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.

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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!

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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.

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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/

BOARDWALK BABIES: a New PB by Marissa Moss + Giveaway.

Today it is my pleasure to feature a new non-fiction picture book from author Marissa Moss titled BOARDWALK BABIES ( Illustrated by April Chu Creston 2021). Here are the reviews for this fascinating story:

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“A thought-provoking telling of an unusual historical episode.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“In the late 19th century, hospitals didn’t know how to care for premature babies and believed they were “doomed to die.” However, one young doctor believed he had the answer. Dr. Martin Couney of Germany asked Empress Augusta Victoria to allow him to care for babies from her hospital in his newly invented baby incubators. Empress Victoria approved his request. Couney created a traveling showcase of the world’s tiniest babies, first in exhibition halls and world fairs, then finally settling into a permanent spot on Coney Island in 1903. Babies received the best care from a dedicated and trained nursing staff, paid for by the entrance fees to see the exhibit. Babies of all races, religions, and backgrounds were accepted. Couney generated as much publicity as he could. He hired carnival barkers to advertise the exhibit and emphasized the small size of the babies by dressing them in oversized clothes and bows. The public loved watching the tiny tots grow and thrive, but it was the hospitals that Couney hoped to convince—he wanted incubators in every hospital. Over the years, Couney saved 6,500 babies, many of whom came back to thank him when they grew up. Moss turns a little-known historical subject into a poignant and readable picture book. In particular, the direct and clear approach to explaining the needs and the care of premature babies is handled well. The soft illustrations and the heartwarming approach make this story beautiful and relevant to all families. VERDICT A moving must-have for every nonfiction collection.”

  • Starred Review, School Library Journal

​”Moss (the Amelia’s Notebook series) surveys the use of premature infants as sideshow entertainment in this informative overview of pioneering pediatric history, which occurred on the Coney Island boardwalk from 1903 to 1943. To convince a highly skeptical medical establishment of incubators’ lifesaving value, neonatal technology advocate Martin Couney ran the Baby Incubator exhibit each summer. Staffed by medical professionals—including Couney’s wife and, later, daughter (born prematurely)—the exhibit saved 6,500 babies: “It didn’t matter what religion they were, the color of their skin, or how poor the parents were. Families weren’t charged anything… entrance fees paid for everything.” Chu’s (In a Village by the Sea) realistic illustrations in muted hues set a gentle tone.. . this narrative nonfiction account will prove absorbing. Ages 8–9. (Mar.)

— Publishers Weekly

I am giving away a copy of this fascinating book to one person drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post. If you share the post, let me know, and I’ll give you a second chance to win.

Marissa Moss is the award-winning author and illustrator of more than 70 children’s books, including her own graphic novel series, Amelia’s Notebook. You can see more of her work at http://www.marissamoss.com.

April Chu has won awards for her gorgeous illustrations. She studied architecture and infuses that knowledge of detail and perspective into her art. Her work has been featured in the Society of Illustrator’s Original Art show.

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

 

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 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.

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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