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. 

Six New Children’s Books For Summer Reading + a give-away.

I’ve been enjoying some wonderful books during this “sheltering in place” season. Here are three recent reads that are perfect for summer enjoyment for kids from 4-9.

OUR FRIEND HEDGEHOG: THE STORY OF US by Lauren Castillo is a tender, sweet, and thoughtful story that will delight young readers. Endearing illustrations add whimsy and heart to a friendship tale destined to become a favorite.

SWASHBY AND THE SEA written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.

Old Salt Swashby loves the quiet life by the sea. So salty and serene. No time or need for noisy new neighbors who disrupt his peace. He writes his displeasure in the sand. But the sea knows what’s best and changes his messages until Swashby realizes maybe the sea is right. Delightful for sea lovers big and small. Illustrations add heart and soul to a tale that dances and sings the magic of the sea.

WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade is a lyrical story of caution, celebration, and endurance. The words are a tribute and honor to the thing most important to life – water. Illustrations flow, undulate, and embrace plant and animal life and remind us how we are all one on this Mother Earth.
The author and illustrator are members of indigenous tribes who know what it means to be one with the land and all its living creatures. They show how taking action and standing up for environmental justice is important and necessary. We need books like this now more than ever.

HELLO FROM RENN LAKE by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Hello From Renn Lake cover

Annalise and Renn Lake, the beloved lake at her parents resort, are connected to one another ever since Annalise was a baby. An abandoned baby found after an unexpected flood at the lake.

Annalise talks to Renn and Renn listens. Renn answers. Renn knows things about Annalise that no one else knows. Renn is a comfort, as dependable as a friend. Until one day Renn is silent.

As an algae bloom threatens to choke the life out of the lake, Annalise is determined to do something to save Renn.

A brave and beautiful tale of our interconnectedness to nature, and how when one thing in the chain of life is sick, it affects us all. Annalise and her friends become environmental heroes who

take activism to the next level and do what needs to be done to make change.

A perfect story for our time. A story that reminds us we all need to listen to as well as observe what is happening around us. Nature speaks. We just need to listen. Should be part of every STEM classroom curriculum.

The book back matter lists links to numerous science sites about lakes, rivers, algae blooms, and how to get involved in environmental causes.

TODAY IS A BEACH DAY by Nancy Viau

Beach Day cover jpeg

Come along for a trip to the beach in this lively, sensory story written in alliterative rhyme. Little ones will experience the sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and feelings a day of sand, sun, and surf have to offer. A perfect read-aloud for the youngest beach lovers.

 

 

And finally, my own book, filled with summer fun: WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston).

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Here is what three teachers had to say about the book:

Darlene Andre  5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging book with important life lessons

 “Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand up to a Bully is a brilliant book written in verse that gives readers a look into the world of Jack, his family, and friends as they navigate difficult issues. This book, while taking place in the 60s, resonates with readers today. So much wisdom and hope are spread throughout the pages of this book. My fifth graders loved it.”

Trish Lugo  Apr 21, 2020 Trish rated it 5 stars: it was amazing

“This beautifully written novel-in-verse tugs at the heart strings. Jack and Jill have reeled in a magical one-eyed fish that grants wishes. When Jill’s wish doesn’t quite go as planned, Jack realizes that it really is important to be careful what you wish for. I couldn’t put the book down, and my class enjoyed it just as much as I did. This one will be read year after year with my fourth-graders!”

May 14, 2020 Hallee Adelman rated it 5 stars: it was amazing

“Wishes, Dares, & How to Stand Up to a Bully is a wonderful book filled with heart. The characters are sweet, relatable and lovable. They grapple with big issues, which Jacobson handles deftly and honestly. Like books by Linda Mullaly Hunt and Donna Gephart, readers will feel how much Jacobson cares about young readers. A fantastic historical fiction story in verse that I’d not only read again, but also share with other educators for their students.”

I will give away a signed copy of WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY + a classroom activity packet to a teacher who leaves a comment sharing one of the books you recommend for your student’s summer reading. If you share this post on your social media, let me know and I will add your name a second time to the list. One winner will be drawn at random and announced on this blog later in the month.

 

Two Winners For Copies of Nancy Churnin’s New PB’S.

Featured

Last month I featured the two most recent PB released by author NANCY CHURNIN. Today I am thrilled to announce the winners of signed copies of those books.

Danielle Dufayet wins a copy of BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING.

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Jane Healy is the winner of a copy of FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.

thumbnail 5Congratulations! to Danielle and Jane and thanks to all who commented. Please send me your address so I can let Nancy know where to send the books.

