Author Katey Howe Presents: WOVEN OF THE WORLD, a new PB + a give-away.

Today it is my pleasure to share another wonderful picture book by author Katey Howes.

woven cover

Woven of the World

Words by Katey Howes  Art by Dinara Mirtalipova

Published by Chronicle Books  Releases Feb 7, 2023

Katey uses the metaphor of how we are all woven together into a tapestry of humanity to pen this lovely book about how weaving has shaped and connected cultures throughout history.

Here is my review for the book as well as an interview with Katey about how WOVEN came to be.

“The clack and swish of loom song carries stories to my ears” is one of many figurative expressions used to convey the sensory experience of weaving as an art form that connects cultures across the world. Weaving as song is conveyed not only in the thoughtful rhyme, but also in folk art-like illustrations that show cultures of the past and how these traditions are “woven” into our psyches as humans. A beautiful introduction to an ancient craft that transcends time and place. Weaving fibers not only creates cloth. It connects the weaver to those who came before. A lovely message and a lovely book.

What inspired you to write Woven of the World?

People who know me, know I love a good metaphor. Seriously, my family sometimes makes fun of me for it! And when I find metaphors that I think will speak to children, that will help them connect something physical and tangible with an idea or concept, those are the ones I like best.

My children all have a fondness for fiber arts – one embroiders designs on her clothing and makes stuffed toys, one knits scarves for friends (sometimes during chemistry lectures), one pulled my punch-needle out of my hands and took over. I know that kids of all ages and backgrounds can really connect not just to playing and creating with yarn and fabric, but to the emotions that are carried by sharing a cozy gift – or a cozy art form!

Woven of the World was shaped from the beginning by the idea that a child could be unsure about their identity, their future, but comforted by imagining themself as a tapestry, a piece of art woven row on row, with many different yarns brought together to create pattern and strength and warmth.  The idea that we are each a tapestry, woven of the world, took me on a long journey down a lot of (fuzzy, colorful) rabbit holes!

What do you hope people take away from the book?

Honestly, this book traveled way beyond my imaginings for it. It carries the reader around the world and through time…but also into the loving relationship between a child and an elder, sharing a beloved craft. Plus, it’s stuffed with back matter on weaving tools and weaving milestones and moments in history. I don’t suppose any two readers will take away the same meanings or emotions from reading it – but I do hope everyone who reads it comes away feeling connected.

I have a signed copy of this beautiful book for one lucky person chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Good luck!

katey howes

Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at www.kateyhowes.com.

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Author Katey Howes Presents: A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU + A GIVE-AWAY

Just before the holidays I had the pleasure of receiving a signed copy of a new picture book by award-winning author KATEY HOWES. This book is so lovely I wanted to share it with all of you.

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Here’s my review for this gem:

A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU by Katey Howes Illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee

A beautiful story of how the seed of imagination – once nurtured and given expression – grows into a poem, using the metaphor of a seedling sprouting, being watered with imagination, and growing as we take a chance sharing our poem with the world. Joyful and animated illustrations accompany the tender and thoughtful rhyme. A treat for the eyes and ears. A wonderful introduction to all the magic of poetic expression.

I was so intrigued by the idea of a seed growing into a poem, I asked Katey about it.

Where did A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU come from?

Several years ago, author/poet Laura Shovan shared a story. I think it was on Twitter, maybe Facebook.  I wish I could hunt down the details – but you’ll have to bear with my flawed memory instead. As I recall, she posted that a student had come to her a year after having had class with her, to share a poem with her. He had held onto the idea generated in class for a long time, but hadn’t felt ready to write it down. It had lain dormant in his heart until he had what he needed to bring it to life. And when he finally did, he brought it back to Laura to share it with her.

This little window into that student’s experience touched my heart deeply. I had absolutely felt the same way about ideas many times, especially for poems. I know well that often a person needs to be in the right space emotionally, physically, and even spiritually to tackle some topics in their writing. We aren’t always equipped to process the emotions and experiences life gives us- but when we are, poetry can be such a beautiful and healing way to do it.

I held onto the idea of a seed of a poem, planted in the heart, for quite awhile. Checked on it. Dreamed about what it would grow into. Supplied myself with the tools I needed to  nurture it into life. Found its rhythm. And then I began to write.

