YA Book Review For WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper

Thanks to a random drawing on Kathy Temean’s website Writing and Illustrating for Children  https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/  I recently won a copy of a beautiful book: Vesper Stamper’s debut YA titled WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS. Not only is it a wonderful read, it is a piece of art. Thick pages, like the canvas of a painting, with illustrations and images painted with words that make me want to share this story with the world.  Here is my review for this special book:

WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper is an exquisitely told tale of despair, hope, love and how music has the power to heal even the most damaged souls. 

What the Night Sings

I knew this would be an amazing book from the moment I held it in my hands. The weight of it, the thickness of each page, the light and shadow of each illustration reinforced my assumption that this was a story to be reckoned with. A force that should not be denied. A serious tale that will imprint itself into the psyche, like the horrific numbers branded onto the arms of holocaust survivors. 

Gerta is a survivor of the death camps and lived through the horror of watching so many loved ones, including her beloved Papa, die. Singing meant everything to her – before.  Before the rounding up, before the detainment, before the concentration camps. When liberation finally came, Gerta lost her voice and had to be content with playing her Papa’s viola.  Alone, with her whole life in front of her, how can Gerta find her place, her peace, her voice and maybe even love in this uncertain world?

This story will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

“A tour de force. This powerful story of love, loss, and survival is not to be missed.” –KRISTIN HANNAH, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

“…will leave readers gasping.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Generously illustrated with Stamper’s haunting spot images and larger scenes, all in deep brown hues that evoke profound emotion, the book is a strong addition to the bookshelf of Holocaust fiction.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The narrative is spare but powerful as it depicts the daily horrors of the camps and the struggle to survive, hold on to humanity and, once freed, understand how to live again.”—School Library Journal, starred review

Vesper Stamper   Vesper Stamper was born in Nuremberg, Germany and raised in New York City. Her family was an eclectic mix of engineers, musicians and artists who didn’t think Voltaire too tough for bedtime reading, Chopin Valses too loud for wake-up calls, or precision slide rules too fragile as playthings. She married filmmaker Ben Stamper right out of college, and together they have two wildly creative children. When Vesper earned her MFA in Illustration from School of Visual Arts, Ben gave her an orange tree. She illustrates and writes under its leaves and blossoms at her grandfather’s old drafting table, in the pine woods of the Northeast.

And The Winners Are…

Many thanks to those who shared their thoughts regarding the post on GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY on July 15.  Kim Pfennigwerth and I are happy to announce the winners of our give-away. Drum roll please…

Winner of : THE WAR OF ART: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creativity Battles by Steven Pressfield is….Cynthia Mackey

Winner of: LIGHT THE DARK: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process by Joe Fassler is…Kathy Oldham

Winner of: MG book JUST ONE THING by Nancy Viau is…Linda Mitchell

Winner of: $10.00 Barnes & Noble Gift Card is: Robin Newman

Congratulations to the winners and thanks for sharing your generosity with the world. xo

Barn Swallows: On the Fly by Shiela Fuller

Every May, the barn swallows return to my farm.  While I do have a barn, I have about ten nests attached to my house.  These mud constructed homes for baby birds are found on top of ceiling fan blades, light fixtures, built in to the corners where walls meet, and in one location, attached to the siding. These active, cheerful birds call my house, home.

Chattering and darting every which way through the summer air, barn swallows are identified by their blue metallic back feathers, their cream to reddish underbelly, and their most striking field mark is their forked tail.  Barn swallows catch and eat insects on the fly. They also drink on the fly while skimming low over a marsh or pond.  They typically eat moths, flies, dragonflies, and other flying insects. Swallows are found throughout the world, but barn swallows are most common.  They are usually found in open habitats, farm fields, beaches, and over water.

Barn swallows are migratory birds leaving my property in late September and returning in April. To me, they indicate that spring weather is close to follow.

It is the male barn swallow that typically arrives at the previous year’s breeding location. The swallows build cup shaped nests using mud as the glue while attaching feathers, horsehair, grass, and other found materials.  Reusing nests year after year, the swallows apply a new mud covering. Both male and females are stern defenders of their nest and will “mob” intruders like cats, hawks, or people.

In North America, it has been observed that barn swallows will sometimes build nests on structures underneath an osprey nest.  The swallows receive protection from the fish-eating osprey (they don’t eat swallows) and the swallows protect the osprey nest from intruders with their warning chirps.

Barn swallows are very often found in backyards but do not eat at backyard bird feeders.  It may be possible to attract them by putting up manmade nest cups long before the birds’ migration north.  A supply of mud is also helpful.  It is nice to have a healthy colony of swallows living nearby as they help in keeping the insect population down.  Anything that eats mosquitoes is a win on my farm.

