Got Frogs? How Far Can They Jump?

Today begins the annual Frog Jumping Festival in Angel Camp, CA. (May 13-16, 2021) https://www.fairsandfestivals.net/events/details/2021-calaveras-county-fair-and-jumping-frog-jubilee

This annual event brings people…and their frogs…from all over the country to compete for the title of Best Frog Jumper. Here’s a video that explains the festival:

It all started with a short story from Mark Twain. Now the Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee brings in thousands of people each year to Angel Camp, CA to see which frog can jump the furthest. Want to know the current record? Keep reading…

http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/fair_2019/article_bc10bf22-62db-11e9-bbcb-83a5a278bb1a.html   For an historical account of how it all began with Mark Twain’s short story titled: The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County. In a country weary from the horrific years of   Civil War, Twain’s story published in the November 18, 1865 issue of the Saturday Press (CA), provided much appreciated relief. It was quickly reprinted in newspapers across the country, turning an unknown author into an overnight sensation.

Sponsored image

 

https://marktwainhouse.org/robotics  A robotic version of the frog jumping contest held at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT

Sponsored image

So, how far did the winning frog jump in 2019? 13 year-old Logan Busch won with his frog jumping 18′ 6″. His twin sister Madison got second place with her frog jumping 18′ 3 1/4″

Here’s the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCmSnSRBkTc

How far can your frog jump? 

Easter Treats Recall Ancient Myths by Marilyn Ostermiller.

From chocolate bunnies to colored eggs, traditional Easter treats can be traced back to the 13th century.

The Easter Bunny tradition is thought to stem from the German myth of Osterhas, a rabbit said to have laid colored eggs in early spring. In anticipation of his arrival, children made nests for him, according to history.com

easter-1289267-1280

Decorated eggs date back to pagan festivities in the 13th century that also celebrated spring’s arrival. Easter is a Christian holy day marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s traditionally celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.

Recipes for festive Easter sweets abound. Easter egg bread, which involves baking dyed Easter eggs into braided loaves of sweet bread, are attention-getters.  A word of caution, guests can eat the dyed eggs if the loaves are kept refrigerated from the time they are taken out of the oven, until they are served. Otherwise, display your Easter egg bread proudly, but   treat the eggs like you would any nonedible decoration.

thumbnail_IMG_1129Chick and Egg Cupcakes are showstopper on the Easter dinner dessert cart. The recipe is available online on the Food Network app in the App Store. 

Contemporary Easter egg hunts combine the traditions of searching for the eggs left by the Easter bunny with the practice of decorating eggs.

How to produce an Easter egg hunt:

Ask your invited guests to RSVP.

Find a backup location in case of inclement weather, especially if the hunt is for real eggs. Sniffing out an elusive rotten egg weeks later is no fun.

          If you ask invitees to bring their own basket, offer a reward for the most original basket. Designate someone to anonymously judge the baskets before the egg hunt. Reward the winner. Maybe with a five second head start for the egg hunt.

           If you do provide baskets, pails, gift bags or another festive container  remember to keep the size relative to the number of eggs your hunters are likely to find. Basket is a relative term. Gift bags and pails work as well.

          Include about a dozen eggs for each participant.  Artificial grass to line the baskets is a nice touch.

          Hide the eggs strategically based on the ages of the hunters. If the age range is wide, offer two hunts.        egg in tree

DSC_2006-20160406-Easter Egg

          Some hunts rely on hard boiled eggs. Plastic eggs filled with candy, small plastic toys, or money are popular too.

          Prizes are optional.

thumbnail_img_1886Marilyn Ostermiller is a longtime journalist who enjoys tracing the history of traditional holiday foods.

On Earth Day and Everyday…We Can All Do Our Part to Stop Climate Change.

A 2019 study from the Swiss Institute of Integrative Biology suggested that planting 1 trillion trees would dramatically reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and significantly help stop global climate change. Mar 10, 2020

trees

A trillion trees sounds like an impossible goal. But every time you plant a tree in your yard, on school grounds, or in your neighborhood open spaces, you reduce greenhouse gas because they are natural carbon absorbers (a mature tree can absorb up to 48lbs of carbon a year).

