Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

It's 20 minutes until 2009.
The 9 year old has a friend sleeping over. (Her parents are attending a New Year's Party, so it seemed simpler for us to invite her to stay here. Now we have to go organize their noisemakers to celebrate the new year.

See you next year!
-wendie O

Sunday, December 28, 2008


This is just to say --
I suddenly have time.

Time to straighten my room,
to find bills that need to be paid,
to find the federal discount cards for the box to attach to my analog TV antenna --
which I now can't use because they have expired.
to find a basket (or two) of wash that needs to be put away,
to gather all those things that need to go to the cleaners.

I now have time
to make beds,
to do all the wash that was waiting until I had 'time,'
to plant the bulbs that I bought with such hopes.
(Luckily it's warm enough today to do it)
to caulk the leaky windows to keep the house warm.

The reason I have time
is that I completed my last packet for Vermont College.
And because Christmas is over and all the presents were wrapped and given out or sent.
(Okay, there are a few more to send, but I now have time to do it.)

Time is a wonderful thing to have.
Don't you agree?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merrie Holidays

Merrie Christmas and any other holiday you celebrate during and after the winter solstice.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday was Festivus

You do celebrate Festivus, don't you?

It's time to go visit MotherReader's Festivus Annual Airing of the Grievances. and air your gripes to clear the air to make room in your heart for happiness -- so you can enjoy the rest of the week's holiday celebrations.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are your...
over decorated

This year the 9-year-old took over the decorating of the Christmas tree. And decorated it. And decorated it. It's never had so many ornaments.

We alternate between a Red and Gold tree,
a tree decorated all with silver
and an Angel tree.

This year she chose to use the silver garland and ornaments, but while I was making dinner, she got out the box of Angel stuff too. Yikes! Now the tree is full as full can be and there's overflow angels all over the living room.
What can I say?
It IS beautiful.

Now, who's going to help me UNdecorate come January?
-wendie O

Friday, December 19, 2008

Signing Books on Saturday

If you are in the neighborhood of the Bel Air Library (Maryland) on Saturday afternoon, I'll be signing books at the library store. It's located at the entrance of the building and is full of great last-minute Holiday gifts.

If not signing, then I'll do a storytime for any passing children. If not doing a storytime because most sensible people will be at the mall doing last minute Christmas shopping before the snowstorm hits Saturday night, then I'll be sitting there reading a book or playing with the Folkmanis puppets they sell at the library store.

Anywho, see you there?

(entered later -- what I actually did was knit, smile at the people entering and leaving the library, and talk to those who were interested about books, writing, and getting published. And let the kids pet my groundhog and kitten puppets. Oh, and one gentleman entertained me by telling me why his last name was worse than mine. Yes, I actually did sign some books for people to give to little ones for Holiday presents.)
-wendie Old

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One week? One Week!

I've been so immersed in completing everything for this semester at Vermont College that, when I printed out the last item (due to be in the college office on Friday) and lifted my head from the computer, I was shocked to discover that next week is Christmas. Yikes!

School closing Tuesday. Tuesday?
I hadn't sent in anything for the 9-year-old's school Christmas party which turns out to be this Friday. We'll have to do the class Christmas cards tonight. (making note to search the attic for those Christmas cards I bought at half price last year.)

It's too late to mail things to my daughters in California and expect them to arrive before Christmas. It's a good thing I went onto the LL Bean website last week and ordered some things to be sent. I guess, if I want other things to get to my relatives, I'll have to go back online. I hear that gift cards are nice. (as long as I do not give gift cards for stores planning to go out of business in January.)

There's no use planning to shop on Sunday -- they are calling for an ice storm this Sunday. (I work this Saturday.)

Is our house decorated, yet?
You've got to be kidding. Nope. Nadda.

The nine-year old will be a "WHO" in the 'Grinch that Stole Christmas' at her day care. TODAY! (It's a huge place and they do large productions for holidays.) So this morning we had to get her dressed into a suitable 'who' skirt and striped tights. Pink stripes below and green top above -- sounds suitably Christmas to me. And then her hair. Have you SEEN the who hairstyles? Hairspray was necessary and I'm still not sure it will be together by showtime at 5:30. We shall see.

A redheaded boy will play the part of the Grinch. This should be in-ter-est-ing.

I hope you are more 'ready for the holidays' than I am.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Elephants of Africa

Elephants of Africa by Gail Gibbons. New York: Holiday House, 2008. Available now.

Gail Gibbons has been doing illustrated nonfiction books for years. Gradually the size of them has grown larger. I'm hoping the publisher sticks with this size, because any larger and they will no longer fit on library shelves.

Her double page spreads show the elephants in action, in the wild -- eating, moving in herds, care of the young. She even shows a cut-a-way of the very thick skin with an explanation of why it is necessary. Since these are African elephants, she also extols the practicality of having very large ears.

More blurbs of information are on the last page.

My only complaint is that the painting covers the whole page. Therefore the words, most of which run along the bottom of the page, overlap the grass or mud or water, whatever she is showing on that spread -- which could make them difficult to read for young readers. (It was even difficult for these old eyes.)

For elephant fans of all ages.
More Nonfiction Monday messages are here.
-wendie Old

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brunch with Santa

Today the Woman's Club of Joppatowne held their annual Brunch with Santa in our library. Children ages 3 to second grade must either have read 6 books or have 6 books read to them to qualify for a free ticket to this brunch. The library handles all the advertisement and the exchange of reading logs for tickets.

The Woman's Club sets up the tables in the meeting room and decorates the place. They supply everything, including the food and womanpower to run the event. Plus,they find a Santa. It's my job to provide the entertainment. I have three or four standard programs that I like to alternate:

1) Santa books and songs -- especially Douglas Wood's What Santa Can't Do.

2) The Night Before Christmas program -- with a special appearance of Maynard Moose's little sister moose, who tells Willy Claflin's famous story, The Night Before Chrissmoose.

3) The 12 Days of Christmas program -- the kids help me sing the song and I use various books, crazy or serious, that feature the song.

At each of these three programs, I show off some of my Robert Sabuda cut paper Christmas books, many of which are available for check out at our library.

4) Today, I presented a new program -- all about Christmas Trees. I used a book with photos of a Christmas Tree farm, Eve Bunting's Night Tree, and Bear's Christmas Star by Mireille D'Allancé. The children helped me tell a flannel board version of The Tree That Stayed up All Year. I couldn't find a tree-related Robert Sabuda book, so I shared his Christmas Alphabet. (Hint, Hint -- RO-bert. Please do a Christmas Tree pop-up book.)

After donuts and juice, Santa arrived to talk to each child, have a photo opp, and hand out presents. As the relatives took pictures of the children (mostly with their cell phones), one mother wondered why all Santas told the kids that, Oh yes they'd get the gifts they asked him about. In between the two programs, our volunteer Santa heard about this. He decided to try to rephrase his responses at the Noon event -- and he did.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Buy Books for the Holidays -- and Beyond

A guest blogging message from the president of the Author's Guild:

I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in the cards.

