Author Katey Howe Presents: WOVEN OF THE WORLD, a new PB + a give-away.

Today it is my pleasure to share another wonderful picture book by author Katey Howes.

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Woven of the World

Words by Katey Howes  Art by Dinara Mirtalipova

Published by Chronicle Books  Releases Feb 7, 2023

Katey uses the metaphor of how we are all woven together into a tapestry of humanity to pen this lovely book about how weaving has shaped and connected cultures throughout history.

Here is my review for the book as well as an interview with Katey about how WOVEN came to be.

“The clack and swish of loom song carries stories to my ears” is one of many figurative expressions used to convey the sensory experience of weaving as an art form that connects cultures across the world. Weaving as song is conveyed not only in the thoughtful rhyme, but also in folk art-like illustrations that show cultures of the past and how these traditions are “woven” into our psyches as humans. A beautiful introduction to an ancient craft that transcends time and place. Weaving fibers not only creates cloth. It connects the weaver to those who came before. A lovely message and a lovely book.

What inspired you to write Woven of the World?

People who know me, know I love a good metaphor. Seriously, my family sometimes makes fun of me for it! And when I find metaphors that I think will speak to children, that will help them connect something physical and tangible with an idea or concept, those are the ones I like best.

My children all have a fondness for fiber arts – one embroiders designs on her clothing and makes stuffed toys, one knits scarves for friends (sometimes during chemistry lectures), one pulled my punch-needle out of my hands and took over. I know that kids of all ages and backgrounds can really connect not just to playing and creating with yarn and fabric, but to the emotions that are carried by sharing a cozy gift – or a cozy art form!

Woven of the World was shaped from the beginning by the idea that a child could be unsure about their identity, their future, but comforted by imagining themself as a tapestry, a piece of art woven row on row, with many different yarns brought together to create pattern and strength and warmth.  The idea that we are each a tapestry, woven of the world, took me on a long journey down a lot of (fuzzy, colorful) rabbit holes!

What do you hope people take away from the book?

Honestly, this book traveled way beyond my imaginings for it. It carries the reader around the world and through time…but also into the loving relationship between a child and an elder, sharing a beloved craft. Plus, it’s stuffed with back matter on weaving tools and weaving milestones and moments in history. I don’t suppose any two readers will take away the same meanings or emotions from reading it – but I do hope everyone who reads it comes away feeling connected.

I have a signed copy of this beautiful book for one lucky person chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Good luck!

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Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at www.kateyhowes.com.

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Author Katey Howes Presents: A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU + A GIVE-AWAY

Just before the holidays I had the pleasure of receiving a signed copy of a new picture book by award-winning author KATEY HOWES. This book is so lovely I wanted to share it with all of you.

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Here’s my review for this gem:

A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU by Katey Howes Illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee

A beautiful story of how the seed of imagination – once nurtured and given expression – grows into a poem, using the metaphor of a seedling sprouting, being watered with imagination, and growing as we take a chance sharing our poem with the world. Joyful and animated illustrations accompany the tender and thoughtful rhyme. A treat for the eyes and ears. A wonderful introduction to all the magic of poetic expression.

I was so intrigued by the idea of a seed growing into a poem, I asked Katey about it.

Where did A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU come from?

Several years ago, author/poet Laura Shovan shared a story. I think it was on Twitter, maybe Facebook.  I wish I could hunt down the details – but you’ll have to bear with my flawed memory instead. As I recall, she posted that a student had come to her a year after having had class with her, to share a poem with her. He had held onto the idea generated in class for a long time, but hadn’t felt ready to write it down. It had lain dormant in his heart until he had what he needed to bring it to life. And when he finally did, he brought it back to Laura to share it with her.

This little window into that student’s experience touched my heart deeply. I had absolutely felt the same way about ideas many times, especially for poems. I know well that often a person needs to be in the right space emotionally, physically, and even spiritually to tackle some topics in their writing. We aren’t always equipped to process the emotions and experiences life gives us- but when we are, poetry can be such a beautiful and healing way to do it.

I held onto the idea of a seed of a poem, planted in the heart, for quite awhile. Checked on it. Dreamed about what it would grow into. Supplied myself with the tools I needed to  nurture it into life. Found its rhythm. And then I began to write.

What do you hope readers will take from A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU?

I hope readers will recognize that ideas aren’t always ready to grow right away – that they can lie dormant inside us until conditions are right – and then bloom in beautiful and unexpected ways!

If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is!

I am giving away a signed copy of A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU to one lucky person drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post.

katey howes

Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at www.kateyhowes.com.

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.18 and ends December 25.

—  Christians celebrate Christmas Dec. 24 and 25.

