Get Crafty For Easter.

With spring finally here, and Easter and Passover right around the corner, there are lots of ways to celebrate the season with crafts and egg decorating. Some of the easiest and festive kids crafts can be found on the RED TED ART sight.  There are 40 Easter crafts using eggs, pompom balls, and readily available materials.  http://www.redtedart.com

When I was a kid, we died eggs by dipping them into cups of colored water.  You can still  do that, but now there are many other ways to decorate eggs for the holiday. You can use non-toxic water color paints to create works of art.  Try paint daubers to make dots, Crayola or other non-toxic markers to draw designs. The Red TED sight has many other ideas for egg decorating.  If you wish to try the Polish art of PISANKY egg dying, you can order your own kit from: http://www.chinaberry.com

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

Here’s a unique way to give out chocolate treats for the holiday:  Create egg-shaped baskets out of balloons and dazzle family and friends with your talent.  Check out the how-tos for MAGIC BALLOON TREATS  at: http://www.thewhoot.com.au

Happy Easter and Happy crafting!

Book Giveaway: WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper

Writing and Illustrating

Illustrator Vesper Stamper has agreed to give away a copy of her debut young adult novel WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS to one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

For fans of The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas comes a lushly illustrated novel about a teen Holocaust survivor, who must come to terms with who she is and how to rebuild her life.

After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated…

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Heal The Earth Classroom Contest.

After the long winter, kids in your classroom may long to get outside and play or explore.  Why not make it part of the curriculum?  Perfect for Earth Day or Arbor Day, here’s a contest your classroom can participate in to show ways we can help heal the earth. 

http://healtheearthclassroomcontest.pagedemo.co/

The contest is open to classroom teachers and librarians.  Winners will receive a signed copy of Author Julian Lennon’s new book HEAL THE EARTH.

What creative activities and projects can your class come up with that promote a positive message about taking care of Planet Earth?  Check the website for rules and entry forms

All submissions must be received by midnight EST on Monday, April 30.

Book Give-away: GRANDMOTHER THORN by Katey Howes

Here is the second book in my series of give-aways.  The delightful and beautifully illustrated picture book GRANDMOTHER THORN by Katey Howes.

To be in the running for a copy, leave a comment on this post. I will enter your name in the random drawing.  I hope you will consider writing a review of the book on Amazon.com or Goodreads.com.  It is one of the best ways to spread the word about good books. Winner will be announced here on Wednesday, 4-4-2018. 

Here’s my review:

“Told in folktale fashion, GRANDMOTHER THORN is an exquisitely hand-crafted, artistic story destined to become a classic. A tale of stubbornness, persistence, and learning to accept that even a careful and determined gardener is no match for Mother Nature. When we open our heart to surprise – and throw away the notion of perfection – the reward can be life-changing. Pretty powerful message for a delightful children’s book.”

 

 

 

Fun Facts on Flying Squirrels by Shiela Fuller.

GLIDERS OF THE NIGHT

Most of us are familiar with the gray squirrel that is found in parks and backyards but did you know there is a squirrel, also found in parks and backyards, that flies?  They do not fly with wings as birds do but glide through the air with a web of skin connecting their wrist to their ankle, called apatagium.    This excess web of skin is easily observed in this photo.

Flying squirrels like to eat nuts, seeds, insects, bird eggs, flower buds, mushrooms and fungi.

Usually the flying squirrel nests in cavities in old trees but occasionally will build a leaf nest called a drey, like the gray squirrel, or use a nest box.

Build a flying squirrel nest box for shelter and place it on tree in your own neck of the woods and try to attract them with food, and a source of water.

In this picture, the nature walk guide opened up the nest box.

In winter, many flying squirrels of varying ages will occupy one cavity or nest box to maintain warm body temperatures during the cold.  When supplying nest boxes,  it is important to put up more than one box, so the squirrels can chose among them.  Once you know your boxes have squirrel families residing in them, give them their space, as you would any wild animal, otherwise the squirrels may relocate.

Flying squirrels are nocturnal and because of this they have extra-long whiskers, better for touching things in the dark, keen eyesight, and very sharp hearing.  Because they are nocturnal, the flying squirrel is a preferred food for nocturnal predators like eastern screech owls, great horned owls, martens, foxes and coyotes. Of course, squirrels also fall prey to snakes, hawks, and domestic cats.

The best way to see flying squirrels is on a guided night hike in an area where they are known to live.  Reach out to your local state park for more information on night hikes and ask about the kinds of animals seen.  Each February at the Eagle Festival in Mauricetown, NJ, a guided walk is taken along the Glades Wildlife Refuge.  If you’re lucky, you might just see a flying squirrel.

https://www.cumauriceriver.org/event/eagle-festival/

http://www.animalspot.net/northern-flying-squirrel.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_flying_squirrel

http://www.nestboxbuilder.com/pdf/FlyingSquirrelNestbox4.pdf

 

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.

