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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Book giveaway, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Harry the Hydrogen Goes to Space, by Jacqueline Rankin | Book Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed copy of Harry the Hydrogen Goes to Space (Scinch, LLC, 2015), written and illustrated by Jacqueline Rankin. Giveaway begins October 28, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends November 27, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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2. The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A with 50 Fact-Filled Maps | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A with 50 Fact-Filled Maps (Quarto Publishing Group USA, 2015), written by Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Sol Linero. Giveaway begins October 21, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends November 20, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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3. The Wild Swans, by Jackie Morris | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Wild Swans (Quarto Publishing Group USA, 2015), written and illustrated by Jackie Morris. Giveaway begins October 16, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends November 15, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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4. Livin' La Vida Loca: I Love the Writing Life

I love writing for kids and working with them. But I have never (at least not as an adult) had any illusions that I could support myself working solely as a writer. This "Ah-Ha!" moment came during a banquet while I in library school, (as we called it back in the day.)

I was graduate assistant to the children's services specialist.  (Who knows where I'd be today if I assisted the specialists in government documents or cataloging?) He had put together an all-star children's literature symposium--Ellen Raskin, Ashley Bryant, Jean Fritz--award-winning authors and illustrators all. At the banquet, I was thrilled when my boss seated me next to the brilliant Ellen Raskin.  The year before, her Figgs & Phantoms had been named a Newbery Honor book.  Her own Newbery for The Westing Game would be three years in the future.

Always a big fan of Ms Raskin's funny, quirky books, I was thrilled to discover that the author was just like her books--funny, quirky and blunt. Too chicken to ask this Great Author anything more than to pass the salt, please, I listened as she answered the questions of our tablemates.  I learned that she had a daughter, was married to an editor at Scientific American and lived in a funny (quirky?) house on a private, gated street in Greenwich Village. Her studio on the top floor had a big skylight. (Odd the details the memory records.)

I was ready to chuck my previous career role model, Mary Tyler Moore, and move into Ellen Raskin's seemingly perfect life.  Then someone asked "that question" which really wasn't a question.

"So, you must be doing pretty well with your books," said a person whose name and gender is lost in time.

Ms Raskin's fork clinked against her plate."That depends on how you define 'pretty well'," she replied.

"I mean financially," the Person said blandly, with a smile that assumed Ellen would answer, "Oh yes, I am making buckets of money." Young, dumb me, assumed that would be the answer too.

Ms Raskin paused, as if calculating something in her head. "Well," she said. "I have ten books in print."

Wow! I thought. Ten books in print. She must be making a fortune. Three-story houses in Greenwich Village aren't cheap. The thought of anyone having ten books in print at the same time was simply mind-boggling.

But Ellen was still talking.  "...and last year I made..." and named a four digit figure. Even in 1976, it was a ridiculously low amount of money. Ten books and this is all she made?  She has a Newbery Honor book for crying out loud!

Long silence at our table. After a moment, Ellen laughed and made a comment about writers needing employed spouses. Dinner went on, but that conversation was a wake-up call for me. Now I knew what people meant went they said, "Don't quit your day job." And I didn't for a long, long time.

Quitting my day job was not my choice. My husband's company transferred him to Thailand, a country with notoriously tough labor laws. I became a full-time writer, whether I wanted to or not. I wrote ten and twelve hours a day.  I wrote and sold My Best Friend and Yankee Girl in those years.

Fast forward to today. I have written and published seven books, plus contributed to two YA short story anthologies. My Best Friend won both the Ezra Jack Keats and Charlotte Zolotow Awards, and is referenced in many children's literature textbooks. Yankee Girl was nominated for a dozen State Book Awards. I am extremely fortunate that all but one of these books is still in print. One, Jimmy's Stars, is only available as an e-book. For someone who is considered a mid-list author, someone who is not J.K Rowling or Suzanne Collins or Rick Riordan, I am doing really well.