We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. The grateful booksellers will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom.

Enjoy the holidays.

Roy Blount Jr.
President, Authors Guild

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NF Monday -- Now and Ben

Okay. Okay. I AM aware that nofiction Monday came on a Tuesday this week. That will happen when Mondays are crazy, crazy. (Packet 5 was due and sent to Vermont College late Sunday and Monday was dedicated to planning the library's programs for March, April, and May. Let's not think about the Summer Reading Programming stuff due in several weeks.)

Now and Ben, the Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta. Henry Holt and Company, 2008. Available now.

What a neat picture book/ science book/ invention book/ etc. As you move through this book -- on your left is today. And items we use today. And over here on the right is Ben, using the invention that he created that is either still being used today, or else was the origin of something we use. A-Maz-Ing!

The author, Gene Barretta, is an illustrator who has worked many years in film and TV production. He lives near Philadelphia and even named his son, BEN !

More Nonfiction Monday posts can be found here.
-wendie old

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The end of Turkey Day

Well, Thanksgiving was a week ago. Time to clean out any leftovers. Actually, that's my basic rule all year 'round -- any food leftover for a week gets tossed. (or if no one can remember when we served the food -- out it goes.)

It's the week before Vermont College Packets are due, so it's a busy one for me. Plus, since this is the final packet, there are all sorts of end-of-semester reports to do as well. It's an exciting time -- the last Packet. But it's also depressing -- it's the very LAST Packet. From here on out, my short stint at college will be winding down and by the end of January it'll be over. It was fascinating, stressful, wonderful, and awful -- all at the same time. And I'm going to miss it very much.

With any luck, I'll be able to keep in touch with some of the writers in the program. They also suggest that I give myself strict deadlines and continue to put the pressure to write on myself to keep producing. Good advice for all writers.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birthday party

Today the 8-year old had her 9th birthday party. Okay, that sounds weird, but when your actual birthday is on a school day, you have to have the party on the weekend. She liked painting pottery so much last year that we did it again this year, at Hot Pots. (they have stores all over. I'm sure you can find one near you.)

Every child got to choose a piece and painted it to the best of their ability. Take home treats for today were simple things -- glow necklaces (even for the boys) and the ball in the maze puzzle games. Next week everyone will come back to pick up their painted pieces. I keep telling myself that I'll come back another day with the now-9-year old and do some painting of pottery, myself.

The cake was an Ice cream/ cake from Baskin-Robbins and was delish! As far as I can tell I remembered to bring most everything, except candles -- so we did without candles.

Now there are two girls in our living room watching the Hannah Montana concert video (okay, it's a DVD. I don't think we'll ever stop calling them videos.) Supposedly having a sleep-over, although I'm not sure how much sleeping will go on.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope your Thanksgiving was stress-free.

Me? I have to make more pumpkin pies -- we are out and the family is clamoring for more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pilgrim Party -- Writing a Picture Book Part 3

Hmmm, I seem to be giving you a blow by blow account of the process I'm going through with this story.

Part 3 --
Yesterday (Tuesday) I did a program for families at my library called Pilgrim Children. I used that wonderful series of books illustrated by photographs that were taken of reenactors at the Plymoth Plantation:

Sarah Morton's day : a day in the life of a Pilgrim girl
Samuel Eaton's day : a day in the life of a Pilgrim boy
Tapenum's day : a day in the life of a Wampanoag Indian boy

all by Kate Waters, published by Scholastic Press.

While I was talking about life way back then, the kids were passing around a square sided quart jar partially filled with heavy whipping cream, each taking turns shaking it. (I had promised them that they would make butter.) I also insisted that the adults help with the shaking, so that it would turn faster.

Eventually, I read them my new Gather 'Round the Table story.
I learned a lot doing this.
Yesterday afternoon, I had let my branch manager read the story and I could tell that there still were some confusing spots that needed to be made clearer. (She was confused and I had to explain -- not a good sign. The story should be able to stand on its own and then be expanded by the illustrations.)
As I read the story at the evening program, I discovered other words that needed to be replaced, phrases that needed to be changed.

After 45 minutes we had heavy whipped cream filling the jar and the whole jar looked sorta yellow. While I opened the jar and removed some of the whipped cream to make space for more shaking, I instructed the kids about the craft they would work on while the parents finished shaking the butter jar. Suddenly -- the whipped cream in the jar turned to butter! (surprising the heck out of the man shaking the jar at the time.) I showed everyone the huge chunk of butter in the jar/ we talked about the liquid now being called buttermilk/ and then I poured off the buttermilk and removed the butter from the jar. After I pressed more liquid out of the butter, we ate.

That morning I had made biscuits and corn pone for everyone. (Did you know that corn pone is actually a sort-of corn meal pancake which tastes like cornbread?) There was enough for everyone to have double helpings with butter on it. About half the kids were brave enough to try a small amount of buttermilk.

A yummy time was had by all.
And on Wednesday morning (today) I made those changes/ improvements in the manuscript that I had discovered on Tuesday.
-wendie old

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Noodling -- a Writing Term?

Someone asked about a word I used in yesterday's post.

Is this an 'official' writing term?
I have NO idea. But it's a word I use a lot when I'm not sure what I'm going to write.

When I noodle my way into a story, I sit down at the computer, open a word processing document, and begin writing. But what I'm writing is not the story I'll end up with. I'm writing conversations with myself. (part of which I actually transferred to yesterday's blog entry.

I began with the words Kill the Turkeys. Mentioned where the idea came from. (remember Sarah's video?) Why I wanted to write this. La-de-dah-de-dah. Why I was disturbed with 'save the turkeys' stories. Which led to what does happen on Thanksgiving? We're thankful for the harvest, which includes the beasts we kill to eat. What do we eat? What's served for Thanksgiving dinner? Who comes to this dinner -- relatives.

I began singing the hymn, We Gather Together ....
Then I typed it as my title
Changed it to "Gather 'round the table"
and I was off and running with what became the picture book manuscript.

All the above was the noodling I did as I worked my way into the story.
-wendie old

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kill the Turkeys (writing a picture book)

I sat down today to write another picture book for my December Vermont College packet. (Packet 5 -- the last one. Yea!)

First I noodled.

Then I began thinking about Sara Palin going to an Alaskan turkey slaughterhouse to "pardon" one turkey -- as, right behind her on this video, other turkeys are killed to become Thanksgiving Turkeys. And how horrified people were to see this happening in the background of her Photo Opp. On the other hand, one person made a comment that I fully agree with -- Where do you think Thanksgiving Turkeys come from?