 

Why Freedom of Information is Important.

As writers and book authors, we value the written word and our protected right to express our views without fear of imprisonment, censorship or various other punishments.  Many people are not so fortunate.  Today’s post celebrates our right to KNOW what takes place in this country we call a Democracy.

Take a moment to recognize what we take for granted: the right to demonstrate and express opposing points of view; the right to read whatever we want to; the right to ask our leaders to change laws we don’t think are working; the right to know what goes on behind the doors of government.

Tomorrow is FREEDOM OF INFORMATION DAY.  Here is more information from http://www.ilovelibraries.org  about this important aspect of our freedom:

Freedom of Information Day 2018: Liberty and open access to all

By jfalcon on March 8, 2018

On March 16, we celebrate the anniversary of former President James Madison. But that day, we also celebrate the legacy he and the founders of this country left us – open government.

Madison, known as the Father of the United States Constitution, once wrote that a “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

http://www.ilovelibraries.org/article/freedom-information-day-2018-liberty-and-open-access-all

 

Teacher Resources 2: YA Author Yvonne Ventresca.

Here is the second selection in the series of CURRICULUM GUIDES AND MATERIALS for use in the classroom based on popular titles.  Today, YA author YVONNE VENTRESCA presents the curriculum guide and core content study questions for her second novel.

Black Flowers, White Lies    

 Black Flowers, Whites Lies is a young adult psychological thriller by Yvonne Ventresca that won the 2017 Gold Medal Independent Publisher’s Award for YA fiction. Sky Pony Press published the hardcover in 2016, and they officially released the paperback version in March.

The paperback includes bonus content, including sample discussion questions for educators. The complete guide was created by Marcie Colleen to help educators use Black Flowers, White Lies for classroom study, book clubs, and independent reading. To download a free copy of the complete educator’s guide, containing over fifty discussion points, activities, and writing prompts, visit Yvonne Ventresca’s website at YvonneVentresca.com.

Black Flowers, White Lies Education Guide: Common Core Alignment for Grades 7-12

 7th grade: ELA.

RI.7.1,2,3,4,5,6,9;; W.7.3a-­e,4;; SL.7.4,5;; L.7.1,2,3

8th grade: ELA.

RI.8.1,2,3,4,6,9;; W.8.3a-­e,4;; SL.8.1a,3,5;; L.8.1,2,3,4a,c,d

9–10th grade: ELA.

RL.9–10.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9;; W.9–10.3a–e,4;; SL.9–10.1,4,5;; L.9–10.1,2,4a,c,d

11–12th grade: ELA.

RL.11–12.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9;; W.11–12.3a–e,4;; SL.11–12.1,4,5;; L.11–12.1,2,4a,c,d

About the free education guide

The education guide encourages analytical thinking and more in-depth discussion of the story. For example, there are suggestions for map-drawing activities, rewriting scenes from a different character’s point of view, and creating a brochure for a walking tour of the setting.

One of the themes of Black Flowers, White Lies is dishonesty. The education guide includes several activities to help students discuss this theme. How does it feel to tell a lie or to discover that someone else has lied? Why are the characters dishonest in the story? Students can play two truths and a lie and practice looking for signs of untruthfulness. They can also investigate topics like gaslighting and how someone’s perceptions can be manipulated.

Sample Activity for Black Flowers, White Lies

Fact vs Perception

Sometimes it is difficult to sort through what is fact and what is perception.

Have someone unannounced (a teacher or a student from a different class) come into your classroom while students are working quietly on a task at their desks. Plan with the mystery visitor ahead of time to make sure he or she does several things in your class during his or her brief visit such as:

  • Borrow something like a book, a craft supply, money, etc.
  • Talk to a student in the class
  • Give a note to the teacher
  • Ask a question
  • Set something down on a table

After the visitor leaves the room, have the students write down as many details as they can remember about the visit.

  • What details do they recall? What was the visitor wearing? How long was the visitor in the room? What did the visitor borrow while in the room? Whom did he or she talk to? What did he or she say?

Once everyone has finished writing, ask students to share their observations. Compare notes. What are the similarities and differences between student reports? Discuss what might be facts and what was simply perception.

Copyright © 2017 by Marcie Colleen. Reproduced with permission from Marcie Collen. All rights reserved.

About the novel:

 Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a connection that transcends the grave. Since her mother disapproves, she keeps her visits to the cemetery where he’s buried secret. But when Ella learns that her mother may have lied about how Dad died sixteen years ago, it’s clear she’s not the only one with secrets. New facts point to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not a car accident as Mom always claimed.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger, as he did once before, or if someone’s playing unsettling tricks on her. But as the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, she finds herself terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone new: Ella herself. What if, like Dad, she’s suffering from a mental breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers—no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

To obtain a free copy of discussion points, activities, and writing prompts, visit YvonneVentresca.com and download the Black Flowers, White Lies education guide.

