Birthday Girl-Repost

My mom and third granddaughter.

My mom and third granddaughter.

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. I’m re-posting this, along with an introspective quote, in her memory. 

“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.”

― Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces

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Amazon Rapids, “The Easter Beast” is Published!

Wild bunny, Florida.

Woohoo! My second story on Amazon Rapids has been published.

In “The Easter Beast,” Bun Bun and Chewy Chirp, the last chocolate bunny and marshmallow chick on the shelf, desperately want to go on an Easter Egg hunt, but the store’s about to close and they are being stalked by the Easter Beast, aka the store clerk, who craves chocolate and marshmallows.

Short, illustrated stories on Amazon Rapids, an App for ages 7-12, “are told through the lens of characters chatting with each other. The app is available for iOS, Android and Amazon Fire devices, and offers hundreds of original stories, with dozens of new ones added monthly.”

Amazon Rapids Includes: 

Unique chat style — Stories are told through the lens of characters chatting with each other, letting stories come to life one message at a time.

Hundreds of original stories — Kids can explore a large and growing library that’s filled with original stories spanning adventure, fantasy, humor, mystery, science fiction and sports.

Age-appropriate content – All content is thoughtfully edited to be appropriate for kids ages 7-12.

Built-in glossary — Kids can easily look up the definition and pronunciation of words to help build their reading confidence. Each time they look up a word, it is automatically added to their personal glossary for easy reference. 

“Read to me” —Kids can have stories read aloud to them while they follow along with the text. “Having been a teacher for over a decade, I’ve learned to write stories in a way that compels kids to dive in and the Amazon Rapids format is a perfect way to make that happen,” said Raymond Bean, best-selling children’s author. “In my first Amazon Rapids story, Alien Invasion, a boy named Gordon and an alien connect via a misdirected text message and hilarity ensues as they discuss the aliens’ plans to land on earth.”

Parents can visit http://rapids.amazon.com to download Amazon Rapids today.

Related Post: Amazon Rapids Press Release–My 1st Fiction Story is Published!

 

Wonder-ful Event

Wonder, a middle-grade novel by R.J. Palacio

Wonder, a middle-grade novel by R.J. Palacio

Event at Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ

Event at Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ

“Choose Kind” in Action and Spirit

On January 24, I was lucky to hear R.J. Palacio speak about her middle-grade novel Wonder, which I had just finished reading. The book has sold over 1.5 million copies since it was published in 2012. The event was sponsored by The Education Foundation of Millburn-Short Hills and held in Millburn High School’s auditorium. I couldn’t wait to go! (shout out to my SCBWI critique group writers who joined me)

Palacio said:

  1. Becoming a mom led her to rediscover her love of children’s books. (same with me!)
  2. Inspiration for the book came from a “true event” where she hurried her sons away from a little girl who looked like Auggie, the main character in Wonder. She said, “I had blown it” and couldn’t shake the the way she had handled the encounter.
  3. She and her husband made their own trailer for the book, which was considered mid-list and not projected to sell well.
  4. A picture book based on the novel is due out this spring
  5. A movie based on the novel is opening the spring.
  6. Her mom told her, “You’re going to be a writer one day.” (same with me!)

The Ed Foundation’s site says

R.J. Palacio addressed a full house on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 at the Millburn High School discussing how she came up with the idea for her book and how the message of the book has launched an international revolution inspiring all to embrace the theme of choosing kindness everyday.

Over 700 people listened intently to how a book about an ordinary 10-year old boy with a facial deformity resonated with tens of thousands of readers of all ages.

Ms. Palacio passionately spoke to the audience on the virtues of respect, tolerance, and inclusion as a means to heal a world so often divided by cruelty, judgment, and bullying. She shared examples of what students across the country are doing to show empathy and kindness in everyday life.

Click here to see kids actives based on the book.

Amazon Rapids Press Release–My 1st Fiction Story is Published!

Original animal artwork by Kathleen Harte Gilsenan of Maddie Lab Studio.

Check out “Life is Better as a Writer” and other original animal artwork by Kathleen Harte Gilsenan of Maddie Lab Studio.

Amazon just launched an App called Amazon Rapids, and one of my stories is available on the App! Hon, would it surprise you that the story is titled “Triplet Party Panic?”

Press Release 

Amazon Announces Rapids – A Playful Approach to Reading for Today’s Connected Kids New App Features Fun, Engaging Short Stories Told in a Unique Chat Style Amazon Rapids Offers Readers Ages 7-12 Hundreds of Illustrated, Original Stories with Dozens More Added Monthly

Amazon announced a new app that offers a playful approach to children’s reading. Amazon Rapids offers illustrated short stories written in a unique chat style that brings stories to life, one message at a time.