Photo 1: This is the barn swallow collecting nest building or rebuilding supplies

barnswallow 1

Photo 2: you can see the mud constructed nest with babies and the nest placement on a fan blade.

barnswallow 2

Photo 3: In this photo, you can see the babies being fed by a parent thanks to the clearly identifiable forked tail.

swallow 3

“All of the photos were taken from a respectable distance, some from inside my home, with a high zoom lens.”

To learn more about these fascinating birds visit:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/lifehistory

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

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/barn-swallow

http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Hirundo_rustica/

 

 

 

 


 

 

Deborah Zemke Presents: TALE OF A SCAREDY DOG.

Author/Illustrator Deborah Zemke has just released the third book in her popular BEA GARCIA Chapter Book Series.  I am thrilled to be able to spread the word.  Here’s Deborah:
The third book of my Bea Garcia chapter book series, 
Tale of a Scaredy Dog,is out!
BeaandSophieBea Garcia’s beloved dog, Sophie, is smart, sweet, loyal, and brave—until she meets the monster cat who lives next door. 
sophieandbk
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* “Bea Garcia is an honest and funny protagonist with whom readers will identify and want to check back with regularly.” —School Library Journal, starred review.
My Life in Pictures strikes me as the best of the new crop (of chapter books).”–New York Times

Here’s what other critics have to say about this award-winning series:

 

“There isn’t anything real or imaginary that the endearing Bea cannot draw…Readers will find inspiration to write, draw, explore, and imagine.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[Zemke] clearly shows how art, self-expression, and humor can be solid allies when life doesn’t go as planned.”  —Publishers Weekly

“The everyday ups and downs of Bea’s life will be familiar to readers, who are sure to appreciate Bea’s perky humor.” —Booklist

“Zemke has a gift for portraying the trials and tribulations of elementary school…. A promising launch to this new series. Pass this one to aspiring artists, those missing a friend, or anyone who could use a laugh as she navigates childhood.”  —BCCB

You can find Bea and Sophie at your favorite store or online at:
​Help celebrate Bea Day by calling your legislator to fight for liberty and justice for ALL.        Thanks, Deborah
deborah zemke

Deborah Zemke has written and/or illustrated more than fifty books for young readers. She grew up reading, drawing, writing, and climbing trees near Detroit, Michigan and now, many years later, does exactly the same thing in Columbia, Missouri.  

For more about the Bea Garcia series: http://www.bookolage.com/bea-garcia-tale-of-a-scaredy-dog-by-deborah-zemke/

Part 2: Flavors of Summer — Seven Ways to Serve Ice Cream by Marilyn Ostermiller

Attention Ice Cream Lovers: Here’s a challenge to make you smile. Enjoy ice cream served a different way every day for a full week.  These seven suggestions demonstrate how easy and enjoyable this challenge can be. Feel free to include your own favorite ways to serve ice cream as well.

Ala Mode: A fancy way of saying, “I’ll have a scoop of ice cream on top of my pie.” A classic combination is warm apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Banana Split: Cut a banana in half lengthwise and lay together in an oblong bowl. Top with three scoops of ice cream. The classic combination is vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, but use your imagination. Spoon one or more syrups over the ice cream. Hot fudge is a good place to start. Garnish with whipped cream and chopped nuts.

banana_split_with_icecream

Brownie Alaska: Start with a pan of brownies cut in 3-inch-square pieces. Cut slices of ice cream the same size. Keep ice cream in the freezer until time to bake in a 350-degree oven. Make a meringue by beating six large egg whites, a dash of salt, and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar in a mixer, until soft peaks form. Continue to beat while gradually adding 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, until peaks stand alone, when the beater is lifted out of the bowl. Arrange the brownies on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place a slice of ice cream on each brownie. Spoon the meringue over each brownie until no brownie or ice cream is showing. Bake until meringue begins to brown, but no longer than five minutes.

Cone: Legend has it the first ice cream cone was created by a fast-thinking waffle maker at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, when the ice cream vendor in the adjacent booth ran out of cups. He quickly rolled one of his waffles into the shape of a cornucopia and handed it to the ice cream vendor, who filled it with ice cream. The idea quickly caught on. Months earlier, an Italian immigrant to the United States was granted a patent for the ice cream cone. Like they say, great minds think alike.

i cream 2B

Root Beer Float: Place 2 scoops of ice cream into a glass. Hold the glass at an angle and slowly pour 3/4 cup root beer over the ice cream. It will fizz, but take it slowly and it won’t overflow.

Sandwich: Start with two cookies, 2-3 inches in diameter. Spread one with a generous scoop of ice cream, Top it with the other. Sugar, chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies are among the popular choices.