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

 

 

 

Nancy Churnin Presents: BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING + a give-away

Today it is my distinct pleasure to feature one of my favorite non-fiction picture book authors, NANCY CHURNIN, who is here to talk about her recently released book BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING. (Creston Books) Here is the interview:

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How did you discover the art of Laura Wheeler Waring?

I am always looking for heroes and heroines that have been overlooked, that kids — and often adults — don’t know enough about. I love fine art and I was thinking about how we mostly hear about male painters with just a handful of female painters, such as Mary Cassatt and Frida Kahlo, getting multiple books from different angles. Surely there were more female painters! I started researching paintings by female artists. I found a painting of Marian Anderson (reproduced in the book) and I stopped. Magnificent! I had to know more about the woman who painted her. It was hard to find information. Nobody had written a book about Laura Wheeler Waring. But the more I found out, the more I wanted to find out. Her parents, Amos Noe Freeman, a Presbyterian minister, and Christiana Williams Freeman, were activists in the African American community, standing up against slavery, helping in the Underground Railroad. Laura shared their passion for equality, but she spoke through her paintbrush. She wanted representation of African Americans on museum walls. But even more than that, she wanted people to see the beauty, the dignity, the accomplishments of people in her community. When she got the opportunity to paint Marian Anderson, that gave her the opportunity to break down walls with her brush the way Marian did with her voice. It’s a reminder that we can all break down walls using our own unique gifts.

The story is told in such a beautiful, poetic way. Was this how you envisioned telling the story from the beginning?

I was struck by her passion for showing the beauty of brown skin, but even beyond that how she would set her subjects in settings with brown walls, desks, clothing. Was she trying to make a point by showing the variations in this color? I became increasingly convinced she did. In a segregated world, where white people made generalizations about African Americans, the individuality of each shade of brown she used made a statement about each person’s individuality. I studied the color brown to try to figure out how she created all those variations of hue and it all began to make sense once I realized how many colors mix to make brown. Usually, when we think of something being colorful, we compare it to a rainbow. But it struck me that there was a rainbow in the color brown. That’s when I had the epiphany that brown is a rainbow, “with orange and blue, red and green tucked inside, playing hide and seek.” And I was off and running.

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What were the challenges in telling Laura Wheeler Waring’s story?

The biggest challenge was finding information about Laura Wheeler Waring. I went to curators at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Erin Beasley, Digital Image Rights and reproduction Specialist; Dr. Tuliza Fleming, Curator of AmericanArt at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Riche Sorensen, Rights & Reproduction Coordinator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, were a tremendous help. Erin Beasley put me in touch with Laura Wheeler Waring’s great-niece and heir, Madeline Murphy Rabb, who not only gave me permission to reproduced Waring’s paintings at the Smithsonian Institution, she answered questions about her life I couldn’t find answers to elsewhere. She also affirmed how proud her great-aunt was of her skills at blending colors, which went to the heart of my book. Still, even with all that support, I could never have pulled this off without the brilliance of illustrator Felicia Marshall, who channelled Waring’s style, seamlessly incorporating Waring painting her actual portraits in the spreads, with incredible detail and attention to shades of brown. I am so grateful to my editor Marissa Moss, who believed in this story from the start, guided me as only Marissa Moss can, and knew that Felicia Marshall was the artist who could do justice to Waring.

 

Your books seem to champion creative, and sometimes unsung heroes. Why are you particularly drawn to these kinds of people?

It all began with the journey of my first book, THE WILLIAM HOY STORY. I was a full-time staff writer with The Dallas Morning News when I got to know Steve Sandy, a Deaf man who shared his dream that more people would know the story of the great Deaf baseball player, William Hoy, who taught umpires signs so he could play the game he loved — signs we still use today — and that someday Hoy would be honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I wrote that book, with the help of Steve’s research, guidance and friendship with the Hoy family, with the goal of sharing Hoy’s story with kids. I created a project, Hoy for the Hall, that encouraged kids to write letters to the National Baseball Hall of Fame asking for Hoy to be inducted. They’ve sent thousands! Here’s the sweet surprise. I wrote that first book to make Steve’s dream come true, but I found that I was also making an old dream of mine come true — a longtime dream of creating books and sharing them with kids. It felt so good to share the story of this hero that the kids didn’t know about, to break down walls between the Deaf and the hearing, to inspire kids to persevere and find ways to make the world better. I immediately started to look for and think about other people whose stories hadn’t been told, who had persevered against great odds to make their dreams come true and whose dreams, realized, made the world a better place. My next book was MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN, the first picture book about Dashrath Manjhi, who spent 22 years chiseling a path through a 300-foot mountain so kids in his poor village could get to school on the other side. Those have been the kind of heroes I’ve looked for straight through to Laura Wheeler Waring and beyond. 

What would you like readers to remember about this story?

