PB Author Nancy Churnin Returns to Talk About FOR SPACIOUS SKIES + a Give-away.

As promised, non=fiction PB author NANCY CHURNIN is back. Last week I featured her new book BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING. Today Nancy is here to discuss another new book titled FOR SPACIOUS SKIES (Albert Whitman and Company)  Here’s Nancy:

thumbnail 5

How did you discover Katharine?

Curiosity! After researching Irving Berlin who wrote “God Bless America” for Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing (Creston),  I wanted to learn more about composers of America’s other great patriotic anthems. Most people know about Francis Scott Key and “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and there have been a lot of books about how that song came to be — but what about “America the Beautiful”? I was startled to see it had been written by a woman, Katharine Lee Bates, whom I knew very little about. I set out to find everything I could about her and the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. 

What was the most surprising thing that happened during your research for the story?

There were so many wonderful details — too many to include in the book! One favorite is how she was given dolls to encourage her to sew as other girls her age did. But she hated sewing so much, she would just plaster them with wet leaves. The other is how she popularized the idea of Mrs. Santa Claus with another poem she wrote. I tried so hard to shoehorn that in. At some point, I am going to have write a separate book about that!

What are 3 things readers should know about Katharine?

She stood up for herself. She wanted an education at a time when women weren’t expected to get an education, she studied hard and she got it. She was in the second graduating class at Wellesley and continued her education, returning to Wellesley as a professor and later chair of the English department

thumbnail 3

She stood up for others. She took care of her mother and sister who lived with her. She help organize a settlement for women in need. She spoke up for those in need: she wrote a well-received novel about the poor, Rose and Thorn. She advocated for peace and was an early supporter of League of Nations, the precursor to what would later become the United Nations. She loved to teach and encourage her students and she mentored and championed other writers, including the young Robert Frost! She fought for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot. 

She loved nature and life, she was kind and had a great sense of humor. She gave “America the Beautiful” to America as a gift; she never charged a penny for its use. She loved writing stories for children, she would hand-write copies of “America the Beautiful” for fans that requested it and she enjoyed having her picture taken with her collie, Hamlet, and her parrot, Polonius.

This is the second book you’ve written about an American song writer (Irving Berlin). What drew you to the subject matter?

People have very different ideas about what patriotism is — what it means to love your country. In writing about Irving Berlin, it was important for me to show how grateful this immigrant was for finding a home in America, how much he and so many immigrants have given back to this country and also how being an immigrant was a gift in and of itself. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing shows how he took the melodies he brought with him and mixed it with the sounds of his new country to create a new sound that was irresistible and gave Americans hope and courage when they needed it most. Katharine Lee Bates’ family had deep roots in America, but as a woman, she had to stand up and fight for so many things — her right for an education, for independence, even to vote. She saw America as beautiful, yes, but with the caveat that we have a role to play in that beauty. She wrote that poem to help a nation divided by the Civil War to heal. When she writes “crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea,” she is asking us to remember we are all one American family and we need to help and support each other.

thumbnail 4

What do you want readers to take away from the story?

I hope Katharine’s story and her poem will inspire children to see our country as one family and focus on all that we have in common. I hope it will get children thinking not only about the the spacious skies, the amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties that make our country beautiful, but what WE need to do to make our country beautiful — promote brotherhood and, as they add at Wellesley college, sisterhood! That’s why I’ve created a project to go with the book, FOR SPACIOUS LINES, where I’m asking kids to share what they are doing or what we can and should be doing to make our country more beautiful. You’ll find it on my website, along with a free teacher guide and resources at nancychurnin.com.

Here is Darlene’s review for this wonderful book:

FOR SPACIOUS SKIES by Nancy Churnin

Katharine Lee Bates was a pioneer, doing things women were told they couldn’t do. Speaking her mind, sharing her thoughts and ideas about inequality, injustice, oppression. After a train trip across the country in 1893, she was moved and inspired by the beauty and wonder the country had to offer. Beauty and wonder that was available to everyone. She wrote a poem expressing her feelings.

That poem became a national song of unity and pride. AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.

Thoughtfully told, and beautifully illustrated, this story is a perfect celebration of what unites us and makes a perfect addition to any classroom non-fiction history collection.