What do you hope readers will take from A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU?

I hope readers will recognize that ideas aren’t always ready to grow right away – that they can lie dormant inside us until conditions are right – and then bloom in beautiful and unexpected ways!

If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is!

I am giving away a signed copy of A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU to one lucky person drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post.

katey howes

Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at www.kateyhowes.com.

MR. THATCHER’S HOUSE: a new PB by Kristin Wauson + a giveaway

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope this finds everyone healthy, safe, and looking forward to a new year with hope and anticipation of better things to come.

One good thing that recently came to me is a great new picture book by Kristin Wauson titled MR. THATCHER’S HOUSE (Sleeping Bear Press 2022)

thatcher cover

A delightful cover for an equally delightful story. Here’s my review:

Mr. Thatcher – a rabbit – works hard to build a perfect house. He saws, hammers nails, adding rooms until the house gets bigger. And bigger. But Mr. Thatcher can’t stop building until the house is perfect. It isn’t until neighbors come knocking on his door, looking for a place to live, that Thatcher finally realizes what it takes to make the perfect home. An endearing lesson in kindness, loving one’s neighbors, and what really makes a house a home. Young readers will enjoy meeting favorite characters from popular stories gathered together in this lively and charming debut.

I am giving away a copy of this gem to one winner chosen at random. Just leave a comment at the end of the post if you are interested. Let me know if you are sharing the post on social media and I will give you a second chance to win. The winner will be announced on this blog later this month.

Book Review and Giveaway: LET’S PLAY AN INSTRUMENT: A Music Book For Kids by Rachelle Burk (Illustrated by Junissa Bianda)

I was recently approached by a publisher to provide an endorsement for a new non-fiction book for young children written by author Rachelle Burk. What a pleasure it was to read and review LET’S PLAY AN INSTRUMENT.

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Here’s my review:

A simple, lyrical, and kid-friendly introduction to the wonder and variety of musical instruments. Burk and Bianda take young readers on a colorful and engaging trip through the world of musical instruments and the ways they are played. It’s a perfect introduction that is sure to get kids excited about making their own music. Recommended for ages 3-5.

I am giving away a copy of this charming book to one lucky reader chosen at random. To enter, please leave a comment on this post. If you share on social media, you will have an extra chance to win.

An Oldie, But Still a Goodie…Artie Bennett Presents: POOPENDOUS: The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop.

I don’t know about you, but I could always use a good laugh. And light-hearted picture books can often be the best remedy when we need to smile. On that note, it gives me great pleasure to present a book from a few years back that still delights kids young and old. A book about something all creatures have in common. POOP.

Just saying the word makes kids laugh, and this hilarious picture book will make those laughs come…along with some educational insight into the various uses for the substance no one talks about in polite company. Kick off your shoes (but be careful where you step) as we explore the world of #2!

POOPENDOUS: The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop by Artie Bennet (Illustrated by Mike Moran) is a pun-filled and entertaining look at one of nature’s most reviled, maligned, and misunderstood substances.

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Here’s the blurb:

“Everyone poops—yes, it’s true—from aardvarks to the humped zebu.”  

Artie Bennett, author of the award-winning and much-acclaimed The Butt Book, delivers the inside scoop on every type and use of poop in his “number two,” spanking-new picture book. In hilarious verses, with eye-popping illustrations, Poopendous! relates the many, often remarkable uses of poop throughout the world while paying homage to its prolific producers, from cats to bats to wombats! Virtuoso illustrator Mike Moran gives us a Noah’s Ark of animals doing their less-than-solemn doody. So pick up your pooper-scooper and come along for a riotously rib-tickling ride. You just may agree that poop is truly quite . . . poopendous! 

Here’s a sampling of the delight found inside the pages:

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Great Combination of Fun and Facts! 

“3 cheers 4 a great poet who 
Lets kid know all about number 2. 
Artie’s 6 sense of fun 
Makes his book number 1, 
And I give it a 5-star review!” 

—Judy Sierra, celebrated children’s author 

http://www.amazon.com/Poopendous-Artie-Bennett/product-reviews/1609051904 

Artie Bennett:  author of the superfun children’s books   thumbnail_Artie_Prospect Park Zoo

The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t 

The Butt Book 
 

Belches, Burps, and FartsOh My! 
 

