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.

World Read Aloud Day

litworldWRAD16logo

Call me a WRADvocate.

I love children’s books. I write children’s books. And you know how much I like a theme. (see recent post, Story Time in Sweet Sixteen)

What could be more me than weekly themes leading up to World Read Aloud Day, a worldwide celebration of reading? Just the thought of being involved makes me want to throw a party for my favorite children’s book characters and, for some reason, it makes me want to bake!

Reading to Kids

World Read Aloud Day calls attention to the pure joy and power of reading aloud, and connects the world as a community of readers. World Read Aloud Day is now celebrated by over one million people in more than 100 countries and reaches over 31 million people online. “WRADvocates” – a group of reading advocates and supporters take action in their communities and on social media.

Weekly Themes

To mobilize for the big day, LitWorld introduces the 7 Strengths countdown to World Read Aloud Day. The 7 Strengths celebrate all of the ways that reading makes us resilient and ready to thrive in school, work and life. They are: Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage, and Hope. Starting January 3rd, we will celebrate one strength per week until World Read Aloud Day is here!

Awesome Message

Read Aloud. Change the World.

Stories and Ceramics

Handbuilt Raku Lantern Boxes
Handbuilt Raku Lantern Boxes

I still play in the mud!

Technically, I play in clay, but I mush and squush, pat and pound, and get lots of dirt under my fingernails in ceramics class. What was great about a rain like the 40 day flood? Shampooing your hair outside. A muddy stream meant tadpoles to inspect. Wet sand on the beach? I still like the feeling of the gritty sand surrounding my sinking feet. Do I sound like a big kid?  Hmmm, maybe that’s why no matter what else I’m doing, I’m thinking about children’s books.

Each of my latest ceramics pieces has elements that can relate to children’s books. “How can you relate pottery to books?” you might ask. Hon, if you talk to me for a few minutes, you’ll find out that I often connect seemingly random things. Is that kid-like, too?

I’ve mentioned this before (My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop)–I find children’s books magical. There’s something lovely about words on a page that bring you to another world, make you laugh, let you to believe the unbelievable, teach you something, allow silliness to surface, relate to your own life, can be read dozens (hundreds) of times and always feel fresh. I strive to create magic in my children’s books.

I made the lantern boxes above with Hubby in mind, inscribing them with our wedding date.  I love the Little Bear books. In the scene below, “The skunks decided to get married. They had a lovely wedding.” What’s timeless about them? The characters are sweet yet wise, proper yet loving. Friendships and family, the underlying themes, are set in a world seemingly simple, but filled with depth of emotion. Little Bear stories expand my heart.

Little Bear books by Else Holmelund, illustrated by
Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

The Wedding
The Wedding.

 

 

 

 

Wheel Thrown Bowl
Wheel Thrown Bowl

I make lots of ceramic bowls! I’m not at the point where I can tell the clay what I want it to be. The clay tells me what it wants to be. Boy, is that clay bossy! And a bossy character is part of what makes the Max and Ruby books funny. My kids and I never got tired of reading Bunny Cakes.  The scene below sums up the whole book.  “Max wanted to help. ‘Dont’ touch anything, Max,’ said Ruby.” You know I have triplets, right? My kids could relate to the sibling rivalry. Guess what theme I explore in some of my books? 

Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells
Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells

Baking the cake.
Baking the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate
Handbuilt Raku Plate

Forests are infinitely fascinating to me. I made the plate above with a forest theme:  wood grain, foliage and a brick path. I even pressed a piece of wood along the edges.  Owl Moon teaches readers about owling, or looking for owls in a forest at night.  Not only does the text make you feel the hush of winter snow, the anticipation of calling the owl and the wonder when you see it, the illustrations beg to be studied and explored (look for other night creatures hiding in the branches).

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

 

winter forest
Winter Forest.

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate
Handbuilt Raku Plate

Water is the theme of this handbuilt plate. I glazed the pebble impressions, wavy, watery and slim, rope patterns green and blue. I was thinking of the beach when I made this plate. The Pig in the Pond isn’t set at the beach–its set on a farm–but a hot day, farm animals, Neligan the farmer and a pond are all key elements in this funny picture book. My kids and I laughed every time we read it, especially since Neligan gets naked!

The Pig in the Pond by Martin Wadell
The Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jill Barton

"Sploooooosh!"
“Sploooooosh!”

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate
Handbuilt Raku plate

Picking out the red in this plate and accenting it with green and blue took concentration. Loving Mouse Paint did not. Just because this is a board book and it’s about white mice doesn’t mean it isn’t huge in excellence.  The mice jump in jars of paint, hop around and mix colors to make other colors, wash themselves off in the cat’s bowl, then paint paper instead. But they leave some paper white “because of the cat.”  Genius!

Mouse Paint by
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Mice as artists.
Mice as artists.

 

 

 

 

Wheel Thrown mugs
Wheel Thrown Mugs.

