Just in Time For Spring…THE BOLD BRAVE BUNNY, a New PB by Beth Ferry + A Bunny Bookmark Craft and Give-away.

It’s always a joy when a new picture book comes out by New York Times bestselling author BETH FERRY.

Her Latest THE BOLD, BRAVE BUNNY is a delightful addition to her growing roster of picture books.

Here is my review of this book:

A delightful story of determination, imagination, and realization as Teetu the bunny learns what it means to belong. Clever illustrations of the “wilderness” outside Teetu’s burrow reflect his wonder and imagination as he embarks on his first solo adventure of discovery.  Reinforces the idea that no matter how far we roam, and no matter what the world has in store, it’s comforting to know that family is waiting for us when we return.

I am giving away a copy of this book to one lucky winner who leaves a comment naming his or her favorite childhood bunny story. (Mine is THE RUNAWAY BUNNY by Margaret Wise Brown, a book I read to my kids over and over again) Your name will be entered in the random drawing and the winner will be announced on this blog.

For the bunny loving, book loving kids in your house, here’s a nifty and EASY origami bunny bookmark they can make by watching the step-by-step directions on the Red Ted Art site.

bunny book markers

https://www.redtedart.com/easy-paper-bunny-bookmark/

You might want to check out some other great “Bunny” stories:

BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB by Annie Silvestro  Bunny's Book Club and BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL

KNUFFLE BUNNY by Mo Willems   

MR. REGINALD AND THE BUNNIES by Paula Wallace

Mr. Reginald and the Bunnies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://yvonneventresca.com/blog.html

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

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

http://www.robinnewmanbooks.wordpress.com

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

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

https://viviankirkfield.com/

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

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

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

 

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

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

pirates stuck cover with tittles

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

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

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

Where did the inspiration come from for this book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does BiblioKid Publishing accept submissions from other authors?

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

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

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

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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.

Author Laurie Calkhoven has the Lowdown on Roosevelt Banks,Good-Kid-In-Training + How to Enter to Win a Signed Copy!

I’m delighted to pop onto your blog to talk about my new novel ROOSEVELT BANKS, GOOD-KID-IN-TRAINING, published in January by Red Chair Press (distributed by Lerner).

Roosevelt Banks cover

When ten-year-old Roosevelt Banks discovers that his two best friends are planning a bike and camping trip, he wants more than anything to go along. There’s just one problem―he doesn’t have a bike. Roosevelt’s parents agree to buy him a bike if he can manage to be good for two whole weeks. How can Roosevelt be good and be the same fun guy his friends want on the camping trip? Trying to be good leads to more trouble than expected―and to the discovery that being a good friend is more important than any bicycle.

THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ROOSEVELT

1.His parents are American history professors, which explains the family’s penchant for presidential names. Roosevelt’s full name is Roosevelt Theodore Banks. His younger sister is Kennedy Johanna Banks, and their dog is named Millard Fillmore.

2. He writes and illustrates his own stories to express his emotions. When he finds out that his two best friends are going off on a bike/camping trip without him, his reaction is to write a story in which the two boys are almost eaten by a bear – that is until Roosevelt comes to the rescue.

3. Roosevelt is a big-hearted prankster. He wreaks havoc wherever he goes, but that comes from a desire to please his friends and make them laugh.

THREE THINGS ROOSEVELT HATES

1.Most of the fun things there are to do in the world are exactly the same things that will get a kid into trouble. Not fair!

2. His desk chair isn’t on wheels and doesn’t swivel. It would be a lot more fun if it did. Just saying.

3. Lima beans, especially when paired with turkey meatloaf. Even Millard Fillmore won’t eat lima beans, and he eats socks (the dog, not the president).

Debbie Palen’s illustrations are a delight, and Kirkus praised the books for its broad humor and nuanced friendships.

Here is Darlene’s review: In order to go on a bike trip with his best friends Tommy and Josh, Roosevelt Banks needs a bike. Soon, or Eddie Spaghetti will take his spot on the trip. His parents agree to get him a bike if he can keep out of trouble for two weeks. No pranks, no horsing around, and no calls from the principal. Trying to be a good-kid-in-training is harder than Roosevelt ever imagined.

Kids will enjoy the fast-paced action and zany mis-adventures of Roosevelt as he tries to live up to his promise and stay out of trouble. They will also enjoy the things he learns along the way.  The delightful pen and ink drawings add another level of humor and fun to the tale. Destined to be a classroom favorite.

 

 Laurie Calkhoven has never swallowed a frog, knocked over a rabbit hutch, or sung too loud in music class, but she is the author of more than 50 books for young readers. Recent titles include the G.I. Dog series, and You Should Meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

To enter the give-away for a signed copy of this fun-filled book, leave a comment below. One winner, chosen from random will be announced on this blog.

PB Author Laurie Wallmark Presents Her New Non-fiction Book: NUMBERS IN MOTION.

Today it is my pleasure to feature Award-winning PB author LAURIE WALLMARK with her new non-fiction STEM picture book titled NUMBERS IN MOTION: SOPHIE KOWALEVSKI, QUEEN OF MATHEMATICS (Creston).

sophie cover - 3x4 - 100dpi I asked Laurie to tell us 3 THINGS readers should know about Sophie, and 3 THINGS she was amazed to discover while conducting research for the book.

1. Sophie solved a problem known as the mathematical mermaid. Just when people were  close to figuring out the solution, it seemed to slip away from them like the mythical mermaid.

2. Sophie was the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics that required doing original research.

3. Sophie was the first woman to hold a university chair in mathematics.

1. I was amazed that in the late 1800s, a woman couldn’t leave Russia except in the company of her husband or father.

2. I was amazed that until Sophie, there hadn’t been any woman professional mathematicians since Hypatia in fifth century Egypt.

3. I was amazed to find that the mathematical methods that Sophie discovered have increasing application to physics today.

I’ve had an opportunity to read this fascinating book and here’s my review:

“NUMBERS IN MOTION: SOPHIE KOWALEVSKI, QUEEN OF MATHEMATICS  by Laurie Wallmark (CRESTON)  is an inspiring look at a pioneering woman who never took “no” as the final answer.  Written in a clear and engaging manner, the positive messages of never giving up and having faith in your own abilities are great lessons for the classroom and beyond.” 5 stars.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     Laurie Wallmark

www.lauriewallmark.com

Numbers in Motion (Creston, March 2020)
Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life (Sterling, 2019)
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, 2017)
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston, 2015)

 

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

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

Here’s Brooke:

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

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

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

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

 

Six Steps to Write a Kid’s Book Well:

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

Businesswoman Reading Information On Laptop

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 – Outline your story.

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

5 – Write your first draft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Ella Marilyn cover

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

inside spread nightclub 2

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

Use common sense

Not violence

We can live in harmony

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

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

inside spread 1

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

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

ella and marilyn in nightclub

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

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

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

picture-130-bw viv sitting

Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author of numerous picture books. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.