Poopendous! 

Peter Panda Melts Down! 

What’s Afoot! Your Complete, Offbeat Guide to Feet 

The Universe’s Greatest Dinosaur Jokes and Pre-Hysteric Puns 

The Universe’s Greatest School Jokes and Rip-Roaring Riddles 

ArtieBennett.com 
 

Amalia Hoffman Presents a New PB: MASHA MUNCHING + A Chance to Win a Copy

Today it is my delight and pleasure to host Author/Illustrator AMALIA HOFFMAN during the launch of her new PB MASHA MUNCHING.  This story, about a goat with an unusual appetite is a delight to read and a visual treat as well thanks to Amalia’s colorful and lively illustrations.

Amalia has agreed to give away a signed copy of her book to one lucky reader. If you’d like to be considered, please leave a comment at the end of the post. If you share this post on social media, let me know and I will give you a second chance to win.

Here’s Amalia to tell us more about how MASHA MUNCHING came about:

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  1. What inspired the story?

One of the most vivid memories that I have from raising two boys is when we were asked to leave a restaurant after my son threw the food on the floor while sitting in the high chair. I thought that many parents would relate to that.

Growing up in Israel, we spent our summers in a small village where farmers raised cows, chickens and goats. We used to laugh as the goats tried to nibble on our cloths and shoes.  I have another book, The Klezmer Bunch, with a goat character, also named Masha so that means that I have a soft spot for goats.  One day, I just came up with this alliteration; Masha Munching and that kind of sat in my brain for a while till I came up with the idea of a goat that longs for great food.

I am always interested in writing stories that have a message but are not preachy. In Masha Munching, I had the opportunity to say that what is most important is that we share pleasures with good friends and the quality of the meal is less satisfying than the friends we share it with. Also, Masha thinks of her friends all the time during her trip and when she gets back, she uses what she learned to open a restaurant for the farm animals.

The scenes in the restaurant are really delightful. I love the thought you put into creating them.

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2. Kids will be laughing at the silly food choices Masha makes in the restaurant. How did you arrive at this plot element?

In my first drafts, I only had 2 characters: Masha & the penguin waiter. I also had the idea that Masha will eat all the “wrong” things. Then, when I started working with Yeehoo Publishing editor, Brian Saliba, we brainstormed for a while about introducing other animals. I wanted Masha to go for funny foods but also foods that are connected to what she eats in the farm. I started thinking what Masha could find at the Bistro that can remind her of what she’s used to because that would make the story even sillier.  I picked the baguette basket because it’s made from material similar to the straw she chews and chomps with her friends, the pigs. Eating the tasty table could be mistaken by a goat to eating the wood she gobbles and gnaw with the other goats. Drinking bubbly water is a step fancier than slurping sploshy water with the ducks.

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3. The illustrations look textured and three-dimensional. How were you able to achieve this effect?

I wanted to convey the feeling that things are in motion so I used paper cut technique. I cut and color the elements by hand. I cover the board surface with Liquitex modeling paste and add textures by scraping the surface while it’s wet with a comb or other tools. When dry, I paint and sponge the background on the board. Then I glue all the cut-up elements and arrange their movement and expressions by curving the legs or arms or opening the beak wide. When satisfied, I photograph the image. Sometimes, I add more textures, details, and color in Photoshop.

Thanks for sharing your technique and the origin of this story Amalia.

Here’s my review of this book:

“Masha the goat gets bored eating the same old farm food and sets out to expand her palate at a fancy restaurant. She never gets to the entrees, because the fancy table and decorations look yummy enough to eat. Young readers will delight at Masha’s silly food choices in this delightful and funny picture book. The lively, three-dimensional illustrations add another layer of fun as they seem to jump off the page in excitement and enthusiasm. A 5 star winner.”

Here’s a link to a teacher’s guide, coloring pages & fun facts about goats

http://www.yeehoopress.com/wp-content/uploads/Masha-Munching-Lesson-Plan.pdf

Here’s youtube section of Amalia presenting the book with puppet

Author/Illustrator Mike Ciccotello Presents: Draw With Mr. Mike

Are you an author who writes picture books and would love to know how to illustrate them? Do you have or know children who love to doodle and draw? Do you want to stretch your creative muscles and learn something new? Then I’ve got a great YouTube series for you: DRAW WITH MR. MIKE starring PB Author/Illustrator Mike Ciccotello. Here’s Mike to tell you about his series in his own words:

Thanks for the invite to talk about my drawing program, Draw with Mr. Mike!