I also make lots of mugs. What’s better in mugs than tea (or coffee or hot chocolate)? A constant source of my childhood imagination was tea parties, whether it was with my stuffed animals, friends, or underwater at the town pool. Mommy Badger carries a tea set in the scene below. The Frances books were written when picture book word counts were longer. They’re perfect for children ages 4-8 who want to sit and explore a story. Frances sings silly songs, likes to rhyme, is a picky eater, gets jealous of her baby sister and has to learn how to share (she reminds me of me!). Her parents get annoyed and frustrated with her, but Frances learns about the world around her with their guidance and, of course, love.

Frances books by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Frances books by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Mommy Badger
Mommy Badger holding a tea set.

 

 

 

 

 

 Hon, do you relate things in your life to books, children’s or  otherwise?  I’d love to compare notes!

Sources:

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak

Max and Ruby by Rosemary Wells

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr

The Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell and Jill Barton

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Frances books by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban

Quotes and Notes (from the NJSCBWI14 Conference)

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The last weekend in June, I attended the New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference.  I entered the conference nervous but excited. I left the conference exploding with ideas, anxious to start revisions, and encouraged by the connections I made.

I was inspired by illustrator and writer Floyd Cooper‘s Opening Keynote speech, and choked up after listening to Rachel Vail‘s Closing Keynote speech.  If a writer leaves me with a lump in my throat and tears threatening to make my mascara run, then her words have reached the core of why I persist with passion.  Surely, I’m on the right path?

Hon, I thought you’d enjoy quotes from the conference paired with pictures.

“Voice puts color and emotion on the page.”  (Susan Hawk)

Color and emotion.
Color and emotion.

Each girl has her own voice.
Each girl has her own voice.

“What does love require of us?”  (Rachel Vail)

Me and Three when they were 12 weeks.
Me and Three when they were 12 weeks.

“We have to have the courage to press that bruise.”  (Rachel Vail)

An accidental shiner care of my "Plus One."
An accidental shiner care of my “Plus One.”

“Make me laugh.”  (Quinlan Lee)

Laughing is contagious.
Laughing is contagious.

“Being brave is not the opposite of worry.”  (Rachel Vail)

I should've joined the circus!
I should’ve joined the circus!

“Gaze through a world made up paper and ink.”  (Rachel Vail)

IMG_0423

 This quote isn’t from the conference, but it speaks to me just the same.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”  (John Wayne)

Monument Valley, Utah
Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah
Tween and me in Monument Valley, Utah.  We galloped to the base of the buttes and our American Indian guide sang us a lullabye his grandma sang to him.

 

 

Hop Along Blog Hop

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Blog Hop
Do you love children’s books?  I’m passionate about them!  Let me introduce you to several children’s book writers and answer questions posed to each of us as we Hop Along.

Linda Bozzo
Linda Bozzo

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Meet Linda Bozzo.  Linda tagged me on her blog, Writerlinda.blogspot.com.   She is the author of over 50 non-fiction books for the school and library market. She enjoys writing fiction as well as non-fiction for children.  Many of her fiction stories are inspired by her love of dance.  Linda is  member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She enjoys presenting her writing journey to both children and adults. Linda lives in New Jersey with her family where she can visit the Jersey shore and enjoy the culture of New York City. You can find Linda online at http://www.lindabozzo.com.

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Step Up To the Microphone

It's my turn to answer the Blog Hop questions.
It’s my turn to answer the Blog Hop questions.

Picture Book Idea Month
Picture Book Idea Month

Bulletin board with book ideas.
Bulletin board with picture book ideas.

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What are you working on now?
I’m participating in PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month, which means every day in November I think of a new picture book idea.  My brain is like a window and once I open it, the ideas flow through like fresh air!  My newest manuscript is about two brothers, sibling rivalry and superheroes.
How does it differ from other works in the genre?
My story grabs you from the first line!  It’s different because it gives boys ages 3-6 a story filled with supereheroes, spaceships, tests of will wrapped around funny and realistic brothers, and comic book action words.  Lightening Logan and his big brother Hawk are poised to take on the world.  “Pshht!  Pow!  Activtate!”
Why do you do what you do?
Story ideas, rhyming phrases, settings and characters pop in my head constantly.  I write to give them a place to grow.  To me, picture books are magical.  Picture books have resonance each time they’re read, the words are musical, and adults and children build bonds while reading together.  I strive to create that magic when I write.
What is the hardest part about writing?
When I write, I am transported to another world where I exist with my characters.  The hardest thing is finding a publisher who sees the potential for them to come alive, and is willing to take a chance on a new author.  I continue writing because I truly believe in my characters, stories and the magic that is ready to spring off the page and into the imagination of a child.
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Tag, You’re it!

Lin Vitale
Linda Vitale

Penelope, Linda's muse.
Penelope, Linda’s muse.