Every time you plant a tree, you are part of the solution for reducing and stopping the effects of global warming. For more information about planting trees visit:

https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/tree-facts

https://onetreeplanted.org/blogs/stories/flatten-curve-carbon-emissions

There are other things you can do to take care of Mother Earth as well:

We can continue to recycle properly and phase out our consumption of single-use plastics (recycling just 1 lb. of plastic #1 saves 22.9 kWh of energy and 47.4 lbs. of CO2 emissions).

Support programs like www.4ocean.com whose products are made from reclaimed ocean plastics. One pound of plastic is removed from the ocean for every item purchased.

We can commit to reducing the 1/3rd of food that is wasted globally by composting, shopping smart, and meal planning.

Switch to organic produce.The good news is that organic systems that emphasize soil health help farmers and ranchers increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. … Organic systems do this by capturing and storing more carbon (CO2) in the soil (carbon sequestration). They also release fewer greenhouse gases. Apr 27, 2020

To learn more about how organically grown fruits and vegetables help the environment visit:

How Organic Agriculture Helps Mitigate Climate Change

For information on how to start a compost pile of your own visit:  https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/advice/a23945/start-composting/

compost-1561137922

Contact local food banks or soup kitchens to see if they will accept your food donations.

We can incorporate more plant-based meals into our diets.

Every small thing we do makes a difference when each of us pitches in. Planet Earth is our home…the only home we have. We owe it to ourselves and to all the plants and animals we depend on to be good stewards of the earth. Please pass this on and share it.

No Butts About It! Name-Calling Is Not Acceptable by Robin Newman

thumbnail_Fuzzybutt_Cover copy

One question I get asked all the time is, “What inspired you to write this story?” My latest book, DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT!, was inspired by my son. Around the time when he was in third grade, he went through a terrible-no-good-very-bad phase where he used to think it was cool to say bad words. After all, these were words he wasn’t allowed to say that older children and adults did say. And he’d hear these words everywhere—in the lunchroom, at recess, and on the walk home from school. And once he learned a new word (even a bad word), he was more than eager to give his new-found word a test drive to the great delight of his proud parents. 

thumbnail_fuzz10 copy

My first drafts of Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! focused on using bad words. In fact, the book was originally titled, Bear Said a Bad Word. But as the book evolved in the yearlong revision process, it became clear that the story wasn’t just about saying a word that should never ever be repeated. It was about calling others names and the hurt feelings that ensued.

Name-calling, use of bad words, and gossip, not only sting in the moment they’re said, but they can cause permanent damage in how children see themselves and how others view them. I wrote DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT! to show children in a very gentle way the hurt that can result from one’s words.

In DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT, Bear is an extremely light sleeper. But if Bear doesn’t get his much needed 243 ½ hours of sleep (to be precise), he turns grizzly. So, Bear builds a brand-new door to keep the noise out of his den. As it happens, one of Bear’s neighbors is Woodpecker. He is a master carpenter with a speciality in real estate development. But lately, he’s been noticing that his houses are disappearing. One day Woodpecker discovers a trail of debris and this of course leads him to Bear’s new front door. Words are exchanged. Feelings are hurt. And Bear and Woodpecker need to figure out how to resolve their problems.

We all have moments when we’re feeling grizzly. Books and activities that promote social emotional learning (SEL) can help students learn how to better manage their emotions. One such activity is teaching students how to craft an “I-Statement.”  An I-Statement looks like:

I feel . ..

when . . .

because . . .

For example:

Hilary uses my favorite magic marker and often forgets to put the cap back on.  

I feel sad when Hilary uses my favorite magic marker because she often forgets to put the cap back on and dries out the ink.

In conjunction with the above, students can collaborate just as Bear and Woodpecker did, by making and decorating their own bird houses. I found these wooden houses at Michael’s for $ 0.99 cents each.

For the activity, students will need a clean cardboard container or pre-fabricated birdhouse, construction or decorative paper, twine, glue and/or tape, scissors, hole punch, and decorating materials (paint, markers, pencils, glitter, stickers, buttons, twigs, beads, etc.).

birdhouse1

birdhouse2

birdhouse3

More information on how to use DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT! in the classroom will be available in the teacher’s guide. Coming soon!