Last year, my royalties were half of what my daughter makes as a part-time waitress at Golden Corral. My very best year, royalty-wise, equalled my teaching salary when I left to get married. That was 1990, and I taught in one of the poorest school systems in my state. My very best year, in real money terms, was a lot less than my best year teaching.

Luckily, I enjoy doing school visits and teaching. However, in the last couple of years, school budgets and curriculum have rarely accommodated author visits.  I pick up teaching/tutoring gigs here and there, mostly for homeschool groups. I've done freelance editing and worked as a private writing coach. My most reliable source of income is the Young Author's day camps I run each summer, with
weekend workshops during the school year.
One of my first school visits, Davis Elementary, Jackson, Ms 

    In the beginning, my non-royalty "author jobs" income equalled my royalties.  Now it surpasses it. I love working with these young writers. It's my dessert, after spending the rest of the year writing in solitude. I began with a single week camp. Now, ten years later, I  conduct writing camps for the Parks Department and local historical societies nearly every week from Memorial Day to the start of school.

Young authors at work! Roswell, Ga, summer 2013.
Sure, if I were still a school librarian, I'd be
making more money. I am super lucky to be married 25 years to my best friend, who has a good job and insurance.  If my income dried up to zero, we would not be out in the streets. But I have always been a working mom. I love what I do. I can't imagine ever retiring.

Don't forget to sign up for our latest Book Giveaway (click here) for info.  Don't miss out;  
the deadline is October 10.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

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5. 3 Tips to Making a Living as a Writer & a Funny Story About Making Money as a Poet

Howdy, Campers ~ and Happy Poetry Friday!  My poem's below, as is the link to today's Poetry Friday round-up.

The topic we TeachingAuthors are knocking around this time is Making a Living as a Writer.

Carmela starts us off with a TeachingAuthors' Book Giveaway of the 2016 CWIM which includes two of her articles, once of which is aptly titled, Making a Living as a Writer; Esther addresses the many ways she's made writing pay...and other pay-offs that result, and our Wednesday Writing Workout, written by former TeachingAuthor Laura Purdie Salas, is titled Is Writing on Assignment Right for You?

So--what are my 3 Tips to Make a Living as a Writer?

1) Write a Classic.
2) Find a Secondary Occupation which actually pays.
3) Define Making a Living

(Hmm...maybe Define Making a Living should come first.)

from morguefile.com

And now for a story about making money as a poet.

I've sold poems to anthologies, testing services and magazines.  Between 1995 and 2011 I sold 30 poems to Carus Publishing Company (publisher of Cricket Magazine and many others). I'm going to brag here because it still makes me proud: in 2003 they asked me to write a poem for a progressive story in honor of the 30th anniversary of Cricket.

At the time, they paid $3 per line.

In 1997 I asked John D. Allen, my all-time favorite editor, if I might possibly be given a raise.

John's response: "As for $4.00 per line...well, I'm afraid we can't do that. Our policy is to keep the same pay scale for all poems.  Sorry. I hope that's not too much of a problem."

Okay, I wrote. Could you give me a free subscription to Cricket? My son was then eight years old.

He replied: "I wish I could offer you an author discount or a subscription credit against your sales, but I'm told I can't. We don't give out much of any discounts besides the early renewal one you checked on your form.  And shifting author payments toward subscriptions would create some sort of accountant's nightmare around here. (Actually, that's all a lie. I was told I could offer you any sort of discount I wanted, as long as the difference came out of my salary. So I thought, Well, I could make April's life a little easier, and it wouldn't cost me much--probably just the price of the cinnamon Pop-Tarts I was planning to buy for an afternoon snack. But then, well, one thing led to another, and to make a long story short, the Pop-Tarts were delicious.)

I loved working with John.  I loved seeing my poems in BabyBug, Ladybug, Spider and Cricket. I surrendered.  Sort of.

In 1998, I responded to his suggestion that I cut a repeated stanza from a poem he'd accepted:

"I'm so glad you like the poem, "Music Critic"! I have enclosed the poem as it reads without the repetition and also another version to see if there might be some way we could keep the repetition in the poem.  Do the new repeats make it any clearer for your readers? If not, I'd be glad to omit the second stanza. I do like the repetition and will probably re-insert it if it gets published again...but I also trust your judgment for your readers.