Kwanza, a cultural unity celebration for African-Americans, follows on Dec. 26 through January 1 2023.

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/

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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

Gingerbread Houses Are Welcome Holiday Treats by Marilyn Ostermiller

Gingerbread houses are a treasured Christmas tradition, dating back to the early 1800s in Germany after the fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel” was published by the Brothers Grimm. The original tale included the line, “When they came nearer they saw that the house was built of bread, and roofed with cakes, and the window was made of transparent sugar.”

It’s easy to imagine how magical that sight would be to children. It would be almost impossible not to reach out to discretely grab a corner of the roof to taste or pluck a gumdrop from the door.

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Gingerbread Houses can be lots of fun to make. An online search reveals easy-to-follow video instructions

Getting together with friends for a group gingerbread house construction project can become a holiday tradition. Everyone brings their own dough, royal icing, and candy for decorating. A basic homemade gingerbread house starts with patterns for four walls and a peaked roof. Printable gingerbread house templates are available online.

gingerbread templates

After the gingerbread is baked, cooled and cut to order, royal icing is the edible “glue” that olds it together. Royal icing is made from softly beaten egg whites and powdered sugar. The usual proportions are 2 egg whites to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon glycerin (to prevent the icing from setting too hard) and about a pound of powdered sugar, according to

hhttps://www.confectionperfection.co.uk/

Lots of different candies are used to decorate the houses, including peppermint sticks, licorice, and gumdrops.

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Children especially like to be involved. A Plan for the Gingerbread House: A STEM Engineering Story, is a book for ages 4 through 12. The plot revolves around a Gingerbread man and woman who need a new house. A team of kids struggle to create the perfect gingerbread house for them. Darcy Pattison is the author, and John Joven, the illustrator.

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As for the original inspiration for gingerbread houses, “Hansel and Gretel” books are available in versions for all ages.

Anyone who is in the vicinity of Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., through Jan. 2, 2023, can view the entries in the National Gingerbread House Competition. Whimsical and elaborate, these handmade gingerbread houses come in a variety of sizes, shapes, complexity and theme. There are rustic cabins, gumdrop-adorned castles and sugar spun landscapes. The entrants compete for more than $40,000 in prizes. Here’s the link about the winners of the 2022 competition.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/omni-grove-park-inn-announces-170800591.html?fr=yhssrp_catchall

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a longtime journalist who especially enjoys writing for children.

Author Sam Subity Presents: THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR + a Chance to Win a Signed Copy

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sam Subity, author of the middle grade Viking saga THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR. Our virtual paths crossed when we shared an episode of Legit KidLIt Draw Off back in October. When I told Sam I’d love to share his book on my blog, he graciously sent a signed copy that I will pass on to one lucky reader.

Here’s my review of the book:

A modern-day Viking tale in the vein of Beowulf, with some Percy Jackson and Harry Potter thrown in. And a female heroine to boot! Anyone who enjoys a good adventure, good vs evil, solving riddles, saving the world, and lots of action will find this book a winner. What’s not to like about a talking tree that loves tacos and does Elvis impressions? Plenty of heart and humor in this story that will be a hit with the middle grade crowd.

I asked Sam how the story came about:

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Where did you get the inspiration to write a modern-day Viking tale with a female warrior?

I read Beowulf in college a long time ago and loved it. Then when I read Percy Jackson more recently and saw how Rick Riordan had taken old stories and spun them into new ones, I knew I wanted to do the same thing with Beowulf. Anyone familiar with Beowulf will see a lot of parallels in my story. The female warrior Abby Beckett who is my main character was inspired by my daughter who’s about the same age and is just as ferocious and fearless as Abby.

What kind of research was involved in the writing?

The research was one of the most fun parts of creating the story because I was able to dig back into Viking history and the old Norse myths looking for things I could incorporate. For example, there’s a serpent in Norse mythology that is so big it’s wrapped around the entire world. In my story, I turned it into a sea monster that lives in the school swimming pool and likes Ping-Pong. So just a little artistic license with that one!

It’s fun to imagine a lost culture residing under the streets of Minnesota. My husband is from there and has Scandinavian roots. Was that location intentional? How did you decide on your setting?

It was totally intentional. When I researched regions of the U.S. with the highest populations of Scandinavian ancestry, Minnesota was the clear winner, so it seemed like the perfect place to hide my secret society of Vikings. I guess the freezing winters in the Minneapolis area made Scandinavian immigrants to America feel right at home!

What do you want young readers to take away from this tale?