On March 13th at 3PM, Robin will be having her virtual launch at Books of Wonder via Crowdcast. Please join me for the fun!

Here’s the link re the event:https://booksofwonder.com/blogs/upcoming/launch-event-for-dont-call-me-fuzzybutt-by-robin-newman

Launch Event For Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! By Robin Newman – Books of Wonder
Books of Wonder is delighted to host the virtual event for Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! by ROBIN NEWMAN on Saturday, March 13th at 3pm EST via Crowdcast! Celebrate the release of this amazing picture book with ROBIN NEWMAN as she shares her newest book and answers questions from the audience during the live feed! Ages 6 & Up, Saturday, March 13th at 3pm EST via Crowdcast.booksofwonder.com

The first 100 orders will also receive a free FUZZYBUTT giveaway! 

thumbnail_Newman_RobinRaised in New York and Paris, Robin Newman is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the City University of New York School of Law. She was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, bears, and peacocks. Author of the award-winning Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, she’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, National Writing Project’s Writers Council, the Bank Street Writers Lab, and PEN America, CYAB. Robin lives in New York with a motley crew of fuzzybutts, including a husband, son, and three spoiled dogs. She is represented by Liza Fleissig at Liza Royce Agency. For more information, please visit www.robinnewmanbooks.com.

Robin is giving away a copy of DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT to one winner chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Winner will be announced on this blog at a later date. Share the post on social media for a second entry.

Laura Sassi Presents: LITTLE EWE: The Story of One Lost Sheep + A chance to win a copy.

Today I am delighted to bring you an interview with award-winning picture book author LAURA SASSI. Laura will talk about her latest book titled LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP Illustrated by Tommy Doyle  http://www.beamingbooks.com

ewe cover

What inspired you to write about a “lost sheep”?

The “lost lamb” who I have sweetly named Little Ewe in my story is inspired by one of my favorite of Jesus’ parables. The parable is about a shepherd who realizes one sheep is missing and so he leaves the flock to find that one and bring it safely home.  As a child I loved this beautiful reminder that, like the shepherd in the parable, Jesus came to find the lost and, oh my, how wonderful it feels to be found. My hope is that, like Little Ewe in my story, readers of all ages will sense the comfort and joy of knowing that our Shepherd, too, wants to find us and care for us when we are lost.

ewe shot

The rhyme scheme is gentle and perfect for the story. Did you intend to write it in rhyme?

I think “gentle” is a lovely way to describe the feel of the rhyme and rhythm of the text. Yes, from the beginning, I intended for this story to rhyme. My vision was to tell the tale in gently bouncing quatrains that would evoke the playfulness of Little Ewe’s day of adventure as she wanders from the flock and also capture the gentle comfort of being found at the end of the day.

Did you plan on making the story a counting one? Tell us how that came about.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted this to be a counting story. One of my favorite aspects of Jesus’ parable was that the shepherd left the 99 to find that one lost sheep. That counting aspect really resonated with me, but I didn’t want my story to be the typical counting book where readers just look for objects on the page that don’t necessarily relate to the plot. Rather, I wanted the counting in LITTLE EWE to be an integral part of the story, helping to escalate the tension as Little Ewe wanders farther and farther from Shepherd and to conjure feelings of comfort when she is found. I hope readers will agree it adds a rich dimension to the story.

What message do you want young children to take away from the story?

This answer is easy! I want children to know that just like Little Ewe, they, too, have shepherds who care for them. These kind shepherds include special people like parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. teachers and more. And who is the kindest shepherd of all?  God, who cares for and loves them and wants them to return safely home, even when they wander from the path.

Please check out the link for an activity kit that can be used with the book. It is filled with puzzles, craft activities, coloring pages and more.