Which kicked off thoughts about writing a story about killing turkeys.
I am so tired of the “save the turkeys” picture books. I really wanted to write a “Kill the Turkeys” book. (The Night Before Thanksgiving was funny. After that, I soon became tired of the trend. Didn't you?)

My husband told me that I probably wouldn't be able to sell "Kill the Turkeys" as a picture book.
But I knew that.

What I ended up with this afternoon, was a family holiday dinner which could be any in-gathering of family. I call it, Gather ‘Round the Table, but it’s actually kind of an Un-Gathering story. Just for fun, most of the names are family names.

I went back to it several times today, trying to get the rhythm better, cutting one stanza, changing names and activities, until it read pretty well. I'll check it again before I send it to my advisor

Now to figure out what the other two picture book manuscripts for the December Packet will be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's snowing

It's snowing in Maryland. A week before Thanksgiving. This is the earliest I remember snow happening here. Whatever happened to global warming? Not only is it snowing, but it's sticking to the tree leaves and on the grass.

The Weather service predicts a wetter than normal winter. Combined with cold means that middle states like Maryland could be in for a series of ice storms. Oh goodie. My least favorite weather. At least this year I'm working at a library near a major highway. When we had ice storms in the 1990s, I was working at a country library and was terrified driving those winding roads curving down to the two rivers I had to cross and then back up the hills, again.

The first snow storm of the year was last Tuesday. (Okay, they were snow showers.)
I drove through snow showers as I was returning home after having given a program at one of the Enoch Pratt Free Library branches about my adventures while researching the various books I wrote. (I was shot at when on an Air Force Base. I raced through a bad section of a town, taking pictures of buildings. I stood for hours taking pictures in 20 degree F. weather. (that's below freezing for those of you who only know Celcius ) And I was stalked at the Jefferson Memorial -- by a photographer for a cable program.

As I arranged the transparencies spread out all over my bed preparing for this program, I kept mumbling to myself that pretty soon I was gonna need to put all this stuff on powerpoint. Which means buying the software, the projector, and taking the time to learn the program and putting it together.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards

Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards by Serge Block. New York: Sterling, 2008.

My Nonfiction Monday book for today is actually filed in the picture book section of our library -- although you might find it in the 400s in yours. It is a book of idioms. (We have smart catalogers -- people will find and enjoy it in the picture book section whereas they might not if it were in the 400s.)

"On my first day of school, my mother said I got up on the wrong side of the bed."
And so it goes. Simple line drawings of people are placed against photographs of real things as this child goes through the day, real butterflies in her stomach/ the principal (the Big Cheese) made out of swiss cheese/ a pile of bananas showing the 'top banana.' etc., etc., etc.

The book ends with a simile: "I was as happy as a puppy with two tails!" Hmmm, does this mean his next book will feature similies? Hmmm. Available now.

This could be read by a second grader, but teachers might bring this into their Middle School writing classes when discussing metaphors, similes, and idioms.

More Nonfiction Monday reviews can be found here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How to find interesting BLOGS

Every so often people ask me what blogs I would recommend that they read. (There are so many out there.)

I always give them Anastasia Suen's Blog Central e-address. She has gathered together so many writers, artists, editors, agents, book reviewer's, and publisher's blogs that you'll not be able to read them all.

I've found another gathering of good blogs, too.

(Just click on the links and enjoy. And, do join the conversations and leave comments. That way the blogger finds out that someone is actually reading their blog.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Look very Closely

Looking Closely Inside the Garden, text and photographs by Frank Serafini. Kids Can Press, 2008.

"Look very closely. What do you see?
These questions face a black page with a four-inch circle in the center. The circle shows a small portion of the picture on the next page. I had wondered just why the publisher had not simply cut a hole in the black page to show the next page. Then I noticed that the close-up portion in the four-inch circle does not come directly under the circle on the next page. The author/ photographer has made the decision that the most interesting close-up might be in the far corner of the actual photograph.

Opposite the large photograph (which bleeds onto the left hand page) is information about what you are seeing.
This could be used as a test of observation/ a guessing game/ lessons about who and what are in a garden. Appropriate for a wide range of ages.

Although this, and his other books in this series, are published by a Canadian publisher, Frank Serafini is Associate Professor of Children's Literature and Literacy Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He calls himself an educator and is an avid nature photographer. He previously worked as a primary schoolteacher. (That sounds Canadian to me. How about you? Perhaps he comes from Canada.)

Others in this series include: Looking Closely Across the Desert, Looking Closely Along the Shore, Looking Closely through the Forest, All Available now.

More Nonfiction Monday messages can be found here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Voting Day

Over in Vermont College's student Forum, there are several topic areas where people described their adventures on Tuesday. (For some reason I keep thinking of it as Voting Day instead of Election Day.)

I bet the rest of you have your own stories.

My husband got up early and was in line before the polls opened. He says there were some people who had already been there a while -- and who had brought lawn chairs to rest in while waiting. He was in and out in 15 minutes. But when he left the polling place, the line had grown to about 200 people and cars were parked all up and down the streets for blocks.

I voted mid-morning, during the lull between the opening crush and the lunch crowd. It also took less than 15 minutes for me. But it took me much longer to get back to my car because of just generally chatting with people going in and out. Our local Brownie Girl Scout troops sold cookies at the polls all day long -- even during the rainstorm in the afternoon. Now, that's dedication.

Almost everyone at work wore Red, White, and Blue on Tuesday. Actually, there was some discussion as to whether the flowers on my sweater were red -- or pink. Oh well. I tried.

Wednesday, I put up a display of books about Obama, which were quickly checked out. I'm going to have to get rid of that 2006 biography of him, because the information in it probably was collected in 04 or 05. And I'm sure that tons of new volumes about him will be showing up on our shelves, soon. All those publishers who do one volume per president probably had contracted with writers some time ago to have books already written except for the last chapter. Now it'll be a race to get them published.

I don't envy those writers. It's no fun to write about a person still alive and actively famous. Your research is never done. There's always a new event you would like to include before going to press.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote tomorrow!

Today my day has been just like your day -- busy, busy. Monthly reports due. Replacement orders. Removing signs of Halloween in the library branch and storing it. Putting up the Thanksgiving book display. Notifying the winner of the Count the Candy Corn contest.

And, on top of it all, kids are out of school -- and in the library.
Why are the kids out of school?

Monster machines have taken over their school buildings. By now they should be all set up and waiting. Waiting for people to come tomorrow. (Tuesday, November 4th) Hundreds of people. Thousands of people. Millions and billions and trillions of people.
(Sorry, got carried away on a Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats, sidetrip.)

Anywho -- Are you going to be among them?
Are you going to go VOTE?

I am.
For more blog messages about the importance of voting, click this link.

What's my reason?
I vote because I CAN. My grandmother marched with the suffragists. My mother taught school and believed that God was a woman. And I vote in every election. I better not hear that my daughters have not voted, because too many people in our own family fought so that they could have the right to vote.