Nancy has agreed to give away one signed copy of her book. To enter, please leave a comment telling us your favorite patriotic song. I will enter each name into a hat. If you share this post on social media, let me know and you will have a second chance to win. One name will be drawn from those entered and announced next month on this blog.

 

thumbnail ANancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies on multiple state reading lists with a ninth due in 2021. Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick selected for the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The William Hoy Story, a Bank Street Book Awards selection, has been a Texas 2X2 pick and Armadillo Readers Choice selection, on Illinois’ Monarch Award master list, the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award and Connecticut’s Charter Oak Book Award list. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award, a Junior Library Guild selection, an Anne Izard Storytellers Choice Award and Silver Eureka honoree. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association, the Wisconsin Picture This list, the Brave Book list and was featured at the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival in Memphis and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. Nancy is a founding member of the Nonfiction Ninjas and the NF Chicks. She graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats. You can find Nancy Churnin on social media.

On her website: nancychurnin.com

On Facebook: Nancy Churnin Children’s Books

 

 

 

I Wish…I Imagine…Craft For Mother’s Day in the Time of Coronavirus.

While we are sheltering in place and social distancing, it doesn’t mean we can’t do something special to honor our moms, grandmas, step-moms, and the other women in our lives who love us and take such good care of us. 

This simple craft comes from my new book: WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY  (Creston).

WoCCover0111 year-old Jack, his 5 year-old sister Katy, and their mom Lily are spending summer with their grandparents as they wait and hope to hear word about Jack’s dad who is MIA in Vietnam. To help get through the worry and anxiety of not knowing his whereabouts, Lily tells them to “hold onto hope”.

When we hold onto hope, we can imagine better times and imagine how we hope things will be when those better times return.

At the end of their summer together, JACK, KATY, JILL, and CODY decide to make a hand wreath to symbolize their wishes, hopes, imaginings, for when they meet again a whole year away. Here is that poem from the book:

HAND
It’s Jill’s idea to trace everyone’s hand,
both hands actually, so we can make two circles
with hands joined together, fingers
touching wrists,
so it looks like a paper wreath.

Hands of friendship, Jill says, forever linked.
And holding on to hope, I say, thinking of Dad.
We trace the grown-ups hands, too,
all of us linked together
in a circle that doesn’t end, like the silly song.

Jill and Cody keep one circle
and I give the other to Gran and Pops.
We have to make another one, Katy says.
I want a hand wreath so I can always remember
my summer of wishes and how all of them
came true.

Eyes wide, Katy says, Let’s write a wish
on each one so
next year we can see if they
come true without Fred.

Kid genius, Cody says, smiling at Katy.
I think we should keep them
secret, I say as we write down our
hopes and dreams on this third wreath.

We cover the back of each hand with
a paper door,
to be opened like a time capsule
next time we meet. We trade this new one,
the one with our
hopes and dreams,
for the one we gave Gran and Pops,
so we aren’t tempted to take a peek.

wish hands

You and your kids can do this, writing I WISH…I IMAGINE…I DREAM…on one side of each hand, and then what each hope, wish, or dream might be when we are over this pandemic and things are back to normal, on the reverse. Write down the things you’d want to do with your MOM or GRANDMA when you can be together again. Hang it up, or tuck it away and bring it out when we are free of self-isolation and see how many of your hopes, dreams, and imaginings came true.

Stay Safe, hold onto hope, and have a Happy Mother’s Day.

Teresa Robeson Presents: Two Bicycles In Beijing + a Give-away.

Today I am so excited to feature my author friend TERESA ROBESON who will tell us something about her new PB Two Bicycles In Beijing (Albert Whitman & Company 2020). Here’s Teresa:

bicycles in beijing cover

 

There are times when a happy confluence of somewhat random thoughts and ideas in my brain end up creating something wonderful. Two Bicycles In Beijing was the end result of one of those circumstances.

My father took my family on a trip to China back in 2013. It was something my parents had wanted to do for a while since the last time we went was in 1987 before I was married with kids of my own. They were eager to visit our ancestral homeland again with our expanded family to share our heritage with my kids who are half-Chinese, and my white American husband who had never been.

Sadly, my mom passed away before we could take this trip, but we still had a memorable time. We toured four cities—Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, and Hong Kong. Each of those places had their own unique character and attractions. Perhaps it was because we spent the most time in Beijing, and because it’s the capital of modern China, but my mind kept going back to our time there after our vacation. So that is the first random reoccurring thought.

