National “Go Fishing Day”…Take a Kid Fishing.

Tomorrow, June 18, is NATIONAL GO FISHING DAY.  Fishing has been around as long as man and women have.  It is a major industry that yields billions of dollars worldwide annually. It is also a great recreational activity for everyone, young and old. It’s a way to add food to the table and an opportunity to bond with family and friends.

The benefits of fishing are numerous. Did you know fishing actually boosts your immune system? When you do something you enjoy, your body responds by healing and strengthening itself. Being out in nature helps promote relaxation and is a way to practice calm and patience. It can lower blood pressure and can be done individually or with others. You can fish from the shore, from a boat or by standing in a stream.  However you decide to do it, why not teach a kid, your kid or a friend’s kid, to fish.

Check your local recreational areas for competitions and rules regarding proper fishing etiquette. Even during this Covid-19 pandemic, it’s okay to go fishing. 

kid fishing

When you go fishing, or teach a child to fish, you never know what you might catch.

Here’s a case in point, where eleven-year-old JACK takes his five-year-old sister KATY to fish for the first time from my newest MG novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston)   WoCCover01

FISH
Katy feels sorry for worms
and won’t fish with them.
I make balls of dough
from the crusts of our sandwiches to
bait her hook.

She breaks every rule about fishing.
Making loud noises, scaring the fish.
She can’t stand in one spot
more than a minute without
dancing
wiggling
spinning
tangling the fishing line,
asking so many questions
my ears are ready to
EXPLODE!!!

When are we going to catch a
FISH!!! she shouts for the
tenth time, dropping her pole to
chase a butterfly.
Fish don’t come around when it’s noisy,
so zzzzip your lips, I say.

She pretends to zip her lip,
humming the tune to
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Good grief.

FRED

After lunch I’m ready to leave.
No fish today, let’s go, I say.
Maybe the fish don’t like worms.
Maybe they’re veterinarians, Katy says.
She means vegetarians because
she hands me a grape and says
put it on the hook, Jack, please?

Can you sit without making a sound,
quiet as a stone?
She puts a finger to her lips, Shhhhh.
I hook the grape, toss the line,
hand the rod to Katy.

Before I settle onto the grass,
the line gives a tug.
Too heavy for me, I can’t do it, Jack.
I grab the rod and pull a fish out,
a fish with one eye.

It’s Fred, I tell her.
Katy strokes Fred’s tail with a pinkie.
A special fish, I say.
Like magic special?
Katy’s two eyes as wide as Fred’s one.
Don’t know, I say.
Katy frowns, so I say,
make a wish, quick before Fred goes back.

Pancakes for supper! she wishes,
kissing Fred on the tail.
Pancakes, I agree. As I slip
Fred into the water, he seems to
wink his eye before he swims away.

While you may not catch a fish that grants wishes, taking a child fishing will be something you’ll both remember for a long time. 

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:

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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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

Rachelle Burk Presents Oodles of Writing Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Kids.

New Jersey children’s author, Rachelle Burk, provides these RESOURCES FOR WRITERS for anyone who wants to write for children and see their work in print. You will find a wealth of resources to improve your writing, network with other children’s writers, and get your work published. And, it’s all gathered in one place.
There are categories for everything from Articles, Agents. Publishers, Magazines, Online Critique Groups, Forums, and much more.
Rachelle also has a comprehensive listing of resources for kids who write. So, rather than scroll through numerous websites, make Rachelle’s site your first stop for ALL THINGS to do with writing for kids.
rachelle
 
Rachelle Burk writes fiction and nonfiction for children ages 3-13. Her works include picture books Don’t Turn the Page!, Tree House in a Storm, The Best Four Questions (a PJ Library selection), and the award-winning biography Painting in the Dark: Esref Armagan, Blind Artist. Her chapter book The Tooth Fairy Trap has been a One School/One Book choice, and her middle grade science adventure novel, The Walking Fish, is a National Science Teachers Association award winner. Rachelle a has written for numerous children’s magazines, including Scholastic Science World, Scholastic SuperScience, Scholastic Scope and Highlights. She is the founder of the writer’s resource site ResourcesForChildrensWriters.com. A retired social worker, Rachelle is also children’s entertainer (Tickles the Clown and Mother Goof Storyteller). When she’s not writing, Rachelle enjoys adventure travel, scuba diving, hiking, and caving. You can find out more about her books and school visits at RachelleBurk.com

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

Happy Birthday to…My New Book!