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Linda Vitale is an award-winning advertising copywriter and creative director who has worked at top New York City agencies. She has created TV and radio spots, ads and promotions for Chase bank, Max Factor, Campbell’s Soups, American Airlines, Volkswagen/Porsche-Audi, to name a few. The only thing she didn’t write is Mad Men. And she should have, because this was and is her world.  In addition to advertising, Linda has written articles for New Jersey parenting publications. Currently she writes children’s books and humorous dog stories for her blog, muttshappeningnow@wordpress.com. Linda lives in Convent Station, New Jersey, and can be found pounding the keys of her laptop at her local Starbucks.
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Nicole Snitslear
Nicole Snitselaar

written by Nicole Snitselaar
written by Nicole Snitselaar

written by Nicole Snitselaar
written by Nicole Snitselaar

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I’m excited to introduce you to French children’s book author, Nicole Snitselaar.  We met through PiBoIdMo.  Here’s what Nicole says about her writing journey.

Writing, I’ve always loved writing!
But writing is so more rewarding when it can be shared.
I am lucky to have had  many picture-books published these last years.
Most of my books are in French.

But you will never guess how happy I was when Top That published two of my English stories!

Why do I write in English?

In fact, English was my first language as a little girl, and it just rings so familiar to my ear. My parents read to us many picture books who came from Great Britain. I would even say, they only read English books!

It was so much easier for my mother! She is Scottish. She married a Dutch man (my father) and they lived in Belgium, and later in France. And my first language was English… It took time for my mother to learn French !

And I got to speak French once I went to school at the age of 4.

Today I am the mother of five young adults.
I have been wririn songs and nursery rhymes for… as far as I can remember! I have several CD’s released.  (one about English nursery rhymes in French and English )

One day, I decided it was time for me to start writing more than just songs.

I really enjoy this activity and hope that you will enjoy discovering my stories!
If you want  to learn more about me, my life, my books, you may visit my English blog or French blog.

The Next Big Thing – Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Hop: the traveling blog that asks authors whom they consider the NEXT BIG THING, and then has them pass along the questions for those authors to answer in their blogs.

Rules: Answer ten questions about your current Work In Progress on your blog. Tag one to five writers / bloggers and add links to their pages so we can hop along to them next.

Thank you, L.A. Byrne for tagging me! Click on L.A. Byrne to learn more about this amazing  writer for young adults.

What is the working title of your book?

Cora Gets Carried Away

my triplets at age 3 1/2
my triplets at age 3 1/2 before they could read

my plus one at age 3 1/2
my plus one at age 3 1/2 before she could read

Where did the idea come from for the book?

From ages three to five, my children “read” by turning pages and memorizing words.  But they needed mom and dad to read a book to the end.  Most of the time we did.  Sometimes, we were too busy (or tired). Learning to read is huge. I was inspired by the frustration my children felt when they could recognize letters but couldn’t yet put them together to form words or sentences.

What genre does your book fall under?

Picture book.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Since Cora is a kitten, she would be illustrated.  Here are some illustrators who could bring Cora to life:

Stéphane Jorisch, Ned YoungMelinda Beavers, Rebecca Evans

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

(Forgive me, I made it two sentences.)

Although Cora has memorized the first page of her book, she can’t read and she and her doll, Pixie, have to know how who stole the princesses’ crown, but in Cora’s attempt to get her mother, father and brother to read to her she gets carried away—and then is in the way when she acts out scenes from the book.  Who will read to her now?

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I truly hope Cora will be represented by an agency.  I am actively searching for an editor and agent who are acquiring new authors and open to picture books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The idea for Cora popped in my head when my youngest daughter was three years old.  Now she’s eleven!  In the original version, Cora wasn’t a kitten and she had a different name.  I worked on that version for years, then put it away for awhile.  I was so taken by Little Red Chicken in Interrupting Chicken that I decided to give the main character a make over. I came back to the manuscript a year ago ready to take it in a new direction.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan–because Betty Bunny and Cora the Kitten are both spunky, energetic girls.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein–because despite Little Red Chicken and Cora trying their parents’ patience, they are very loved.

Zoomer by Ned Young–because Zoomer and Cora have vivid imaginations.

Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells—because children see themselves in the realistic but funny sibling relationships.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When my youngest daughter was Cora’s age, she wanted to read “a hundred” books every night.  She has piles of books by her bed so her room is Cora’s room.

When one of my older daughters was Cora’s age, she believed her invisible friend was real.  She inspired me create Pixie, the doll who is very real to Cora.

I have been driving around in my car for years repeating the rhythmic first two lines of A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.  I worked hard to create a similar rhythm to the first two lines of my book.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

In Cora Gets Carried Away, the subversive humor means the story is humorous on two levels.

There is a parallel between Cora’s own life and the story-within-the-story, an original fairy tale.

The story-within-the-story’s first and last stanzas anchor the beginning and end of Cora Gets Carried Away, compel the reader to want to find out, like Cora, how who stole the princesses’ crown, and has the potential to become its own book, an add-on to the main story.

are big brother and little sister really getting along?
Are big brother and little sister really getting along?

Tag!  You’re it.  Next up on “The Next Big Thing–Blog Hop”:

Leslie Zampetti, writer of Middle Grade fantasy

Kim Beck, writer of Young Adult dystopia