Amalia Hoffman Presents a New PB: My Monsterpiece + a give-away!

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Today it is my pleasure to feature one of my favorite picture book author/illustrators AMALIA HOFFMAN with her newest creation MY MONSTERPIECE. Here’s my review of this delightful book: 

“MY MONSTERPIECE by Amalia Hoffman is a charming and delightful story! LOVE the color and creativity of the art and the message that a monster is in the eye of the beholder and creator. We may all see things differently, but find joy and delight in it anyway. Oh what fun it will be for little ones to make their own monsterpieces. A celebration of creativity and imagination.”

For a chance to win a copy of this delightful book, leave a comment at the end of this post. Your name will then be entered in the give-away. If you share the post on social media, I will put your name in twice.

I asked Amalia where she got the inspiration for this clever and creative story. Here’s her answer:

My inspiration for My Monsterpiece was the many years I worked with young children. I decided to create my monsters for the book with art supplies that kids actually use. Children are very free in their creative process. They love bright colors and will doodle on any torn paper, the kitchen table, wall — anything!   Well, I didn’t doodle on my table or wall, but I did paint on a supermarket shopping bag, crumbled bits of paper, and even paper plates. In some illustrations, I glued on yarn, glitter, buttons and even fruit loops. Kids love to get their hands messy. So I dipped my fingers in gooey blobs of paint. It was very therapeutic. A lot of the art in the book was painted with my fingers, rather then with brushes. I also spritzed paint with a toothbrush, letting the bits of color drop where they may. I wanted each illustration to celebrate kid’s colorful art. At the end of the day, my studio was a mess but I felt liberated!

I was inspired to create a book that will be funny and entertaining but will have a non-preachy message that when we free ourselves from bias and stereotyping, our word is more colorful and we can befriend each other even if we don’t look or behave in the same way.

Apparently, I was a very temperamental child. When I got angry with my mom and dad, I used to punish them by tearing the greeting cards I created for their birthdays and anniversaries.  Years later, when I visited my parents who lived in Jerusalem, I found an envelope with all the bits of torn art that my father saved. When I created My Monsterpiece, I showed the kid’s frustration by creating one spread that feature the kid’s torn monsters.

I remember that when I was about 8, I entered a contest, sponsored by a children’s magazine, to draw a scary witch. Apparently, just like the kid in my book, mine didn’t scare anyone and I didn’t win.

The book includes activities and art projects kids can easily accomplish with materials readily available like paper bags, crayons, glue, markers.

Amalia Hoffman is an author, illustrator and storyteller.Her picture book, The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero (Capstone Publishing, 2019, illustrated by Chiara Fedele) is a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection book.All Colors (Schiffer Publishing, 2019) made the list of best board books, 2019, chosen by School Library Journal. Dreidel Day (Lerner Publishing Group, 2018) is a PJ Library book and received the PJ Library Author Incentive Award.

She is also the author/illustrator of Astro Pea (Schiffer Publishing, 2019.) Her picture book, My Monsterpiece is coming up from Yeehoo Press, March, 2021. Hanukkah Nights (Lerner Publishing Group, 2022) received the first PJ Library Incentive Award for an author and illustrator. Masha Munching is coming up from Yeehoo Press in spring 2021.

Amalia is a participating artist at ArtsWestchester, a cultural organization that pairs artists and writers with schools and community centers. She holds a Masters degree in art and art education from New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honor from Pratt Institute.

Visit Amalia at http://www.amaliahoffman.com

SQUIRREL FUN FACTS For Squirrel Appreciation Day.

Today, January 21, 2021 is Squirrel Appreciation Day. Many of us may consider squirrels no more than bushy-tailed rats and a pest to backyard gardens, parks, and the like. But these members of the rodent family are interesting and helpful members of the food chain. For instance, did you know that squirrels can find food buried up to a foot deep under snow? They avoid predators by running in a zigzag pattern. Squirrels sometimes “trick” rivals by digging a hole and pretending to bury a nut when they really don’t. Many of their buried nuts and seeds end up turning into new trees!

Sounds like there is a lot going on in those small brains! If you take a moment to watch these fascinating creatures , you’ll see some amazing things.

There are some fun websites with lots of kid-friendly facts and activities about squirrels.

https://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/animals/squirrel.html

https://easyscienceforkids.com/all-about-squirrels/

Here is a short video with some fun facts about our backyard neighbors:

Here are some recent books written for children that feature our friendly neighborhood squirrels.

Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines
Book 1 in the series

The EVOLUTION REVOLUTION Series by Charlotte Bennadro, Illustrated by Cathleen Daniels

These three chapter books show the clever abilities of squirrels.

Here is the link for Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/evolution-revolution-charlotte-bennardo/1124455042?ean=9781534903210

SQUIRRELS FAMILY TREE by Beth Ferry

Squirrel's Family Tree

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=squirrels+family+tree&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Celebrate National Gluten Free Day With…Recipes

While I am not technically allergic to gluten, I have recently found I can be sensitive and have some digestive issues if I indulge in too much of it. So, I have been incorporating some gluten-free recipes into my diet and have enjoyed them. I now make most of my muffins and cookies with almond flour and a gluten-free baking mix. I had a delicious plate of gluten-free spaghetti with clam sauce for dinner the other day.

While it used to be tricky finding products on grocery shelves that were gluten-free, that is no longer the case. If you’ve been curious about what these products taste like, or if you want to try baking some of your favorite recipes using gluten-free ingredients, now is the perfect time. Wednesday, January 13, 2021 is NATIONAL GLUTEN-FREE DAY.

Here is a recipe for a delicious flour-less chocolate cake. The texture is reminiscent of a fudge brownie.

For other gluten-free baking ideas check out:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/1695/healthy-recipes/gluten-free/desserts/

Give gluten-free baking a try. Everything I’ve baked so far tastes like the standard version, without any digestive distress.

A Different Resolution for 2021: Practicing Gratitude.

We have all weathered a unique storm in 2020. Now we are in a new year and while the COVID 19 virus is still with us, and some of us have suffered with it, some of us have lost loved ones to it, we have all come through it. Through acts of kindness, whether it be wearing masks to protect one another, leaving treats for neighbors, calling friends and loved ones to keep in touch, checking in on those who are alone and lonely, or just letting others know we are here for them, WE ARE STILL TOGETHER EVEN THOUGH WE MAY BE ALONE. A vaccine is available and we can look to the future with hope.

Every year I, like many of us, look forward to a new year as a time to start fresh. Set goals. Take stock. Resolve to do things better, or at least differently.

This year I suggest something different. This year let us focus on GRATITUDE.

GRATITUDE: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

How can we practice Gratitude?

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things each day that you are grateful for.
  • Collect your gratitude in a jar. Write something you are grateful for on a sticky note and put it in an empty jar. Watching it fill up will give your gratitude an additional boost.
  • Tell someone how much they are appreciated. You can call, send a text or e-mail, or even write a letter.

There are many things that I am grateful for in this New Year. Focusing on Gratitude adds light and sunshine to the darkness, and hope to our despair. AND, numerous studies have shown that folks who practice gratitude are less likely to be depressed, and more likely to feel optimistic about life and circumstances. It even helps you get a better night’s sleep!

https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/

I am grateful to share this with all of you out there and wish you a New Year full of blessings and gratitude.