Stories on Amazon Rapids are told through the lens of characters chatting with each other, from an alien texting about invading Earth to two chickens debating if they should cross the street. The app is available for iOS, Android and Amazon Fire devices, and offers hundreds of original stories, with dozens of new ones added monthly.

Parents who sign up now can subscribe at a special introductory rate of $2.99 per month to give their kids unlimited access to short stories. Parents can start a free two week trial at http://rapids.amazon.com. “Many kids already love using phones to chat with friends and family,” said Rohit Agarwal, General Manager of Amazon K-12 Education. “We wanted to see what authors and illustrators could create with an app that made it easy to tell stories that way. We’re excited to share Amazon Rapids with parents and their kids.”

With Amazon Rapids, kids can choose from many types of stories including adventure, fantasy, humor, mystery, science fiction and sports. Stories feature a variety of topics, from a grandma invading her granddaughter’s group chat to a duck taking over a rooster’s duties on a farm. Additionally, with age-appropriate content and key features like the built-in glossary and “read to me” mode, kids can feel confident and read independently. Whether a kid is on her way to soccer practice and has 10 minutes in the car, or waiting with friends for the school bus to arrive, she can quickly immerse herself in a hilarious adventure and enjoy the simple pleasure of a great story.

Amazon Rapids Includes: 

Unique chat style — Stories are told through the lens of characters chatting with each other, letting stories come to life one message at a time.

Hundreds of original stories — Kids can explore a large and growing library that’s filled with original stories spanning adventure, fantasy, humor, mystery, science fiction and sports.

Age-appropriate content – All content is thoughtfully edited to be appropriate for kids ages 7-12.

Built-in glossary — Kids can easily look up the definition and pronunciation of words to help build their reading confidence. Each time they look up a word, it is automatically added to their personal glossary for easy reference. 

“Read to me” —Kids can have stories read aloud to them while they follow along with the text. “Having been a teacher for over a decade, I’ve learned to write stories in a way that compels kids to dive in and the Amazon Rapids format is a perfect way to make that happen,” said Raymond Bean, best-selling children’s author. “In my first Amazon Rapids story, Alien Invasion, a boy named Gordon and an alien connect via a misdirected text message and hilarity ensues as they discuss the aliens’ plans to land on earth.”

Parents can visit http://rapids.amazon.com to download Amazon Rapids today.

Source:  Art by Kathleen Harte Gilsenan of MaddieLabStudio

Nurture the Wow, Published Book Review

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“Putting Prayer Into Parenting,” my published review of Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg’s book Nurture the Wow, was published in the October/November 2016 issue of Hadassah Magazine. Click here to read the review and an interview with the author.

Woohoo to an insightful parenting book, and to the opportunity to write about it.

 

Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

Frieze of Dancers, c.1895

Frieze of Dancers c.1895, Oil on canvas

Good Impressions

I’ve always loved Impressionism, so I felt compelled to visit the MOMA to see the exhibit on Edgar Degas before it closes July 24. Maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when a quote by Degas spoke to my experience as a writer. I write, revise, begin again, write, revise, repeat. I just finished listening to the audio version of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. In the Afterword, Gaiman says he waited until he was a good enough writer to write this book. Maybe writing, revising, beginning again and repeating the process is practice until my writing is good enough to bring my stories to life.

Just maybe.

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Two Dancers, c.1898

Two Dancers c.1898, Pastel on eight sheets of pieced paper

The Road in the Forest, c. 1890

The Road in the Forest c.1890, Monotype in oil on paper

Pathway in a Field, c.1890

Pathway in a Field c.1890, Pastel over monotype in oil on paper

Three Dancers, 1900-1905, charcoal and pastel on tracing paper

Three Dancers 1900-1905, charcoal and pastel on tracing paper

 

 

 

Skype Hype

Acting out the action with kindergarteners.

Acting out the action with kindergarteners.

I’m interrupting the DIY graduation party posts to present…

Skype Hype

In February, I participated in LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day by visiting several local kindergartens. Check out Kindergarteners are Super to learn more about those school visits. Through Microsoft Educator, I connected with teachers in Pennsylvania and Canada and Skyped with their students. Not only did the kids actively listen to books or chapters, they met my adorable dog, Lucy. (Curious how adorable she is? Click here to see for yourself.)

I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but…

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…if I don’t, who will?

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Guess what came in the mail?

A thank you note from 4th and 5th graders. Shout out to French teacher Madame Diaz who invited me to meet her students. She said, “Thanks for the card and the Skype session Naomi! I think you were by far their favourite Skype guest this year!”