ACTIVITY KIT:  https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/LittleEwe_ActivityKit_web.pdf

Here is Darlene’s review for this book:

“Little Ewe is out grazing with her herd when her curiosity makes her ignore calls to come, instead wandering off to explore. She frolics all day until dark descends and she realizes she is alone, lost, and afraid. Under the loving and attentive care of the Shepherd, Little Ewe is reunited with the flock once again. Told in gentle rhyme, this counting book is a fresh and thoughtful addition to the genre. It reminds readers that since God watches over us, we are never alone and we need not be afraid. A comforting message for all.”

I am giving away a copy of LITTLE EWE to one lucky reader drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Share the post on social media and you will have a second chance to win. Just let me know where you share it.

laura sassi shotLaura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of five picture books including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark, which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, Manger; Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, which won First Honor Book for the 2019 Best in Rhyme Award; Love Is Kind, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; and Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep. Her next book, Bunny Finds Easter, will release in 2022. In addition to books, she’s published over one hundred poems, stories, crafts, and articles in various children’s publications.

A graduate of Princeton University and UCLA, Sassi had a successful teaching career before becoming a children’s author. She’s been a homeschool mom, children’s ministry director, historic museum interpreter, and more. She writes daily from her home in New Jersey and finds special joy in sharing her love of reading and writing with the next generation at school visits and other book events.

Katey Howes Talks About Bodily Autonomy and Consent in Her New PD: Rissy No Kissies.

Today it is my pleasure to host award-winning picture book author KATEY HOWES who will talk about her new book RISSY NO KISSIES. The book explores the topics of bodily autonomy and consent, very important concepts to instill in young children. Here is my review of this important book:

“When a love bird doesn’t like to get or give kisses, she wonders if something is wrong with her. How can she show those she loves that she cares?

With gentle assurances in words and illustrations, this story teaches young children and those they love, the importance of bodily autonomy and consent. It should be a part of every child’s library and is the perfect introduction for discussions about these important concepts.”

And now, here’s Katey!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Darlene. I’m delighted to share a little bit about the process of writing my consent-themed picture book, Rissy No Kissies. (Illustrated by Jess Engle)

Rissy Cover

How and why did you decide to write on this topic?  

One of my three kids is exceptionally cuddly. The other two are much less comfortable with physical expressions of affection. I’ll admit that, early on, this was sometimes difficult for me to accept and respect. Even knowing how important it is for children to have control of their own bodies, there were times I really just wanted to give them a squeeze!

But as they grew, I grew, too – in my understanding of sensory processing differences, in my joy at seeing the unique ways they shared love, and in my conviction that there were not enough resources – for kids OR parents – that explained how common our family’s experience was. I grew more convinced that families needed books highlighting how natural it is to have differing preferences regarding touch and affection, resources that teach the importance of bodily autonomy and consent.

I had been playing with the idea for several months when I visited Minneapolis while promoting another picture book, Be A Maker. Lerner Publishing is headquartered there, and their team was so kind to me, helping me contact local schools and bookstores and setting me up with a tour of their offices. During that trip, I had the chance to meet up with my Be A Maker editor, Shaina Olmanson, and to bounce some of my manuscript ideas off of her. Shaina also felt strongly that kids and caregivers could really use stories that shined a light on boundaries, autonomy and consent. Her interest motivated me to work even harder on this concept!

How did you arrive at a rhyming scheme to tell the story? 

It’s funny. Often, I try really hard not to rhyme, but can’t seem to get away from it. When I first started writing this story, I kept finding rhyming couplets in my work, even when I was aiming for prose. At first, I contained the rhyme to a refrain between prose sections. The original refrain was:

 Kisses are something

That Love Birds like best

But Rissy No Kissy

Is not like the rest

With reflection, I realized this refrain centered Rissy’s differences, not her strengths. I dropped it and worked to rewrite with a focus on Rissy’s powerful opinions and proud voice. My character notes show a few words I used to envision Rissy:

Determined

Tenacious

Persistent

Emphatic!!

That descriptor “emphatic” made its way into a new refrain:

“No kissies,” Rissy chirruped, with a most emphatic squeak.”

and soon set up a rhythm and rhyme scheme that I was able to use to structure the entire text. If you check my notebooks from the time, you’ll find extensive lists of words that rhyme with “chirp,” “tweet,” and “squeak.”