When my twins were three, I observed how they started to create art. I had an idea of showing them how to use basic lines and shapes to create complex objects. We worked on a few drawings, and I was delighted to see them follow along. They were excited to see what they were able to create. So I decided to include this in my school visits, and it was a hit. The kids enjoyed the opportunity to create art together.

Creating art between three to seven is fun for children, but it can also be problematic if they lack confidence in their abilities. Breaking down these drawings into their simplest forms makes them easier to understand. And then, step-by-step, as we fit the shapes together to build a finished piece of art, we are also building the child’s confidence.

After developing this idea, I knew I wanted to reach more children, but I didn’t know how to take my lessons and make them available to the public. Then, an old colleague from my days at CNN approached me with an idea. Her company, Identity Digital, could help me figure it all out, and that’s when the Draw with Mr. Mike show became a reality.

We started recording episodes and posting them to Vimeo, YouTube, and on my website.

Each episode demonstrates the same principle of using basic lines and shapes to create a complex character, object, or scene. Now I’m focusing on creating more episodes to reach a wider audience, improving my production every week, and doing my best to make fun and educational drawing lessons for kids.

drawing
Here is the blurb from my website:

Do you know a child who loves to draw? Or maybe a child who needs a confidence boost when it comes to making art? If so, then DRAW WITH MR. MIKE may be a great fit. In these short, easy-to-understand videos, young artists will learn how to take basic shapes and lines, and turn them into a rocket ship, a castle, a butterfly, and other kid-friendly images. The lessons are geared toward 3-7 years old—but, of course, they are open for artists of any age to join in.

So grab some favorite drawing materials, and join me in this exciting art journey. Let’s see how these shapes and lines fit together!

mike photo

Links: YouTube.com/DrawWithMrMike

DrawWithMrMike.com

Mike is the author/illustrator of BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES, Beach Toys vs. School Supplies and TWINS.

Follow him on Twitter @ciccotello

Author Colleen Kosinski Talks About Her New PB: A HOME AGAIN.

Picture book author/illustrator Colleen Kosinski has a new book out, just in time for the holidays. I asked Colleen where the idea came from and also left my review and the end of the post. Here’s Colleen:.

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Q: Why did you decide to write A Home Again?

A: It’s a funny story. All of my children had moved out and my husband and I were talking about downsizing. When my children got wind of our plan, they were not happy. They couldn’t imagine riding by our house and not being able to stop in and visit. My own parents are still in my childhood home, so I never really thought about how I’d feel if I couldn’t visit the house I grew up in. Anyway, we decided to stay in our house.

Q: How did the unique POV come about?

A: As I was thinking about my childrens’ reaction I started thinking how the house would feel if we left. Then something just clicked, and the story was born. As I wrote, I tried to think of the house as a child. How would a child feel if they were suddenly abandoned? Confused? Sad? Angry? I tried to think about how a house could express its emotions.

home again

Q: What simple message do you want readers to remember about A HOME AGAIN?

A: In my story there are two families. The one who moves away, and the new one who makes the house a home again. The second family in my story is a gay family who adopts a baby. It’s not the focus of the story, just another family who loves the house and who the house loves. So, I’d say the message of my book is “Love is love and love makes a home.”

“Love is love and love makes a home.” is a beautiful message for a lovely story. Thank you Colleen, for sharing it with us.

Here is my review for: A HOME AGAIN by Colleen Kosinski, Illustrated by Valeria Docampo

Exquisite illustrations compliment a text that conveys all the special things that make a house a home. Told from the house’s POV, all the feelings that come from being lived in, cared for, and celebrated shine through the house, until its occupants move away. Then feelings turn sad, grey, lonely, as the house sits neglected. Can it ever be a home again?

A gently told story of what it means to treasure and appreciate the place we call home.

“Love is love and love makes a home.”

