The winner of a copy of the beautifully written and illustrated picture book GRANDMOTHER THORN by Katey Howes is…Donna Taylor. Congratulations!
Here is the second book in my series of give-aways. The delightful and beautifully illustrated picture book GRANDMOTHER THORN by Katey Howes.
To be in the running for a copy, leave a comment on this post. I will enter your name in the random drawing. I hope you will consider writing a review of the book on Amazon.com or Goodreads.com. It is one of the best ways to spread the word about good books. Winner will be announced here on Wednesday, 4-4-2018.
Here’s my review:
“Told in folktale fashion, GRANDMOTHER THORN is an exquisitely hand-crafted, artistic story destined to become a classic. A tale of stubbornness, persistence, and learning to accept that even a careful and determined gardener is no match for Mother Nature. When we open our heart to surprise – and throw away the notion of perfection – the reward can be life-changing. Pretty powerful message for a delightful children’s book.”
PLANNING A LAUNCH PARTY FOR GRANDMOTHER THORN
It’s such a treat to be a return guest here on the blog! The first time I contributed a post here, I was a fresh new blogger sharing ideas about raising kids who love to read – and just starting out on my path to publication. After connecting with Darlene on the internet, we got to know each other better at the 2014 NJ SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. Fast forward 3 ½ years, and here I am again, this time privileged to be chatting about my first picture book. It’s been a joy sharing the journey from aspiring author to published author with such an energetic, encouraging and talented friend. Thanks for having me, Darlene!
My debut book is GRANDMOTHER THORN, illustrated by the incredibly talented Rebecca Hahn and published by independent publisher Ripple Grove Press. When it released in August, I knew I wanted to host a launch party that not only celebrated the book, but also thanked the many people who helped me achieve this milestone. Here, I share a bit about my party, and hope that it helps others plan their own wonderful events!
LOCATION. Many authors have their launch party in a local book store, in their home, or in a venue that reflects something about their book. I chose the Crosswicks Community Library, located in a beautiful renovated firehouse dating from the 1800’s. (This library has such a cool history – you can read more about it here.) This library had been my reading home since 2007 – and the place where my children grew to love books. We spent many hours there together, in all seasons, reading out loud to one another, doing puzzles, and discovering stacks of new favorites. I wanted to celebrate this magical place along with my book. The library was also a great choice because it was conveniently located to the neighborhood where my kids went to school and where my Girl Scout troop met. I knew my Brownies wouldn’t miss this party for the world – but their parents would thank me for making it convenient. The library did not charge me for the event, and they made it easy for me to sell copies of the book. They also helped promote the event through their Facebook page. All great things to consider in planning a launch party! (It’s also walking distance to a good playground and an excellent pizza place. How could you go wrong with that?)
I went digital in getting the word out about my launch party. I used Canva.com to create images with the event information sized right to share on my website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I created a Facebook event in less than 10 minutes and added the Library as a co-host so we could both easily invite our Facebook followers. All of this was absolutely free.
ACTIVITIES Of course, the main event at any launch party is the author reading his or her book – but what happens next? With a picture book launch, you definitely need something fun for kids to do while the grown ups hug and laugh and say “congratulations.”
My friend Ariel Bernstein recently hosted the launch party for her debut, I HAVE A BALLOON, at words Bookstore in Maplewood. She had a balloon artist there twisting cool creations for the kids. It fit right in to the theme and kept even big kids happy.
Since I’m a crafty person, I wanted a fun art activity for kids to make and take. My daughters (ages 12, 10 and 8) manned the craft table and helped kids make these Shiori Ningyo, or Japanese bookmark dolls. I discovered this craft when the KidArtLit subscription box company included it in their August book box, and I have been using it at events ever since!
You can check out their video tutorial here. Including this craft in the party was a great way for me to symbolically thank KidArtLit’s founders for sharing GRANDMOTHER THORN with their subscribers – and for all the love they’ve shown the book and me!
I originally planned to have berry tarts (to reflect the berries in the book) and dorayaki (which also plays a role in the story) at the launch party. I reconsidered after realizing refreshments would be served in the children’s room of the library. I did not want gooey, sticky, and stain-prone desserts on hand while kids were likely to pull library books off shelves. I decided to go with individually wrapped cookies, instead – and to avoid chocolate or sticky fillings. (Though if you’re curious about making dorayaki, check out this interview in Vivian Kirkfield’s Will Write for Cookies! Series.)
I was lucky to discover The Flour Pot bakery in Ambler, PA. They helped me select images from the book to be “screen printed” onto delicious frosted sugar cookies in edible colors. The cookies were striking, right down to the color-coordinated ribbons The Flour Pot staff tied around each cellophane bag.
They also made a great thank you gift for the supportive family and friends who couldn’t make it to the event. This delicious gift box went out to my incredible agent, Essie White.
Many authors and illustrators pass out fun items like pencils, stickers, and toys to help promote their books. For ideas, definitely check out promo pros Robin Newman and Lori Richmond. I did design and order bookmarks for Grandmother Thorn from VistaPrint.com – and the publishing house later made more with a different design. I didn’t order additional “swag” for this book, as I couldn’t really find anything that thematically felt right to me. Instead, I spent most of my “swag budget” on craft supplies and those gorgeous cookies!
The party itself was everything I had hoped – a time for joy and sharing and gratitude and friendship. And, of course, lots and lots of kids reading books.
Children’s Author, Literacy Advocate
Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press, August 2017)
Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling, January 2018)
You can buy a copy of Grandmother Thorn on Amazon:
It only feels like summer is over. There is still plenty of time for fun and games. If your kids are bored or you just want them to enjoy some fun away from technology, check out these sites for some ideas:
- For some old-fashioned jump rope rhymes try:
2. For imaginative platy and telling stories with nature here’s a wonderful site hosted by my writer friend Katey Howes: http://kateywrites.wordpress.com/2015…th-nature/
3. For great summer crafts for kids of all ages:
Here’s another site for dozens of ideas for summer or rainy days. This site even has light sabers, salt dough dinosaurs, bubble art, weaving, and plastic flowers to name just a few.
Other ideas: Make ice pops by putting your favorite juice in paper cups with a popsicle or craft stick resting in each. Freeze until firm. Tear away the paper and enjoy. Water balloon catch is perfect for a hot afternoon. Bubbles provide endless hours of fun for even the youngest kids. Go on a NATURE WALK and look for things in unexpected places. Even in your own back yard you can find nests of birds, rabbits, a butterfly chrysalis, caterpillars and the like. Nurture the young scientists in your house and discover the wonders of the great outdoors.
What do you like to do for fun?!