You have that right, too. Go Vote, on Election day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Day

Happy Halloween!
I don't know if you can see anything in this picture -- but that's my oldest daughter and her husband dressed for a Halloween party last year. They went as a Day of the Dead couple.

Run over to the Three Silly Chicks and enter their contest.
It's easy.
To enter, just tell them what Halloween candy you get dibs on.
They're going to give away a copy of Carolyn's book WHERE'S MY MUMMY? to the winner of a random drawing.

I am a little disappointed that the three chicks (the silly ones with glasses at the top of the blog) aren't in Halloween costume this year. The 8-year old enjoyed seeing how funny they looked last year.

I have it easy -- I only buy candy that my family likes. Then we get to eat the leftovers. And since we live in a 17th century stone farmhouse between two developments, it takes a really brave bunch of kids to creep onto our back porch and grab candy from the candy bowl I leave out there. (They've changed the road over the centuries. Now no one can actually get at our front porch any more.)

Unfortunately, when the 8-year old comes back from Trick or Treating tonight, we'll have more candy than we know what to do with. What do you do with your masses of candy?
We put it into three piles.
1- a pile of candy the 8-year old likes
2 - a pile of candy the adults like
3 - a pile of candy that no one likes and will be taken into my library workplace to be given to the teen volunteers there.

Piles one and two will have some overlap, so there may be a bit of tussling over some candy.

If piles one and two are still around in a couple of weeks -- out it goes. None of this saving the candy until Easter, like my parents did -- and then finding it stored on top of the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What will you be for Halloween?

Last night, I was kept up late because I discovered a new (to me) blog -- Beyond the Tollbooth.
It's a group blog and all of their October messages focus on Halloween-type stuff.
How to write suspense and horror novels and the difference between them.
TV and movie scary stuff. Vampires. etc.
Go check it out.
Most of the participants have their own blogs too. Here's one by Tami Brown.

It's the day before Halloween and the 8-year old is almost ready for tomorrow. (Grandmom -- I really need red make-up to go with my costume. I want a red face.)

Why? Because, although she has been a princess and Ariel the mermaid and last year was an angel -- this year she'll be a Devil. Oh-Kay. She certainly is more devilish this year.

For years, I've managed to be busy the night of Halloween and my husband has had to escort her and her friends around the neighborhood. This year Halloween comes on a Friday. Libraries are closed Friday nights and I have no excuse not to go.
(Wish me luck.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Keep on writing

I went to a Vermont College gathering, yesterday at Tami Brown's house in Washington, DC.
(Vermont College Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults)
Current students, graduated students and prospective students dropped in. Great conversation.

I'm still thinking about something Tami said yesterday:
She said that the Vermont College students who were successful writers, did not relax after they graduate. They kept the good writing habits they learned here and continued to focus on their writing. I'm going to remember that.

When I got home, I looked carefully and the Vermont College literature that Tami had collected and handed out at the SCBWI writing conference the day before. (and gave the leftovers to us) What a thrill to see Ann Cardinal's name here and there. She is a member of my Picture Book Certificate program at Vermont College -- and she also works for the college. She created many of those great postcards and pamphlets.

Today I head back to Washington, DC, for another writing event.
Here's crossing fingers and toes that my poor car will survive another trip down I-95.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who is Dracula?

Here is the next Halloween quiz question. The correct answer gets a copy of The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun.--

- Is Dracula alive, today?
Does he like Blood?
(extra points for those who know his name and what he does.)


Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Friday -- Lewis Carroll forgery

Here's a first -- I'm actually going to post a poem on Poetry Friday.
Basically, it's an assignment for my Vermont College Writing class. We all have to do Lewis Carroll forgeries.
Here's mine:

Ode to my husband

Chip Whip Tall and wide
Biggest heart lies inside
Encompasses the whole wide world -- and me
Fuzzy, furry, growley bear
Fuzzy wuzzy had no hair
I know you'd say it's quite a sight -- to see


Friday, October 17, 2008

Book signings and Sleepovers

Today was the annual meeting of MASL. Maryland Association of School Librarians.
Almost every year I'm invited to their Maryland Author's Luncheon, to sign books and then have lunch with a table of school librarians. (This year there were 23 authors, so many tables had authors.)

The luncheon speaker was the wonderful author, Joseph Bruchac. He began his talk playing his Native American flute. Then he explained that the tune was from a song about young evergreens being sheltered and helped to grow by the older, taller trees -- like parents, teachers, and librarians do. In true Native American fashion, he conveyed his message (how most of his books, even the ones about war, are actually about peace and getting along) by telling us stories. If you ever need a wonderful speaker for a meeting or convention, do ask Joseph Bruchac to speak.

I always have fun at MASL. I got to see many of the school librarians who had invited me to do author visits at their schools. You can see me talking away at Arnold Elementary School in an earlier post. (I highly recommend that school to other authors. They really treat you right.)

Before the luncheon, I signed books people had bought. After the luncheon, I offered free copies of the Halloween Book of Facts and Fun to the wonderful librarians who sat at my table.

Was it just last year that I was a speaker at this event? yup. I still remember driving to Ocean City, Maryland, with two seven-year olds in the back seat, praying that my old car would make the trip. And now it's a year later and I still have the same car taking me places. It's almost 10 years old. I guess old Saturns never die. Luckily, the meeting this year was back to being just outside Baltimore.

Speaking of those seven-year olds -- they're now eight and are presently making nests in our living room tonight for a sleepover. They've spent the evening playing on the website == Club Penguin. Actually THREE eight-year olds were playing together on Club Penguin. Their other friend was on the phone with them and when I went downstairs a few minutes ago -- my eight-year old and the girl on the telephone were having their penguins have a snowball fight on the computer. That's amazing. Over the whole internet, two penguins being controlled by kids in two different houses were interacting. And the two girls were interacting over the telephone.

It's a good thing that most of our friends know our cell-phone numbers, because nobody was getting through on the house phone for about an hour tonight.

Well, I guess I'd better go downstairs to see how close to going to bed they are.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ooops, it's Tuesday

ooops, it's Tuesday, isn't it?
Sorry about there being no Nonfiction Monday this week.

hmmm, actually, there seems to have been quite a dearth (hey, finally spelled it right) of posts this past week. That will happen when I have a week full of library stuff plus working hard on my Vermont college packet (due today) plus meetings.

You could always go over and visit Fuse #8. She's a librarian, too, but somehow she always manages to do at least one blog post a day -- sometimes more. Check out her Video Sunday messages. I normally keep the sound turned off on my computer. (so I can use the computer in the middle of the night without waking my husband when a story idea nags me to death and I have to get up and type it out before it will let me sleep.) But I'll turn the sound back on just to watch/ listen to the videos she has found.

