3 New Picture Book Reviews +A Give-away.

This is my second post featuring a book give-away just in time for holiday gifting. Last week I ran a contest for the board book ALL COLORS by Amalia Hoffman.  This week I am featuring three new picture books I’ve recently read and will be giving away one of them to one lucky reader. On Thursday, I will highlight two MG book reviews and a give-away as well. Winners for all the give-aways will be announced on this blog on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH, 2019.

REMARKABLY YOU by Pat Zietlow Miller is a delightful and joyous celebration of all the things that make each of us unique and memorable. I love the positive message painted on every page with words and pictures. A spirited and gentle reminder to be ourselves, no matter what our passions may be, to share our talents, and to spread our sunshine wherever we go. A perfect gift for all ages.

Remarkably You

A ZEBRA PLAYS A ZITHER by Janice Bond is a glorious and beautifully illustrated celebration of the many ways we make music. Shown with a wide variety of animals, this colorful and whimsical picture book makes you want to make music of your own. The illustrations leap off the page as if the animals are dancing to the melodies and instruments they present through the letters of the alphabet. Using alliteration and gentle rhyme, it’s an alphabet book filled with originality. It’s bound to be a favorite for music and animal lovers of all ages.

A Zebra Plays Zither: An Animal Alphabet and Musical Revue

THE SCARECROW by Beth Ferry is a tender and beautifully illustrated story of how kindness is never forgotten and friendship can happen if we open our arms and hearts to the possibility. A perfect book to show children that we all, no matter how small or different, deserve kindness. Makes me want a scarecrow of my own!

The Scarecrow

For a chance to win a copy of A ZEBRA PLAYS A ZITHER, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND YOUR NAME WILL BE PUT INTO A HAT.  If you share this post, let me know and I will add your name again. One name will be chosen at random and announced at the end of the month.

Beth Ferry Presents: Crows and Scarecrows.

Fall is the perfect time to think about crows and scarecrows. And today’s post is brought to you by best-selling picture book author BETH FERRY. Her latest book, THE SCARECROW, illustrated by the Fan Brothers, is just released.

Scarecrow cover

Here’s Beth:

Crows and ravens are not the same bird, but they are commonly confused. Ravens are larger, shinier, and are more likely to be found in wilder landscapes, whereas crows are smaller and more often found in urban landscapes. Crows make the well-known “caw-caw” call, while ravens make a sound like a “croooak” or a “gronk-gronk”. This will help you see the difference.

crow vs raven

Crows are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds alive. They have the biggest brain-to-body ratio among all the birds. In 2004, it was determined that they are more intelligent than the Bonobo chimpanzee, which makes them the most intelligent creature after humans. Some scientists call them “feathered apes”. They can communicate, use tools and have great memories.

In Japan, carrion crows use cars to help them crack walnuts. Because they have learned to understand how traffic lights work, they will place a walnut in the road when the light is red and wait for a car to smash it. Then they will swoop down and eat the nut. See it here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvTgRmguSq8

There are two species of crows that have been seen using tools and even making hooks to forage for food.

Crows also have great memories and can even hold a grudge. The University of Washington conducted a study using masks and the crows were able to associate certain behavior with the faces on the masks, remembering who annoyed them and scolding and dive-bombing the people wearing those same masks five years later. You can read more about it here: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/uw-professor-learns-crows-dont-forget-a-face/

Like other intelligent creatures, crows are very social and usually live in pairs and mate for life. They are considered the most family-oriented bird in the world.

And it’s impossible to think about crows without thinking about scarecrows.

The word scarecrow is an aptronym. An aptronym is when a name matches the job of its owner and literally means “an apt name”.

The word scarecrow was first used in literature in 1719 in Robinson Crusoe although scarecrows have been around for much longer.

Scarecrows have existed approximately 3,000 years, designed to do exactly what their name suggests – scare crows. They were first used by the Egyptians to protect their wheat fields along the Nile River from flocks of quail. In 2,500 B.C., Greek farmers carved wooden scarecrows to look like Priapus, the son of the gods, Dionysus and Aphrodite. He was supposedly ugly enough to scare birds away from the vineyards to ensure a good harvest. At the same time, Japanese farmers made scarecrows called Kakashis, to protect their rice fields. They dressed them in rain coats and round straw hats, but added bows and arrows to make them look more threatening. In Germany, scarecrows were made out of wood and made to look like witches. They were supposed to hasten the coming of spring. In Medieval Britain, young children were used as live scarecrows or “bird scarers” and would patrol fields of crops, waving their arms or throwing stones at the birds to scare them away.

But, as you’ve just read, crows are so smart that scarecrows are basically ineffective and today used mainly as decorations. The 21st century has seen new scarecrow-like inventions, including the California Scarecrow (see below) which is a solar-powered, mechanical device that has 17-foot arms that wave and twirl and flap mylar strips. It is not quite as picturesque as a real scarecrow.

electronic crow

But although scarecrows are no longer effective at scaring crows, they have become a beloved part of the culture and celebrated during autumn as decorations and during Scarecrow and Fall Festivals.

Lastly, here is a beautiful poem by Robert Frost that highlights the lovely crow.

crow poem

Would you like to win a Scarecrow Pin?    Leave a comment and Darlene will enter your name in the give-away and choose one lucky winner at random from those entered.scarecrow

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Beth Ferry is the author of numerous books for young readers, including Stick and Stone, Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish and The Scarecrow. She is inspired by two main things: word play and the sea. Luckily, Beth is an avid reader who lives close to the beach so inspiration is never far away. In addition to picture books, Beth has begun writing graphic novels. When not writing, Beth can be found playing with her bulldog, Chaucer.

 

 

 

 

 

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.