Great Wall

Another involves one of my favorite photos that I took in Beijing. It features a row of bicycles parked outside of a building, and flanked by colorful flowers and lanterns. I love it so much, I used it online as a header on social media for a while. 

Bicycles

At some point, I had also come across an article about all the bicycles that are in China, in particular Beijing. It really stuck with me as I think about environmental issues a lot with my husband being a climatologist who studies pollution and climate change.

With all these things flitting through my mind, it was only natural that a story involving bikes, and set in Beijing, would suggest itself. I wanted it to be a friendship story because that is a common theme in books, especially kids’ books, and I still, at the age of 55, wrestle with the concept of friendship. I think I had imagined the main characters to be human with bikes being involved, but somewhere along the way, I decided that it would be fun to have bikes take the center stage since they are so important in China.

With China being such a huge country, going from one city to another requires transportation with mechanical power. But within cities and towns, bicycles are the perfect way to travel: they don’t cost much, and you don’t need to rely on someone else’s schedule, like you would with buses or trains. Yet, despite their simple design and inexpensiveness, bikes can help you traverse distances faster and with less effort than on foot. With the addition of a basket or an attached seat, you can also carry cargo that you might not otherwise be able to on foot. It’s no wonder that bicycles are so popular and important in Beijing: what else can give you such speed and independence so inexpensively?  Passenger bike

And when you’re that reliant on your bike, you might start to see it as more than a useful tool…perhaps you might even see it as a friend? *smile*

 

Here is Darlene’s review of this unique story:

A lovely tale of friendship between two bicycles made together in a factory, side-by-side in a store until one day when they are separated. Each is bought by someone different. Will the red bicycle find her yellow friend? The story take us on a ride to the sites and sounds of the bustling city of Beijing past all the yellow that brightens the countryside. The soft and joyful illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to this story. Told from the point of view of Lunzi…the yellow bicycle who goes out in search of her red friend Huangche…this tale will delight anyone who’s ever loved a bicycle.

Darlene will be giving away a copy of this book to one lucky winner drawn at random. To enter, leave a comment about your favorite bicycle experience. If you share this post on social media, she will give you a second chance to win. The winner will be announced on this blog sometime in May.

TeresaRobeson photo

TERESA ROBESON was born in Hong Kong, raised in Canada, and now writes and creates from her mini-homestead in southern Indiana, where she lives with her scientist husband. Visit her online at:

http://www.teresarobeson.com

Hello from Renn Lake: by Michele Weber Hurwitz…Just in Time For Earth Day + Give-away.

Today it is my pleasure to feature middle grade author Michele Weber Hurwitz, with her new book HELLO FROM RENN LAKE. I am really excited about this book since it is centered around a cause I’m passionate about: Environmental activism.

 Welcome to RENN LAKE:

Hello From Renn Lake cover

Twelve-year old Annalise Oliver, who was abandoned as a baby in a small Wisconsin town, has a unique bond with Renn Lake because of events that occurred the night she was left. When a small patch of algae quickly becomes a harmful bloom and the lake is closed, Annalise and her friends take a risk to save their beloved lake and the town that depends on it. But this means Annalise must confront her deepest fears and most troubling questions. There are secrets about the night she was left, and the lake was the only witness.  

Three things about Annalise

  • Annalise is grappling with her unknown origins but instead of searching for where she came from, she makes a decision to put down roots in the place she was found. Roots are also part of the possible solution that may help Renn Lake recover. So, both literally and figuratively, roots play a role in the story’s theme.

 

  • Annalise becomes a determined activist in her small town, convincing others to join her crusade to save the lake after authorities take a “wait and see” approach. When she was three, Annalise first discovered she could sense what Renn Lake was thinking and feeling. Renn has always been a source of comfort and calm, so when the lake is covered with the algal bloom and goes silent, Annalise is devastated. Michele said that while she was writing, she kept thinking about the phrase “body of water” – that lakes, rivers, and oceans are living beings as much as plants and animals.