As a writer I was fasinated by the "Manuscrip with sparklies" video.
And as a librarian, the "Libraries are Communist plots" gave me a chuckle.

Go visit her. I'll get a real post up later this week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Halloween Quiz #2

It's time for my next Halloween question.
The correct answer gets a copy of The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun.

What was the first Jack-o-Lantern?
(extra points for mentioning a little bit about the original story.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Colors

Colors, by, hmmm I can't seem to find an author for this book. Play Bac Publishing, 2007. Available now.

The cover says

Amazon says the author is a group of people:
"The Play Bac Edu-Team is the original creator of the very popular BrainQuest Series. They work with a team including teachers, writers, parents,educational experts, graphic designers, illustrators, and even kids, to create fun age-appropriate learning series."

This seems to be a series of books that use photographs to help present concepts. There's an alphabet one and this book talks about colors. I'll be looking for others to drift into the library branch, soon.

And, WOW, what COLORS they are, too. Nature's many colors.
Take a closer look and you will find a thousand shades, because in nature, no color is the same.

The first color is yellow -- with yellow shades along the bottom. The text is poetry (sort-of) on each double page spread. For example:
"The toucan's beak is golden-yellow,
Corn and bananas are more mellow;
They are a lighter yellow!"

Turn the page and the book jumps to Red
But several pages later a series of apples, ranging from red to green granny smith leads us, with a page turn, into the green section. (Neat!)

The red apple is identified as a Red Chief apple, which I have never heard of. And I know most of the apples in the Eastern United States. Oh -- Google says that some Red Chief apples come from France. oh.

Leaves shading from green, yellow, orange, brown lead to a (page turn) section about brown things.
It jumps to blue, but photographs of the sky take us from blue to orange (sunset)
Orange flips to purple/ pink/ gray, black, white
and finally to multicolor.

The dedication inside these books thanks "all the teachers, mothers, and children who have helped develop the eyelike (trademark) series."

Since the series was such a group effort, I wonder which one is to blame for the wrong identification in the alphabet book of this series? (Letters the alphabet in the natural world) Under "H" we find a photograph labeled -- hamster. But it's a photograph of a guinea pig.

Anastasia Suen has the Nonfiction Monday Round-up at Picture Book of the Day.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Michael Phelps WOWS Tweens

Saturday was a busy day.

The 8 and a half year old had her soccer game in the morning. (They have a perfect season -- all losses.)
Her Brownie re-dedication in the afternoon. (New Brownies are invested, the older ones re-dedicated)

And right afterwards, I had to rush her and her best friend to the Parade of Olympic Stars.
The parade had begun at 3:00, so we raced to the location of the parade's end, hoping the Maryland Olympic champions had not passed that point, yet.

We were in luck. The two, still dressed in their Brownie vests, found great spots on a street corner near the parade's ending point. Marching bands, politicians, and then the Maryland Olympic participants. All 15 of them. Maryland is a small state, but we certainly showed big in the Olympics this year.

You should have seen them violently waving their American flags and have heard the teen/ tween shrieks when the Olympians went by -- especially for Katie Hoff and, winding up the parade, Michael Phelps standing tall in an armored Humvee tank-like thing. (pictured above, credit goes to the Baltimore Sun photographer)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Making a Picture Book Cookie

Here I am, researching stuff for my 10 page essay for the Vermont College program, when I run across one of my favorite articles about How To Write A Picture Book. Not just any picture book -- but a good one. One that is publishable and will be read and enjoyed by both adults and children.

It's the Making a Picture Book Cookie speech/ article by Cheryl Klein, editor at Scholastic Books. (would it blow your mind if I told you she helped with the editing of the last few Harry Potter books?)

Cheryl also writes a blog and you can read it here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just for fun -- Calvinball!

Just for fun -- make your way over to Dawn Metcalf's blog.
She has decided that getting published is a lot like -- CALVINBALL!!

If you don't know Calvinball, get thee to a library and check out the Calvin and Hobbs comic books.
Ooops, Graphic Novels.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spider at the Library -- part 2

Today -- Wednesday, another spider -- same type as the last one -- fell on the Children's Information Desk. I looked up and discovered that one bar of the array of lights in the Children's Place stretched over my chair at the Info Desk.

That's enough of that! So, I pushed and pushed at the desk, to get it out from under those lights. Ooops, that was the plug for the computer that just popped out of the floor, right? Hmmm. Let's wiggle the desk back this-a-way and push it some more that-a-way.

Everything is now plugged back in. The computer works. And the desk is out from under those lights.
Here's crossing fingers and toes that the next few spiders that drop will land on the floor and run away -- far away. Because if I were to see them, they would live only as long as it took me to find a book to drop on them.


Cybils Award Nominations Needed

(Guest Blogger)
Spread the word -- the annual Bloggers Children's Book Award is underway.
In an effort to highlight great books that children like to read (that may be missed by the various literary award committees), the Cybils award was created. Publishers, librarians, and bookstores are beginning to take notice of this award.

Cybils Nominations Open October 1st: How Can You Participate?

Nominations for the third annual Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (the Cybils) will be open Wednesday, October 1st through Wednesday, October 15th. The goal of the Cybils team (some 100 bloggers) is to highlight books that are high in both literary quality and kid appeal. The Cybils were founded by Anne Boles Levy and Kelly Herold.

This year, awards will be given in nine categories (Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels). Anyone can nominate books in these categories (one nomination per person per category). (Yes, you can nominate your own book.) Nominated titles must be published between January 1st and October 15th of this year, and the books must be in English (or bilingual, where one of the languages is English).

To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog between October 1st and 15th. A separate post will be available for each category - simply nominate by commenting on those individual posts. If you are not sure which category to choose for a particular book, a questions thread will also be available.

Between October 16th and January 1st, Cybils panelists (children’s and young adult bloggers) will winnow the nominations down to a 5-7 book short list for each category. A second set of panelists will then select the winning titles for the different categories. The winners will be announced on February 14th, 2009.

The Cybils lists, from long lists to short lists to the lists of winners, offer a wonderful resource to anyone looking for high-quality, kid-friendly books. The Cybils team has worked hard to balance democracy (anyone can nominate titles) with quality control (two rounds of panel judging by people who focus on children’s books every day). We do this work because we consider it vital to get great books into the hands of children and young adults.

How Can You Participate?

We think that the Cybils nominations will be of interest to parents, teachers, librarians, writers, and teens. If you have a blog or an email list or belong to a newsgroup that serves one of these populations, and you feel that your readers would be interested, please consider distributing this announcement (you are welcome to copy it). The Cybils team would very much appreciate your help in spreading the word. And if you, or the children that you know, have any titles to suggest, we would love to see your nominations at the Cybils blog, starting on Wednesday. Thanks for your help, and stay tuned for further news!

Jen Robinson
Literacy Evangelist for the 2008 Cybils

Spider at the Library

Talk about Eeeeek! Yuck!