My husband Gary, who is a CPA (deep into Tax Season as I write this) asked me to ask you if you were going to pay me for the invisible stanza."

Here is the poem John critiqued--without the repetition:

by April Halprin Wayland

This guy drags his drum set onto the sand
so that I have a front row seat
takes off his jeans jacket
snaps his wide red suspenders
and lets loose:

he is in his space
sun is on his face
gulls in the air
clouds in his hair
Go man, go! 
I clap against the shore,

rise up and give him a standing ovation 

published in Cricket Magazine December 1999
© 2015 by April Halprin Wayland. Used with permission of the author, who controls all rights

This poem was subsequently awarded SCBWI's 1999 Magazine Merit Award for Poetry. (You're right, John!  I take it all back!)

*  *  *

If you haven't already done so, enter our latest Book Giveaway of the 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrators Market

Now, click over to today's Poetry Friday on my juicy little universe ~ thanks for hosting, Heidi!

posted with love by April Halprin Wayland, who just got home after a beautiful and challenging six mile hike in Malibu followed by an electric car adventure (long story)

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6. Win the Witches Protection Program, by Michael Phillip Cash, and a $50 Amazon Gift Card

Enter to win an autographed copy of Witches Protection Program, by Michael Phillip Cash, and a $50 Amazon gift card! Giveaway begins October 1, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 31, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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7. Pay, as in PAYoff$!

Carmela’s Friday post not only announced our Book Giveaway of the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market 2016 (Writer’s Digest), the details of which follow today’s post.  It also highlighted her CWIM 2016 article “Make a Living as a Writer,” thus beginning our TeachingAuthors conversation about how we writers earn our keep doing what we love.

Money.  That taboo $ubject we’re not $uppo$$ed to talk about.

Just Saturday, in a Small Session talk at the Chicago Writers Conference, I suggested writers keep their day jobs, especially if the job offers health insurance, and definitely if that health insurance includes dental coverage.
“There are all sorts of currencies in this world,” I tell children’s book writer wannabe’s and my school visit questioners who always feel comfortable asking my income.  I tap my heart and smile.  “Money isn’t the only thing that keeps a person going.”

Which is not to say, I don’t get it – literally and figuratively! J

Like so many of my fellow children’s book creators, schools and libraries pay me to visit and speak.
Fortunately, though, my additional tools - I hold a B.S. in Elementary Education, ½ a Masters Degree in Curriculum Instruction and an Illinois Teaching Certificate, plus my additional experiences as both a classroom teacher and professional journalist have also paid off.   
Take, for example, the year 2000.
The two picture books I’d recently sold had respective publishing dates of 2002 and 2005.
What’s a children’s book writer to do - besides write and do school and library visits?
I, for one, said “YES!” to any opportunity that came my way.

·         I critiqued children’s book manuscripts, sharing everything I’d learned and offering everything I’d needed when learning my craft.

·         I wrote my first alphabet book ever – I IS FOR ILLINOIS, as well as the accompanying workbook – ILLINOIS FUN FACTS & GAMES.

·         I used my research from previous books and stories, sold and unsold, to write critical reading test paragraphs and accompanying questions for Quarasan’s educational text book clients.

·         I put my story-telling to use creating formulaic generic under 400-word stories for children to personalize and reproduce when visiting the Sears Family Portrait website.   

·         I reviewed children’s books for the new monthly, dads magazine.

·         I served as an editorial consultant for Childcraft’s HOW AND WHY LIBRARY's STORIES TO SHARE, working on themed stories about Heroes.

·         I sold my middle grade novel THE CONFE$$ION$ AND $ECRET$ OF HOWARD J. FINGERHUT to Holiday House!

To my surprise, while each of the above efforts paid me, they also paid off in $urpri$ing ways.

