Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flash -- a video about Reading

I never post videos on my blog, but when Julie Strange, a librarian in Maryland sent this to the marylib listserve, I thought I'd share it here:

Ocoee Middle School in Ocoee, FL partnered with Full Sail to create an inspirational music video to get students across the country excited about reading.

This video was inspired by the Flash Mob Dance on the Oprah Winfrey Show performed by the Black Eyed Peas and several thousand of Oprah's fans. The video is about 5 minutes long.

Oh -- the snowstorm scheduled to hit this area (on top of the 2 others) missed. It's hitting New York and north right now -- Watch Out Vermont, Here it comes!

-wendie O

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- I'm Getting a Checkup

I'm Getting a Checkup by Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by David Milgrim. NY: Clarion Books, 2009. Available now.

Marilyn Singer?
The award-winning poet, organizer of the annual Poetry Blast at the American Library Association summer conferences, and all-round nice person -- Marilyn Singer -- wrote a basic "going to the Doctor" book?

And that illustrator -- David Milgrim?
Didn't he write and illustrate all those wonderful easy-reading books about Otto the Robot?

What a combination!

Wouldn't you know it -- Marilyn couldn't resist writing this nonfiction book as a poem. "I"m at the doctor's office, waiting for a checkup. It's time to get examined from the neck down to the neck up...." (and so on.)

This is definately a book for parents and children to read together. The poetry part on the page for the child to read and enjoy. The more involved paragraphs (in a different typeface and bold print either on the same or the facing page) for the adult to read to the child. Between the two, the book gives the child eader/ listener a good overview of what to expect at a "Well Baby" examination.

A long explaination on the last page of the book explains things even more.
Evidently, what our family calls a "Well Baby" examination is also called a Physical Examination or Getting a Checkup to make sure the child is healthy and developing normally. I love the fact that this book encourages the child and parent to ask questions if they are confused or curious.

This book should be in the waiting room of every Doctor's office, and in would be useful in public libraries, especially in the PTC or Parent/ Teacher Collection. I don't think it's vital for a school library, but could be supplementary -- especiallly for those schools who are near a public health center.

(Please don't ask me what all those dogs and that bird are doing on every page. I'm pretty sure you won't find them in most doctor's offices.)

One thing of note -- the illustrations show a multicural variety of children and parents at the doctor's. Another good example of all kinds of people doing ordinary things. And did they cop out by only having white people on the cover? They DID NOT!
Good for you David -- and Clarion.

This is the Publisher's description:
It's natural to feel a little nervous about going to the doctor. But this book's concrete and kid-friendly approach will put everyone's fears to rest. Join three children and their parents as they visit their pediatricians for a typical checkup, and learn all about the different tools doctors and nurses use. Upbeat illustrations featuring a diverse cast of characters are paired with a breezy rhymed text that reassures young readers--and their grownups--by guiding them through a physical examination step by step. Includes an author's note.

More Nonfiction Monday posts can be found at Practically Paradise today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You have to be GOOD (at what you do)

You've gotta go read this blog post by Meghan McCarthy over at the Blue Rose Girls. You know, the author/ illustrator of Seabiscuit Wonder Horse, Aliens are Coming!, Astronaut Handbook, etc., etc., etc.

Once you read her message, do read all the wonderful comments.
A huge discussion is happening there about talent. You know -- How to succeed in this crazy writing books business.
Is it Luck?
or Talent?
Or shear persistence and learning the craft?
(and how much of these do you need to have?)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- The Best of Figure Skating

The Best of Figure Skating by Kathy Allen. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2010. The Best of Pro Sports series from the First Facts imprint.

During the Olympics, what better book to check out than one giving you a quick background of some of the best moments in Figure Skating.
(I confess, figure skating is my very, very favorite.)

From 1968 when Peggy Flemming won the only Gold Medal for the United States to the fierce competition between Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek from 2004 to 2008, this book tries to hit the highs of the sport. (The attack on Nancy Kerrigan might be considered one of the Lows, but the book focuses on her competing in the Olympics while injured and winning the silver.)

The book varies between a double-page spread about one skater (or a pair) with sections discussing two different skaters. It's hard to summarise a skater's career in 5 sentences, but that's what this book attempts to do. Nice photographs, too.

The readers this is aimed at won't know any of these skaters, but their parents will remember having seen their wonderful performances. Torvil and Dean -- who can forget their 1984 performance to the music of Bolero? I wonder if it can be found on U-Tube? Almost everything else is there. It changed the whole course of Ice Dancing from Ballroom Dancing to the variety of modern dance. (not that this book says that -- but I couldn't help mentioning it.)

Glossary, three-book bibliography, and safe internet sites.

More Nonfiction Monday posts can be found at The Art of Irreverence. Click and enjoy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A History of Writers on the Internet

Okay -- here's one writer's view of the history of the Internet.

