The Gift of Books…Keeps on Giving.

As you go about your holiday shopping, keep in mind that books are a wonderful gift for anyone on your list.  Many of my blog posts have featured authors and the wonderful books they write.  From picture books, through middle grade and young adult, you can find something for every taste and interest.  Not sure what kind of books to buy?

You can browse online to find some of the most popular books as well as Award-Winning titles.  Look on the CHILDREN’S BOOK COUNCIL site for past and present titles.  Books there are listed by grade and subject areas.   http://www.cbcbooks.org

Brightly – a Random House Site – has a wealth of books to recommend for the holidays and beyond.

http://www.readbrightly.com/?ref=PRH0563577803&aid=randohouseinc13256-20&linkid=PRH0563577803&cdi=2AEB03AD52D94BE9E0534FD66B0A7FAD

Here are a few other links to great books for all ages:  http://www.kidlitauthorclub.com

 The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) provides titles of it’s members who are authors and illustrators for children.    https://www.scbwi.org/readinglist/ 

You can also ask your child’s teacher what kind of books she might welcome in the classroom.  It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Here is a great list of CHRISTMAS BOOKS from the CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW.

20 of the Best Kids Christmas Books

Happy Birthday Lady Liberty! + How to Honor Those Who Serve

This year marks the 130th birthday of the STATUE OF LIBERTY. This gift from France in 1886 symbolizes friendship and a shared love of Liberty between two nations.  Here are 4 interesting facts you may not know about our “Lady”:     331

  1. She holds a tablet inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)
  2. 50 mile per hour winds can make the statue sway up to 3 inches & the torch up to 6.
  3. She wears a size 879 shoe.
  4. She has a 35 FOOT waistline.

What better way to honor this symbol of Liberty than to honor those who have fought to ensure it.   Here is a unique way for you and your children to honor those brave men and women who serve our country.  Mail a care package with favorite books, DVD’s, magazines, and games or relief supplies.  You can pack specific items with a letter of thanks and ship them off to any of the five branches of the military.  Go to: www.booksforsoldiers.com   to learn more.  It is one small way to pay back those who have given and continue to give their lives for our country.

To all the Veterans out there: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

 

Laurie Calkhoven’s New Ready-to-Read Non-Fiction Books.

Meet the women who programmed the first all-electronic computer and built the technological language kids today can’t live without in this fascinating, nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a new series of biographies about people you should meet!

In 1946, six brilliant young women programmed the first all-electronic, programmable computer, the ENIAC, part of a secret World War II project. They learned to program without any programming languages or tools, and by the time they were finished, the ENIAC could run a complicated calculus equation in seconds. But when the ENIAC was presented to the press and public, the women were never introduced or given credit for their work. Learn all about what they did and how their invention still matters today in this story of six amazing young women everyone should meet!   eniac-cover

 

Meet Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut! Did you know before Mae was an astronaut, she went to medical school and joined the Peace Corps? But she never forgot her childhood dream to travel to outer space. So in 1985 she applied to NASA’s astronaut training program. On September 12, 1992, Mae flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour and made history just like you can if you follow your dreams!

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American Girl’s Ultimate Visual Guide will be a treasured addition to every American Girl fan’s bookshelf. With gorgeous images of every Be Forever and Girl of the Year doll, an expanded section on the Truly Me dolls, a detailed timeline of the company, and tons of exclusive behind-the-scenes information, this book takes readers on a wonderful from the start of The Pleasant Company all the way through to present day.

Did you know American Girl creator Pleasant T. Rowland first described her idea for a line of dolls on a postcard to her friend, Valerie Tripp? Or that the first American Girl pet, Coconut the white Westie, was introduced in 2000? Find out all about your favorite characters and their lives, historical eras, outfits, pets, accessories, and more with the American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide. (Written with Erin Falligant and Carrie Anton)   ag-ultimate-visual-guideLaurie Calkhoven has always loved books and reading. She has written six novels for American Girl as well as historical action/adventure novels for her own series, Boys of Wartime. She loves reading and writing about ordinary people (both fictional and real) who have the courage and the strength to become extraordinary. That’s especially true of the people featured in the You Should Meet series. She lives in New York City and can frequently be found at the library.