    Early critique clients showed me the need to create original teaching documents I use with the writers I coach.  One client in particular recommended me to the Newberry Library, another to the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio - two institutions where I still teach today.

·             Assessing the successful workings of themed fiction and nonfiction so they could work together as a whole sharpened my editorial eye.

·             Reviewing opportunities showed me ways to keep my finger on the pulse of consumers and my Children’s Book World marketplace.

·             Educational writing kept my readers, their abilities and interests on my radar.

·             I automatically return to one almost-impossible-to-write mini-story – “A Dino-mite Dinosaur Time” – every time I think I can’t do something.  (The assignment had been “dinosaurs camping out!”)

·            Writing my Sleeping Bear Press LITTLE ILLINOIS was like going home again.

And each of the above efforts continues to pay off, not only for me the writer, the teacher, the presenter, but for my readers, my students and the writers I coach and care for.

One of my Heroines, Marian Dane Bauer, speaks of writers cobbling together a living – from writing, teaching, lecturing, whatever.   

IMHO: that requisite cobbling often leads to unexpected riche$.

Speaking of which, don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway to win a copy of The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market 2016!

Here’s to happy cobbling!

Esther Hershenhorn

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8. 2016 CWIM Giveaway Celebrating TWO! New Articles, Plus a Poem Excerpt for Poetry Friday

I'm back!
Carmela here. I've been on a blogging break for much of this year, busy working on other projects, both personal and professional. (I have continued behind-the-scenes as our TeachingAuthors blog administrator, though, so I haven't been completely out of touch.) Today, I'm back to celebrate the publication of two of my articles in the just-released 2016 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (also known as the CWIM) edited by Chuck Sambuchino (Writer's Digest Books).

At the end of this post, you'll have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win your very own copy of the 2016 CWIM (courtesy of Writer's Digest Books)!

Since today is Poetry Friday, I'll also be sharing a poem--an excerpt from Barney Saltzberg's new picture book Inside this Book (Are Three Books), published by Abrams Appleseed. One of my articles in the 2016 CWIM is an interview with Barney, who is an amazing author, illustrator, singer, and songwriter. More about him and his new book below.

First, I'd like to talk a little about my other article in the 2016 CWIM: "Make a Living as a Writer."
[My original title was "Making a Living Writing, Even If You’re Not a Bestselling Author" but I guess that was too long. :-) ]

For "Make a Living as a Writer," I invited four traditionally published trade book authors who are also successful freelancers to share their experiences and advice regarding ways to supplement book royalty income. The four authors included my fellow TeachingAuthor, JoAnn Early Macken, former TeachingAuthor, Laura Purdie Salas, author and writing coach, Lisa Bullard, and scientist-turned-children's author, Vijaya Bodach. The article includes their tips on landing work-for-hire assignments, balancing work-for-hire with other career goals, and preparing submission packages for educational publishers.

The four authors also shared specific resources for finding supplemental income, including:
Over the next few weeks, my fellow TeachingAuthors will continue the conversation on this topic by sharing their own advice related to finding supplemental income. And Laura Purdie Salas will return to post a special Guest Wednesday Writing Workout on September 30, called "Is Writing on Assignment Right for You?" If this topic is of interest to you, be sure to enter our giveaway so you can read more about how to "Make a Living as a Writer." 

Even if you're not looking for ways to supplement your writing income, you'll want your own copy of the 2016 CWIM for my interview with the amazing Barney Saltzberg, along with all the other helpful articles, interviews, and market information!

