We Love Fishing! by Ariel Bernstein

Happy Book Birthday to a bunch of NJ SCBWI writer-friends!

Hon, you know how much I love Kidlit, especially picture books, so congrats to authors whose picture books have just debuted!

Ariel Bernsteins’s newest picture book, We Love Fishing!, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal, debuted on February 23, 2021.

Perfect for fans of Mo Willems, this hilarious picture book explores feeling like the odd one out with bright and engaging art by New York Times bestselling illustrator Marc Rosenthal.

It’s a beautiful day, and a group of friends are excited to spend it together. The woodland creatures can’t wait to pile into their boat and go fishing! Or, at least, Bear, Porcupine, and Otter can’t wait. They love fishing. Squirrel…does not.

Squirrel tags along with his enthusiastic friends, but is there anything they all love? Or is this fishing trip already sunk? 

Goodreads

Check out Interview With Author Ariel Bernstein on Ellwyn Autumn’s Blog to find out what she finds most challenging about writing picture and chapter books, a common theme in her stories, and what she’d do if approached by an elf.

Other books by Ariel are I Have a Balloon, Where Is My Balloon, and Warren & Dragon chapter books. @ArielBBooks

Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! by Robin Newman

Happy Book Birthday to a bunch of NJ SCBWI writer-friends!

Hon, you know how much I love Kidlit, especially picture books, so congrats to authors whose picture books have just debuted!

Robin Newman’s newest picture book, Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt!, illustrated by Susan Batori, debuted on March 15, 2021.

Bear is tired. It is time for his long winter nap. He will sleep for 243.5 days. But Bear is a very light sleeper. The slightest thing will disturb him, so he knits ear muffs and posts signs and even chops down trees to make a sturdy front door for his den, and then he goes to sleep. Meanwhile, Woodpecker is working on the houses he builds, but he notices several of the houses have disappeared. He sees bits of them scattered on the ground and follows the trail of bits to the new front door Bear built for his den. That is where the houses went. Woodpecker tap-tap-taps on the door. Bear wakes up and is not happy about having his nap disturbed. The two get into a shouting, name-calling match. Can they resolve their differences?

Robin Newman has written a laugh-out-loud story that little ones will want to hear over and over. It is funny, sweet, and hopeful. The illustrations by Susan Batori are so much fun and filled with details that will keep little eyes on the pages. This is a real winner. Don’t miss it.

San Francisco Book Review

Check out “Interview Alert: Robin Newman” on Lauri Fortino’s Frog On A (B)Log to find out how she started writing for kids, where she finds inspiration, and why she believes picture books are important.

Other books by Robin are The Case of the Bad Apples, No Peacocks! A Feathered Tale of Three Mischievous Foodies, Sesame Street: Breathe, Think, Do with Elmo: Problem Solving for Little Monsters, and more. @robinnewmanbook

Dylan’s Dragon by Annie Silvestro

Happy Book Birthday to a bunch of NJ SCBWI writer-friends!

Hon, you know how much I love Kidlit, especially picture books, so congrats to authors whose picture books have just debuted!

Annie Silvestro’s newest picture book, Dylan’s Dragon, illustrated by Ben Whitehouse, debuted on April 1, 2021.

Dylan loves playing, drawing, dreaming, and, best of all, dragons! But his days and weeks are so full–with piano lessons, science club, baseball practice, karate class, and more–that when the dragon of his daydreams shows up, there’s never any time to play. How can Dylan let his family know that his busy schedule needs room for dragon time? 

Goodreads

Check out “The Picture Book Buzz–Interview with Annie Silvestro” by Maria Marshall to find out a common theme in her picture books, what she advice she’d give children, and insight into her journey as an author.

Other picture books by Annie are Mice Skating, Bunny’s Book Club, The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains, and more. @anniesilvestro

Let Liberty Rise, How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save The Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel

Happy Book Birthday to a bunch of NJ SCBWI writer-friends!

Hon, you know how much I love Kidlit, especially picture books, so congrats to authors whose picture books have just debuted!

Chana Stiefel’s newest picture book, Let Liberty Rise! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, debuted on March 2, 2021.