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Yvonne Ventresca’s New YA: Black Flowers, White Lies.

Black Flowers, White Lies | Release Blitz | JenHalliganPR.com

We’re excited to be celebrating the release of BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES by Yvonne Ventresca this week! Check out the book’s details and teaser, and be sure to enter the giveaway below.

BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIESBlack Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication: October 4, 2016

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a 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.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Excerpt from Black Flowers, White Lies

I take the stairs down. Once the stairwell door closes behind me, the basement seems darker than ever, as if the electricity is off. The light on my phone helps guide me to the laundry room. I flick the switch. Nothing happens. Not even the one good light turns on.

Maybe Norma’s in the middle of fixing the lightbulbs. She could have turned off the circuit breaker or something. But when I open the dryer, the drum light turns on as I dump the clothes into the basket. The electricity is working after all.

The light from the dryer illuminates the space and some­thing catches my eye. I focus my phone on the wall to my left.

“No.” I back up, banging into the open dryer door.

One word is scrawled in red capital letters across the wall: DAUGHTER. A bloody handprint drips in the space underneath.

I grab the basket. A cat T-shirt falls, but I don’t stop. I need to escape, fast. The elevator takes forever. The doors slide open. I expect demons, monsters, ghouls. It’s empty.

On our floor, I race to our apartment, fumble with my keys. My hands tremble too much to open the lock. “Blake!”

When he opens the door, I drop the basket to grab his arm. “Come with me.”

“El, what’s going on?”

I can’t speak on the elevator ride to the basement.

“Seriously, are you okay? You’re scaring me.”

“I’ll show you.”

I turn my phone light on when we leave the elevator and pull him into the dark laundry room. I illuminate the wall but can’t bear to look. “See?”

He’s quiet. I figure he’s as frightened as I am.

“See what?”

I turn my head and shine the light where the red scrawl was minutes before.

There’s nothing.

“Why are we in the dark?” Blake asks, flipping the laun­dry room switch.

The lights come on. The sudden brightness makes me blink as I stare at the blank wall.

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About the Author

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest

Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In PANDEMIC, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News).

Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca | JenHalliganPR.com

Giveaway

Prize pack includes a three panel rustic chalkboard with a $25 Amex gift card, a $25 Sephora gift card, and a signed copy of Black Flowers, White Lies.
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Colleen Kosinski and Sunflowers.

Today’s post features one of my writer/illustrator friends Colleen Kosinski, who talk about her debut picture book LILLA’S SUNFLOWERS (Sky Pony Press)

I’ve been writing for many years. The journey began with picture books, then screenplays; moved on to young adult stories followed by middle grade manuscripts and returned home to picture books.
Before dipping my feet into the writing pool, I worked as a freelance fine artist.  That suited me well because it allowed me to stay home to raise my three children. As they grew older I became available to take on more challenges.  So I set down my paintbrush and picked up a pen. (Actually a computer keyboard but a pen sounds so much better. I imagine it as an ink pen complete with a feather with me dipping into an inkwell, scrawling my words by candlelight). After many years of solely writing, I combined my two passions to create picture books.      01_Lilla's Sunflowers_cover2_625h

Lilla’s Sunflowers originated like my career, through a journey of discovery. I first drew the illustration of Lilla you see on the front cover. I stared at her and realized she wanted a story. But what was her story? Why was she standing in a field of sunflowers? Was she sad when the sunflowers died? I started thinking about the seasons and how they applied to our lives. My first draft involved death. If you knew that my manuscripts for older children deal with death, reincarnation, and astral travel you’d understand why I went there first. Later in the process I thought the topic might be a tad morbid for a picture book so I had to keep thinking and sketching drawings for inspiration.

