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.

 

 

 

Celebrate National Popcorn Day! Make Popcorn Balls.

Sunday, January 19th is NATIONAL POPCORN DAY.  popcorn

Why not celebrate one of our favorite snack foods by having the kids make up some popcorn balls. Here is an easy recipe for MARSHMALLOW POPCORN BALLS taken from the I (heart) Eating website:

https://www.ihearteating.com/easy-popcorn-ball-recipe/

Ingredients

1 bag natural microwave popcorn*

1/4 cup butter

10 ounce bag mini marshmallows

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Pop popcorn according to package directions; set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter.
  • Continue cooking until butter begins to turn golden brown.
  • Add marshmallows, and stir constantly until marshmallows have melted.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
  • Add popcorn, and fold into marshmallow mixture.
  • When mixture is cool enough to handle, lightly spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Scoop about 1 cup of the popcorn mixture and smoosh it into a ball.
  • Place on a sheet of waxed paper, parchment paper, or silicone baking mat to cool.

Notes

*Or about 9-10 cups of popped plain popcorn
**You can press candy pieces into the outside of popcorn balls.

***Nutrition values are estimates.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1popcorn ball: Calories: 131kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 23g (8%)Fat: 4g (6%)Saturated Fat: 2g (10%)Cholesterol: 12mg (4%)Sodium: 63mg (3%)Sugar: 16g (18%)Vitamin A: 140IU (3%)Calcium: 1mgIron: 0.1mg (1%)

Popcorn balls with M&M's on the outside

More popcorn ball recipes

HAPPY POPCORN DAY!

One Resolution For the New Year:Help Teachers Serve Those Underserved.

As students get back into the school routine after winter break, many classroom teachers might be struggling to help the most needy in their schools. You can help those underserved students, and the teachers who serve them, by donating school supplies.

DonorsChoose.org is an organization that empowers teachers in public schools across the nation to request materials and experiences greatly needed in their classrooms. Recent statistics indicate that 81% of all public schools in the US have at least one teacher who has posted a project or request on its website. Most of the schools who participate have more than half of the student population coming from low-income families. Requests can be as simple as paint to freshen up a classroom, mulch and topsoil to create a garden space, art supplies for a classroom, and more.

I donated to a classroom in MI asking for funds to purchase high interest Chapter Books for its students.

Feed  the hunger for knowledge by making a classroom teacher’s job a bit easier. To learn more: http://www.DonorsChoose.org

The Joy of Giving Back Can Lead to Better Health.

This time of year we are often bombarded with mail asking for help for various charities. I know everyone has his or her own favorites. If you are looking for a different way to get your kids involved and to teach them the importance of generosity, there are some organizations devoted to health and well-being. Not only does giving to others make us feel good, it actually increases activity in the brain’s reward region.

Here are a few you might consider:

A TEN DOLLAR donation to the Pan Foundation will provide a day of medicine to someone in need. The organization also helps those with chronic, rare, and life-threatening conditions get treatment.  http://www.panfoundation.org

Your donation of TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS will teach one kid to cook for life. COMMON THREADS teaches families about nutrition and how to choose healthier food and cook delicious meals.  http://www.commonthreads.org

For FIFTY DOLLARS you can supply 20 US families with clean water.  WORLD VISION will deliver bottled water and filtration systems to US families who lack it. http://www.worldvision.org

May good health and prosperity be yours in 2020.

Culinary Traditions Flavor Three Upcoming Festivities: by Marilyn Ostermiller

The week before New Year’s Day features three celebrations, punctuated by feasting, that embrace religious and cultural heritages.

Hanukkah, one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, begins Dec. 22.

—  Christians celebrate Christmas Dec. 24 and 25.

Kwanza, a cultural unity celebration for African-Americans, follows on Dec. 26 through Dec. 31.

Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration, commemorates the victory of a small group of Jewish rebels, known as the Maccabees, over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Modern celebrations of Hanukkah focus on family and friends, and include the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, one candle for each night, according to reformjudaism.org

According to the legend of the Miracle of the Light, when the Maccabees entered the Temple, they found a single jar of oil, which was sufficient for only one day. The messenger who was sent to secure additional oil took eight days to complete his mission, and miraculously, the single jar of oil continued to burn until his return. The rabbis of the Talmud attributed the eight days of Hanukkah to the miracle of this single jar of oil.

Foods prepared in oil, such as potato pancakes. are traditionally served during Hanukkah.  Latkes, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, are often served with applesauce and sour cream. Recipes and a helpful video is available from popular cooking and lifestyle blogger ToriAvey.com at https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/potato-latkes/

thumbnail latkes

Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition that grew out of the practice of not eating meat on Christmas Eve. A typical menu includes clams casino, fried calamari, seafood salad, oysters shooters and pasta with clam sauce. according to www.thespruceeats.com/la-vigilia-napoletana-feast-of-seven-fishes-2019493

A newly published book,  Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn-Italian’s Recipes Celebrating Food and Family, by Daniel Paterna, features recipes and memories handed down through three generations.        

African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1. Dr. Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist who became a college professor, introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home and counter the deadly Watts riots in Los Angeles the previous year. The seven principles of the custom include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. On New Year’s Eve, participants celebrate with a banquet. Main dishes include African creole, Cajun catfish, jerk chicken, or Groundnut stew from West Africa, which features warm spices, sweet potatoes and peanuts. For a recipe, visit https://www.strongertogether.coop/recipes/african-groundnut-stew

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.     Marilyn Ostermiller

Easy Holiday Paper Crafts For Kids.

I am in love with the RED TED website! If you haven’t discovered this gem, head on over. There are so many great crafts for kids and adults and many come with step-by-step videos to show you how to make each project. Using any kind of materials imaginable, you and your kids can create so many wonderful gifts to decorate your home or give to family and friends for the holidays.

If you plan of giving some books as gifts this Christmas, why not add a homemade bookmark?  You and the kids can make them following the tutorials on the site.  It’s a simple way for kids to give a gift to classmates,  or as a Scout or Sunday School Project. Here is the link to some of the awesome BOOKMARK PAPER CRAFTS  with a holiday theme:

https://www.redtedart.com/christmas-paper-crafts-for-kids/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=top_crafts_for_the_week&utm_term=2019-11-15

*Christmas Paper Crafts for Kids*. Everyone has paper, right? Combine paper with basic stationery items such as scissors, pens and glue and you have a fantastic list of fabulous Christmas Crafts and Christmas DIYs for kids and grown ups. Love how versatile Paper Crafts. CUTE Christmas Paper Crafts. #PaperCrafts #PaperChristmasCrafts #Christmascrafts #ChristmasPaperCrafts #Christmas #Christmascraftsforkids #papercraftsforkids

For more ideas on Do-it-yourself projects, check out the book BE A MAKER, by Katey Howes.

Happy crafting!

Need Good Books For Holiday Gifts? Check Out The KidLit Authors’ Club.

The authors of KidLit Authors’ Club have a variety of books for kids of all ages. Picture books, middle grade, YA, non-fiction and more. Check out the titles and award-winning authors. Give the gift of reading to a child and create a life-long learner.

https://kidlitauthorsclub.com/?fbclid=IwAR2kQFUqDuawWZwfPy-cDHLzcITD46QjVocYQOh2wHHnHMhvYIOclw6N8vg