There I was last night (on Tuesday, September 30th), sitting there at the Children's Information Desk in the library, when I felt something hard hit my neck. I swiped at it and one of those hard black spiders landed on my arm. I screamed and swiped at it again and it disappeared. Three kids and I searched for it on the ground, but couldn't find it.

A half hour later, I saw movement on my desk near where I was working and EEEEK, there it was. I took one of the books I was considering for weeding (I was thinning out the ratty books from my Magic Tree House series at the time), and SMASH/ Crash, I got him. The circulation department people were surprised by all the smashing and crashing, but when I explained that it was a spider....

Did I tell you how much I hate Spider month?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Nic Bishop Spiders

Nic Bishop Spiders, written and illustrated by Nic Bishop (Scholastic Nonfiction, an imprint of Scholastic), 2007.
ALA Sibert Informational Book Medal honor.
Mentioned in the previous post.

I've gotta tell you, even tho I couldn't bear to look at the slides he showed about his spiders, I was enthralled hearing the background story of his adventures photographing spiders. This cover spider is a dancing spider -- but he only shows off to female spiders. So Nic had to also have female spiders on hand during his photo shoot.

If you know kids who are are fascinated by unusual web crawlers, this is a good book on the subject. (Just don't ask me to look at the cover as I hand it out. In fact, when I discussed this book at our librarian's meeting, I carried it to the meeting covered in papers/ carefully slid the paper off the front cover while I talked about it/ keeping papers over the huge spider picture on the back of the book -- this guy used every surface he could to place his photographs.)

More links to Nonfiction Monday messages are here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spider month


September is Spider month in Maryland. (and with global warming, October will be, too.)
Don't expect me to show up anywhere near where a spider has been. (Have you walked into any webs lately? Double yuck!)

Who is going to change the program announcements on the library's outdoor sign?
Not me. Not during Spider months. Luckily I'm on a team and others 'volunteer' to do it, then.

Periodically, my writing income pays for housecleaning. The nicest thing the cleaning ladies can say to me is to total up the number of spiders (and spider eggs) they have removed. My heros! A spider-free house for a few days!
So, I'm in the bathroom, feeling great after they leave because there are no spiders around -- and what do I see?
(smash! whipe up spider mess. Throw out the tissue that has wiped up the mess. )
Oooh, that gives me chills.

Anywho -- do NOT expect to see any reviews of spider books on this blog. And there will not be a picture attached to this message folks. There is no way I'm going to search through spider pictures to find the perfect one for my blog. No way.

I even have problems weeding out the old spider books from my library's collection -- and don't you dare show me those new spider titles that have come in.

Did you know that a SPIDER book won a Sibert Informational Book Medal honor at ALA? Nic Bishop Spiders, written and illustrated by Nic Bishop (Scholastic Nonfiction, an imprint of Scholastic) I had to sit at that award ceremony while he showed slides of his favorites. Yes, it's interesting that the cover picture is actually of a teeny tiny spider and he's quite beautiful -- but did you have to reproduce him so large?


Saturday, September 27, 2008

This week

Too busy to blog -- that's me.
In fact, it's been so long that Blogger has forgotten me and I had to go through that whole sign-in routine, again, just to get here.

This week I'm trying to digest the things my Vermont College advisor told me about my packet of stories, and essay, and bibliography of picture books. She said one story was ready to go! Yeah! And others need work. And that I'm thinking like a librarian and not a writer. Oh-no! Gotta correct that part.

Also, it was the week we sent our revised stories to the picture book Forum for the group (and our advisor) to critique. Thank heavens it was deemed, 'improved.'

On the Library front -- I'm working on weeding the J Fiction, while trying not to use my left arm. It's amazing what you automatically use your left hand and arm for. I always thought I was right-handed with a little bit of ambidextrousness, but these past few weeks have been quite a shock -- to find out just how much I actually use that left hand/ arm. (especially when I'm not supposed to. Most of the bruises from my fall have healed, but that rotary cuff is still bothering me.)

I put up a Pirate display (complete with pirate tattoos. One of the Vermont College graduates gave a lecture about the history of pirates and had a lot of leftover tattoos after her program. She let me have some to give to the children at my library.)

Today I had a Flower Fairy Festival at the library and then put the leftover fairy books where the Pirate books had been.

Tomorrow, the 8-year old and I will go to the annual Greek Festival, put on by the local Greek church. I go for the food and to watch the dancing. The 8-year old goes for the dancing and the games and crafts. Last year we both got Jingle scarfs to wear around our hips, so we'll probably wear them this year, over our skirts.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nonfiction Monday = Walk-around Tacos

Walk-around Tacos and other likeable lunches by Nick Fauchald. Picture Window Books, 2008. Part of the KIDS DISH series. Available now.

Can't think of anything for the kid's lunches? Here are some ideas -- and easy to make, too. hmmm. I'm afraid not too many are suitable for school lunchbags, but they make great so-it-yourself treats for weekends. Especially if your kids have friends over. They can make it a group project. Fun.

An -- nice. The Glossary of cooking terms (and tips on how to do things easily) is in the front of the book. Handy. Then pictures of "kitchen tools."

You say HERO and I say SUB and they're both the same thing -- so this book calls them: Super Hero Subs. Smart.

What IS a Walkaround Taco? You get you 4 small bags of corn chips. You add your taco ingredients to the bag and -- boom! You have a Walkaround Taco. (Remind them not to throw the fork away when they toss the empty bag.)

Other Nonfiction Monday book reviews can be found here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Winnie the Pooh Tea Party

Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne. Dutton Children's Books, various publication dates. The original Pooh collection is actually a four volume set which includes two poetry books (When we were Very Young, and Now we are Six) But the popularity of the bear has led to many other Pooh books for younger children relating to Time and ABC and other novelties. (Not to mention the Disney-fied versions)

The strange thing I've discovered about Winnie the Pooh is age related.
Parents know about the Disney version -- and think that Pooh is only for preschoolers. Yet when I do Pooh Tea parties at my library, I insist on school age children, grade K and up. (and K is stretching it downwards, I do believe.)

I've discovered that younger kids will sit and listen when the original stories are read to them -- but they are completely blank. No real reaction or understanding of the stories. They just don't get the humor of the real stories. (Even my own kids when I'm reading one-on-one.)

Yet, when I read them to first grade and up, they giggle and giggle.
They "get" it. They funny loooooong titles.
The ridiculous situations. (tracking a woozle?)
Finding a Heffalump? (not)
The search for the North Pole? (and finding a stick and declaring it a pole. Pole?)
Living "under" the sign of Sanders?

It's so satisfying to parent and child when the child thinks these references are as funny as the adult does.