 

  • When Annalise meets Zach, who’s visiting for the summer and staying with his dad in the cabins near the lake, they help each other work through not only their own issues but also the environmental crisis. One aspect Michele loves about this book is while there’s certainly normal tension between Annalise, her friend Maya, her little sister Jess, and Zach, the four kids support and accept each other. There’s no mean girl or backstabbing. And no one is left out.

 

Three things about Renn Lake

  • Renn narrates part of the story. Michele didn’t have the lake as a narrator in her first draft, but as she wrote, she said she realized that the only way to fully tell this story was to include the lake’s perspective. She loved how Ivan narrated in The One and Only Ivan, but wasn’t sure if an element of nature could do the same. But the idea took hold and wouldn’t let go, so she said she took a leap of faith. Once Michele gave Renn a voice, the story flowed (pun intended) from there. She thinks it deepened the narrative to understand how a lake would feel if it was covered with toxic algae and couldn’t breathe.

 

  • Renn is centuries old and has seen many people come and go. Only a few have had the special ability to sense the lake like Annalise can. People have always gravitated to and lived near water – it’s an essential element of life. In this story, readers will really get the sense of the importance of water and how our actions are negatively affecting its viability.

 

  • Renn’s connection with its cousin, the river Tru, is an essential part of the plot. Their relationship is as tender, complex, and believable as any human characters. While they have different personalities and outlooks, their support of each other is strong and enduring.

Michele is the author of four other middle grade novels, from Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster – Calli Be Gold, The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days, Ethan Marcus Stands Up, and Ethan Marcus Makes His Mark. Her books have been on several state reading award lists, received starred reviews, and have been published in other countries. She lives in the Chicago area and often spends time at nearby lakes. Also, she loves ice cream.    Michele Weber Hurwitz author

Here is a pre-order link on Indie Bound

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781984896322

Here is a quote from Kirkus Reviews

“An earnest and disarming tale of human and environmental caring.”

 

Michele is happy to do a giveaway for readers . Please leave a comment and share some small thing you do to care for the Earth  and reduce your carbon footprint. Names will be entered into a hat and one winner will be drawn at random and announced on this blog. 

micheleweberhurwitz.com

Instagram

Twitter

 

Bedtime Tales Give Us Words to Live By: by Marilyn Ostermiller.

Who doesn’t love how children’s books transport us to amazing places and introduce us to characters who steal our hearts? Their lasting legacy, though, is the life lessons they share with us.

Take, for example these pithy quotes from timeless children’s books that comfort and challenge us to be our better selves.

“Choose kind”.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
Wonder

R.J. Palacio started an international movement with Wonder, her middle grade book about a boy with a facial deformity who is desperate to fit in with his classmates. More than 16 million copies of the book have been sold and it was made into a motion picture.

The full thought is, “When given a choice between right and kind, always choose kind.”

It’s proactive. It doesn’t have to cost anything. Anyone can do it. No wonder that simple thought grabbed our collective attention.

“Friendship doesn’t have to be hard”.

 Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate.

Wishtree

This thought, communicated by “Red,” a wise oak tree, speaks to the middle school kid in each of us, who remembers how it felt when everybody else had someone to sit with in the lunchroom.

“We can all dance, if we find the music we love.”

Giraffes Can’t Dance, Giles Andrea

Reminiscent of Rudolph, Santa’s red-nosed reindeer, Gerald, the giraffe, longs to dance, but crooked knees and long, skinny legs make it difficult and his companions laugh at him. Gerald learns it’s okay to be different and dance to your own tune.

“I love you right up to the moon — and back.”

Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney

This is the beloved story of Little Nut Hare and Big Nut Hare. Little Nut Hare asks his father “Guess How Much I Love You.” Thus begins an endearing contest, with each one finding bigger and bigger ways to express their love for each other.  There are no losers in this competition.

“There’s no place like home”

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum.

That’s what Dorothy said to Toto after they returned to home to Kansas from the Land of Oz. The feeling is universal, especially when home is another word for love.

The first press run of 10,000 copies in 1901 quickly sold out. Three million copies had been sold by 1955, when it entered the public domain.

Makes you want to read someone a bedtime story, doesn’t it?

Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who never outgrew her love of children’s books.

 

 

The Official Blog Tour Schedule For WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY.

The official release of my new MG historical fiction novel in verse, WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston) is APRIL 7.Here are some early reviews:

Uniquely original and with an important underlying social message for children ages 8-12, “Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully” is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections.   