There’s a theme throughout the book of what it takes to be a hero, and by the end Abby realizes that sometimes a hero is nothing more than the person who has the courage to stand up when everyone else is too scared to do so. I’d love it if kids see that they have the potential to be a hero just as they are, even without any special powers or abilities. Also I’d love it if young readers just have a whole lot of fun reading Abby’s adventures because reading should be fun!

What are you currently working on?

My next middle grade book is a historical fantasy called VALOR WINGS set at the start of World War II. I’m thinking of it as the movie DUNKIRK but with dragons, where kids and dragons organize a rescue mission for the British troops when the Nazis invade France. Look for that in early 2024!

If you’d like a copy of this awesome book, please leave a comment on this post. One winner will be chosen at random from those who enter. USA only please.

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Sam Subity loves writing stories that explore the magic and wonder of being a kid and is thrilled to share his writing with readers everywhere—both the young in age and the young at heart. When he’s not writing, you might find him running the trails of northern California where the endless, winding miles past fog and ocean inspire tales of adventure and mystery. You can find him online at http://www.samsubity.com, or on Twitter and Instagram at @sjsubity.

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

Are You SHIPSHAPE? An Interview with Author E.E. Dowd + A Give-away.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a new author during an online event called DrawOff hosted by Legit KidLit. We authors shared our books and had some fun drawing from some prompts and sharing the results. Erin Dowd shared her debut novel SHIPSHAPE. I was intrigued by the premise, so I read the book. wrote my review,  and asked Erin a few questions.

My review:

A kid-friendly tale of robots taking over the school to the detriment of creativity, diversity, and anything other than testing. Perhaps a cautionary tale of what can happen when we are too focused on running schools as if they were businesses and ignoring the unique talents and expertise individual teachers bring to their classrooms. Kids will love the “tech-centered” plot of robots taking over and the kid-friendly steps three friends take toward solving the crisis. A quick read with some great themes for class discussions. Sure to be a classroom favorite.

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What inspired the story SHIPSHAPE? Where did you get your idea?

I’m not really sure where I got the idea for Shipshape exactly. I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo years ago after I left teaching. I had gone through a rough time, so I think writing the book was my way of getting through. I took a lot of my experiences both positive and negative from when I was a teacher and poured them into the book. As for the rest of it, well, I love mysteries, solving puzzles, and putting clues together.

What was the writing process like? Did you have to do any research on the topic of robotics?

The writing process was very very long for this book. As I mentioned, I wrote the first draft as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was able to write 50,000 words in one month, so I had the first draft. It had a very long way to go. For the next few years, I would work on the novel a little bit at a time. As I was doing that, my life changed. I started working with technology companies, so I learned a lot about coding and AI (Artificial Intelligence). But I also had to research to make sure I knew what technology was available and try to push it a little further.

When I started writing, the things I thought could never happen in schools like cameras all over, actually started to happen. I had to adjust some things as time went on and add more complex technology. The tracking bracelets were a later edition because I read an article about a study that was being done with something similar. Then fitbits and apple watches became popular. I figured it wouldn’t be long before students had them in school too. Eventually, the pandemic hit, and I decided it was time to finally finish writing and get it out into the world. It had been eight years of writing and revising when I found a publisher.

The book changed a lot during that time. Characters had different names, there were a lot of extra scenes that got cut eventually. But I’m glad it took the time that it did. It followed me through my life and a little bit of each part of me is in the pages of Shipshape.

What message do you want readers to take away from this story?

I wrote this book for two audiences: kids and adults, so what I want them to take away is different. For the adults I want them to realize that everything is not what it may seem in school. What you see on the news, what you hear from your kids, and what is actually happening (good and bad) are going to be different. I want adults to read this and think about the ethics of technology, what teachers are expected to do, and how they can get involved in productive ways. The adults in the book, except for Ms. B. are intentionally disconnected. They think they are doing what is right or what will have the best result, but they never bother to find out how it’s impacting the kids. I think this happens often in life.

For my younger readers, I wanted a story they could both relate to and get lost in. I want kids to feel that they can make a difference in their schools and communities no matter how difficult it may seem. When you see something wrong, do something about it. Everyone can be a change-maker.

Please share anything else you’d like us to know about SHIPSHAPE.

While Ben is seemingly the main character, Ellie is really the star. Ben changes and grows throughout the story, but Ellie is the anchor. She knows who she is and what she’s about. No one can tell her what girls “should do.” She knows about technology far above what a fifth grader should know, and she’s proud of it. Ellie often has to wait for her friends to catch up, but she is kind and supportive even in difficult situations. Ellie is a complex character, and I hope readers take the time to notice her more than just being Ben’s friend because she is really the core of the story.