Did you know from the start it would be lovebirds?

I almost always write human characters, so this book was a departure for me. It was, however, a calculated departure.

I knew going in that, for kids who have been made to feel left out or rejected when their preferences don’t fit in with other’s expectations, the interactions in this book could be really painful. Seeing a character too much like themselves being called rude, mean or sick because they don’t like hugs and kisses might make the book too emotionally taxing – and I wanted it to be a book that instead balanced the honesty of those hard moments with warmth and light and comfort.

The rhyming text helps strike that balance, as do the soothing palette and adorable characters illustrator Jess Engle created. By making Rissy an animal, we let readers put a little distance between her experience and their own.  By making her a lovebird specifically, we play on the idea that your whole species might be defined by a certain way of sharing love – but that you don’t have to be.

Please add anything else you want readers to know

There have been a number of picture books about autonomy and consent released recently, and I am so thrilled to see this. No one book speaks to every reader, or gets all aspects of this nuanced concept across. I’d love for teachers and parents to check out other suggestions including: 

In addition to reading books on the topic, it’s important for caregivers to grow their knowledge base and practice the skills needed to set, communicate, and respect boundaries. I highly recommend following @comprehensiveconsent on Instagram for daily parenting advice from a fabulous and frankly funny consent educator.

You can also check out this printable lesson plan created by my cousin-in-law (that’s a thing, right?) and curriculum expert Leah Robinson. It includes a lovebird craft and role play cards (sample below) perfect for 4-8 year olds learning about consent.

thumbnail_Screen Shot 2021-02-07 at 2.08.39 PM

You’ll find even more activities on my website – including this kid-friendly recipe for Sunflower Love Cookies: perfect to pair with Rissy No Kissies.

thumbnail_Screen Shot 2021-02-07 at 2.12.27 PM

Katey Howes HeadshotKatey Howes is an award-winning picture book author and literacy advocate. Her picture books Be A Maker and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe are popular in maker spaces and STEM education, and her debut book, Grandmother Thorn, was named an Anna Dewdney Read Together Honor Book. A former physical therapist, Katey lives in Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband, three daughters, and a pup named Samwise Gamgee. She loves reading, weaving, cooking, camping and travel. In addition to writing for children and raising kids who love books, Katey contributes to parenting, literacy, and STEAM education websites.

“You can order a signed copy of Rissy No Kissies from my local indie, Newtown Bookshop. Just follow this link: https://www.newtownbookshop.com/katey-howes-author-page

I’m also happy to snail mail a signed bookplate to you with proof of purchase. Email howes_kathryn@yahoo.com with mailing address and personalization request. Or tag @kateywrites on Twitter with a photo of your copy or receipt for your pre-order. I will follow and DM for your mailing address. “

Love to Read? Share It With Kids on March 2: Read Across America.

“When people make the time to read with children, children get the message that reading is important.” NEA

Students, parents, teachers and people from many walks of life, will read to children March 2,  in recognition of “National Read Across America Day,” a program the National Education Association established 20 some years ago.

Athletes and actors will issue reading challenges to young readers. Governors and other elected officials will recognize the role of reading with proclamations.

Naomi Gruer, a children’s writer and preschool teacher, participated in a remote event,   “World Read Aloud Day,” a few years ago.

“Reading to kids made me so happy because, in that moment, we explored the world inside the story together.”

To prepare the children for the online experience, Naomi asked them to listen for certain things as she read — a funny incident or a silly outcome or a character acting in a peculiar way. “The minute I was on Skype with the kids, everything else melted away. It was as if I was in the classroom with them,” she said.

Later, as a Microsoft Guest Educator, she was asked by several educators to read to their students. One request came from a teacher in Spain, who wanted English to be read to her classroom.

Naomi applied the same format to all her remote classroom sessions: an introduction, followed by reading (either chapters or picture books depending on the age of the students.)

“They listened actively and were ready to point out and discuss the humor. Introducing students to my dog was the ultimate ice breaker.” Naomi blogs at https://bmoreenergy.wordpress.com

What You Can Do:

There are many free and low cost ways to provide children with books in print, online, audio and video formats. For example, the “We Need Diverse Books” program provides free diverse books to schools serving low-income students around the country.