Being a writer is a lonely job. You sit all day staring at a blank piece of paper or a computer screen and try to capture in words the scenes playing out in your head. So that others can read it and imagine the same scenes -- the same stories. To keep sane, writers talk to other writers -- for advice and support.

In the 1980s, I worked part time, and met with a critique group of people who wrote for children. I wrote newspaper articles on our electric typewriter. And then on our first computer, a Comodore 64.

When I returned to work full time (kids going to college), I could no longer attend the critique group - it was 45 minutes away. Another one was an hour away. But my husband discovered the FIDOnet computer bulletin board where he could talk antique cars to a car group and hooked me up with a writer's group. Mostly Science Fiction writers, a few storytellers, a musician, and several artists. Every evening a new packet of messages arrived at the local computer bulletin board. The next day we would telephone his computer, download the part of the messages we wanted to read, respond to them and upload our responses to the computer bulletin board. Believe it or not, those message packets traveled all around the world, from computer to computer overnight and back to the computer bulletin board in Maryland. Yes, there even were writers from Austrailia.

When FIDOnet died, I was invited by some Science Fiction writers to join GEnie. GEnie had been created by a group of Science Fiction writers who had negotiated the use of General Electric's computer system during the nighttime while GE was closed -- computer down time. Hurrah! One of the writer's groups on it was children's book writers. At this time we were still using dial-up to the computer, but instead of downloading packets of information, like FIDOnet, we wrote on an online bulletin board at the GEnie site.

Two years ago, I finally met Patricia Wrede in person -- a writer I'd been conversing with online since GEnie. She was so funny. She gave me a hug, but kept announcing to the people around us (mostly librarians) that she'd never met this person before. But that she has known me for over 15 years.

When GEnie died (GE decided they needed to use their computers 24 hours a day), one of the GEnie writers, who happened to be the local SCBWI RA, invited me to switch to the AOL writer's boards. She and the other local RA became co-authors with me of the Busy books. (over to your right, here) We mushed our names together to come up with the pen name of C.W. Bowie.

Then writers kept disappearing from the AOL boards and I discovered online Internet writer's groups, including a wonderful YAHOO Nonfiction Writer's group.

There you go -- the history of the Internet, as seen by one of its users.
-- wendieO

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Digging out

I keep meaning to post a message here, but I've been too tired.
We've had two snowstorms, one 26 inches and the one several days later -- over 15 inches. It took us two and a half days to shovel out from the two footer. We haven't even tried to shovel out from this last one. Just cleared the way for our cars to reach the street and shoveled a narrow path to the door we use when we leave the house.

Maybe we'll work some more on clearing things on Sunday. However, the piles of snow surrounding the cleared areas are reaching 6 feet or more. I simply can't throw over them anymore.

I keep wondering how people handle this in Upper New York/ Vermont/ New Hampshire/ Maine. (actually, people there are complaining that they are not getting their usual amounts of snow this year -- we've stolen it.)

Oh, a funny thing happened while we were shoveling out on Thursday. A young man came by and offered to help us shovel out if we would pay him $10. We should have taken him up on this.

However, being honest, we pointed out everything that needed to be shoveled. (see the driveway -- it needs to be cleared over to those bent down spruce trees. And they have to have the snow shaken off them, so they will straighten back up allowing the rest of the driveway to be cleared. Then we'll proceed to clear the brick walkway down to that old (18th century) stone oven. The walkway continues around the side of the house....)

By this time he just stood there in shock, jaw dropping open. Then he collected himself, gave himself a little shake, and said, "Carry on." And walked on down the road. (sidewalks are covered with four feet of snow.) He was making himself a tidy sum by charging $10 and spending less than an hour shoveling cars and sidewalks. No way was he going to spend several days with us.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- The Coldest Places on Earth

Well here we are, digging ourselves out from under 26 inches of snow, with another 20 inches forcast for tomorrow. Cold, cold, cold! Naturally you'd expect me to pick up a book about warm places to visit for Nonfiction Monday. A place to get away from all this snow and cold.

Before the snow blew in, a box arrived on my doorstep. Another box of goodies from Capstone Press. And what do you think I saw first thing when I opened the box?

EXTREME PLANET. The Coldest Places on Earth by Jennifer M. Besel. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2010. A First Facts book.

Most of our planet is warm -- comfortable for people to live. However, there are some very cold places here, too. The Index goes from Cold, Colder, to Coldest. (Antarctica being the coldest spot on earth.)

Each cold spot is discussed within a double-page spread with 3 to 5 sentences on one page and a color photograph of the place on the other page, bleeding over onto the page with words.

Just so the reader can locate the place being discussed, arrow on a map of the world points out the place being discussed. (Hurrah -- this really helps.)

A glossary, a short bibliography, and safe connections to the internet complete the book.
To locate more books in this Extreme Planet series, just click on the title of this book to take you there.