I also added what the tech world would call Easter eggs into the book. These are little surprises that aren’t directly explained. In video games, they might be a secret level or hidden prize. In Shipshape, they are subtle, but if you find them, they give you more information about a character or the plot. I included some Easter eggs throughout the book. One of those ways is through names. I won’t give any more information about that. You’ll just have to read to see if you can find them.

I’m going to have to go back and look for those Easter Eggs! What are you working on now? Any other books in the works?

I have started a few different projects recently. I’m most excited to dive into a new middle grade story for NaNoWriMo this year. Since I live in Costa Rica part of the year, I’m going to see what sort of mysteries unfold around me while I’m here. I have a few ideas, but I’ll have to see where they take me.

Erin has agreed to give away a signed copy of her book to one reader randomly chosen from those who leave a comment (US only please.)

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E. Dowd is an educator, consultant, and the author of her debut middle grade novel, SHIPSHAPE. She believes that wonder and creativity are the foundations of making positive change in the world and that everyone can be a change-maker. When she’s not writing, she can be found exploring the world with her partner Tim or snuggling with her cranky cat Pita in New Hampshire.

Contact info:

email: connect@eedowd.com

twitter: @eedowd27

instagram: @eedowd

website: www.eedowd.com

Draw Off with Legit Kidlit!

On Saturday October 22, 2022, I had the delight and pleasure of sharing the spotlight with fellow authors Sam Subity and Erin Dowd for a LEGIT KIDLIT  Episode #111 of AUTHOR DRAW OFF!

Here is the link if you’d like watch us talk a bit about our books and attempt to draw mash-ups from random prompts provided by our hosts. It sure was fun! Thank you Tiffany and Alexis!

Amalia Hoffman Presents: Hanukkah Nights. A New Picture Book of Celebration + A giveaway.

It is always a delight to feature a new book by author/illustrator Amalia Hoffman. Her newest one is HANUKKAH NIGHTS. Amalia is excited to share the book with readers and will give away a copy to one.

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Here is my review of HANUKKAH NIGHTS:

“A simple and festive celebration of the eight nights of Hanukkah and the lighting of the menorah. Children will delight in being able to count and create the colorful lights themselves through various painting techniques. A thoughtful and creative addition to the holiday genre.”

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For a chance to win a copy of this creative take on the eight days and nights of Hanukkah, leave a comment. One winner will be chosen at random and announced later this month.

World Food Day Highlights Hunger Around the Globe by Marilyn Ostermiller

We all have to eat, but more than 785 million people around the world don’t get enough food to sustain a healthy lifestyle, according to the World Food Program. That includes an estimated 13.5 million Americans.

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Armed conflict, extreme weather patterns, economic shocks and health crises — including the Covid-19 pandemic — are driving increased food insecurity. Additionally, the U.S. annual rate of inflation was 8.3 percent in August, up from 5.25 a year ago, making it more difficult for the needy to buy food.

October 16 has been designated as World Food Day by the United Nations to draw attention to this serious problem. On World Food Day more than 150 countries unite to raise awareness of the issues surrounding poverty and hunger.

The federal nutrition program provides needy children meals at school. Difficulties in providing food for them include the number of meals per day that are provided and the effectiveness of getting meals to kids when schools aren’t in session.

DCF 1.0

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Families in need can text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304 to find meals nearby.

Youngsters need to learn early where food comes from and that not everyone gets enough to eat. Among the children’s picture books about hunger:

Lulu and the Hunger Monster by Erik Talkin. A young girl tells friends what it’s like to battle the Hunger Monster.

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Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt. A young girl discovers that her friend’s refrigerator is empty.

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Here is a YouTube link of actress Jennifer Garner reading the book:

Saturday at the Food Pantry by Diane O’Neill, a sensitive story about food insecurity.

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How to Help People in Need:

Donate money and non-perishable goods to food banks and relief organizations. Food banks have been busier than ever in recent years as the number of displaced people increased dramatically.

Support nonprofit efforts. No Kids Hungry and National Resources Defense Council are not-for-profit organizations that lobby for government food assistance for the needy. Both accept donations.

Volunteer at a local food bank or an organization that provides meals to the poor. By helping out in your community, you can learn first-hand about local needs.

Volunteers hands putting grocery products, foodstuff to food donations box.

Volunteers hands putting grocery products, foodstuff to food donations box.

Respect food. Buy only what you need and consume it before it spoils. Some experts believe world hunger could be significantly reduced if less food was wasted during agricultural production and post-harvest storage.

Choose food wisely. Local foods that travel short distances from farm to table are usually less expensive.

Reduce your energy consumption. It cuts our impact on the environment and makes more available for food production.

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.