To learn more:

Visit https://www.nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement/read-across-america/support-your-readers/free-materials

How to help kids develop the reading habit:

  • Keep books everywhere you spend time. Put them in the car, in every room of the house and tuck them in backpacks and purses.
  • Visit the library often. Knowing how to use the library and learning the benefits of a library fosters a love of reading as well as a genuine respect for the services libraries provide.

Do you have a favorite children’s book? Please share it in the Comment section.

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist and voracious reader of  children’s books.

Author Vivian Kirkfield Takes Us From Here to There With Her New Picture Book + Zoom Visit Give-away.

Today it is my pleasure to post an interview with picture book author VIVIAN KIRKFIELD who will talk about her newest book FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES.

from-here-to-there-inventions-coverHere’s Vivian:

What led you to write a book on transportation pioneers?

I never started out thinking I would write a compilation book about transportation pioneers, Darlene. But my sister told me a story about a Swedish immigrant who came here in 1905 at the age of 17 with only a few dollars in his pocket. He worked as a logger and as a miner and even tried his hand as a car salesman, but he couldn’t even sell the one floor model. Eric Wickman refused to give up. He bought the floor model with the money he had saved and began offering shuttle rides to the miners in Hibbing, MN. His shuttle was so popular, he had to buy more cars and hire more drivers. Everyone wanted rides…to a shop, to visit family…and finally, he even built a bus so he could help out more passengers. And the lovely thing about Eric was that he always wanted to partner with his rivals, not put them out of business. And eventually, Eric’s little shuttle company became Greyhound. I knew that was a story kids would love. I wrote it and Essie, my amazing agent, sent it to Ann Rider at HMH. Ann loved the story – and she had an innovative idea…she asked if I could write several more similar stories about things that move.

Of course, I said YES! She asked for a list…I created a list of the first gas-powered auto, the first bike, the first intercity passenger steam train, and more. She loved all of them. I think I had 6. But she wanted 9…I added the folding wheelchair, the first robotic, and the rocket. The inventions span over 200 years…and many countries. I love that it shows kids that inventions came from all over the world and from all types of people.

But they all had one thing in common. They never gave up! No matter how many times they failed. And I think this is really important for kids to understand…that failure is an important part of success.

What was your research process like? How long did that take since there are so many people you had to learn about?

Darlene, when I look back, I do wonder how I managed to research and write so many stories. I only had about 7 or 8 months…the bus story was ready. And I did have a story about the hot air balloon that only needed to be tweaked and trimmed. But the other seven manuscript were written from scratch. Thank goodness for critique buddies who were always there to read a manuscript and give me feedback.

My process? I’d decide what I was going to write about. First, I checked the internet and online sources. Then I used the library. Not only did I have to find an inventor of something that moved, I also had to find information about that inventor – childhood, the AHA moment, and how the invention impacted our world today. I used census records if there were any (not for the hot-air balloon inventors, of course 😊). I contacted local libraries and historical societies in the towns where the inventor lived or worked. And sometimes I was able to speak with someone who knew the person…Eric Wickman’s granddaughter and I became email friends. And I got to speak with Raye Montague’s son.

It took about one month for each manuscript – that’s probably a record since most of my other nonfiction pb manuscripts took a lot longer. But I was on a deadline – and sometimes, when you have a deadline, that helps you focus on what really needs to be done.

What 3 facts were your favorite discoveries while writing this?

Three favorite facts? I have so many! I truly learned so much as I researched these amazing visionaries. But here are three:

I discovered that Benjamin Franklin was in France in 1783, on the day that the Montgolfier’s manned hot air balloon ascended. He’d been negotiating the Treaty of Paris between the United States and England after the Revolutionary War. Many of us think the war ended in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence – but that was only the beginning. And in his diary, Franklin wrote: “We observed it lift off in the most majestic manner.”