That makes me so happy.

Another big shout out to librarian Ms. Killian. She took these pics and sent me an unexpected review, “On a scale of 1-10 your lesson received a resounding 10!!”

Whew!

She also said, “We had a fantastic time hearing you read the story to us, listening to your experience as a writer, and we love your dog!”

Connect with Ms. Killian on Twitter @CoLIBRAtoRY.

Shout out, also, to middle grade author Darlene Beck-Jacobson who shared Skype tips and featured me on her blog.

Hon, thanks for indulging me. I hope there are many more school visits in my future.

I'm on a big screen.

I’m on a big screen.

Skyping with students.

Skyping with students.

Love this! Ms. Killian asked the students how much they liked the lesson and they gave me 10's. Wow!

Ms. Killian asked the students how much they liked the lesson and they gave me 10’s. Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindergarteners Are Super

School Visit Materials

School Visit Materials

Last week, on World Read Aloud Day, I shared my love of Kidlit by reading and acting out scenes with Kindergarteners. Not only did I read Ninja by Arree Chung and Twenty-Six Pirates by David Horowitz, I read my own picture book manuscript to three classes.

Since the topic of my picture book is superheroes, I created a handout where the kids could write their superhero name and power and illustrate their super people. The five and six year-olds then shared their creations with each other. Fun!

The kids were excited to be the FIRST kids to see my book dummy.

Reading from my book dummy.

Channeling my charactesrs.

Channeling my characters.

Acting out scenes.

Acting out scenes.

I'm getting into character.

Showing not telling.

Shout out to Wyoming Elementary School’s Kindergarten teachers. When I thanked them for allowing me to visit their classrooms, one teacher sent me this: “Thanks goes to you, Mrs. Gruer, for continuing to be a reading inspiration to the children at Wyoming School!!” Wasn’t that nice?

Super Kids’ Quotes:

To the question, “If you were a superhero, what would your power be?”

A boy answered: “Ocean! I’d save everything that lives in the ocean, even sharks, and all the sea creatures would love me.”

A girl answered: “My superpower is fire and fly!”

Another girl answered: “I am strong and speed!”

To the question, “If you were a superhero, what would your name be?”

One boy asked, “How do you spell “Estaban the Magnificent?'”

 

Courage in Kids Literature

IMG_9012 I always root for a main character who shows courage. Don’t you?

This week, World Read Aloud Day’s theme is courage. 

Please indulge me as I share one my favorite passages in kidlit. In this excerpt from The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, one little girl courageously enters a new world with curiosity and wonder. Hmm, maybe my own journey into the world of kidlit is like stepping into Narnia.

“‘This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!’ thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her. Then she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet. ‘I wonder  is that more moth-balls?’ she thought, stooping down to feel it with her hand. But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold. “This is very queer,’ she said, and went on a step of two further.

Next moment she found that what was rubbing against her face and hands was no longer soft fur but something hard and rough and even prickly. ‘Why, it is the branches of trees!’ exclaimed Lucy. And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.

Lucy felt a little frightened, but she felt very inquisitive and excited as well. She looked back over her shoulder and there, between the dark tree-trunks, she could see the open doorway of the wardrobe…She began to walk forward, crunch-crunch over the snow and through the wood. In about ten minutes she reached it and found it was a lamp-post. As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamp-post in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming toward her. And soon after that a very strange person stepped out from among the trees into the light of the lamp-post.”

  

Hon, do you think I was courageous or crazy to rappel and rock climb on cliffs abutting the Atlantic Ocean? 

Rappeling down Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine.

Rappelling down Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine.

Rock climbing at Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine.

Rock climbing Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine.

Confidence in Kids Literature

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Confidence is the theme of the week.

In honor of World Read Aloud Day, Litworld asks,”What stories make you feel confident and proud to be you?” It must be the kid in me and my love of kidlit that makes picture books the natural place to find confidence. Here are my picks for the…

Top Five Confidence Boosting Picture Books 

  1. Yoko by Rosemary Wells. Yoko has the confidence to bring her unique lunch to school. She doesn’t “yuck anyone else’s yum” even when other kids call her lunch icky.
  2. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Little Red Chicken knows what he knows. Fairytales are dangerous.
  3. Zoomer by Ned Young. Zoomer isn’t afraid to let his imagination run wild.
  4. Ninja by Arree Chung. Maxwell is ready to face any obstacles as a true ninja.
  5. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. If you need the confidence–and permission–to be silly, you get both in this book.

Hon, do you think I’m confident or crazy to take lessons on the flying trapeze?

Me on the flying trapeze. Confident or crazy?

Me on the flying trapeze. Confident or crazy?