3 Cheers For…Trees! + PB Give-Away.

This week we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day. What better way to honor the day than to learn a bit about trees. Did you know:

– There are 3 TRILLION trees in the world

– One Acre of forest absorbs 6 TONS of carbon dioxide and puts out 4 TONS of oxygen. ONE TREE produces enough oxygen for 2 people per year.

– Exposure to trees and nature can reduce blood pressure, relieve muscle tension, and reduce mental fatigue.

– Neighborhoods with more trees experience less crime.

“I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.” – Joyce Kilmer

How about showing your favorite tree some love?

To celebrate these wonders of nature, I am giving away a copy of the new PB by Best-selling author Beth Ferry called SQUIRREL’S FAMILY TREE.  Read my review of this delightful book below.

“This story is a perfect introduction for young children into the world of nature – specifically the importance of squirrels to the growth of oak trees. The rhyming structure and soft illustrations invite the reader into the outdoors and the life cycle of both tree and squirrel. Perfect book to curl up with your favorite kiddo for a read-aloud.”

Just leave a comment and mention your favorite kind of tree and I will put your name in the hat. One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on this blog on FRIDAY, MAY 3.

So what tree is your favorite?  Mine is the sweetgum.

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Make Valentine Treat Bags For Your Favorite Valentine.

This is one of those easy craft projects I saw in a magazine and instantly did a forehead slap – why hadn’t I thought of this? If you and your kiddos want a clever way to say “I Love You” for Valentine’s Day, make some of these HEART ENVELOPES to put a sweet treat into.  All you need are construction paper or doilies, scissors and glue. Just follow the photo instructions and you’re all set!

2     3

Glue the seams together like in the photo below.

4    5

Don’t be limited using just one color or paper style. Try lining the envelopes with tissue paper or doilies for a fancier, Victorian effect:

7   6

If you’re looking for some perfect picture books with a Velantine’s Day tie-in, here are two of my favorites:

LOVE IS KIND by Laura Sassi  Love Is Kind by [Sassi, Laura]

 

SEALED WITH A KISS by Beth Ferry  Sealed with a Kiss

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Just Add a Whale by Beth Ferry + Win a Free Copy

Writers are always asked where their ideas come from. Sometimes I know exactly when and where an idea originated.

I heard a song.   I saw a squirrel.    I read a really cool word.

I try to remember now, because, as I said, writers are always asked.  I get many of my ideas from word play, because that’s my favorite kind of writing.  But I have never gotten an idea from a piece of art.

Until now.

In March of 2015, I was lucky enough to see these adorable pieces by Lisa Mundorff.

Lisa and I share the same agent, so I was given the opportunity to create a story based on these pictures.

Since it was something I had never done before, I was excited.

This sounded fun.  And easy!

I wrote one story about penguins and rainbows.

Then another about rainbows and penguins.

And another.

And another.

And you get the idea.

I wrote in rhyme.

I wrote in prose.

I wrote a short story, then a long one.

Ultimately, I couldn’t do it.  I just didn’t have a story in me about penguins and rainbows.

Weeks passed, then months.  5 months to be exact.  Then I thought about a whale.

Why?

No matter how hard I try, I cannot think why I thought of a whale, but once the whale popped into my head, I knew I had a story.

And I wrote it!

The whale was the key; the unexpected character that changed the direction of the dead end I was cruising down.

In August 2015, Lisa read it and liked it.  So did our agent!

Lisa sketched out the story and then in January 2016, we sold A Small Blue Whale to Knopf.

It is a story about a whale searching for a friend, who just happens to be those silly rainbow-chasing penguins.

So ultimately, I did write a story about penguins and rainbows, but it took the addition of the whale, something new and unexpected, to make the story come to life.

Writing this book taught me that whatever I assume is going to be easy will never be easy. And things that I assume will be hard will actually be hard!  It also taught me to think a little bigger, even if that bigger is a small blue whale.