On America’s 100th birthday, the people of France built a giant gift! It was one of the largest statues the world had ever seen — and she weighed as much as 40 elephants! And when she arrived on our shores in 250 pieces, she needed a pedestal to hold her up. Few of America’s millionaires were willing to foot the bill.

Then, Joseph Pulitzer (a poor Hungarian immigrant-cum-newspaper mogul) appealed to his fellow citizens. He invited them to contribute whatever they could, no matter how small an amount, to raise funds to mount this statue. The next day, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters poured in. Soon, Pulitzer’s campaign raised enough money to construct the pedestal. And with the help of everyday Americans (including many thousands of schoolchildren!) the Statue of Liberty rose skyward, torch ablaze, to welcome new immigrants for a life of freedom and opportunity!

Chana Stiefel’s charming and immediate writing style is perfectly paired with Chuck Groenink’s beautiful, slyly humorous illustrations. Back matter with photographs included.

Scholastic

Check out “The Picture Book Buzz – Interview with Chana Stiefel” by Maria Marshall to find out what inspired Chana to write this book, where she did research, what she wants kids to take away from the story, and which illustration contains a surprise historical coincidence.

Chana is an author of over 25 books for kids, including My Name Is Wakawakaloch!, Animal Zombies…& Other Real-Life Monsters, and Daddy Depot. @chanastiefel

Rissy No Kissies by Katey Howes

Happy Book Birthday to a bunch of NJ SCBWI writer-friends!

Hon, you know how much I love Kidlit, especially picture books, so congrats to authors whose picture books have just debuted!

Katey Howes’ newest picture book, Rissy No Kissies, illustrated by Jess Engle, debuted on March 2, 2021.

A lovebird who doesn’t like kisses?!

Rissy’s friends and family wonder if she’s sick, confused, or rude. But kisses make Rissy uncomfortable. Can one little lovebird show everyone that there’s no one right way to show you care?

Rissy No Kissies carries the message that “your body and your heart are yours, and you choose how to share.” A note at the end provides further information for kids, parents, and educators about body autonomy, consent, and different ways to show affection.

“This is an artistic gem for consent discussions, sensory-processing contexts, and anyone who champions children’s agency and bodily autonomy. Radiant.”―starred, Kirkus Reviews

Amazon.com

Want to know why Katey chose to address the important topic of consent? More about her writing process? See a printable lesson plan that pairs with her book? Like the sound of Sunflower Love Cookies?

Check out an interview by Darlene Beck-Jacobson, “Katey Howes Talks About Bodily Autonomy and Consent in Her New PB: Rissy No Kissies.”

Other picture books by Katey are Grandmother Thorn, Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, and Be a Maker.

Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers, Debut Picture Books

One of the positive aspects of writing Kidlit is the supportive community, and writer/illustrator :Donna Marie has been more than supportive; she’s volunteered countless hours to NJSCBWI. When the pandemic hit the U.S., :Donna wanted to find a way to help kids understand Covid-19 and why their routines were disrupted, and show how they could stay safe. She turned her idea into a reality by publishing  Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers, which are available in 6 different versions with 2 more inclusive versions on the way. In addition, on the website Pippinherohelpers.com, :Donna offers additional info and tools for kids and adults and free printable downloads to post anywhere from bathrooms to classrooms that illustrate hand hygiene, wearing/handling face coverings, and more.

What’s the story about? 

One morning in March 2020 a child wakes up and gets ready for school only to be told by Mom that he/she has to stay home—it’s a rule. The child doesn’t understand, is upset about no longer being able to play with friends and do many “normal” things like go to the playground, the movies, school or anything outside their home or family. The mother then tells the child about the pandemic—the deadly virus that’s “sneaky and quick.”

Accompanied by illustrations, she explains how easily the virus spreads, how it can make some people very sick, who the heroes are who help the people who need hospital care, along with the many essential workers we count on. The child learns that by doing “stay safe” things like staying physically distant, wearing masks and washing hands they become “Hero Helpers.”