Today is the official release date for my new MG novel-in-verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston). Even though I’m not able to celebrate with all of you in person, I still want to share the excitement. 

WoCCover01

I am still in the midst of a blog tour to promote the book, and you have several opportunities to win a signed copy beginning here:

swag

Win a signed copy and some games.

This is a story that takes you back to the lazy summer days of the 1960’s when summer fun included riding bikes, swimming, games of tag and Red Rover, ice cream, lemonade, flying kites, and playing jacks.

To enter the drawing for this SWAG BAG, leave a comment with your favorite summer fun activities you remember as a kid. Your name will be entered in the random drawing. If you share this post on FB, or Twitter, I will add an extra name to the hat. If you follow this blog, I will add a third name. Let me know what you do, so I can add the correct number of entries. A winner will be announced later this month.

For a second chance to win a signed copy of the book, visit Vivian Kirkfield’s blog:

https://viviankirkfield.com/

And now, here’s some cake…can’t celebrate a birthday without it!  bday cake

To order a copy:

https://www.amazon.com/Wishes-Dares-How-Stand-Bully/dp/1939547628

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wishes-dares-and-how-to-stand-up-to-a-bully-darlene-beck-jacobson/1132126165?ean=9781939547620

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781939547620

 

https://www.amazon.com/Wishes-Dares-How-Stand-Bully/dp/1939547628

Baseball Opening Day: Celebrate With Baseball Themed Books.

While this virus keeps us indoors, we can still get excited about the upcoming  summer when hopefully, things will be much better.  Today is the official opening day of the 2020 baseball season. I thought I’d recognize that with a couple of my favorite baseball themed books and with a poem from my new book, WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY  (Creston April 2020).

GOODBYE, MR. SPALDING, by Jennifer Robin Barr is a thoughtful and heart-warming middle grade tale of friendship, family and baseball set in Philadelphia in the early 1930’s.

Twelve-year-old Jimmy Frank and his best friend Lola have lived next door to each other since they were babies. Their houses overlook Shibe Park which happens to be the home of the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team. They and their families enjoy cheering on their favorite team from the rooftop bleachers of their 20th Street homes. The small admission fees charged to the folks that fill up the bleacher seats goes a long way toward making ends meet during difficult times. And, every so often an A’s player – like Jimmie Foxx – hits a right field home run right over the fence and onto their rooftop.

At the end of the 1934 season, the neighborhood gets news of a wall that is planned to be built to block their view and make the rooftop bleachers obsolete. This “spite wall” will take away a source of income for the families and erase a beloved tradition. Jimmy sets out to try and stop the wall. With Lola’s help, they try one scheme after another and only succeed in causing trouble for themselves and the community. Will Jimmy’s obsession with the wall ruin his chances of being bat boy for the A’s? Will it ruin his friendship with Lola? Will the Polinski brothers – AKA the neighborhood bullies succeed in ruining Jimmy?  Reader’s will eagerly turn pages to find out.

This delightful story is solidly grounded in the 1930’s with enough local and historical details to fix the depression-era time period. Hopeful, heart-felt and a celebration of teamwork and sportsmanship, it is sure to become a classroom favorite. It knocked me out of the park. Rule # 1934: Goodbye, Mr. Spalding is a home run!

THE EVERYTHING KIDS’ BASEBALL BOOK by Greg Jacobs has…everything.

