AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: An Interview with Zonderkidz picture book author Glenys Nellist (PLUS a CRAFT and a GIVEAWAY!)


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Originally posted on Laura Sassi Tales:
Today, in celebration of the release of the board book LITTLE LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD (Zonderkidz, 2015) I am delighted to be interviewing author Glenys Nellist.  She’s here as part of her blog tour. And since Valentine’s…

Bring in the Chinese New Year With Paper Lanterns.

Today is the Beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the year of the Monkey.

Why Do People Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Spring Festival DecorationBuying red lanterns for Chinese New Year

Although there are many interesting legends and stories explaining the start of the Chinese New Year festival, the main two reasons for the festival are:

  • To celebrate a year of hard work, have a good rest, and relax with family
  • To wish for a lucky and prosperous coming year

Chinese people believe that a good start to the year will lead to a lucky year. Chinese traditionally celebrated the start of a new year of farm work, and wished for a good harvest (when most were farmers). This has now evolved to celebrating the start of a new business year and wishing for profits and success in various vocations.

You and your children can join in the celebration by making some simple PAPER LANTERNS. All you need is colorful paper and a pair of scissors, glue or tape and a string to hang if you wish.

2015-01-29 20.16.08         Fold the paper in half and cut strips about 1 inch apart leaving a 1 inch border at the end as shown.    2015-01-29 20.17.19



2015-01-29 20.18.12  When you’re finished cutting, tape or glue the edges together so the lantern can stand up as shown in the photo.  You can also hang them if you wish.    2015-01-29 20.21.34For more ideas and awesome lantern photos, check out these websites:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!        8642238-background-with-chinese-lanterns

A Snowflake in the Slush by Beth Ferry

Living in New Jersey, it is hard not to think about snow during winter.
Personally, I much prefer the singular idea of the snowflake as opposed to the general concept of snow.
Snow is not quite as endearing or beautiful as the single unique flake.    beth Ferry
And we have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike.
Which seems simply impossible, really, given the number of snowflakes that have fallen.
Which is how many, you ask?
Okay – get ready for some math!

According to the Eastern Snow Conference of 2006, the number of snowflakes that have fallen in the history of the earth is 3 x 10 to the 38th power, a truly staggering number.
Much like the number of grains of sand in the world (approx. 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power) or number of stars in the galaxy (approx. 1 x 10 to the 24th power)
Impossible to comprehend.
But there are 1 x 10 to the 19th power water molecules in a typical snow crystal, which allows for the almost infinite number of arrangements.
Okay enough math!

These immense numbers are truly beyond the comprehension of this English major, so back to the unique, single, solitary snowflake.
No matter how unique it is, once mixed with other snowflakes, it basically loses its distinctiveness and becomes, simply, snow.
Which is often how I feel about books on a shelf.
Picture books specifically.
The unique, wonderful book that stirs my heart or makes me laugh or makes me cry becomes just another book, one among thousands, once it is placed on a shelf.
So much like the snowflake.

How can the brilliance of the book shine through when it is shelved, not by degrees of brilliance, but simply alphabetically, by last name?
How many amazing, engaging books have been missed because they were packed tight together in the blizzard that is the bookshelf?
As writers, we need to think of this.
How does our unique snowflake of a book stand out among the flurry of friendship books that exist?
Among the shower of school-themed books?
Among the hail of holiday books?
And, more importantly, how does our manuscript stand out in the slush pile?

Anna Quindlen said “Every story has already been told.”
How true is this?
But she also said, “… that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has every had.”
And how true is that?
So write your friendship story.
Type up that trip-to-the-zoo tale.
Scratch down a sibling story.
Sure, they’ve all been done before, but not quite like we will do it.
Our style, experience, and voice will make a story that has been told before new and distinctive.
We are all snowflakes.
Beautiful, individual and unique.
And so are our stories.                             Land Shark_FC_3D-2

Disclaimer: all numbers are based on quick research and are meant for fun, not fact!

Beth Ferry is the author of Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. and Land Shark, 2015. Pirate’s Perfect Pet is 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

Exercise For the Brain.

When your kids get tired of running around in the snow, and you don’t want them glued to video games while indoors, try some BRAIN GAMES.  There are numerous studies that tout the benefits of exercising our brains with different kinds of games and riddles.  The NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES has put together a collection of riddles and brain teasers for all ages.   Below is a sampling:

PALINDROMES: A palindrome is a word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward.  Example:  POP, DID, CIVIC.   Or this sentence: NOW I WON.  Check out the Palindrome riddles on this site as well as an alphabetical listing of palindrome words.

Can you create a sentence using only Palindrome words?


Where do fish keep their money?     In a riverbank


A man has to get a fox, a chicken, and a sack of corn across a river. He has a rowboat, and it can only carry him and one other thing. If the fox and the chicken are left together, the fox will eat the chicken. If the chicken and the corn are left together, the chicken will eat the corn. How does the man do it?  (CHECK OUT THE SITE FOR THE ANSWER)

You can also print out and play the LEAP FROG BRAIN TEASER GAME.  A perfect activity for a snow day stuck indoors.


Have fun and give your brain some exercise.