Beth Ferry is a picture book writer who lives near the beach in New Jersey. She is the author of numerous picture books illustrated by amazing artists. Her titles include A Small Blue Whale, published October 2017 as well as Stick and Stone, Land Shark, Pirate’s Perfect and Sealed with a Kiss which will be published for Valentine’s Day 2019.    

Would you like a signed copy of A SMALL BLUE WHALE?   Let us know in the comment section and I will enter your name.  If you share this post of Twitter or FB, I will enter your name again.  Reblog it, and get a third entry.   The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, December 6, 2017.  US residents only, please.

 

This Makes Sense by Beth Ferry

I recently flew home to NJ from Dallas, TX.

With a sore throat.  In a storm.

As a result, the hearing in my right ear was compromised.

Like I have a cotton ball tucked snugly and constantly in my ear.

Nothing permanent, but pretty darn annoying.

Most people, especially me, take their senses for granted.

Our senses are like five little superheroes to whom we don’t pay much attention, but who really rule our world.

Not being able to hear as I usually do made me think about how our senses affect our writing.

Do we use our senses as we write?

Interesting question.  Our senses surely inspire us.

I know the smell of the salt air at the beach makes me dream of whales and mermaids and deep sea stories.

The feel of the sand gives me ideas about sand castles and buried treasure.

The sight and sound of the crashing waves makes me write about pirates and seagulls and starfish wishes.

But do we use these senses during the writing process?   During the typing and reading and thinking and revising?

The answer is most definitely yes!

And even though you’ve probably heard this advice before, because of my current auditory predicament, I am going to focus on the sense of hearing.

Write your stories.

Read your stories.

Hear your stories.

Reading your stories aloud is critical to the writing and revising process.

When you read your stories aloud and float your words in the air, you are able to perceive them in a completely different way.

You can almost taste them!

Those spicy verbs.                          hjn010212lifespice           

The bland run-on sentences.

The juicy adjectives.

The past-their-expiration-date adverbs.

Something that looks fine on your computer screen and sounds fine in your head, doesn’t always work quite the same way when heard by your ears.

Your ears will pick up the rhythm of your sentence.

The power of your word choices.   The flow of the story.

The mistakes.  The successes.

It is the single most important thing you can do as a writer – read your stories aloud.

It’s how children will hear them.

It makes complete sense!            sbw-cover

 

A Small Blue Whale is releasing in October and is illustrated by Lisa Mundorff.

It is about a whale who sets out to find a friend, but along the way uses his senses to ponder the meaning of friendship.

Have you ever thought about what friendship looks like?

Tastes like?   What it sounds like?   Or feels like?

Probably not, but it is a pretty fun idea to explore.

I like to think that friendship tastes like a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone.

That it sounds like those waves crashing on the sand and smells like that salty air.

That it feels like soft, fluffy cotton balls.

An image that I love.

Only not in my ear!

bethFerry Headshot 500Beth Ferry lives and writes by the beach in New Jersey where she is influenced by the sea and the sand and the salt. She is the author of Stick and Stone, Land Shark, Pirate’s Perfect Pet and A Small Blue Whale which swims into print on October 24, 2017. You can learn more at www.bethferry.com.

 

 

Arrrr…Beth Ferry Talks Like a Pirate + Free Donuts!

Ahoy landlubbers!  Tomorrow – September 19 – is TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY! If you’ve never heard of such a thing, sit back and larn a thing or two about how to talk like a pirate.  Author and pirate expert-in-training Beth Ferry is here to set you straight on pirate lingo.  At the end, thar be donuts!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day happens every September 19th.  Every single September 19th!  That thar be the hornswagglin’ truth.

It is a day that is: a little odd,  a lot of fun,

and a great time to talk about pirate books.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day was invented in 1995.  Which means it is now 21.  And can celebrate with a glass of rum punch.