“Everything you want in a kid’s book” (Associated Press) this informative and accessible guide to America’s favorite pastime covers everything from baseball’s history to today’s favorite players—with lots of home run fun in between.

WHO GOT GAME: BASEBALL By Derrick D. Barnes

Illustrated by John John Bajet

Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing but True Stories!

Celebrate the unheralded people and stories that helped shape the game of baseball!

Meet unsung pioneers, like John “Bud” Fowler, William Edward White, and brothers Moses Fleetwood Walker and Weld Walker, four African Americans who integrated white teams decades before Jackie Robinson.

Discover unforgettable moments, like the time a 17-year old girl named Jackie Mtchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Marvel at records. Did you know that Japanese superstar Sadaharu Oh has a whopping 113 more career homers than Hank Aaron?

Finally, here’s a poem from my book, WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, where Jack and his grandpa attend a baseball game together in the summer of 1964.

TEAM

A day at the ballpark with Pops
and my two favorite teams feels like
a dream you never want to wake up from.

Four rows behind home plate,
the grass is so green it hurts my eyes.
So much noise, Pops and me
have to yell at each other to be heard.

Smell of hotdogs, warm and
dripping with mustard,
tastes better than any hotdog
I ever ate. Even the seats,
sticky with spilled soda and beer
feel solid under me. Only one thing
would make this one-of-a-kind day better.

A team of three.

Where are you, Dad? Do you remember
our Little League team
that never won a game our first year?
That didn’t stop us from playing hard, so hard
that the second season we were 6-6.

Team work.
Thinking about Jill and her family team
that may not win every game, but they will be together.
Things work out better when
you work together, like we learned
in Little League.

Yankees beat the Red Sox 9-3.

back cover

So, hunker down, make some hotdogs and read about America’s favorite past time.

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.

CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan

I had the pleasure of winning a copy of this amazing book chronicling the events and circumstances of KRISTALLNACHT told through the alternating voices of a two boys on opposite sides of the early days of WWII and the beginning of the Holocaust.  Since today is HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, I thought it was fitting to feature the book. I will give away a signed copy of the book to one lucky reader who leaves a comment.

Here’s Jennifer to talk about her book:

Facts about Crushing the Red Flowers

Whether you’ve read Crushing the Red Flowers or not, read on!

COVER - FINAL front

Think you know the characters in Crushing the Red Flowers? Emil is a superstar at playing marbles and Friedrich loves his train collection. But can you guess their secrets? Their private hopes, dreams, likes, and dislikes? If you haven’t read the book yet, that’s okay, you can keep reading this blog. There are no spoilers that would give away big plot points. Just a few fun facts to give you an added glimpse into the characters’ worlds. I’ll even reveal a secret crush.

Crushing the Red Flowers is a middle-grade novel set in 1938 Germany over the pogrom commonly known as Kristallnacht. The story is written with alternating perspectives of two twelve-year-old main characters — Emil, a German Jewish boy, and Friedrich, a boy in Hitler’s Jungvolk.

What are Emil’s and Friedrich’s secrets?

Friedrich secretly wishes he could watch Emil beat the Jungvolk boys in a marble competition.

Emil secretly loves to play the piano. That is, he loves to create music, but hates being forced to practice. He wishes everyone would leave his house so he could sit by himself and invent melodies.

What jobs do Emil and Friedrich want when they get older?

Emil intends to become an upholsterer. He wants to learn to create furniture as fine as his favorite red velvet chair. His parents had always encouraged him to take up a trade instead of attending the Gymnasium (a German academic high school) because they thought knowledge of a vocation would be useful to him if he emigrated. And they also saw that it was becoming increasingly difficult for Jewish people to attend the Gymnasium. 

Friedrich would like to pursue an engineering apprenticeship. He wants to leave school and begin the apprenticeship in a couple years.

What are other fun facts about Emil and Friedrich?

Friedrich walks with a slight hunch because he doesn’t like to be noticed.

Emil hums when he strolls down the street because he always has a tune in his head.

