Sunday, November 26, 2017

It's a continual battle

Teen: It's hot in here
Me: (looks at thermostat - 73 degrees.
Me: wearing long pants and warm fleece top.
Me: not hot
This used to be a debate between me and my husband. Now between teen and me. (I'll never win. She just turned down the thermostat - behind my back)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November and Pies

In November our hearts and minds turn to pies.  Pumpkin pies, in fact.
I used to have to bake a round dozen of pies during November. (and repeat, but with less pies in December)  But nowadays, being retired and a widow, there are less pies necessary.

What did I used to have to bake?
Two pies for my husband to take to work for their early Thanksgiving party.
Two pies for my husband's birthday on November 15 - because he hates cake.
Two pies for November story time at my library for my Pumpkin Pie, Oh My! storytime.
Four pies for Thanksgiving.
And two more pies because my granddaughter's birthday is at the beginning of December.
A dozen pies.

It got so I stopped making homemade crust and bought ready made ones at the grocery store.
(have you tried Marie Calendar's piecrust?  It's the best.)

Actually, this is not my recipe.  I don't use the condensed milk one.  I use an old Fanny Farmer cookbook recipe with real milk and four eggs.  The whipped cream is vital for serving, but for family I usually whip the heavy cream, adding vanilla and sugar.
I just thought the expression on the pumpkin was funny.

This year I'm only making four pies in November.
Two last week when my nephew, Chad, came to town and we had a family dinner. (at a Mexican restaurant)
And two this week for Thanksgiving.

And the Doctor has the last word.
There is no argument against pie.  November is pie month.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

What makes a great nonfiction picture book?

Children's book editor Melissa Manlove discusses what makes a great Nonfiction Picture book on The Chronicle Books blog using the wonderful Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner.
The Surprisingly Complex Principles of a successful picture book.

Click on over and explore.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Writer's advice - P.G. Wodehouse

P.G. Wodehouse, wrote almost a hundred books of fiction, 16 plays, and composed lyrics for 28 musicals. 
When asked about his technique for writing, he said, "I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The plan for today is

Today is - input revisions done on paper in to the computer day.
So I headed to my computer in my PJs.
Then I remembered I had to drive a teen to an Ice Skating thing with her friends, so I got dressed.
But --
As I was making my salad breakfast/ lunch, she offered to drive herself.
Wow.  I had forgotten that now she can take herself to group events.
So now I'm sitting here, all dressed and no place to go.
Oh right.
This is input revisions done on paper in to the computer day.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Read Read READ

Scholastic just posted a terrific article by Evan Robb, Principal of Johnson Williams Middle School. The blog addresses the importance of independent reading with suggestions for making time for students to read self-selected books during the school day. Go to and start reading now! Here's an excerpt from this outstanding piece:
"Many administrators might be thinking that their school does not have time to add independent reading to the instructional piece. While reading this blog, I’m asking you to suspend that belief. Let me be your guide and help you make independent reading an integral part of your school’s curriculum. I have wrestled with the challenges of finding more time for independent reading. Soon after I adopted the goal of creating a school-wide culture that values this type of reading, I reached out to staff and collaborated with them to find solutions."

Monday, November 6, 2017

Muddy Waters

Muddy, the story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters.
by Michael Mahin.
Illustrated by Evan Turk
Available now (as of September, 2017)

This picture book biography is getting a lot of talk and hints about awards.
For example, it's already listed by the New York Times as one of the Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2017.  And more awards are to come, for sure.

The writing is smooth and lyrical, with the refrain, "But Muddy was never good at during what he was told" coming at turning points in his life.

It's the illustrations that are getting the most attention, even mention of possible Caldecott material - but I have a bone to pick with them.

Nowhere can I discover if Evan Turk is considered "white" or a person of color.  Even the photo on his webpage doesn't clue us in, because it's a black and white photo.

Now, if he is African American, people will overlook the exaggerated body positions and rough cut faces with thick lips.
But if he is 'white'....  Lordy, if he is WHITE, they will burn him alive.
Just like they did to Ezra Jack Keats when he depicted the loving mother in The Snowy Day being heavyset.  (when she certainly looked like lots and lots of the moms who were around me while I was growing up.)
p.s.  I just checked his Facebook page and yes, he is white.    Hmmmmm.

Evan Turk has lots of information about the technical side of how he created the illustrations in this book here.

His Facebook page is here.

To learn about Michael Mahin, click on the link above under the title of this book.
In the interests of honesty, I confess that Michael Mahin is an active member of the San Diego Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and of the PRO group to which I also belong.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Holiday decorations

What's with this jump from Halloween decorations to Christmas decorations?
Don't people realize that there is a Harvest Holiday that comes between?

In fact, I was seeing Christmas decorations for sale in stores by mid October - along with huge sales on Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations.  I know store buyers like to be slightly ahead of the sales season and have their products available the minute you want them -- but I think they're getting too far ahead of themselves these days.

Don't you?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Day of the Dead

November 3.
All Soul's Day is known as the Day of the Dead here in southern California.
Here's a picture of my son-in-law ready to play polo - in Day of the Dead costume!

And here he is again, with his wife.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Uma Krishnaswami

One of the marvelous faculty members of Vermont College of Fine Arts, Writing for Children and Young Adults has been interviewed on Cynsations Blog.

(Yes, I know that's a very long name for my grad school.  We usually write it as: VCFA WCYA.)

Anywho, check out Uma Krishnaswami - On thriving as a long time, actively publishing children's author.