Waffles: Toast frozen waffles or bake batter in a waffle maker. When cooled, top with scoops of ice cream, and syrup or fruit preserves.

For a fun picture book about the joys of ice cream check out SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK by Patricia Keeler.  SCOOP, PIN & MAGNET

Marilyn Ostermiller

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

 

In case you missed Part 1 of this ICE CREAM series, here’s the link:

https://wordpress.com/view/darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com

 

GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY, Round Three:by Kim Pfennigwerth

Sunday July 15 will be National Give Something Away Day and my third post for Darlene’s blog.  

When so many feel our ideals are being pummeled what could we possibly give away that could help combat any of this? More often than not it’s the small things that warm our hearts.

Time, food, clothes, books, money donations, household items. They all show two things—kindness and love.

Giving something away lightens you while it can also brighten the mood or load of someone else. By taking a few moments to reflect on what could be gained by giving something away, more often than not, it is the small things that warm our hearts.

A child taking our hand, either out of trust or eagerness to show us something, gives us warmth and joy. Reading a book aloud to someone, making time for conversation, gives something to both people—a happy connection.

Feeling your spirits lift is a joy than cannot be described but lifting another’s spirit is even more immeasurable. Wish someone a better day or give away some fresh baked cookies. Look at what volunteer organizations need and how you can help. But above all give yourself a smile while giving someone else a boost.

As a writer I collect a lot of books. My giveaway is two books. A ‘writer’s block’ busting read THE WAR of ART: Breakthrough the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creativity Battles by Steven Pressfield and LIGHT THE DARK: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, And the Artistic Process by Joe Fassler. 

just-one-thing-cover         Darlene’s giveaway is a book:  JUST ONE THING by Nancy Viau, I middle grade story of a boy trying to lose a dreaded nickname as he enters middle school, hoping to find the one thing he is good at. 

Darlene is also giving away a $10.00 gift card to Barnes&Noble.

Let us know what your plans are and get in the running for our third giveaway.

To win one of these prizes – chosen randomly – leave a comment about something you’ve shared and what happened as a result.  Darlene will put your name in a basket and pick 4 winners – one for each prize.  If you share the post on Twitter or FB, let us know so we can add your name a second time to the entries.

From myself and Darlene—enjoy a warm-your-heart, happiness spreading National Give Something Away Day!  For everything we give away, we get back so much more in return. xo     diverse-hands

Kim Pfennigwerth is a lover of books, animals, children, and kindness in no particular order. She is often spotted in a bookstore or library reading piles of picture books while revising and writing her own manuscripts.

Celebrate July With the Flavors of Summer by Marilyn Ostermiller

If you need a reason to indulge in ice cream, here it is: July is National Ice Cream Month. It has been, since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation. Other flavors of summer celebrated this month as well, are baked beans, hot dogs and blueberries.

My favorite ice cream memory is a generous bowl of pistachio gelato my husband and I shared at the ancient town square in Taormina, Sicily, atop a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean, on a summer Sunday. Children played soccer nearby. Families strolled home from church. I savored the crunch of chopped nuts in every bite of that creamy green confection, served in a frosty, stemmed goblet.

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Ice cream has been enjoyed throughout history:

  • Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar (D. 54-86) is said to have frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
  • Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what we call sorbet.

It wasn’t until the 1800s, though, the invention of insulated ice houses and other commercial equipment made it possible for ice cream to be widely enjoyed around the world.

Vanilla is the popular flavor, according to a survey conducted last year by the International Dairy Foods Association. The next four most popular flavors, were chocolate, cookies ’n cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.

chocolate-close-up-cone-161420

The trend is toward unusual flavor couplings. For example, The Bent Spoon, in Princeton, N.J., specializes in small batch ice cream and sorbets using local and organic ingredients. Ricotta-pistachio, strawberries and elderflower, banana chunk, crème fraîche, school garden mint nib, pink rose, and lavender and mascarpone, were among the 28 flavors chilling in the display case on a recent day. https://www.facebook.com/pg/the-bent-spoon-132592140111950/reviews/?ref=page_internal

There are plenty of family friendly ways to churn a batch of ice cream at home, ranging from hand crank freezers to electric freezers that create ice cream in about 30 minutes.

Here are two books to get you started:

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker by Robin Donovan and published by Rockridge Press. It features such time-tested flavors as Cookies and Cream, Classic Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Red Velvet. The easy-to-follow recipes are all based on one classic base. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXY0ANB/ref=rdr_ext_sb_pi_hist_3  

  • The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker    

Marilyn will return later this month with PART 2 of the history of ICE CREAM.

 

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