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/cbw/dec_19.htm

“Although it’s set in the 1960s, the story reflects timeless issues that will resonate with modern readers. A fresh, inspiring exploration of a daunting issue.” (Historical verse fiction. 9-12) KIRKUS

In anticipation and celebration of this book birthday, I am having a tour of several blogs in March and April. At these spots you can learn more about how the book came to be, why it’s in verse, how I determined the 1960’s setting and more.  PLUS there will be TWO opportunities to win a signed copy of the book.

WoCCover01Here is the schedule of blog stops, beginning on March 9. I hope you will visit some of these blogs and learn more about the book  as well as the awesome authors who are hosting me.

Laura Sassi: March 9 post on 5 fun facts about the book.  http://www.laurasassitales.wordpress.com

 Josh Bellin: Q & A on March 12https://joshuadavidbellin.blogspot.com/p/my-blog.html

 Yvonne Ventresca  on March 18:  3 things readers should know about the book and 3 things I wish for the book.  

https://yvonneventresca.com/blog.html

Roseanne Kurstedt: March 24 post on 3 ways to stand up to a bully without using fists.  https://rlkurstedt.wordpress.com/

Robin Newman: March 30 A post with some books with WISHING in the title plus a few poems from the book.

http://www.robinnewmanbooks.wordpress.com

Holly Schindler:  APRIL 2:  post on how WISHES was plotted https://hollyschindler.wordpress.com/

Vivian Kirkfield: a book birthday post on April 7  a short review from Vivian, a poem from the book and a giveaway. (There will be cake!)

https://viviankirkfield.com/

Holly Schindler: Q&A for Smack Dab In The Middle on April 14  

http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com/

Kathy Temean: April 21: The book’s journey and a giveaway. http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com     

 

Interview with Brooke Van Sickle and her debut picture book, Pirates Stuck at ‘C’.

In Brooke Van Sickle’s debut picture book, Pirates Stuck at ‘C’, the pirates are on the hunt for treasure…but they’re not so great at finding any. Instead, Eric’s chasing eels, Killian’s tangled in Kelp, and Marty’s splashing with mermaids. (And that’s just to name a few!)

pirates stuck cover with tittles

I had Brooke talk a little bit more about her kid’s book writing experience and new picture book. Read more about her below.

Congratulations on your upcoming picture book! Tell us a little about Pirates Stuck at ‘C’.

Thank you! Pirates Stuck at ‘C’ is about a crew of pirates that have landed on the perfect island for a treasure hunt — or so they think. Instead, they end up in antics for every letter of the alphabet!

Where did the inspiration come from for this book?

I was reading the jokes in a copy of Highlights and thought that the punch line would make a great title. From there, I began drafting an idea for an alphabet picture book about pirates.

Pirates Stuck at ‘C’ went through about 30 drafts before it was ready to publish. And from the point it was signed with the publisher, it still needed over 10 more rounds of edits. Including a full rework about halfway through the illustration process!

Your book is published by BiblioKid Publishing, which is your own company. Explain to us why you decided to go this route and the mission behind it.

Yes – I decided to create a publishing company, actually after having a coaching session with best-selling author, Ruth Soukup. We were talking about Journey to KidLit, my blog where I help other aspiring kid’s book authors, but it turned to my own books and my passion to want to start a company. To which she simply asked, “why not now?”

And that’s how we got here. I wanted a way to give back to education, particularly through reading initiatives, and this was the best way to do that. With a traditional publisher, my royalties would be too minuscule to have that opportunity. 

That’s an interesting approach. What makes you passionate about education and reading?

I’ve always been a proponent of education because I believe it’s the axis that leads us to chase our dreams and become successful. However, it wasn’t until I was substitute teaching for inner-city schools that I realized the great need for kids to have access to books and feel empowered to want to read.

And with education being the first thing that tends to be cut from government budgets, it takes people giving to these places to help keep them funded. BiblioKid Publishing will start by donating 50% of its profits to 2 major charities, Pencils of Promise https://pencilsofpromise.org/  and First Book https://firstbook.org/ but will eventually venture into more local and individual school fundraising opportunities.

Does BiblioKid Publishing accept submissions from other authors?