Laura Sassi Gets Her Diva On + Enter to Win a Copy of Her New PB DIVA DELORES

Today it is my pleasure to be the first stop on a blog tour for picture book Author Laura Sassi’s new book: DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE.  You’ll find other stops on the tour at the end of the post.  Now, here is Laura:

How to Write Picture Books – Diva Style!   by Laura Sassi

Thank you, Darlene, for hosting me on my DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE blog tour. I’m so excited that my protagonists, Delores and Fernando, are finally making their debuts, but as any well-trained diva knows, singing on stage is just the final thrill. What comes before that?  Hours and hours, even years of hard work! But is it all worth it? You bet!   

So now, in celebration of opera and divas and picture books, here are five fun tips for writing picture books – diva style! Enjoy!

1. Go to the opera… a lot!

If you are going to be an opera star, it only makes sense that you immerse yourself in the glorious world of opera by attending operas, listening to opera music, and all-around saturating yourself in all things opera.  Likewise, if you want to write picture books, it only makes sense that you immerse yourself in the world of picture books.  For me, this means making regular trips to the children’s section of my library, or my favorite local bookstore, and reading, reading, reading!  I read with two purposes:  first, just for the pleasure and joy of it, and second… to learn. That’s why I always bring along my writerly opera glasses and a notebook so that I can thoughtfully ponder and record what makes each opera (i.e. picture book) sing… or not.

2. Rehearsal is important. If you want to be a diva, you have to spend time rehearsing and developing your craft. For opera stars, I imagine this means a daily routine of warming up with scales, practicing a variety of pieces, working on voice projection etc. Similarly, if you want to write picture books, you have to be willing to invest the time and effort into writing daily.  My daily writing routine includes free writes (my version of scales), as well as working on a variety of poems, blog posts and the handful of picture book manuscripts I’m playing with any given moment.

3. Control those crescendos.

I’m not an opera expert, but it seems to me that in the field of opera, like in the field of picture book writing – less is more!  I mean divas don’t just cut loose and sing at the top of their lungs willy-nilly!  No, they artistically control their voices so that it plays a magical role in telling the opera’s story. Likewise, as a picture book writer – and especially as one who loves to rhyme – I work hard to control my crescendos so that every word, sound, phrase, action, magically and purposefully moves the story forward.

4. Be confident, yet humble. (i.e. be willing to learn from others)

Confidence is good, but if you want your singing, er writing, to shine, I’ve learned over the years that confidence must be tempered with an open heart, open mind, and gracious spirit when receiving constructive feedback.  As a young writer I thought my writing was fabulous! But now that I’m more seasoned, I look back on those early pieces and cringe. They would definitely have benefited from a little more humility and willingness to productively process and put into place suggestions from more experienced writers!

 

(Which leads me to my last bit of advice.)

5. Everything’s better with a buddy!

As Diva Delores discovers at the opera house, the journey to success is just all-around better with a buddy. Likewise, I’ve found that the picture book writing journey wouldn’t be the same without a nice support system. For me this includes my family, my lovely agent, and the wonderful network of like-minded children’s writers I’ve connected with over the years, many of whom have become dear friends and trusted critique partners. So, my last bit of advice for writing picture books – diva style! – is to find a buddy or two to encourage you and help you grow along the way.


BIO:  Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014) and GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018) and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.

Links:

blog:http://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraSassiTales

Twitter: twitter.com/laurasassitales

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurasassitales/

Here’s the schedule for the blog tour.  Follow the links below to check out each website.

March 8   Darlene Beck Jacobson  TOPIC: Guest post: “How to Be a Picture Book Diva”  – writing tips:   http://www.darlenebeckjacobson.com

March 16:  Susanna Leonard Hill   TOPIC:  Perfect Picture Book Friday Review  – details TBA :   https://susannahill.com/blog/

March 19:  Melissa Stoller   TOPIC: “THREE QUESTION INTERVIEW” on story, creativity, connection- through the lens of DIVA DELORES:   https://www.melissastoller.com/blog

March 23 and 24   Vivian Kirkfield  TOPIC: Cookie Interview/ PPBF:    https://viviankirkfield.com

April 3  Kerry Aradyha  TOPIC:  TBD but something dance/music/opera related because that’s the focus of her lovely children’s blog:  http://kerryaradhya.blogspot.com

April 10   Carol Gordon Ekster   TOPIC: Interview:   https://writersrumpus.com

For a chance to win a copy of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, leave a comment on this post. Your name will be entered in the random drawing.  Share this post on social media and you will get a second chance to win.  Winners will be announced on this blog on 3-28-2018.

A great way to remember and honor your favorite author is to post a review of one of their books on Amazon or Goodreads.  Happy reading.