It was founded by two friends, John Baur and Mark Summers of Oregon, known as The Pirate Guys.  They were playing racquet ball with a cannon ball.

No, not really. (Although that would make for a better story)  When one of them got hit with the regular old racquet ball, he yelled “Arrrr”, and this genius idea was born.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is the perfect day to be talkin’ about Pirate’s Perfect Pet, which was published in August 2016 by Candlewick Press.

ppp_hj_us

Thar be lots of fun pirate-speak in the book as Captain Crave sets off to find the perfect pet.

Which I bet you guessed from the title.

After reading it, ye’ll be dyin’ to talk like a pirate.

And get a pet.

And write a note to yer mum.

And learn about homophones.

And become a big fan of Matt Myers, because his art be absolutely’ amazin’.

When talking like a pirate, don’t be forgettin’ the 5 As. The Pirate Guys explain it beautifully here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cKCkbWDGwE

The 5 As are:

Ahoy – use to greet others, friend and foe alike.

Avast –  use to called attention to something, like a whale or a sale on ice cream.

Arrrrr – use to express frustration, happiness, unhappiness, confusion, or basically anything ye be feelin’.

Aye – use instead of “yes” or when agreein’ to something.

Aye-Aye – use when meaning “yes, sir” or in response to a command, such as “Parrot, please nibble me ear.”    parrot-nibbling-crave

To summarize, a landlubber might say, “I want to read Pirate’s Perfect Pet”, but a pirate would say “I be needin’ to read this merry yarn about swashbucklers.”

 

For further fun, try this Pirate translator: http://postlikeapirate.com

There’s a great glossary of pirate terms in the back of Tom Lichtenheld’s Everything I Know About Pirates.  It be a jolly fun book with lots of silly explanations about why pirates do what they do. And I’m a huge Tom Lichtenheld fan.     tom-pirate-book

 

Another favorite pirate book of mine is How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long. It is such an awesome read aloud!

how-i-became-a-pirate

 

Don’t be forgettin’ to visit Krispy Kreme on September 19th. If you talk/dress like a pirate, they’ll be sure to give ye a free donut.  (I told you there were free donuts!)

Google and Facebook both be havin’ “pirate” as a language choice, so go crazy.

I hope ye learned loads from this here blog.  I hope ye had fun.

I hope ye be plannin’ to Talk Like a Pirate on September 19th!!

bethFerry Headshot 500

Beth Ferry is the author of Stick and Stone, a NYT bestseller. She is also the author of Land Shark, Pirate’s Perfect Pet and the upcoming A Small Blue Whale, swimming into print Fall 2017. She lives with her family by the beach in New Jersey. 

 

Beth Ferry Talks About Spring Weeding

It’s Spring.
Time for flowers and bunnies.
Time for gardening.
Time for my library’s book sale.
I wait in line, ready to dive into the piles, hoping to find some treasure.
I head directly to the picture book section.
Jackpot!
I am bouncing with glee at my good fortune!
My pile is sincerely impressive.          DSC_0254

The titles are awesome.
Authors I know and love.
Artists I admire.
Books I’ve coveted, in pristine condition, published just last year.
Wait.
What??
I look at the publication dates again.
2014. 2014. 2014.
My joy turns to concern.
How is this possible?
These are not books donated by patrons from their home libraries.
These are beautifully bound library books.
Why is the library selling books that were published a little over a year ago?

I am no longer quite as jubilant.
As an author, alarm bells are ringing in my head.
How can the shelf life of a book be shorter than its journey to publication?
This is not a bookstore.
That I could understand.
The turnover at a bookstore is mind-boggling.
Every week new books appear face-out on the shelves and last week’s titles are squeezed, spine-out, among the hundreds of other new, but not quite-as-new, titles.
But a library is different, right?
A library is the place where books go to LIVE!
Where they can safely wait for just the right hands and eyes and hearts to find them.
How can a child discover these books if they are no longer on the shelf?

