Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Oh my,
The Three Silly Chicks just announced that, inspired by the National Novel-in-One-Month (NaNoWriMo) and possibly our local Maryland romance writer's shorter version called Book-in-a-Week (BIAW), "the fine folks at www.paulayoo.com have decided to start the first ever National Picture Book Writing Week, affectionately nicknamed "NaPiBoWriWee."

The goal -- to write 7 brand new picture books in one week, beginning Friday, May 1st.
Yes, that's one a day, for a week. The rules are listed here and here.

Have fun.
I wish I could join you, but I'm a bit busy at work right now and can't write.


Monday, April 27, 2009

NF Monday -- Do You Know where Your Water Has Been?

Do You Know where Your Water Has Been? -- the Disgusting Story Behind What You're Drinking by Kelly Regan Barnhill. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2009. Part of a series called Edge Books. All of which have "the disgusting story behind..." as part of their subtitle. Available now.

Oh my goodness -- the title fills up the whole spine of the book! There's no room for the author's name or the publisher's or anything. But the title and front cover certainly has child-appeal. I could barely wrest the book from the 9-year-old's hands; she's so eager to read it.

Each page contains a large photograph with dialog boxes facing a page of neat facts with more dialogue boxes overlaid. (I'll try to see if Amazon has a 'search inside" so you can see this. No, they don't. Oh well.)

Some pages have drawings. (the flow of water through a water filtration plant) It begins with a zinger -- people using germ laden, garbage filled water to drink, cook with, and wash clothes. Yuck. Then, after a short trip through history examining how ancient people purified water, the author explains modern water treatment. Lo and behold -- the modern treatment uses some of the same techniques as the ancients!

The writing style is chatty and casual, very accessible for children -- "Imagine the funky gunk that ducks and other creatures leave in lake water." (Ewuuuu -- I CAN imagine it.)

For Second Grade readers and up.
Other books in the series include Garbage, Waste, Dumps, and YOU -- the disgusting story behind what we leave behind.

For more Nonfiction Monday, click here.
-wendie old

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Money makes the child work faster

It's very exasperating when a child refuses to do the things she's supposed to do. (because she wants ice cream NOW or just because she doesn't want to stop what she's doing.)

Luckily, I've found a way to get the 9-year-old to be more cooperative when she is a stubborn mood.
-- I threaten to take away part of her allowance.

I'm beginning to work it like the Points that are awarded to the student 'houses' at Hogwarts.
I begin by telling her that I'm removing a nickel from her allowance. If she still doesn't do it (move faster/ brush her teeth/ get off the computer/ close down the game or DVD), I keep subtracting another penny. and another penny. and another.

And when she does things well?
I add pennies to her allowance.
(which usually compensates for some of the nickels I've removed during the week.

It's working like a charm.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where to find Nonfiction Monday

To get your Nonfiction Monday fix, just click here to find the other blogs who are featuring it.

Or go visit I.N.K and get the best nonfiction every day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The search for the Top 100 Picture Books

For you picture book fans out there, I hope you are following Betsy Bird's blog these days. She's listing the Top 100 Picture Books of All Time.

In March, she asked her blog readers to send her their choices of the top 10 picture books of all time.
I couldn't do it -- I sent her 12.
Naturally my choices focused on the writing (books with authors different from the illustrator) rather than those wonderful Caldecott winners done by Illustrators [almost wordless] or author/ Illustrators.

Using some complicated calculations, she came up with the top 100 of all time. Some of the winners are a complete surprise -- to her as well as to most of the rest of us.
This isn't just a list.
She is also writing reviews of them, analyzing why they work so well as picture books and offering them to her blog readers five at a time. She's into the top 30 of the list by now, but each blog post has links to the earlier reviews.

(and yes, I know this is not a scientific study -- just a survey of books submitted by her blog readers.)

Besides being a children's librarian, Betsy has some picture books of her own coming out soon, which means she's looking at these as a writer as well as a librarian.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Harry Potter Movie coming soon

I'm busy with RFID at my library, so here's a little info from the Associated Press:

Harry Potter sweeps into theaters 2 days early
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Harry Potter and his school chums are heading back to class a little sooner than expected.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" now is opening Wednesday, July 15, two days earlier than its previously announced release date, Warner Bros. head of distribution Dan Fellman said Tuesday.

That gives the movie a head-start on the weekend during what's shaping up as a highly competitive summer season for Hollywood, which has major franchise films opening virtually every week.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eggs, the sign of new life

Yesterday we (two 9-year-olds and me) colored Easter Eggs. (yes we remembered to hard boil them, but it was a near thing. I had forgotten to do that the night before, so it took time to cool them in ice water before we began.)

Eggs are such good symbols of Spring -- the return of life after the dead of winter. (Especially since living things pop out of them.) Many religions use eggs for this reason. You can't always trust Wikipedia, but it seems to have a lot of nice information about the spring traditions of eggs here.