When I have more younger than older kids at a Pooh event at the library, I always tell "Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place." But do the very younger ones 'get' the sentence where Pooh requests, "would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?"
and then I show the classic Pooh video (when will they bring it out in DVD?) of "In Which It Is Shown That Tiggers Don't Climb Trees. The kids watch the video. The parents suddenly notice that I'm showing the pages of the BOOK that match that story, while the video plays. (which does create a demand for the "real" Winnie the Pooh books.)

And, of course, there's nothing like an English Tea. (using apple juice and real glass punch cups) to finish off the program.
Butter sandwiches on crustless bread. Cucumber sandwiches. little pastries (boughten) and fresh scones that the kids can dribble their very own honey on. (onto?)

(surprise -- the first time I did this, I discovered that scones are just biscuits. Which you can vary by adding a bit of sugar. Children prefer them plain -- no currents or other flavoring -- so they're easy to make.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Bookcart Drill Teams

Yes folks, there really is such a thing as Library Bookcart Drill Team contests.

Just click on the link and you'll not only see videos of last June's action (at the American Library Association Annual Convention) but you'll hear the blow by blow action commentary by none other than Geisel winner and Caldecott honor author/ illustrator Mo Willems. (link is to his blog, so enjoy reading the rest of it, too.) The other voice you hear is Jon Scieska -- another wild and crazy guy.

How does linking to a fiction writer count as a Nonfiction Monday entry on this blog?

Well -- I kinda thought that, since the videos really truely happened, it was live nonfiction in action.
Plus -- I don't have time to post a real review of a book because my Vermont College packet is due and I still have to write more book annotations for it.

For the rest of the REAL Nonfiction Monday book reviews, click here.
-wendieO (posting this in the middle of the night because her left shoulder still hurts and it woke her up)

Friday, September 12, 2008

What does the Main Character want?

I am so excited about my writing progress today.
Because of my accident (and then losing three days to drug-induced sleep and not being allowed to use my arm for over a week) I abandoned one of the picture books I was working on for my September packet. It just wasn't going to get done.

What to substitute?
I took Wednesday afternoon off to organize, plan, and write. I played with a couple of stories. Then I pulled DARK out again.

DARK had been discussed in the workshop part of my stay at Vermont College in July. Everyone agreed that it needed major changes. I was devastated. Only one person in the workshop "got it." And even she suggested changes. I had not done a good job presenting the story.

During the past few months I tried several approaches to the story. Nothing worked.

I must have been thinking about this story pretty hard back there in my "back brain," because suddenly last Wednesday I had an idea. I wanted to go back to my first way of presenting it -- first person with no indication as to whether the speaker was a boy or a girl. Because this is an "everyman" type of story.

I loaded it onto my laptop and brought it to the 8-year old's gymnastic class. Got a good third of it re-written. Today is my usual day off. (We get Fridays off when we work Saturday at the library.) About 2:00 in the afternoon, I settled down with the laptop and plowed into the story, again.

The basic revision is done. And it responds to most of the criticisms it got in the workshop.
(The most important thing I was directed to think about is -- WHAT DOES THE MAIN CHARACTER WANT? And -- does he get it by the end of the story? I think the answer now is, yes.)

Now to figure out how to put the rest of my packet together -- it's due Monday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Halloween quiz/ prizes

Ah ha!
Did I get your attention with the word, Prize?

First HALLOWEEN Question:
How many cats are in my halloween book: The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun? (available at your library or your local bookstore -- crossing fingers and toes.)

Yes, the cover counts.
No, the webkinz cat that I take to school visits and book signings does NOT count.

This is a case where the illustrator goes off on her own and adds her mite to the book by including something NOT mentioned in the text. (at least it's not mentioned very often.) Good illustrators do this. Paige Billin-Frye is very good.
Cats here, cats there, cats everywhere. (to paraphrase the wonderful book, Millions of Cats.)

The person who tells me the exact number of cats in the book (by putting their guess in the comments section of this blog) will win a signed copy of the book. (book not necessarily signed by my cat.) (maybe I should get a cat's paw stamp? hmmm?)
-wendie O

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- 10 Things I Can do to Help My World

10 Things I Can do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh. Candlewick, 2008. Available now.

The subtitle is -- Fun and Easy Eco-Tips.
Fun and easy they are. It's a flip-book! My favorite type of flip book -- half pages revealing more information when they are flipped.

In fact, the flipping fun begins when you open the book.
"I remember . . ." (with picture of lightbulb shining down on some bugs. A lovely expanding ray of light leads you to turn the page and
The lightbulb and its rays are cut-away on the right hand side. Turning it exposes the rest of the sentence on black paper and only the eyes of the bugs shining at you. A second sentence outlines the turned-off lightbulb.

Wow! What a start. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Well, what happens next is that every second page is like this. Because the background of the underlying page matches so closely to the page you are viewing, you don't realize that you've hit another cut-away until you try to turn the page and discover, again, that you are turning another 3/4 page, exposing the other half of the sentence.

Really neat stuff.

The publisher recommends it for age 3 and up.
Do remember that up means UP! People up to age 103 will enjoy this book. (and if they have to grab a kid to read it to, to justify reading it, that's fine, too.)

This is filed in the 363.7 area of the library, so you will have to hand-sell it to customers. Or maybe put it on display in April for Earth Day.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Watch this Space

Sometime soon
-- maybe even the middle of this week
-- the first Halloween question will appear.



Friday, September 5, 2008

What happened this week?

(actually -- not well)
I fell last weekend in the library's staff room and landed on my left side. You should see the huge bruises on leg and arm. My left arm swelled up like a goose egg, so I went to Patient First, thinking that I had broken the arm. After X-rays of my shoulder, arm, and hip area, they determined that nothing had broken -- I just was badly bruised.

Unfortunately, the medicine they gave me caused me to sleep the rest of the 3-day weekend. And made me too groggy to stay at work on Tuesday. I went home after only a half day's work.

Wednesday, I saw a bone doctor. He agreed that the medicine they had given me was too strong. (It just goes to show that you aren't a drug addict. If you had been -- your body could have resisted that medicine better.) Since then, i've gone back to my usual Excedrin during the day and 8-hour Tylanol during the night and I feel much better.

The arm is recovering nicely, thank you. I didn't even need the sling at all today at work. I'm getting back to my speedy touch-typing self. And the 5-inch in diameter bruise on my leg is a work of art.

We spent the week at the library weeding the holiday books and correcting some mismarking on them. Now our holiday collection is nice and loose on the shelves -- all ready for the new holiday books to show up.

The 8-year old had decided she loved, loved, loved her new third grade teacher -- just in time for the school to add a new teacher and move her and 20 other kids into a new classroom. The funny thing is -- this teacher has the same name as her 2nd grade teacher. So, on Monday she begins again with a new teacher. I do hope the original teachers share the school supplies we parents bought for the three classrooms with the new teacher and classroom.

