Monday, May 25, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - The Tree Lady

Hopkins, H. Joseph.  The Tree Lady; the True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever.  New York: Beach Lane Books, 2013.

                        Picture book biography of Katherine Olivia Sessions who loved working with plants. When she moved from the heavily wooded northern California to the southern Californian San Diego desert, Sessions was determined to discover what kinds of trees would survive there – and she did. 

                        Actually the author repeats those last few words, “and she did,” over and over again in this book with variations. 
                                    “Not everyone knew how to hunt for trees. But Kate did.” 
This repetition gives a rhythm to the writing and a positive spin to Kate’s lifelong project.  
           (As a new San Diegoan, I thank her.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - Locomotive

Floca, Brian. Locomotive. New York, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013.
            2014 Caldecott Medal / Sibert Honor Book

                        A lyrical description of a train trip by two children (boy and girl) and their mother across the Great Plains to San Francisco (to meet their father who is pictured, but not mentioned in the text) during the summer of 1869, soon after the Union Pacific joined with the Central Pacific which connected eastern trains to the Pacific ocean.
 Extensive notes at the end of the book explain the background of train travel at this time period.  Floca, who illustrated as well as wrote this book, takes advantage of his complete control by playing with the typeface to give even more emphasis to certain parts of the tale – especially the sound effects.

                        CLANK CLANK CLANK!
                        Men came from far away
                        to build from the East,
                        to build from the West,
                        to meet in the middle.

                  It’s not poetry, but it is rhythm. “…the passengers, have packed and shipped and sold their things, all their things, everything.” (I love this repetition, this interior rhyme pattern.) Unfortunately, there is no information about the people’s responses to this mode of travel, even though the illustrations feature this family. The text focuses on facts about the train and the illustrations show this trip across America. (I would love to know what created the land formation called the Devil’s Slide.) Even the endpapers will fascinate the train aficionado illustrating the route and showing how fire and steam propel the engine. A good example of illustrations being part of the story and extending it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Deer Attacks Person

Usually deer attack cars during the fall - during mating season, but a friend of mine was attacked last night by a male deer.  She was taking the back road from Pennsylvania to Bel Air, Maryland and it jumped out into the road, crashing into the front grill of her car. The grill is now dead, but she survived with minor injuries.

This put me in mind of my own experience of being attacked by a male deer.

Coming home from Fallston one evening on Glen Arm Road, a deer jumped out (full rack male) attacked the car ahead of me which began sliding sidewise, and in the next second crashed into my driver's side. 
As soon as I opened my eyes again, I desperately braked, finally coming to a stop four inches from the back passenger door of the car (sidewise, remember?) in front of me. When I got my breath and took a good look at the people in that car, I realized I was four inches away from smashing into a child strapped into a child's seat. 
I'm not sure how damaged the car ahead was, he was able to drive away, but my only damage was a big dent in the driver's side door and blood and deer hair all over it and the window. From then on, I tried to avoid driving on back country roads at twilight - because that's when the deer come out of the woods. And Attack!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - The Boy Who Loved Math

Heiligman, Deborah. The Boy Who Loved Math; The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos. Ilus. LeUyen Pham. New York:  Roaring Brook Press, 2013. 

This is a picture book biography of a mathematical genius who did not remain huddled in his room working with math , but traveled the world, sharing his ideas and solving many difficult, previously unsolved math problems in group situations and encouraging other mathematicians to work together. 

Heiligman pulls the reader (even math haters) into this book by beginning with simple numbers – Paul’s age (4) when he could calculate how many seconds a person had been alive. 

By the time Paul turned 10, the reader can’t wait to find out about Prime Numbers along with Paul. 

Heiligman compares how his mother took care of young Paul to the way the adult Paul assumed everyone else would also take care of him as he traveled from mathematician to mathematician making very long visits. 

Amazingly enough all were honored to take care of this genius.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

So you want to be published - self-publish?

Be very careful who you self publish your manuscript with and avoid anything connected with Author Solutions.  
Who should you avoid? 
 Check out this article - the list is humongous with many different names, but every one of them makes their money by selling authors down the river without a paddle. Hmmm. That should say - they charge an arm and a leg, promising everything and actually following through with nothing.

One statistic stands out.
This company has ONE person trying to calculate royalties to 180,000 writers. Just one person.  No wonder royalties are late or never paid at all. Contrast this ONE person with "732 sales reps with aggressive quotas to sell worthless crap to potential authors - like “web optimized” press releases for $1,299, YouTube advertising packages for $4,099, and Hollywood pitching services for $17,999."

Many, many people are suing them for not fulfilling the promises in their contracts.

If you really want to be published - before you pay to have your book published or commit to any publisher,  check out  these resources:
Writer Beware website
Writer Beware blog
It's on Facebook, too - here.
Absolute Write also has a Writer Beware page

And remember - money flows to the author. Not away from the author.  
You shouldn't have to pay for the editing and book production, and do all the publicity and marketing and shipping of books (from the boxes and boxes in your garage). That's the publisher's job.  It's your job to write.  
If you are doing all this other stuff, when are you going to have time to write your next book?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - Building Our House

Bean, Jonathan. Building Our House. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013. Print.

          Using a slightly old-fashioned, pastel colored illustration technique, Bean takes the reader through most of the steps of building a frame house. (He does condense the time frame.) The whole family helps. 

(with no child squabbles! Really? And no mention of them attending school.) 
About three quarters of the way through, it becomes apparent that it is the oldest, female child telling the story.

          The first person narrative makes it very personal for the reader. Their determination to get this done and done well creates the throughline of the story, ending with the family cozily sitting by the warm wood stove.  

Although not mentioned in the story, the mother is shown pregnant throughout the building process. Thus the end of the book not only shows the beginning of the family’s life in this new home, but also a baby - the beginning of a new life.

          The author/illustrator has presented much for the adult reader and child to discuss.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Busy Toes and Busy Fingers are featured

Oh Wow!

Mary Bowman-Kruhm​ and I got a shoutout for our picture books, Busy Toes & the companion book, Busy Fingers, on this blog - plus the author, Kerry Aradhya, added activity ideas to go along with them.


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