BiblioKid will open up to other authors in 2021. You can find our submission guidelines when that happens on our website. And the best place to stay informed on when they open up is to join the email list. You can do that here: https://my.journeytokidlit.com/how-to-write-a-childrens-book-template and I’ll give you a free copy of my Children’s Book Template just for signing up.

If you had one tip for anyone wanting to publish their own kid’s book, what would you tell them?

You need to study the industry! The best place to start is by reading books that have been published recently and to be writing consistently in the genre you hope to write. Without being disciplined and having continual practice, it’s impossible to get better. (And you can read the other article I wrote here to get even more tips!)

IMG_20191219_115652

If you would like to learn more about Brooke Van Sickle, visit her website at brookevansickle.com. Pirates Stuck at ‘C’ sets sail February 25th, but you can pre-order your copy here. (And 50% of the profits will be donated back to low-income schools!)

Brooke Van Sickle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and  Regional Webmaster for the Iowa-SCBWI region. She’s also a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MiPa).

PIRATES STUCK AT “C”, published by BiblioKid Publishing, is Brooke Van Sickle’s debut picture book. She also has 2 more books expected in 2020. When not writing her own books, Brooke teaches other aspiring writers how to write and publish kids’ books at www.journeytokidlit.com

Learn more about her on her website www.brookevansickle.com and connect with her on social @authorbrookevs.

Brooke has also agreed to give away one signed copy to a lucky reader! Leave a comment below and share this post to enter. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on this blog. Good luck!

Darlene’s Review of PIRATES STUCK AT “C”:

Hop aboard Captain Scallywag’s ship for a fun-filled adventure in this pirate-themed alphabet book. Young readers will learn about life in the sea, and the life of a pirate with whimsical and colorful illustrations to add to the fun.

Brooke Van Sickle Presents: Her 6 Simple Steps to Write a Successful Kid’s Book.

Today it is my pleasure to share the blog with fellow children’s book author BROOKE VAN SICKLE who recently published a PB titled PIRATES STUCK AT “C”.  She is here to share her own process for writing picture books. She has tons of free material and some great links to get you started in writing for children.

Here’s Brooke:

Millions of people say they want to write a kid’s book, but not everyone does. There’s a lot of work and patience that goes into writing, and tons of rejection, after you’ve created your story, which causes many people to give up. But if you can make it through all that, it’s so worth it!

To help prepare you, here are 6 easy steps you can start today, in order to have a completed kid’s book to share with others this year.

How to Write a Kid’s Book that Attracts Readers:

 I firmly believe that every book deserves a place on a child’s bookshelf if you can write it well enough. And the writing part may not be as hard as you think! You don’t have to be a master writer or someone with a big degree in creative writing. (Let out that breath you’ve been holding!) You simply have to be willing to put in the work. This is what you need to do to write a book that sells:

 

Six Steps to Write a Kid’s Book Well:

1 – Decide what kind of book you’re going to write.

Businesswoman Reading Information On Laptop

All picture books are children’s books, but not all kid’s books are picture books. In fact, there are 6 main categories of children’s books! (If you’re unsure of what those are, here’s a helpful article with the full list to help you.)

 

The best way to decide on the type of book you intend to write is to think about the age of your reader. Who is going to read your book? About how old are they?

2 – Once you have an idea, make sure it’s saleable.

 An important step for writing a kid’s book is to make sure it’s going to sell. (No one wants to spend over a year on something only to get stuck trying to publish it!) There are a few things I do on this step:

  • Search your topic idea to see what already exists
  • Read books that are similar to your idea
  • Research and read top-selling books in your genre that have been published in the last 3-5 years.

Doing this research will help you find comp books to use later in a query letter, let you know if your idea already exists to know if you should change it or find a new idea, and help you understand what’s been selling or is popular already with readers and publishers. All of which are important when you decide to sell your manuscript!

3 – Join SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and find a writing group.

I would never have been able to publish a kid’s book without the help of all my writing friends and SCBWI. You need other writers not just to read your work and offer critiques, but to also encourage you as you begin your journey. It can be a long and hard process, but with others who are going through it, it will also be some of the most fun you’ll ever have. Plus, you’ll have a group of supporters to celebrate with you when you finally get to hold your published book!

4 – Outline your story.