Highlighted are many positives about staying home, and lots of “stay at home” activities, including a surprise “fun” idea Mom has the family do. The child is reassured that, until the doctors say it is “safe” again, they will visit friends and family virtually, continue to be grateful for the good things, and how they will stay strong till this pandemic passes.                          Kathy Temean on Writing and Illustrating 

In :Donna Marie’s words: 

When this pandemic hit the U.S., I saw the plethora of wonderful stuff being offered by the KidLit community, librarians and teachers to families with children to help them get through the whole stay-at-home situation and was blown away by it. My natural inclination was wanting to contribute and what came to mind was a book I wrote back when my son was in maybe 3rd grade, so 1993ish. It was called The Rainy Day and in it were ideas of what to do on a rainy day. I figured maybe I could list them and post it in a blog post, but quickly poo-pooed that since it really wouldn’t offer anything more than what was already out there, so why waste my time? But one thought led to another, I ended up writing an almost totally new story, and when I realized I had the power to execute these books digitally to make diverse and inclusive versions, there was no stopping me!

Where can people find Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers?

Check out  Pippinherohelpers.com to order ebooks on Kindle and Apple Books. Paperback versions may be ordered on Amazon.

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Author/Illustrator Bio:

:Donna is a proud and blessed mother and grandmother, and as a woman of love, hope and faith, she has loved stories since the first time she held ARE YOU MY MOTHER, THE CAT IN THE HAT and MADELINE in her hands. Passionate about storytelling in all forms, the wonder of words and pictures in books has long inspired her to tell stories of her own. As a small voice amid the glorious chorus of book creators, her hope is to add some small measure of value and joy for her gracious readers. And all of this while doing her best not to consume more “goodies” than good books! 😀

The War I Finally Won, Book Review

I’m currently reading the insightful, researched, and devastating book Caste, The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson, and realize how much caste and hierarchy is present in The War I Finally Won, the 2017 sequel to The War That Saved My Life. Author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley doesn’t sugarcoat how people were seen and treated in WWII England, whether they were poor or wealthy, children or adults, single or married, Jews or Nazis, and soldiers or spies. One of the most refreshing things about the stories is that the target audience of 8-12 year olds isn’t patronized. Cruelty, physical and emotional pain, disability, sickness, war, and death, and grief are faced head on. So are understanding, acceptance, loyalty, friendship and love.

What’s the story about?

Ada and her younger brother, Jamie, now have a permanent home with their loving legal guardian, Susan Smith. Although Jamie adapts more easily, Ada still struggles with the aftermath of her old life, and how to fit into her new life.

World War II continues, and forces the small community to come together and rely on one another. Ada has never been interested in getting to know her friend’s family—especially Maggie’s mother, the formidable Lady Thorton. However, circumstances bring them in close proximity along with other unexpected characters.

Ada comes face to face with another German! This time she isn’t sure what she should do. How can she help the ones she loves and keep them safe?

Ada’s first story, The War that Saved My Life, won a Newbery Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award, and the Josette Frank Award, in addition to appearing on multiple best-of-the-year lists. This second, marvelous volume continues Ada’s powerful, uplifting story.  Goodreads

Quotes from The War I Finally Won

“Love isn’t as rare as you think it is…You can love all sorts of people, in all sorts of ways. Nor is love in any way dangerous.”

“People used to draw dragons on the edges of old maps. When the world hadn’t been fully explored, mapmakers imagined dragons living at the far ends.”

“Fear and what you did with it were two separate things.”

“I don’t want to have to feel grateful,” I said. Susan smiled. “I understand,” she said. “Do it anyhow.”

“I stored this information in my head in the bulging file titled “Things I Wished I Didn’t Know.” It included what it felt like to walk on a clubfoot for ten years, and what it sounded like to have your mother say she never wanted to see you again.”

“That’s your map of the past. What’s in the map of your future?” I stared at her. “What do you want?” she persisted. I had no idea. When I’d first been evacuated I’d wanted to be like the girl riding the pony, racing the train. Now I was. Parts of me were still jumbled—but maybe that girl had been jumbled too. I’d only seen her from the outside.”       Goodreads

The War That Saved My Life, Book Review

My family talks about books. My friends talk about books. And my  SCBWI critique group writes, edits, dissects, revises, and recommends books. Shout out to Kathy who suggested the Newbery Honor and multi-award winning middle grade historical fiction by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The War That Saved My Life.