For many years I would get up early to hide the eggs and the Easter Basket in plain sight in our living room. This year I included small chocolate eggs from the local candy store. (They were all out of the chocolate bunnies on a Motorcycle my husband likes and the 9-year-old never eats the chocolate bunnies I have bought for her -- so why bother? I got her a jigsaw puzzle featuring a kitten, instead.)

Even though she doesn't believe anymore that the Easter Bunny hides the eggs, she won't give up the egg hunt. However, it made it easier for me to be able to sleep in. I hid the eggs later while she is ate her breakfast and made sure the new kitten ate hers.

Spring is here. The grass is ris.
(along with much complaing by my husband)
And flowers are popping out all over.
Happy Spring!
-wendie old

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Don't annoy the editor

Scholastic Editor, Cheryl Klein, wrote in her blog recently about things people do that annoy the editor before she even has read your manuscript.

Not a good idea to annoy the editor.
And it mostly happens when the writer doesn't follow the publisher's instructions. (Except, in this case, this person also ignored or did not know, the fact that publishers choose the illustrator for your book, not you.)

On the home front -- we now have a kitten to replace the two elderly cats that died.
Which makes the cat count -- was three/ became one/ now two.
It remains to be seen whether the 10 year old cranky persian cat will ignore this bouncy kitten, or attack it. So far, just a couple of snarls and hisses.

-wendie old

Friday, April 10, 2009

This week in Libraryland

We finally have a calendar for the big RFID tagging event at our library. Once Joppa is tagged, every branch in the system will be using this new security system.

Which means we can get rid of the gates from the last system that let out annoying shrieks even when no one or nobody is anywhere near them. YEA! They shriek even when we're closed, when the staff is working in our offices with nobody out in the public part of the library. (They're only supposed to shriek if a person tries to take a book out of the library without checking it out.) I don't know how the Circulation department can stand the noise. They're so much closer to the sound than the librarians are and it hurts our ears when it happens. Who knows what damage it has done to their ears.

Next Wednesday is the big day.
We have done a ton of preparation work and it seems as if we have weeded our materials collection down to almost half its previous size. (Estimate/ not an exact figure.) We've already had one huge book sale and will have another one in June -- Our Beach Reads Book sale.

The other branches assure us that, once we get into the hang of doing RFID tagging, it goes very smoothly. We're looking forward to it.

The advantages of RFID?
-- You can do self-checkout.
-- A tiny chip contains all the information about the book. The previous security system used long magnetic strips that didn't always work.
-- The new security gates will work better, more quietly too.
-- OnStar can use LoJack to locate any overdue book.

Okay, that last one is probably not true.
hmmmm. Should we kinda hint to certain troublesome customers that it works that way? I'll havta bring that idea up at the next staff meeting.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop. New York: Scholastic, 2009. Available now.

Nic Bishop, you've done it again. Beautiful photographs with just enough information to entice the young reader (and us older ones, too) to want to know more.

Considering how long it takes to track down some of his subjects, I can't see how he's been able to produce about a book a year. (and win awards for most of them. I'd like to say all of them, but I haven't checked all of his books to verify this.)

While I grew up, our prize possession was a plate that had hundreds of butterfly wings encased in it. I would stand by it for hours, studying those wings. Now everyone can study close-ups of butterfly wings in this book.

There's even a butterfly from the Amazon rain forest that has transparent wings. (Glasswing Butterfly) Nic uses this butterfly to talk about the three parts of a butterfly -- head, thorax, and abdomen.

More amazement -- under the Glasswing is a double fold-out which shows 6 freeze-frames of a moth in flight, from one flower to the next. Plus the scientific explaination of how it manages to fly. The book is chock full of neat facts like this.

More Nonfiction Monday posts are listed here. Go explore. -wendieO

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ten tips for effective queries

Normally I hate articles that list what NOT to do.
Okay, that's the wrong way -- what's the right way?
But Alice Pope's April Fool's Day blog post might be the exception. Enjoy. (and don't do what she says)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Create a Scene

Sometimes when I'm talking to new writers about how to create a more interesting manuscript, I ask them Where is their person now? What are they doing? Where do they live?
Describe the actual landscape around your person. If they live in Pittsburgh, then where are they? Are they walking on the flat meadow by the river? Or are they climbing a steep hill to get where they are going?

In other words -- describe the scene so that the reader can also 'see' it.

Just recently I read April Pulley Sayre's post on I.N.K. -- Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. where she talks about teaching a class of children how to describe scenes. Since I've never taught writing to children, I thought her technique might be useful someday.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Booksigning Nightmare

A few days ago my husband cut a comic strip out of the paper and gave it to me.
I took one look and said, "Yup -- I've been there."

It was a picture of an author at a table, ready to sign books -- should anyone happen to buy his book. Next to him is another table with a puppy.

On the author's table is the sign, "Meet an Author."
On the puppy's table is the sign, "Meet a Puppy."

I'll give you three guesses as to whose table had a long line of people, and the first two guesses don't count. Ah, you guessed the puppy table, right? With nobody in line to talk to the author.

Been there/ done that.