There are a lot of pantsers out there that would disagree with me on this step, but I think outlining is VITAL to writing any book. (You can’t find your destination without the direction for where you want to go!) Even if you change your mind later, or decide that you want to go in a different direction, it’s better to have a plan going in. At least outline who your characters are, what’s going to happen, and how you expect it to end before you begin writing.

5 – Write your first draft.

This is the exciting part! You know what kind of story you want to write and you’ve done your research. You’re ready. So start writing!!

6 – Edit your draft and write again and again until you get it right.

 Sorry, the first draft you write won’t be the only draft. In fact, it may take you 30 or 50 versions to get it right! And then your agent or editor may have even more edits!!

I’ve mentored some writers that get discouraged with editing or don’t think they need to edit their stories at all, but I would caution against that. No one gets it right on their first time. So don’t be afraid to listen to good critiques and to try again.

Your goal should always be to write the best story you can!

If you want to get started writing a kid’s book, get my “How to Write a Kid’s Book” guide here. It’s free and has everything you need to start writing your book idea today! And if you want to dive deeper, visit journeytokidlit.com for more articles to writing and publishing tips for children’s book writers.

IMG_20191219_115652

Brooke Van Sickle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and  Regional Webmaster for the Iowa-SCBWI region. She’s also a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MiPa).

PIRATES STUCK AT “C”, published by BiblioKid Publishing, is Brooke Van Sickle’s debut picture book. She also has 2 more books expected in 2020. When not writing her own books, Brooke teaches other aspiring writers how to write and publish kids’ books at www.journeytokidlit.com.

Learn more about her on her website www.brookevansickle.com and connect with her on social @journeytokidlit.

Brooke will return next month with a post about PIRATES STUCK AT “C”  and a give-away.

 

 

Making Their Voices Heard: Vivian Kirkfield ‘s New PB + A Give-away.

Hi Darlene! Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by to visit. I’m especially honored because today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and my new nonfiction picture book, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, aligns perfectly with what Dr. King stood for. It’s so important for us all to make our voices heard…when something is not right, we need to stand up and speak out. But more than just speak out, we need to do something. We also need to listen to all of the voices around us. Yes, we need to create a culture of allyship – and this is what my story is about. Who would have thought that a picture book about an event that happened over 70 years ago could be so relevant today?

Ella Marilyn cover

Most people who remember jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald and movie star Marilyn Monroe only know their celebrity persona…but each was a multi-faceted individual. One of the main reasons I wanted to write this story was because I think it is so important for the world to embrace inclusivity and allyship…and what better place to start than a picture book that a parent or teacher or librarian will read with young children.

inside spread nightclub 2

Ella was Queen of Jazz and First Lady of Song to many and was the FIRST African American singer to win a Grammy. Not only did she win a Grammy…but she won TWO Grammys in 1959, the very first year they were awarded. She was celebrated here and abroad, but because she was African American and not beautiful in the Hollywood sense of the word, there were still doors that remained closed to her, especially in the United States. But Ella did not believe in violence, much like Dr. King. When she was bumped from a flight during a connection in Hawaii and missed a concert in Australia, Ella didn’t hoot and holler. She sued TWA, went to court, and won! And that was before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. Ella was a great admirer of Dr. King and, in 1968, after he was murdered, Ella composed and recorded a song as a tribute: It’s Up to Me and You. A few lines:

Use common sense

Not violence

We can live in harmony

Here’s the link in case anyone wants to listen: https://youtu.be/7VpI_0nlV8I

The second main character in my book was known as the Blonde Bombshell and in 1999, over thirty-seven years after her death, People Magazine voted Marilyn Monroe the Sexiest Woman of the Century. Back in the 1950’s, studio bosses called her strawhead because they thought she was stupid, but she wasn’t. She loved reading…and she wrote beautiful poetry. She was the first female movie star to own a production company…and her hero was Abraham Lincoln. In a time when blacks and whites didn’t mix much, Marilyn was a proponent of Civil Rights and she defied her studio to visit New York City jazz clubs. She loved jazz…and she loved Ella and Ella’s voice. It was because she studied Ella’s recordings that her own vocal ability improved…and that led to her studio bosses giving her more control over her future scripts. When asked who was her favorite singer, Marilyn replied, “Well, my very favorite person, and I love her as a person as well as a singer, I think she’s the greatest, and that’s Ella Fitzgerald.”

inside spread 1

So, it’s not surprising that when Marilyn found out that Ella was having trouble getting a booking at a top nightspot in Hollywood, the two ladies put their heads together and came up with a plan. Marilyn called the owner of the club and promised to bring the media if he would book Ella for a week. And the rest is history…after the performance, Ella said, “I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt … she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild.