I discovered that the very first gas-powered automobile had NO gas tank, NO cooling system, NO steering wheel, NO lights, NO brake pads, and only three wheels. But the most fascinating discovery was that the inventor’s wife had contributed all the money for his experiments and prototype. And when he was afraid to take it on a road trip, she did. Her actions convinced the public that cars must be safe and easy to drive if EVEN a WOMAN could do it! On her 65-mile trip, her courage and ingenuity never failed and when she returned home, she instructed her husband as to what he needed to add to make the car better. And I’m happy to say that in 2016, 125 years after she tiptoed out of the house to take the kids to their grandmother’s house, Bertha Benz was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn MI – for her invaluable contribution to development and design of the modern automobile.

I discovered that all of these visionaries believed that nothing is impossible if you can imagine it. When Raye Montague was seven-years-old, she took a tour of a submarine. She asked the tour guide what she’d need to know in order to operate something like that. It was 1942. It was the deep South. And Raye was African American. The tour guide told her that she’d need to be an engineer, but that SHE didn’t EVER have to worry about THAT. And do you know what Raye did? She ran home and told her mother that she was going to become an engineer. And even though she wasn’t allowed to take engineering classes in college, Raye went on to become the FIRST WOMAN and FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN project manager for the Navy, leading a team of engineers to create the first computer-generated ship design.

I LOVE stories like this! And I know that they are so inspiring to young people. I just got some thank you notes from a school visit – and it validates my belief that kids need books like this!

What are some ways teachers can use this book in their classroom?

I think each chapter lends itself to classroom discussion and extension activities in various curriculum areas – science, math, geography, reading, writing, art, SEL…here’s an example for how a teacher might use Chapter Four: Black Forest or Bust:

Bertha Benz lived in a time when most people thought women were delicate and weak. But in order to test drive the car, she took a 65-mile road trip with her sons through Germany’s Black Forest. Bertha used her ingenuity…as well as her hat pin and garters to keep the car going. Bertha’s trip garnered lots of publicity – newspapers spoke of how safe a car must be if even a woman could drive it.

Chapter 4 Black Forest or Bust Automobile Bertha Benz

Ask your students:

  1. You’ve been asked to cover a big news story! It’s 1888 and a woman is driving a new-fangled automobile through your town. Write an article for the newspaper.
  2. The first gas-powered auto had only three wheels and a hand-brake. What would the first gas-powered auto have looked like if you had designed it? Draw a picture of it.
  3. Bertha drove from her home in Mannheim, Germany to her mother’s house in Pforzheim. Get a map of Germany and trace her journey through the Black Forest.

I hope you all get a chance to read the book…and if you do, I would much appreciate a review on Amazon. Those Amazon reviews are so very important – they help other customers – they help with Amazon’s marketing of the book. It only takes a minute or two…I know some of you write amazing lengthy reviews, but that’s not necessary. A couple of sentences would be perfect!

The other thing I want to mention is that #50PreciousWords is just around the corner! Last year we had 392 entries and almost 6000 amazing comments on that blog post. And the prizes this year are PHENOMENAL! Editor and agent and author critiques, seats in picture book writing classes, signed picture books, even an illustrator portfolio consultation. The contest runs from March 2 to 7…and the winners will be announced on March 20, the first day of spring! A new beginning for all of us…and hopefully an end to this health crisis. It was an unbelievable difficult 2020 and I believe 2021 will continue to be challenging – but there is hope in sight – and I believe the contest and the amazing prizes will be a shot in the arm, even if you haven’t had your Covid vaccine yet. 😊 Here is the link for the sharpen-your-pencils and a sneak peek at #50PreciousWords post: https://viviankirkfield.com/2021/02/11/happy-national-inventors-day-and-a-sneak-peek-at-50preciouswords/

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Darlene! You are such a wonderful cheerleader and supporter of all things kid-lit!

It is always my pleasure to host you Vivian!

Vivian is giving away a 30-minute Zoom chat – with a writer or teacher/class or parent/children. To enter, please leave a comment telling us about your favorite mode of transportation. One name will be drawn at random from those entered and announced on this blog at a later date.