Barney Saltzberg, for those of you who may not know, is the author and/or illustrator of over FIFTY books. Back in January, April wrote a great post in honor of Beautiful Oops! Day, a day inspired by Barney's wonderful book, Beautiful Oops! (Workman Publishing). Since then, Barney has published three more books: The first two books in a new board book series from Workman Publishing, Redbird: Colors, Colors Everywhere and Redbird: Friends Come in Different Sizes, and the picture book Inside this Book (Are Three Books), published by Abrams Appleseed. Here's a brief description of Inside this Book:
"Inside This Book is a tribute to self-publishing in its most pure and endearing form. Three siblings create three books of their own using blank paper that they bind together (in descending sizes to match birth order). One sibling's work inspires the next, and so on, with each book's text and art mirroring the distinct interests and abilities of its creator. Upon completion of their works, the siblings put one book inside the other, creating a new book to be read and shared by all.
The second sibling in the book is named Fiona. She is "an artist and a poet," so her "book" is filled with poetry. In honor of Poetry Friday, here's an excerpt from Fiona's section of  Inside this Book.

            from Inside this Book, Too, by Fiona
            . . .  Can you tell I love to rhyme?
            I play with words all the time.
            I write a poem every day.
            My new favorite is “Who Wants to Play?” . . . 

 © Barney Saltzberg, used with permission, all rights reserved 

I've kept this excerpt short to inspire you to get Barney's book for yourself. After you've read it, you'll understand why the School Library Journal review of Inside this Book said:
 "Readers may well be empowered to write their very own stories or books." 
Be sure to check out today's Poetry Friday roundup over at the Poetry for Children blog AFTER you enter our giveaway drawing.

And now, for our giveaway info:

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win your own copy of the 2016 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market , You may enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options.
If you choose option 2, you MUST leave a comment on TODAY'S blog post. If your name isn't part of your comment "identity," please include it in your comment for verification purposes!

(If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.)

Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.

The giveaway ends October 10 and is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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9. Alexander’s Sleepover Adventure, by Celine Meyong Krishack | Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed copy of Alexander's Sleepover Adventure (Xlibris, 2015), written by Celine Meyong Krishack. Giveaway begins September 17, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 16, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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10. Book Launch: They Just Know

TheyJustKnowRobin Yardi is releasing her first picture book this week, They Just Know: Animal Instincts. The combination of the whimsical and real life come together perfectly with Laurie Allen Klein’s art as readers learn how some animals don’t need mom and dad to show them the way, they just know!

Before we get to the inside scoop on hidden gems in the art meet Robin and find out how this story came to be…

RobinYardiWhat was your incentive to write this particular book?

When my daughter was young we loved to talk about animals that didn’t need their mothers. I remember playing mommy and baby butterfly with her (a game of her invention) and trying to explain, “Well actually, butterflies never meet their mothers.” You should have seen her face! “Who teaches them to fly?” she asked. “Who makes them breakfast?” After years and years of watching butterflies in our garden this still amazes her, so I thought a book about the wonderful things animals can do all on their own would appeal to other kids too.

What animals in They Just Know have you seen before?

that winter and really don’t have many left. Now when I find ladybugs I give them to my children to wish on.

I’ve never seen a spring peeper, or pinkletink as some people call them, but I do love and worry about the world’s amphibians. I’ve had pet frogs and toads and once ended up with about two hundred tadpoles!

I’ve swum among Green Sea Turtles in the waters of Hawai’i. These turtles are protected and you cannot touch them, but you can look deep, deep into their eyes. I’ve rarely seen anything so beautiful, curious and gentle.

As a kid in California I caught two species of kingsnake, both strikingly and stripingly beautiful!

To read the full interview with Robin, click here, but first play find and seek throughout the book with Laurie Allen Klein’s art!

Hide and Seek in They Just Know

LaurieAllenKlein(hint, Laurie answers these questions on Nonfiction Nook, but see if you can find them yourself)

  • Find the t-shirt with all the animals from the book pictured on it.
  • Which way is the current headed for the baby swimming turtles?
  • What kind of “helmet” might a ladybug wear for flying?
  • If a shark needed a nightlight what kind of fish serves that purpose?
  • First flights are celebrated with a ritual, why is a cut t-shirt so special?
  • What is the equation on the frog’s blackboard showing?TJK-spread-13
  • What game are the king snakes playing?
  • What other Arbordale book is pictured within the pages here?

Comment here and enter to win your own copy of They Just Know!