The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

ella and marilyn in nightclub

I feel so fortunate to share this story with young and old alike. In these divisive times, we need stories like this to bring us together… to build friendships with people from all cultures…because in the end, no matter what we look like on the outside, on the inside, just like Ella and Marilyn, we are “full of hopes and dreams, and plans of what might be.”

Here is Darlene’s review of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: An engaging and delightful journey through the talents and friendship of two of the most popular stars of their era. This story highlights and celebrates “girl power” and how friendship is not bound by race, gender, or upbringing.

Vivian will give away EITHER a SIGNED COPY of the book OR a PB CRITIQUE to one lucky winner drawn at random. To enter the give-away, leave a comment below. The winner will be announced on this blog.

picture-130-bw viv sitting

Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies 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 quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. 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, Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author of numerous picture books. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.

 

 

 

Roseanne Kurstedt Presents:KARATE KID + A Chance to Win a Copy.

Today it is my pleasure to host my friend and fellow Children’s Book Author ROSEANNE KURSTEDT who will share some things about her awesome picture book KARATE KID.

Karate Kid Cover High Resolution

Two Favorite Experiences through the Process

I have two favorite experiences. The first occurred during the creation of the story. As I was doing research, I wanted guidance from a senesi.  The master I trained with had moved away. I took Tae Kwon Do anyway so not sure how helpful that would have been since this book is about karate­, so I needed to find a Karate sensei. I reached out to a sensei at a local dojo and after briefly speaking on the phone, he agreed to meet. He was very helpful in validating and clarifying the information for me. He was so open and willing to help. He also agreed to host the New Jersey book launch for Karate Kid. He could not have been more kind and I am grateful to have connected with him.

My other favorite experience was meeting James and his family. He is the star in all the video promotions. He even ventured into the city to do a Karate demonstration during my New York City book launch. Meeting him and his family was certainly a highlight. His willingness to take risks and try new things is inspiring. He embodies many tenets of Karate.

Copy of Day 30.Quote 5-2 copy

Three Things About Karate Kid

1. Karate has helped Karate Kid have confidence to try new things–even outside of the Dojo. 2. His favorite move is not in the book. It’s a tornado kick.  3. It took him a long time to learn his first Kata.

When writing the book, I tried to have the tone and flow of the words parallel the tenets of each move, and karate in general.  When I read the following comment in the ALA Booklist review, I was thrilled. “…the books entertaining but accurate content, and the smooth written text incorporates the mental component of the sport.” Booklist @ALA_Booklist

Book Giveaway

Join the #IAmAKarateKid campaign—kids and adults can send pictures or words describing how they are a Karate Kid—someone with confidence and focus—someone who embodies the discipline and respect which is at the heart of karate.

So, if you are, or know of someone who is a Karate Kid, tweet, post to Instagram, or to my author Facebook page.  Remember to use #KarateConfidence and #IAmAKarateKid.  One person will receive a signed book and some awesome swag.

Rosanne L. Kurstedt, Ph.D. has been an educator for over 20 years. She’s been an elementary school teacher, staff developer, administrator, adjunct professor, literacy coach, curriculum writer, and most importantly an advocate for children and teachers. She is a co-author of Teaching Writing with Picture Books as Models (Scholastic, 2000) and author of the 100+ Growth Mindset Comments series (Newmark Learning, 2019) for grades K-6. She is currently the Associate Director of READ East Harlem/Hunter College and is so excited about the launch of her new picture book KARATE KID (Running Press Kids)—on sale September 3, 2019.

Finally, she is the founder and president of The Author Experience, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to the transformative power of sharing stories. In collaboration with students, families and educators, The Author Experience provides sustainable experiences that build a culture of literacy—one that elevates connections and delivers lasting impact. Please check us out at www.theauthorexperience.org and become a part of the story! IMG_9645Rosanne can be found on Twitter and Instagram @rlkurstedt and on Facebook @rlkurstedtauthor.