I found it interesting to read about efforts in England during WWII to Make Do and Mend while we were quarantining and making do and mending ourselves. At the same time I read about re-purposing fabric, my daughter and I were turning sheets into masks. While characters in the story found meat hard to come by, my butcher rationed his inventory. Fictional and real dinners were invented by using what was in the pantry.

War and quarantine efforts aside, it’s the main character’s struggle and strength in the face of cruelty and uncertainty that makes this story compelling and relatable on so many levels.

What the story about?

This #1 New York Times bestseller is an exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War II. For fans of Counting by 7s and Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?                Amazon

Quotes from The War That Saved My Life

 

“There,” she said, smiling, her eyes soft and warm. “It’s perfect. Ada. You’re beautiful.” She was lying. She was lying, and I couldn’t bear it. I heard Mam’s voice shrieking in my head. “You ugly piece of rubbish! Filth and trash! No one wants you, with that ugly foot!” My hands started to shake. Rubbish. Filth. Trash. I could wear Maggie’s discards, or plain clothes from the shops, but not this, not this beautiful dress.

“All the words in the world are made up of just twenty-six letters,” she said. “There’s a big and a little version of each.” She wrote the letters out on the paper, and named them all. Then she went through them again. Then she told me to copy them onto another piece of paper, and then she went back to her chair. I stared at the paper. I said, “This isn’t reading. This is drawing.” “Writing,” she corrected. “It’s like buttons and hems. You’ve got to learn those before you can sew on the machine. You’ve got to know your letters before you can read.”

I knew ponies from the lane but had only seen them pull carts. I hadn’t known you could ride them. I hadn’t known they could go so fast. The girl leaned forward against the pony’s flying mane. I saw a stone wall ahead of them. I gasped. They were going to hit it. They were going to be hurt. Why didn’t she stop the pony? They jumped it. They jumped the stone wall, and kept running, while the train tracks turned away from their field. Suddenly I could feel it, the running, the jump. The smoothness, the flying—I recognized it with my whole body, as though it was something I’d done a hundred times before. Something I loved to do. I tapped the window. “I’m going to do that,” I said.”

“It had been awful, but I hadn’t quit. I had persisted. In battle I had won.”

Sequel:  The War I Finally Won

Chocolate Flecked Angel Food Cake

Chocolate-Flecked Angel Food Cake

When Hubby made dinner recently, he made the whole dinner which means he even baked dessert! He followed the recipe and Amazon video for Shauna Sever’s Chocolate-Flecked Angel Food Cake. Yum!

Ingredients:
  • 12 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup sugar + 2 extra Tablespoons split in half
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate bar
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. Whip egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, approximately 3 minutes.
  3. Continue beating on medium-high speed while adding 1/2 cup + 1 Tbl sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  4. Change to low speed and add vanilla, cake flour and remaining 1/2 cup + 1 Tbl sugar.
  5. Grate unsweetened chocolate into batter and then mix for 30 seconds. Don’t overtax.
  6. Pour batter into a bundt pan. Important: Do not grease the pan because the batter has to “climb the sides of the pan.”
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  8. Invert bundt pan while cake cools. Tip: If your bundt pan has “feet,” the pan will invert and stand on them, but if not the pan can be balanced on top of a glass bottle (that would be inserted into the center of the pan.) Hubby didn’t need to balance the bundt pan on anything because the cake didn’t rise over the edge, so he inverted the pan just on its rim.
  9. When cool, use a spatula to carefully loosen the cake from the inside of the pan. Push the base up and out of the cake pan. Use the spatula to separate cake from the base and carefully tip onto a serving plate.

Serve plain or with berries and whipped cream.

 

 

 

Everyone’s Got Something: My First Year with Celiac Disease, Authors’ Interview, Part 2

Interview with the authors of
Everyone’s Got Something:  My First Year With Celiac Disease!