Friedrich really wants a good friend. Yes, it’s true that he believes 95% of the population are fools, but he cherishes the honest connection he has with the other five percent. He had one close friend in the past, so he appreciates the significance of a solid friendship.

Emil loves learning Hebrew. The language makes him feel powerful. He pretends the foreign characters are a secret code language that only a few can read.

Friedrich longs for a closer relationship with his parents, like he had when he was younger. But he doesn’t know how to reconnect with them.

Emil wants to eat nut cake with his neighbor, Mrs. Schmidt, like he had when he was younger. To Emil, those years represent an easier, golden time when Jewish people were fully integrated into German society.

What about the other characters?

Papa (Friedrich’s father) hates kites. They remind him of the years of German hyperinflation in the early 1920s when everyone was hungry. The German currency had devalued so rapidly that neighborhood children used to fasten old, worthless banknotes together to create makeshift kites. Whenever Papa had seen a child flying one of these kites, he knew that child was not eating well. He never bought a kite for Friedrich.

Mother (Friedrich’s mother) fell in love with her husband because of his kindness toward her younger brother, Hilmar. When Papa came for visits before they were married, he would always bring him marzipan (almond sweets).

Vati (Emil’s father) likes to drive fast on purpose. Whenever Vati drives a car without his wife, he purposely speeds a bit too fast.

Mama (Emil’s mother) had started the visa application process long before Emil and his family realize. She never told anyone because, early on, they did not want to leave Germany. Mama knows her family is further along on the visa wait list than her husband thinks.

Sarah (Emil’s sister) loves spending time at the Bund, a Jewish social club. She joined after Jewish people were no longer allowed to use public places as they previously had. Sarah learned to play table tennis (ping pong) there and quickly became the best player.

Ari (Sarah’s crush) also has a secret crush on Sarah because she plays table tennis well.

Günter hates being a Jungvolk leader. He has no patience for mediocre young boys and believes he can make greater contributions in another position. He longs for advancement and wants to prove himself. He keeps details on boys’ strengths, not their faults as Friedrich believes, in his notebook, in case he is permitted to take favored boys along with him after he leaves. His favorites are Johannes (for his athleticism), Fritz (for his obedience and loyalty to Nazism), and Friedrich (for his ability to solve problems).

1Headshot-Closeup

 

Jennifer Voigt Kaplan is an award-winning author of children’s fiction. Her debut children’s novel, Crushing the Red Flowers, was published November, 2019 by Ig Publishing. The manuscript was endorsed by James Patterson and recognized in six literary contests before its publication, including earning a Letter of Merit for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant and winning the middle-grade category of Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize for Fiction. Jennifer was born in Germany, raised in Philadelphia, and now resides in the New York City area. 

Follow her Facebook author page, facebook.com/JenniferVoigtKaplan, or visit her website, JenniferVK.com, to stay informed of her latest projects.

Here is Darlene’s review of the book:

CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan is a brave and powerful story, uniquely told, of what it means to be human during a time of insanity and chaos. In 1938 Germany, the voices of a German-Jewish boy and a boy in Hitler’s Jungvolk alternate their stories in a compelling and heart-rending tale. Vivid details of time and place, and fully developed characters with empathy, confusion, and conflict, raise this story to the top of the holocaust genre. Based on the author’s true family experiences, this is a novel that will generate many class discussions for an overlooked time period just before the outbreak of WWII. Highly recommended for middle school and up. A stunning debut.

 

 

Children’s Books That Provide Early Halloween Chills, Thrills: By Marilyn Ostermiller

If ghostly capers and heart-stopping high jinks get your juices flowing, here’s a selection of Middle Grade books with nail-biting suspense, chatty ghosts and other, not so sociable apparitions.
Tunnel of Bones, second book in Victoria Schwab’s “City of Ghosts” series.

Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts #2) (2)

The plot: Ever since Cassidy Blake almost drowned, she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the spirit world. When her parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, Cass accidentally awakens a frightening young boy ghost who roams the catacombs under Paris’ streets.

What’s to Like: It’s one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read, but I couldn’t stop reading.

To Learn More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43411972-tunnel-of-bones

The Mystery of Hollow Inn, first of the Samantha Wolf Mysteries, by Tara Ellis

The Mystery Of Hollow Inn (Samantha Wolf Mysteries Book 1)

The plot: When 12-year-old Samantha arrives in the mountains of Montana, with her best friend, for a summer vacation, they uncover a villainous scheme at Hollow Inn to force Sam’s aunt and uncle out of business.

What’s to Like: It’s set in a mountain retreat so remote there’s no Wi-Fi or cell phone reception. The girls ignore the rules, and suffer the consequences, as they take readers on a fast-paced, contemporary adventure.

Learn More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21897748-the-mystery-of-hollow-inn

Lilac Skully and the Halloween Moon, third book in  Amy Cesari’s “Supernatural Adventures of Lilac Skully,” series.          Lilac Skully and the Halloween Moon

The Plot: Lilac lives in a haunted mansion with a coterie of ghosts and goblins. Lilac longs for the one normal thing she has never experienced, to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Where better to experience it than at the Seaside Fun Park with friends, or so she thought until some really scary villains seem intent on making her vanish forever. 

What’s to Like: It’s a tale of a young girl, who’s led such a sheltered life she’s never been introduced to sweets, not even candy corn until now.

Learn More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42105981-lilac-skully-and-the-halloween-moon

 

Marilyn OstermillerMarilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who enjoys sharing her favorite reads.

 

 

 

All Colors: by Amalia Hoffman

Today’s blog entry is brought to you by author/illustrator AMALIA HOFFMA, who will talk about her new board book ALL COLORS. Here’s Amalia:

cover

In 2017, I started experimenting with pastel pencils.

I loved the textures that I could achieve and the vibrant lush colors.

After working for a while on a white background I wondered what the colors would look like on black. I ordered a fine black art sand paper and started playing with colors on top. The colors on the black background appeared much more vibrant than on the white.

I discovered that there were so many interesting textures that I could achieve by rubbing the pastel pencils and chalk on the paper. Also, I liked how spattering with a toothbrush, sponging with bubble wrap and combing paints appeared on the black background.

After two months, I had a whole collection of pieces of papers with different colors and textures. I gathered them all in a shoe box and every once in a while, I just played with them, making different arrangements by assembling pieces together on my art table.

Then, the idea came to me. What if the different colors, textures and shapes could actually make the main character in the book?

So began my book journey for All Colors.

My agent, Anna Olswanger, has been encouraging me to create a board book for very young children.

I decided to make a board book where kids would be introduced to colors and textures as they turned the pages. It ended up being a concept book with a message about friendship and diversity.

3 shirt red patch

Anna sold ALL COLORS to Schiffer Publishing and it will be making its way into the world  October 28, 2019. This is my third board book. The first was Dreidel Day (Kar Ben Publishing, 2018.)  The second was Astro Pea (Schiffer Publishing, 2019.)

Creating board books is challenging because you have to tell the story in only a few pages so the word count must be minimal. Dreidel Day has 8 words, All Colors has 9. The author must rely on the illustrations and the concept has to be very clear and simple so a toddler could understand it. At the same time, there’s got to be a narration and procession so it would be a compelling read for the child and the adult who reads the story. The images have to be simple and bright to catch the attention of a very young child.

This concept board book introduces children ages 2-6 to colors and textures while conveying a message about friendship, diversity, and inclusion.

As the reader turns the pages, colors are introduced, creating the image of a boy.

11 brush medium multi patches

Join in the fun as the boy dips his paintbrush in paint splotches and discovers that friends come in all colors.

friends- last page

Here’s a link to a book trailer where I perform All Colors with a very colorful puppet:

http://www.amaliahoffman.com