I would like them to remember that each and every one of us is beautiful, unique and a complex mix of many characteristics as surprising and wonderful as the varied pigments that make up our skin. I would like them to remember that representation is important and to make sure that you and your community can be seen and appreciated. I would like them to remember that when you have a dream to do something that’s never been done before, you may hit a lot of obstacles, you may hear that what hasn’t been done can’t be done, but if you persevere you will get there, maybe not in a day or a week or a month, but you will get there. I would like them to remember that that you don’t fail unless you give up. Every rejection, every setback is just another step on the journey to achieving your goal.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I hope folks will check out the free teacher guides, readers theater, resources and projects on my website, nancychurnin.com. The project for Beautiful Shades of Brown is PAINT YOUR WORLD. With the permission of parents and educators, kids are invited to sent photos of their artwork of themselves, their families and their communities with a short caption describing who they’re portraying. I will post those pictures on the PAINT YOUR WORLD page so we can celebrate how beautiful everyone is.

Nancy has agreed to give away one signed copy of her book to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on this post. Winner will be drawn from all those entered. If you share the post on social media, let me know and I will give you a second chance to win.

Here is my review for this amazing book:

“This book is like a painting whose rich, bold, and lyrical text conveys the depth of feeling and care Laura put into each of her portraits. I love how Churnin conveyed the idea of a “rainbow of shades of brown” that Laura spent hours on, mixing blues, greens, reds, and yellows to get just the right and perfect shade. I love how Laura felt and heard the color whenever she began to paint. This is a stunning book that reminds us of the beautiful variety found in just one color, and how important it is for each of us to see ourselves reflected in the art we choose to celebrate.”

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Nancy 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

On Twitter: @nchurnin

On Instagram: @nchurnin

 

 

Nancy Viau Presents:Virtual Beach Activities Because TODAY IS (or Could Be) A BEACH DAY + Chance to Win A Copy!

Today it is my pleasure to feature a great new PB by fellow author friend NANCY VIAU: TODAY IS A BEACH DAY (Albert Whitman & Company, Illustrated by Charlie Adler). Here’s Nancy:

 

Sunny days are for the beach. Pretty pails. There’s one for each.

Who will spy the sea and cheer?

ZIP! ZOOM! STOP!

Hey, we’re here!

TODAY IS A BEACH DAY!

Wait…What? It’s NOT a beach day?

SIGH. Oh, right, the Coronavirus—the scary, horrible disease that is keeping everyone at home. We’ll have to make do with a virtual beach day!

Beach Day cover jpeg

First, read TODAY IS A BEACH DAY! by Nancy Viau, illustrated by Charlie Alder. The book can be ordered via your favorite independent bookseller, Amazon, or any number of places.   https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780807593967

You can also leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Tell us your favorite beach activity and I’ll enter your name in the random drawing. Share this post on social media for a second chance to win.

Next, use your imagination and dream of a warm and sunny beach as you try the following activities.

SCAVENGER HUNT

Get together with your family and race to find the items below. They do not have to be beach-themed. Perhaps it’s something in your garden, garage, bathroom, or closet. Be creative. Take SAND, for example. What could substitute for SAND?

READY, GO!

Sand

Sea

Beach Towel

Pail or Bucket

Shovel

Sunscreen

Umbrella

Beach Ball

Bathing Suit

Flip Flops or Sandals

Snap a photo of the winner and/or the items. Post it in the comments.

 

ACTIVITY 2: MAKERSPACE

Can you build a sandcastle without sand? Try using shoeboxes, toys, blocks, Legos, soup cans, cereal boxes, or books!

Snap a photo of your castle. Post it in the comments.

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ACTIVITY 3: OCEAN IN A BOTTLE

This science activity is explained in a Teacher Guide produced by Deb Gonzales. It’s FREE to download from Nancy Viau’s website, so give it a try!  https://www.nancyviau.com/teacher-guides/

See you on the beach!

 

Darlene’s Review for TODAY IS A BEACH DAY:

“Come along for a trip to the beach in this lively, sensory story written in alliterative rhyme. Little ones will experience the sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and feelings a day of sand, sun, and surf have to offer. A perfect read-aloud for the youngest beach lovers.”

Nancy Viau

 

Nancy Viau is the award-winning author of Today Is a Beach Day!, First Snow (2019 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Winner), City Street Beat, Storm Song, Look What I Can Do! and Pruett and Soo (forthcoming). Her middle-grade novels include Beauty and Bernice (2018 Foreword INDIES finalist), Just One Thing! (2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award Winner), Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head, and Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen. A former teacher and kid-at-heart, she loves to visit schools to share her journey to publication and the writing process. Find her on Twitter or Instagram: @NancyViau1 or her website: www.NancyViau.com.

 

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.

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

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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.