High-schoolers Hallie and Rayna, along with their mom Lori, answer questions about Everyone’s Got Something: My First Year with Celiac Disease, a fictional story about a girl diagnosed with Celiac Disease. In addition to the story, there are extras:  “what to look for on ingredient labels, ‘BIG’ word definitions, questions to ask at a restaurant, the best brownie recipe ever, insight from a mom, and the chance to start your own journal!” Check out the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

NG:  How old were you when you were diagnosed with Celiac Disease? What grade?
H&R:  We just turned 13 years old, and in 7th grade. 
NG:  How did you feel when you found out?
R:  Shocked, confused and determined to deal with it in the best way I could.
NG:  How did you explain it to your friends?
R:  We told our friends we had a huge announcement, to which they replied, “Oh my gosh, we’ll be the bridesmaids!” which was comic relief that we didn’t know we needed. When we told them we had celiac disease we didn’t even fully know how to explain. A couple of our friends assumed they knew what gluten was (incorrectly) and at the time we didn’t know how to correct them, which is now something we have since learned and mastered how to do.
NG:  What was the biggest change you had to make?
H:  The most drastic change was converting our entire kitchen into a 100% gluten free space. This required getting rid of many kitchen items and running many loads of other items in the dishwasher. The most difficult change was eating outside of our house. It was hard to find restaurants that could prepare food safely. A lot of restaurants offer gluten free options, but they do not all prepare the food safely and without cross contamination. Another change involved having to bring food with us when we went out to eat or eat something before.
NG:  Why did you decide to write the book?
H:  The idea for the book started after we began writing down our thoughts and experiences as a way to process the changes that were occurring. We decided that it might actually benefit others to read it so we thought about how to organize our thoughts, our feelings and our experiences into a book format. When we were diagnosed, we looked for books on celiac disease for tween/ teenagers and we mostly found picture books for younger kids and heavy research, scientific books more geared for adults. We wanted to create a book that suited the tween/teen age group.
NG:  Did you want the book to be fiction, non-fiction, or both?
R:  We wanted it to be a bit of both! We created a fictional character to tell about many of our real life experiences. The main character is a mix of both of us with a few fictional aspects, but her experiences are completely based off of ours.
L:  Our goal was to create a relatable character that inspires hope and optimism in the face of a major life change.
NG:  How long did it take you to write the book?
L:  The [girls] were diagnosed in spring 2014. The initial draft was completed by the summer/fall 2015. However, we went on to more than double the book the following year or so. We started the publishing process the summer of 2018 and it finally became available for purchase this past March. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites in paperback and it will be available as an e-book by May (for Celiac Awareness Month). People can start their own journal at the end of the book which lends itself more to the paperback version, but a lot of people enjoy e-books, so we wanted to make sure it would have that option as well. 
NG:  How did you two and your mom collaborate?
R:  We wrote a lot of it together, but also some separately. We each read every section to ensure we were happy with the end result and that the voice of Lexi stayed consistent throughout the book! Writing it was all teamwork! 
NG:  Did you work with an editor?
L:  Yes, we worked with a local editor from Westfield, Lillian Duggan. She was referred to us by Eva Natiello. Eva spoke with us in the very beginning of the publishing process to give us a guideline and some suggestions of how to proceed. Lillian was meticulous in her editing and really helped ensure there was consistency in the character’s voice as well as making sure it was grammatically correct, yet vibrant and true to how a 13-year-old might speak and write in her own journal.We worked with the staff at Jera Publishing who helped with all things publishing: formatting, the cover design and interior images that are throughout the book. There are a couple of original drawings by Rayna and Hallie that are in the book.
NG:  Did you have to do a lot of research?
L:  We did research to back up any facts that were included and particularly the “big” words that were used. We include a glossary in the back of the book called Big Word Definitions to explain the more complicated words associated with celiac disease. For example, cross contamination, endoscopy and villi are defined in the book. It was important to us to use the accurate vocabulary to describe celiac disease, but also break the “big” words down to increase understanding for readers of all ages. 
NG:  Are you planning on writing any other books?
R:  Who knows?! We’re not opposed to it and would be willing to sometime in the future. We might already have some ideas in the works :). For now our hope is to be able to get this book into the hands of people who could really benefit from it. 
NG:  Any other comments you’d like to add?
H&R:  Celiac disease is something that is part of us, but does not define us. We are grateful that we were diagnosed when we were, that we now know what is healthy for our bodies and that we have had to opportunity to meet really good people that we otherwise would have likely never met. 
Also, the title seems to strike a chord with a lot of people whether they have celiac disease or not – we did feel that it is true that “Everyone’s Got Something” – sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can’t, and sometimes you have more than one thing – we hope the book serves as a resource to both empower and reassure people that they can do this!