And to check out more Nonfiction Monday connections, click your way over to the Great Kids Books blog. -WendieO

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Update on SNOW in Maryland

We, my husband, the two 10-year olds, and I managed to shovel most of the 2 feet of snow out of the thousand-foot driveway. Except for that last bit. The four-foot wall of slush, now ice, pushed onto the end of the driveway by the street snow plow trucks remains.

Here's hoping that we can remove that mess tomorrow morning. Even though my library will be closed and the 10-year-old's school will be closed on Monday, so far my husband's library has not announced what it's going to do. Open or stay closed. Which is why he's in a rush to get the driveway clear.

Writing done this week?
Not so much, once the snow started.
One manuscript almost whipped into shape.
Noodled around with another.
Several speaking contracts mailed (emailed) out.
One speaking gig canceled because of Friday's snow.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow -- The Blizzard of 2010

We got over 2 feet of snow.
Many places in Maryland got more.
We worked at clearing the snow most of the day. I stopped shoveling at sunset.
I didn't feel too bad until I sat down and now every muscle and bone aches.

My husband refused to stop plowing/ shoveling until .. well, until he stopped, because he was afraid he'd never move again after he stopped. But we still haven't reached the street.
We plowed and shoveled the brick walk. He plowed 1/3rd of the driveway while I shoveled my way over to the cars and was able to partially dig out my husband's car. Mine is still under drifts of snow.

He did part of the other third of the driveway and stopped. Now he has to figure out how to get snow off the last third, which is up hill and used to have a drop off where he would push snow, but the drop off is filled up with drifted snow.
Tomorrow, I have to get out there and help him shovel the last third of the driveway to the street.

Unfortunately, temperatures are low -- 20s and teens, so what's left is going to freeze into an ice pack, being even more difficult to plow and shovel tomorrow. But we will keep digging, because we have to. If libraries are open on Monday, we are required to be there. (I even have a program for toddlers scheduled in the morning. Don't know if anyone will show up for it.)

I had a school visit scheduled for Friday, which was cancelled, where I was going to talk about research and revision.
I have a family night program scheduled (in Washington, DC, about an hour and a half away) for Wednesday. It's possible that'll be cancelled, too. Another storm is forecast for then. Next, I have a Reading Association event scheduled Saturday the 20th. Guess what the predictions are for that weekend, too.
Yup, snow.

It used to be that we didn't schedule programs at the library in January because of Ice and snow -- but the seasons have slipped lately and it's Feb and March that seem to have the bad weather, not January.

The 10 year old had a friend sleep over Friday night. The two 10-year olds were very helpful with the snow shoveling. (when they weren't playing in it.) But, since we never were able to reach the street, she's snowed in here and has to sleep over a second night. Tomorrow we hope we can make it to the street so that she can walk to her home several blocks away. I don't think her street has even been plowed, yet. -wendieO

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- The Groundhog Day Book of Fun

Not to toot my own horn... Okay, I'm tooting my own horn.
The Groundhog Day Book of Fun by (me) Wendie Old. Illustrated by that talented lady sitting to the left of me in that picture at the top right hand side of this blog, Paige Billin-Frye. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whtiman, 2004. Still Available.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. The day when we get the news. The news whether Spring will be Early, or Late. It's the day when the groundhog (woodchuck/ whistle pig/ whathaveyou) comes out of his burrow, looks around, and checks for his shadow. (hmmm, why is it always 'his' shadow? Don't girl groundhogs do this too? Definitely a subject for further study.)

If he sees his shadow -- then there will be six more weeks of winter.
No shadow? Spring will come early.

If you want to learn the meteorological basis behind this groundhog lore, you'll find it on page 25 in this book.

You would expect a sunny day (when you see your shadow) to mean that spring will be early -- but no. A sunny day in February is usually caused by a high pressure system and is cold and dry. Very wintery. Warmer days have more moisture in the air, causing clouds -- and no shadows. And therefore more spring-like weather. (We can always hope, can't we?)

Page 7 for a description of the huge celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania when they take Punxsutawney Phil out of his burrow and read a long, high-flaloutin speech about his prediction. (If you see the u-tube of this, check out the heavy gloves the groundhog handler has on --to protect himself from the snapping teeth of the grouchy groundhog who is not that happy to be pulled from a warm fake tree stump into the cold air surrounded by a screaming crowd.)

Page 28 for a list of all the other groundhogs in the United States and Canada, and the computerized ones in Europe.

Groundhog Jokes!
Groundhog Day Party Plans-- child tested by me in library programs!
Info about Groundhogs, the animal.
Yes, this was a fun book to research and write.

Oh -- is that a real groundhog in that picture above, perched between Paige and me? No -- It's a puppet from Folkmanis.

There's a nice review of this book at Carol's Notebook .
Plus a mention of it at Mary Ann Dame's blog on February 2nd, Reading, Writing, and Recipes.
And lots of other Nonfiction Monday book reviews located just a click away at the Wild About Nature blog .
Enjoy. -wendieO