I’m not sure what particular moment it happened, but seeing videos of children and dogs being reunited with military men and women returning from service over seas, a light bulb went off in my head. The separation of a parent from child during a tour of duty is always difficult for all involved and is mirrored by the changing seasons with the anticipated return home similar to the blooming of plants in the spring and summer. It’s on this backdrop that Lilla’s strategy to stay connected with her father has wonderful unintended consequences.

Lilla’s Sunflowers shows how one small act of love and kindness can spread to people and places you’d never imagine.

http://lillas-sunflowers.colleenrowankosinski.com/trailer/

My agent submitted the book to publishers and within six months we had a contract with Sky Pony Press. I worked very hard to meet all my deadlines and now, a little over a year since signing the contract, my book is real. I can actually hold it in my arms! My first book baby. Now I’m anxious to give it some siblings!                SUNFLOWER_AUTHOR_PIC_500_WIDE

To find out more about my work you can visit me at http://www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com

Spread the sunshine!

Free Bookmarks For Library Month and Beyond…

What better way to encourage children to keep on reading throughout the summer than with free printable bookmarks they can keep, trade and share with friends?  Here is a site that has numerous bookmarks on all kinds of subjects.  They are perfect to use as rewards in the classroom or to give away at parties or read-a-thon events.

http://coolmompicks.com/blog/2015/06/22/free-printable-bookmarks-for-kids

And, here is a printable version of my own bookmark for WHEELS OF CHANGE:

bookmark

A Snowflake in the Slush by Beth Ferry

Living in New Jersey, it is hard not to think about snow during winter.
Personally, I much prefer the singular idea of the snowflake as opposed to the general concept of snow.
Snow is not quite as endearing or beautiful as the single unique flake.    beth Ferry
And we have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike.
Which seems simply impossible, really, given the number of snowflakes that have fallen.
Which is how many, you ask?
Okay – get ready for some math!

According to the Eastern Snow Conference of 2006, the number of snowflakes that have fallen in the history of the earth is 3 x 10 to the 38th power, a truly staggering number.
Much like the number of grains of sand in the world (approx. 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power) or number of stars in the galaxy (approx. 1 x 10 to the 24th power)
Impossible to comprehend.
But there are 1 x 10 to the 19th power water molecules in a typical snow crystal, which allows for the almost infinite number of arrangements.
Okay enough math!

These immense numbers are truly beyond the comprehension of this English major, so back to the unique, single, solitary snowflake.
No matter how unique it is, once mixed with other snowflakes, it basically loses its distinctiveness and becomes, simply, snow.
Which is often how I feel about books on a shelf.
Picture books specifically.
The unique, wonderful book that stirs my heart or makes me laugh or makes me cry becomes just another book, one among thousands, once it is placed on a shelf.
So much like the snowflake.

How can the brilliance of the book shine through when it is shelved, not by degrees of brilliance, but simply alphabetically, by last name?
How many amazing, engaging books have been missed because they were packed tight together in the blizzard that is the bookshelf?
As writers, we need to think of this.
How does our unique snowflake of a book stand out among the flurry of friendship books that exist?
Among the shower of school-themed books?
Among the hail of holiday books?
And, more importantly, how does our manuscript stand out in the slush pile?

Anna Quindlen said “Every story has already been told.”
How true is this?
But she also said, “… that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has every had.”
And how true is that?
So write your friendship story.
Type up that trip-to-the-zoo tale.
Scratch down a sibling story.
Sure, they’ve all been done before, but not quite like we will do it.
Our style, experience, and voice will make a story that has been told before new and distinctive.
We are all snowflakes.
Beautiful, individual and unique.
And so are our stories.                             Land Shark_FC_3D-2

Disclaimer: all numbers are based on quick research and are meant for fun, not fact!

Beth Ferry is the author of Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. and Land Shark, 2015. Pirate’s Perfect Pet is setting sail in the Fall of 2016. Her latest picture book, Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more at http://www.bethferry.com.