Here is my review of Vivian’s entertaining and informative book:

From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves by Vivian Kirkfield -Illustrated by Gilbert Ford

From hot air balloons and horse drawn carriages, to bicycles, trains, buses, and rockets, inventors around the world have looked for ways to go faster and farther more efficiently. This collection of the pioneers of transportation is an informative and entertaining introduction to the science of how people travel and the innovations that get us from one place to another. Engaging illustrations and fascinating facts bring to life the visions of the people who invented better and faster ways to move on land, sea, and in the air.

                Readers get to learn a bit about each of the people behind the invention and the perseverance they all shared in getting their inventions out into the world. The underlying message of believing in yourself and never giving up is a good one for students. This is a perfect addition to the elementary school classroom nonfiction collections. 5 stars

 

cropped-pippa-home-page-031-e1543009948671

 Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, and visiting kidlit friends all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the picturesque town of Bedford, New Hampshire. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. Her nonfiction narratives bring history alive for young readers and her picture books have garnered starred reviews and accolades including the Silver Eureka, Social Studies Notable Trade Book, and Junior Library Guild Selection.

To connect with Vivian and learn more about her books:

Website: http://www.viviankirkfield.com 

Vivian’s books are available at Barnes & Noble and indie bookstores, as well as Bookshop.org and Amazon. If you order from her indie bookstore, you can get a signed copy. If you order from anywhere else and would like a signed bookplate, please email her at: viviankirkfield@gmail.com.

 I Love to Visit Schools

Read my Blog

Follow on Twitter

Friend me on Facebook

#50PreciousWords International Writing Contest

#50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge

 

 

Kindness: How Can You Make a Difference?

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

In a world where we are bombarded by mean words, negative news, and depressing events, it sometimes feels like kindness is hard to find. Even though we are still in the middle of Covid and social distancing, we can spread kindness through the words we say and the things we do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 is RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS DAY. This is a day set aside to reflect on how we might be kind to our fellow man. Buy the person standing in line behind you  a cup of coffee. Pay for the gasoline of the car behind you. Volunteer at a local food bank. Pay the toll of the person behind you. Give a piece of chocolate to the woman who greets you so warmly at the gym. Let the “other” person have the parking spot closer to the store. Say “Thank You” to the cashier at your favorite grocery store. Leave some home baked goodies on the doorstep of a neighbor who is alone and has not been able to get out during this time.

You get the idea.

There are so many ways we can show kindness to others. Many of us do kind things every day. But, why not make an effort to really ramp up the kind quotient on Wednesday and see how good it makes you feel. When we pass on acts of kindness, it changes the giver as well as the receiver.

For those who want to take kindness to another level, read below.

If you had $1,000.00 to spend, how would you use it to benefit your neighborhood or community?  Entrepreneur Ari Nessel of THE POLLINATION PROJECT, will grant  awards of $1,000.00 each to individuals who want to make a difference. You can apply for one of these awards at: http://www.thepollinationproject.org.

Here is a perfect opportunity to do something lasting for your neighbors, friends or town.  Pass it on. May kindness follow you wherever you go.

I’ll leave you with one of the verses from my recent middle grade book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston).

KIND
What kind of ice cream do you like, Cody? asks Gran
when we’re sitting around the table.
Everyone has a scoop of
chocolate
vanilla
strawberry
butter pecan
or orange sherbet.

Cody looks at Jill with her scoop
of strawberry and says, The same
as Jill, I guess.
You hate strawberry ice cream, Cody, Jill says.
You hate anything with strawberries, remember?
Cody sighs, frowns,
shakes his head. Then I don’t know what kind, he says.

Jill looks like she might cry
until Katy smiles, pats Cody’s arm.
Taste all of them until you find
the one you like, she says.

The rest of the day is just like that, Katy doing
one kind thing after another for Cody,
Mom, Gran, Pops beaming smiles,
me and Jill staring in disbelief.

It isn’t hard to believe Katy is kind. She’s
the princess of kind everyday.
What is hard to believe is how a wish
that was supposed to help Cody
be a boy full of spirit,
a boy once kind himself,
turns him instead
into someone empty.

“Three things in human life are important:  the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

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

Status

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