In dismay, I check online to see the availability of many of these books.
Ok, phew.
These titles are still available and plentiful. 12 copies of some, 11 of others.
Just not in my branch.
Why?
I email my librarian.
My awesome children’s librarian who gets back to me right away.
It seems that a weeding list is generated for the librarian of each branch based on calculated circulation statistics and last recorded date of checkout. Depending on the constraints of each particular library, books that haven’t circulated in two or four or five years may be weeded out. Sometimes they are purged simply because they are doubles.
It all makes sense.
Limited shelf space.
Oodles of new titles.
Availability in other branches.

I look around my library. It is beautiful, but not enormous.
With each new crop of books being published, weeding must be done.
It is just part of the process.
It is essential to a healthy, growing garden.
Even if that garden is my own local library.
So although the joy at my new pile of books is diminished a little, I am resolved to treat these books well, like the bounty that they are. I will respect them, love them and share them with my Kindergarten and first grade reading buddies. Although they are no longer blossoming in my library’s garden, they are definitely beautiful, bright, wonderful additions to mine.     Beth_Ferry_photo

Beth Ferry is the author of the New York Times Bestselling picture book Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.. She is also the author of Land Shark  (Chronicle Books)

Pirate’s Perfect Pet will set sail in the Fall of 2016.

PPP_HJ_US

Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more at www.bethferry.com.

A Snowflake in the Slush by Beth Ferry

Living in New Jersey, it is hard not to think about snow during winter.
Personally, I much prefer the singular idea of the snowflake as opposed to the general concept of snow.
Snow is not quite as endearing or beautiful as the single unique flake.    beth Ferry
And we have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike.
Which seems simply impossible, really, given the number of snowflakes that have fallen.
Which is how many, you ask?
Okay – get ready for some math!

According to the Eastern Snow Conference of 2006, the number of snowflakes that have fallen in the history of the earth is 3 x 10 to the 38th power, a truly staggering number.
Much like the number of grains of sand in the world (approx. 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power) or number of stars in the galaxy (approx. 1 x 10 to the 24th power)
Impossible to comprehend.
But there are 1 x 10 to the 19th power water molecules in a typical snow crystal, which allows for the almost infinite number of arrangements.
Okay enough math!

These immense numbers are truly beyond the comprehension of this English major, so back to the unique, single, solitary snowflake.
No matter how unique it is, once mixed with other snowflakes, it basically loses its distinctiveness and becomes, simply, snow.
Which is often how I feel about books on a shelf.
Picture books specifically.
The unique, wonderful book that stirs my heart or makes me laugh or makes me cry becomes just another book, one among thousands, once it is placed on a shelf.
So much like the snowflake.

How can the brilliance of the book shine through when it is shelved, not by degrees of brilliance, but simply alphabetically, by last name?
How many amazing, engaging books have been missed because they were packed tight together in the blizzard that is the bookshelf?
As writers, we need to think of this.
How does our unique snowflake of a book stand out among the flurry of friendship books that exist?
Among the shower of school-themed books?
Among the hail of holiday books?
And, more importantly, how does our manuscript stand out in the slush pile?

Anna Quindlen said “Every story has already been told.”
How true is this?
But she also said, “… that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has every had.”
And how true is that?
So write your friendship story.
Type up that trip-to-the-zoo tale.
Scratch down a sibling story.
Sure, they’ve all been done before, but not quite like we will do it.
Our style, experience, and voice will make a story that has been told before new and distinctive.
We are all snowflakes.
Beautiful, individual and unique.
And so are our stories.                             Land Shark_FC_3D-2

Disclaimer: all numbers are based on quick research and are meant for fun, not fact!

Beth Ferry is the author of Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. and Land Shark, 2015. Pirate’s Perfect Pet is setting sail in the Fall of 2016. Her latest picture book, Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more at http://www.bethferry.com.