and variety.
The intriguing titles that make me want to dive right in.
And of course, their deliciousness.

Picture books are pretty delicious.
Bite-sized books that satisfy and refresh.
Different books for every palate.
Books that make us laugh.
Books that touch our hearts.
Books that teach us something.
Books we can’t forget.
We each have our favorites.
You know what you like, don’t you?

I like the bite of a surprise ending.
And the crunch of some good word play.
I like the creamy smoothness of alliteration.
And a sprinkling of internal rhyme.
A drizzle of Ooohh.
A splash of Ahhhh.
All topped off with the swirl of brilliant illustrations and my perfect picture book sundae is made!
There’s only one word needed: YUM!

Now writing this ice cream dream of a picture book is a whole Nutter Butter Batter.
I mean – A Whole Other Matter.

I might just have some ice cream while I try!

Beth Ferry is the author of Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, available April 7, 2015.      2014-01-30 07.32.40She is also the author of Land Shark, coming August 4, 2015 and Pirate’s Perfect Pet setting sail in the Fall of 2016. Her latest picture book, Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more at

Thank You Sussex Ave. School

Yesterday I had the joy and privilege to do a SKYPE visit with the Sussex Ave. School in Morristown, NJ.  I spent some time with Antoinette Lubrano’s fourth grade class who read and discussed WHEELS OF CHANGE.  They asked wonderful questions about the writing process, how I did research for the book and who my favorite characters were.  posterThe students also did some amazing projects about the book that they shared with me. Here’s the link to a glogster post:   Emma made this Animoto video about Emily and Henry…the man Papa hired to be his blacksmith in the story.    Catherine Gaynor made a poster about how she and Emily were alike and different.   Many thanks to all the students in Ms. Lubrano;s class for making my visit such a memorable one. You boys and girls ROCK!

Ms. Lubrano's 4th grade class, Sussex Ave. School, Morris, NJ

Ms. Lubrano’s 4th grade class, Sussex Ave. School, Morris, NJ

Catherine Gaynor's poster.

Catherine Gaynor’s poster.


It’s strawberry season!  I don’t know about you, but after a winter of apples, oranges, and bananas, I always look forward to local, organic strawberries.  Take a look at the ones I picked up at the local farm today:   2014-05-26 22.10.12

Yes…they taste even more amazing than they look!  If you are fortunate enough to have an organic farm close by that sells these gems, don’t hesitate to buy them  Once you’ve eaten an organic berry that is locally grown…not shipped across the country… it will be hard to accept anything else.  But for those who don’t have access to a local organic farm, try the next best thing…PICK YOUR OWN STRAWBERRIES.  Check local farms in your area that allow you and your children to pick your own berries.  It’s a great way to get kids to enjoy the “fruits” of their own labor ( pun intended). Local berries are often a better option than those you buy in the supermarket since they are less likely to be heavily sprayed with pesticides since they don’t have to be shipped anywhere.

So, in celebration of STRAWBERRIES, why not make make some for dessert tonight?  All you need are:  Strawberries and…

You really don’t need anything else, but IF YOU INSIST on something sweeter, try:

1. Slicing them onto pound cake or ice cream and adding whipped cream.

2. Throw some into yogurt or in a smoothie.

3. Melt some morsels or dark chocolate and dip the berries into it.  Set on a waxed paper covered tray or cookie sheet and refrigerate until chocolate hardens.  What better way to enjoy two of the best foods around.

What is your favorite way to enjoy strawberries?