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11. Book Launch: The Sparrow and the Trees

SparrowTreesSome writers always knew that they were destined to tell stories, others came to the craft a little later. That was the case with new author Sharon Chriscoe. Her first picture book The Sparrow and the Trees is a retelling of a native folktale that explains why some trees lose their leaves in winter while others do not.

Find out why Sharon chose to retell this story:

SharonChriscoeWhat was your incentive to write this particular book?

I love the Native American folklore, Why The Trees Lose Their Leaves, and it was exciting to base my own story on that wonderful folklore. It was the story I was meant to write. I was thrilled when Arbordale agreed and offered publication.

What is most rewarding and/or challenging about writing children’s books?

The most rewarding aspect of writing The Sparrow and The Trees for Arbordale is knowing that children all around the world are going to read and learn from my book. Arbordale is so fantastic with the amount of educational elements they include with each of their books, from online resources to worksheets to Creative Minds Information — there is something for everyone to learn. I learned a lot while researching this book!

Do you have any advice for parents of young readers and writers?

Read to your children every day. Make it a fun, memorable experience and they will become lifelong readers. One of my favorite quotes is “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald.

Get the full interview on the book’s home page, click here!

Don’t forget comment on this post to win a copy of The Sparrow and the Trees. And color to your hearts content with these fun pages.

SparrowTrees_TA 23 SparrowTrees_TA 24 SparrowTrees_TA 25

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12. Book Launch: Sounds of the Savanna

SoundsSavannaTerry Catasús Jennings has a talent for taking a simple concept and telling a great story. In her newest book Sounds of the Savanna, Terry takes readers to the African plains and shows them how important sound is to the animals that live in this habitat.

Get to know a little more about Terry’s writing:

TerryJennings72How did you first become interested in writing, and writing for children’s picture books?

When I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as a very young girl, I knew I wanted to be a writer, just like Jo March. I believe though, that I would have ended up being a writer even if I hadn’t read the book. Stories are always rolling around in my head. Whenever something happens I like to report on it, like writing a newspaper story, in my head. I also like to figure out why people may have acted in a particular way, so I take what happens and I figure out a plot line that may have led them to their actions. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? What I like best of all is figuring out the very best way to convey each message—the best words to use, how to form each sentence and that is especially important in a picture book. I love to use the rhythm of language when I write a picture book. It’s almost like writing a poem.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Look at the world with curiosity and try to figure out why things happen they way they do and why people act the way they do. Listen to people talk. Pay special attention to how they move. Capture a scene as if you were a movie camera and store it in your mind. You’ll use all those things that you have stored in your mind when you write your books.

You can read the full interview here!

But first here is a great roaring lion craft to go along with the book’s For Creative Minds section, check it out.

IMG_1112What you will need:

  • You can use felt or paper (for our mask we used paper).
  • You will need light brown, dark brown or black, A shade of red/pink, and white.
  • Scissors and a pencil
  • A large circle and small circular container for tracing
  • A stick, for ours we used a pipe cleaner
  1. On tan paper use the large circle and trace three circles in a heart shape pattern. Connect the two top circles to the bottom and cut out your back portion.
  2. On the same paper trace two circles connect them together at the top to form a straight line and cut those out. For the nose of your lion.
  3. On the dark brown or black paper use the smaller circle and repeat step one. This will form your open mouth.
  4. Again on the dark paper cut a triangle for the nose and then round the edges
  5. On the pink paper use the bottom of the open mouth form and trace the lower portion of the tongue. Use your small circle to overlap and form the heart shape of the top of the tongue.
  6. On white paper cut two narrow triangles.
  7. Glue the dark mouth to the background, glue the tongue in place and then the teeth. Glue the triangle nose onto the tan nose, then glue that on top of your lion mouth.
  8. Tape or glue a stick to the back and you have your finished roaring lion!

Leave a comment and enter to win a copy of Sounds of the Savanna!