Gotta go take the 8-year old's best friend home before the rain from hurricane Hanna grows too strong. And get more milk. We're almost out. (Two 8-year olds will do that to your milk supply.)
Bye. -wendieO

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nonfiction Monday Guest Blogger

This Nonfiction Monday we have a guest blogger -- Kelly Milner Halls. She is the author of Albino Animals, Tales of the Cryptids, Mysteries of the Mummy Kids and 20 other nonfiction books.
Her website/ blog is

Our online nonfiction group was having a conversation about why writer's conferences didn't offer more workshops about writing nonfiction. This was her response:

Sadly, even our fellow writers look down on our work. I love the ReaderGirlz campaign, and it got a lot of attention/press -- mostly Washington State authors. But when they approached me to write about them as a freelancer, I asked why they hadn't included any nonfiction writers. Frosty response...not what we're about.

It was as if the concept of girls loving nonfiction was impossible to grasp. It was not even considered, which I think is a shame.

No wonder girls don't step into the high paying realm of careers in math and science. The "cool kids" won't even let girls that love facts into the reader fold. Girls who love nonfiction are discounted as geeks.

But...there IS a slim model for nonfiction's potential. Look at the overwhelming response to 1) Grossology and 2) Magic School Bus. Those were properties that proved my point. There is a hunger for fun, well crafted nonfiction. Why not encourage writers to answer the call? Why not give kids the chance to love even more exceptional books? Why not embrace all kids and
all readers?

I don't have the answers, beyond just trying to write more compelling nonfiction myself. But I hope, someday we'll escape this stepchild status.

Guess we'll have to wait and see, or take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves. It has crossed my mind.

For more Nonfiction Monday, check out the list here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

democratic/ Democrats ?

After being exhilarated by the Olympics on TV, now we have to sit through the political conventions before we can get back to normal television programming.
(Why we have conventions any more is beyond me. I can remember when the race for president wasn't decided until after several votes on the convention floor and many back-room meetings. But lately, the party's candidate is decided in the Spring and it's all over but the shouting (speeches) at the conventions in late summer and fall.)

But lately, I'm beginning to think the Democrat party has changed its name.
The party leader declared 'this Democratic" meeting open.

Isn't the party's name -- the Democrat Party?

How come in the past few years, so many people call it "the Democratic Party?" All over the media, pundits use the word "Democratic" instead of the word "Democrat" when talking about the Democrat political party.
(Hey guys, those Republicans aren't democratic, WE are.)

As a person who works with words, I find it offensive when people use words wrong.

Wow -- even Google is using it when linking to Democrat web pages -- probably because the web page writers put that word in the 'searchable terms' area of the page. Try it -- go search Democrat in Google and check out what the first few links are called.
First link -- The Democratic Convention
Watch live video of the Democratic National Convention in Denver!

I rest my case. They've changed their name.

Sorry folks -- democratic is a way of electing government officials - the way of democracy/ the democratic way. The United States of America has a democratic type of government.
The political party is the Democrat Party.


Monday, August 25, 2008

NF Monday -- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi and other party Recipes by Kristi Johnson. A Snap Book from Capstone Press, 2008. Available now.

It's the end of August and a young person's mind turns to -- SCHOOL? Actually, they're probably trying to think of new things for their favorite class -- Lunch.
What to pack for lunch?
Peanutbutter and Jelly sandwiches?
Crustless frozen peanutbutter and Jelly sandwiches?
how about Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi?

Raw fish? Yuck! (Sorry Yoko)
No -- really. The Peanut Butter and jelly sushi on the cover actually look like they'd taste pretty good.

This easy cookbook is perfect for young fingers. Step by step instructions create goodies suitable for slumber parties, anytime parties, and even school lunchbags. Photographs show ways to display your finished product. And there's even a sidebar for every receipe offering tidbits about the dish -- page 9 explains what's inside real Japanese sushi.

Especially helpful is the Tools Glossary which not only explains the kitchen tools mentioned in the book, but shows the young reader pictures of them. Neat!

Other titles in the series include:
Apple Pie Calzones and other cookie recipes
Banana Split Pizza and other snack recipes
Monkey Pudding and other dessert recipes
Oodle Doodles Tuna Noodle and other salad recipes
Wormy Apple Croissants and other Halloween recipes
(Just in time to help you plan your Halloween party)

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen’s blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Day of the Dead is a Coming

Good Lord. Here I was hesitant to mention my Halloween book in August for fear it would be too early to do so, and over at La Bloga they're discussing Day of the Dead books. One is a really neat craft book.

The 8-year old and I saw a whole aisle of Halloween stuff on the shelves at our local grocery store.

Maybe Halloween has become like Christmas -- On second thought, no. We plan for the Christmas season for 6 months ahead and then recover from it for 6 months after. I can't see us doing that for Halloween. (I probably shouldn't mention that stash of leftover Halloween candy I finally tossed out with the Spring Cleaning.)

Anywho -- somebody's looking forward to Halloween 'cause shows a goodly lot of sales for the Halloween Book of Facts and Fun. Which means that next May I might see some royalties from it. Hooray!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Contest coming soon

In September I'll have a contest featuring my Halloween book. The prize -- copies of the book, of course. Watch this spot.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Healthy Snacks

Healthy Snacks by Mari C. Schuh. A Pebble Plus book from Capstone Press, 2006. Part of the Eating with MyPyramid series.

How can we entice kids to eat healthy snacks, instead of over processed, fatty ones? This book aims at the Kindergarten/ first grade new reader by using several sentences on the left and a photograph which bleeds all the way out to the edges on the right.
(Preschool teachers will have no problem using this for their classes, too.)

It's not in the taller than wide easy reader format, though. It's in a wider than tall picture book format. Which means that our library has placed it in the nonfiction cook book area, not in the easy reader nonfiction.

Every photograph has kids eating healthy snacks -- even though the words don't specifically name them. For example, on page 5 the children are eating raisins and yogurt, with an orange in the table. But the words say,"Small healthy snacks help you grow strong." I recognize "ants on a log" on the cover, but nowhere does it tell you how to make that snack. (although -- all you have to do is look at it and you can tell that it's celery with peanutbutter and raisins.)

Since this series's purpose is to explain the 'new' food pyramid, it includes a picture of it with a suggestion to go to the government website for more information. Hmm, sending you to a website doesn't sound helpful, does it? Ah, the next page lists the food groups from the pyramid.

Does the author make a written connection between the pyramid and the rest of the snacks discussed? No. (although an adult can easily see which group each snack comes from. A teacher might extend this book by having the children guess which food group is represented on each page.)

The photographs are multi-racial, multi-generational, and I even saw a downs syndrome child in one.

Other titles in this "Eating with MyPyramid" series include:
Being Active
Drinking Water
The Fruit Group
The Grain Group
The Meat and Beans Group
The Milk Group
The Vegetable Group

More links to Nonfiction Monday book reviews can be seen here.