Just Add a Whale by Beth Ferry + Win a Free Copy

Writers are always asked where their ideas come from. Sometimes I know exactly when and where an idea originated.

I heard a song.   I saw a squirrel.    I read a really cool word.

I try to remember now, because, as I said, writers are always asked.  I get many of my ideas from word play, because that’s my favorite kind of writing.  But I have never gotten an idea from a piece of art.

Until now.

In March of 2015, I was lucky enough to see these adorable pieces by Lisa Mundorff.

Lisa and I share the same agent, so I was given the opportunity to create a story based on these pictures.

Since it was something I had never done before, I was excited.

This sounded fun.  And easy!

I wrote one story about penguins and rainbows.

Then another about rainbows and penguins.

And another.

And another.

And you get the idea.

I wrote in rhyme.

I wrote in prose.

I wrote a short story, then a long one.

Ultimately, I couldn’t do it.  I just didn’t have a story in me about penguins and rainbows.

Weeks passed, then months.  5 months to be exact.  Then I thought about a whale.

Why?

No matter how hard I try, I cannot think why I thought of a whale, but once the whale popped into my head, I knew I had a story.

And I wrote it!

The whale was the key; the unexpected character that changed the direction of the dead end I was cruising down.

In August 2015, Lisa read it and liked it.  So did our agent!

Lisa sketched out the story and then in January 2016, we sold A Small Blue Whale to Knopf.

It is a story about a whale searching for a friend, who just happens to be those silly rainbow-chasing penguins.

So ultimately, I did write a story about penguins and rainbows, but it took the addition of the whale, something new and unexpected, to make the story come to life.

Writing this book taught me that whatever I assume is going to be easy will never be easy. And things that I assume will be hard will actually be hard!  It also taught me to think a little bigger, even if that bigger is a small blue whale.

Beth Ferry is a picture book writer who lives near the beach in New Jersey. She is the author of numerous picture books illustrated by amazing artists. Her titles include A Small Blue Whale, published October 2017 as well as Stick and Stone, Land Shark, Pirate’s Perfect and Sealed with a Kiss which will be published for Valentine’s Day 2019.    

Would you like a signed copy of A SMALL BLUE WHALE?   Let us know in the comment section and I will enter your name.  If you share this post of Twitter or FB, I will enter your name again.  Reblog it, and get a third entry.   The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, December 6, 2017.  US residents only, please.

 

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Hess Truck = STEM Smarts.

While my son was growing up, one of the favorite traditions during the holiday season was the gift of a new HESS TRUCK.  These toys made their debut at Hess gas stations in 1964 and have gained in popularity over the years. Many kids receive these toys and have kept them as part of a collection.  My son has three such trucks tucked away and will no doubt hand them down to his children one day. The toys are considered collectibles and not available in stores.

This season features a DUMP TRUCK AND LOADER – with an added component: STEM lessons!

Available for FREE DOWNLOAD is a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curriculum with eight lessons – all featuring the truck.  The curriculum can be used for home or school use and teaches kids about LIFTING FORCES, LEVERAGE, DEGREES OF FREEDOM, and other concepts.

Visit:  http://www.hesstoytruck.com

Kids Can Build: Free Hands-on Workshops at the Home Depot.

Do you have a child who loves working with her hands?  Does he enjoy taking things apart or building things from scratch?  Or, do you want to teach your child the proper way to use tools while creating something hand-made and original?  Try signing him or her up for one of the MONTHLY kids classes at your local Home Depot.

A recent class had children building a Military Appreciation Humvee.   Other projects have included: fire trucks, birdhouses, picture frames, toolboxes, mail organizers, race cars and many more.

These classes are FREE and the store will provide all the materials needed to complete a project.  Classes take place one Saturday each month and begin around 9AM, usually lasting a few hours.  BUT…YOU must register in advance to make sure your child has a spot.  Spaces can fill up quickly. 

The Home Depot Kids Workshop is for children ages 5-12. An adult will need to stay with the child during the entirety of the Home Depot Kids Workshop.

Interested?  Here’s information from the site on how to register:

Visit Home Depot Weekly Workshops and click on the Kids Workshops tab to view the project for the upcoming Home Depot Kids Workshop.

Click the Register button and your local Home Depot by using the Find Store button.Select the store you’d like to take your child to and choose the workshop day and time.

To complete the registration, you’ll need to fill out your name, email address, number of kids attending and their names and birthdates.

Fall Into Reading…Picture Books for Fall and Thanksgiving.

Celebrate Picture Book Month by reading some great picture books about Fall and Thanksgiving.  There are so many titles – classic and new – that you will have no trouble finding something for every child. Here are a few sites with lots of options:

https://delightfulchildrensbooks.com/2011/09/18/autumn/

http://www.southernliving.com/culture/best-new-fall-books-for-kids#goodnight-lab-ferrie-new-kids-books

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Childrens-Thanksgiving/zgbs/books/3090

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/book-list/holidays-celebrations/thanksgiving-books-kids

Curl up with your favorite kid and open up a picture book…you never know where it might take you!  

 

 

 

 

Fall Menus Warm Us Within: by Marilyn Ostermiller

When days grow shorter and leaves turn flamboyant, we gravitate toward foods that warm us within:

  • Four-alarm chili at the tailgating party.
  • Steaming mugs of apple cider at the Harvest Festival.
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte to go from Starbucks.

There’s something about fall that especially makes me want to spice the air with cinnamon and simmering soup.  Here are some perfect recipes you and your kids can make to compliment the fall season.

Baked Oatmeal 

There’s nothing like starting the day with a hearty bowl of hot cereal. This Martha Stewart recipe appealed to me because it includes a generous portion of fresh berries, bananas and toasted almonds. It bakes for 35 to 40 minutes, so save this one for a leisurely morning or weekend brunch. https://www.marthastewart.com/1050163/baked-oatmeal

Butternut Squash Soup.

I make a habit of ordering butternut squash soup in restaurants to sample all the variations. For cooking at home, I like this recipe that incorporates a Granny Smith apple and doesn’t rely on heavy cream for its flavor and consistency. Instead, the ingredients are cooked and pureed.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes  /butternut_squash_apple_soup/

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice

This has become  a popular flavor for a host of packaged snacks. The name refers to the mix of spices that have been used for making pumpkin pie since at least the 1890s. It’s easy to make and have on hand for pie as well as cookies or pumpkin bread.

Mix together:

  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon                 
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves

Store in a small jar to have on hand for all the fall recipes that call for it.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/how-to-make-pumpkin-pie-spice/

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.   

 

https://www.dessertnowdinnerlater.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Homemade-Pumpkin-Pie-Spice2.jpg

Girls Who Code: A New Book by Reshma Saujani

Author Reshma Saujani is on a mission: To narrow the gender gap in technology by teaching girls and young women computer skills.  Her book helps DECODE the basics of coding and gets girls “revved up” to create their own game or app.

GIRLS WHO CODE: LEARN TO CODE AND CHANGE THE WORLD by Reshma Saujani.  To order the book on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=girls+who+code+learn+to+code+and+change+the+world&sprefix=Girls+Who+Code%2Cstripbooks%2C141&crid=3J6SB2A8AUFFC

Here are some other recent STEM picks:

  1. OSMO CODING JAM: Allows kids to create original music.    http://www.playosmo.com
  2. KANO COMPUTER KIT: Build and code a computer from scratch + learn the programming languages like Javascript and Python.                                  http://www.kano.me)
  3. LITTLE BITS CODE KIT: Kids in grades 3-8 can invent four different games.  http://www.littlebits.cc