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@Colleen Kosinski http://www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com

Colleen writes picture books and middle grade novels. Her picture books include Lilla’s Sunflowers, A Home Again, and Love Made Me More (2022). Her middle grade novel is titled, A Promise Stitched In Time. For the last year she has been working as an editor at Reedsy.com and teaching classes on picture book writing. She is also involved in her local chapter of the SCBWI, and the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. Colleen is a graduate of Rutgers University, as are her husband and sons. Her daughter followed the bright lights to work in the film industry in LA. Colleen works from her Cherry Hill, NJ studio with her canine assistant, Sage.

Check out Colleen's new picture book!
A Home Again
https://colleenrowankosinski.com/my-books/a-home-again/

and her other titles
https://colleenrowankosinski.com/my-books/

Book Review: BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES by Mike Ciccotello

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a charming and fun-filled picture book in a give-away on the Writing and Illustrating blog run by Kathy Temean: http:kathytemean.wordpress.com

BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES by Mike Ciccotello is that book. Here is my review of this delightful story that bridges the transition from summer to Back-To-School for the youngest kids.

Beach Toys vs. School Supplies

            The contest is on for who can build the best sand castle of all: The beach toys who have done it forever, or the school supplies who have all the proper equipment to measure and make the sand do what it does best. Does bigger mean better?  School supplies think so, but when things don’t work out quite the way they envisioned, will beach toys come to the rescue?

            Engaging illustrations and “punny” word play make the contest fun to watch. The message of friendship, co-operation, and kindness make this a perfect book for the transition from summer to school for the youngest readers.

So, grab your beach toys and school supplies and head on over to the beach for some sand castle building of your own…now is the perfect time.

Cathy Ballou Mealy Presents: SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE…a new PB of an unlikely friendship + plus a give-away.

Today It is my pleasure to feature author CATHY BALLOU MEALY with her new PB SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE.

How did you decide to have such an unlikely pairing of a squirrel and sloth as friends?

An article about animal ambassadors in the Wall Street Journal entitled Sloths Hot, Armadillos Not: Zoos Seek Affection for Overlooked Species got me interested in learning more about sloths. When I discovered that sloths spend 95% of their lives in the treetop canopy, I knew my character should have an active tree-dweller as a buddy. Since opposites attract, I chose a zippy, chippy squirrel to set the stage for a funny friendship adventure.

What inspired the story and the whimsical approach you took to tell it?

Thank you for appreciating the whimsy! I think there is always a need for lighthearted, humorous picture books, especially as read alouds. I was seeking a story line for sloth and squirrel when I saw a billboard for “Brooklyn Pickle Packers.” I loved the crisp, funny alliteration. Coincidentally, I had just read Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks in which he praised both the ‘k’ sound and the word pickle for innate humor.

What message do you want readers to take away from the tale?

Laughter and a love of silly books! And possibly the idea that whether you are packing pickles, selling popsicles, or riding a bike, everything is more fun with a friend.

What are you working on now?

Sloth and Squirrel will be going on more adventures in a new as-yet-untitled tale. And my agent is submitting another humorous food-centric story about a raccoon struggling to make tasty s’mores in the moonlight.

Anything else we should know?

Kelly Colliers’s brilliant illustrations add so much humor, expression and personality to the characters and story line! I especially adore her interpretation of grouchy Mr. Peacock, the pickle plant manager. From his bushy, black eyebrows to his button-down vest and shiny name tag, he is the perfect unforgiving bird boss!

Readers are welcome to connect with me online! Tell me if you have seen a sloth in real life, or if you have ever joined a friend on an adventure gone awry. Kids Can Press has graciously agreed to send a copy of Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle to one lucky reader in Canada or the USA if you leave a comment on this post! One winner’s name will be drawn at random and contacted.

Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle Written by Cathy Ballou Mealey Illustrated by Kelly Collier Kids Can Press Fiction, ages 3-7  

Cathy Ballou Mealey lives with her family north of Boston, where she delights in watching silly squirrel antics and is waiting patiently for a sloth to appear. Her favorite pickle is a crunchy bread-and-butter chip and her favorite popsicle is red raspberry.

Her new book, SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE, is a rollicking read-aloud that celebrates teamwork and ingenuity between two loveable but unlikely friends who get jobs packing slippery pickles so they can buy a bicycle.

Website: https://cathyballoumealey.wordpress.com/about/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatBallouMealey

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