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13. Book Launch: The Lucky Litter

LuckyLitterIt’s no secret; at Arbordale we are big fans of Jennifer Keats Curtis and her ability to write wonderful books about animals. This season she pairs up with John Gomes again to bring us The Lucky Litter: Wolf Pups Rescued from Wildfire. John’s beautiful photographs really bring out the personality in these cute pups and paired with Jennifer’s insightful words, this book is already getting praise…

“This is a charming tale full of child appeal for young readers who love true animal stories. The large font, bold type, and short but informative sentences make for easy, comfortable reading.” -Kirkus Reviews

Have you ever wondered how Jennifer begins a book, She was kind enough to share her process of creating The Lucky Litter:

JenniferCurtisLast year, a huge wildfire in Alaska consumed vast amounts of wilderness, forcing people and animals to leave their homes. I learned about this devastating fire from my buddy John Gomes, the Alaskan photographer with whom I’ve worked on Animal Helpers: Zoos and Kali’s Story: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue. With John’s update came a tip –  the Alaska Zoo was expecting five wolf pups just rescued along the Funny River Horse Trail. John was looking forward to photographing the babies. Was there a story here?

I began gathering information about the pups and the rescue, tracking down the firefighters, wildlife biologists, vet, and keepers involved in helping these animals. I also connected with Alaska residents who had been affected by the fire. As it turned out, the adult wolves caring for those pups had been driven away by the heat of that massive fire. They were unable to return for the babies. Fortunately, a firefighter found one of the pups and rushed to get help. It is clear that Gannett, X-Ray, Huslia, Hooper, and Stebbins would not have survived without human intervention. There was indeed a story here. The Lucky Litter is the true story of the little pack’s survival.

This story almost wasn’t written. There was a question about whether wolves are a good topic for a children’s book. It turns out that people feel strongly about wolves and tend to fall into one of two camps: they love them or they hate them. Those who love wolves are awed by their power, beauty, and strength. Those who hate wolves believe these animals are frightening and view them as vicious, eating machines.

It is true that wolves are predators. But, they play a crucial role in the ecosystem. The gray wolf is a keystone species. A keystone is the big, important stone at the top of an arch that holds all of the other stones in place. The keystone anchors the structure so that it does not collapse. Keystone species are animals that help all of the other animals in an ecosystem stay in place. Gray wolves may be small in number but they play a big role from the top of the food chain all the way to the bottom. They help maintain the balance between predator and prey. When a keystone species is harmed, the entire ecosystem suffers. This important premise is beautifully shown in the video How Wolves Change Rivers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q) about the demise and reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park.

I am thrilled that this story has come to fruition. My goal in writing for children is to help young readers see what I’ve seen and learn what I’ve learned. For this book, I discovered a lot about wolves and wildfires. I had the opportunity to work with people who are making a difference in the lives of animals. The photos capture the personality of each of the wolves. What’s not to love?

Learn more about Jennifer and John’s work on the book’s page, but don’t forget to enter to win a copy of your own by commenting on this post!

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14. That’s (Not) Mine, by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of That's (Not) Mine (Two Lions, 2015), written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant; plus an adorable full-color poster. Giveaway begins September 7, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 6, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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15. Ancient Earth Journal: The Early Cretaceous, by Juan Carlos Alonso and Gregory S. Paul | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Ancient Earth Journal: The Early Cretaceous (Quatro Kids Books, 2015), written by Juan Carlos Alonso and Gregory S. Paul. Giveaway begins August 31, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 30, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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16. Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Chasing Secrets (Wendy Lamb Books, August 2015), written by Gennifer Choldenko. Giveaway begins August 26, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 25, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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17. The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed (HarperCollins, August 2015), written by Jessica Lahey. Giveaway begins August 21, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 20, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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18. Using Repetition in Poetry

In Esther’s last post, she pointed out a series of “re-” words related to Kate Messner’s Real Revision. I’ll add another: Repetition. Along with rhythm and rhyme, it’s one of the three important patterns in poetry that I discuss in Write a Poem Step by Step. (By the way, we’re giving away an autographed copy! See below to enter for your chance to win!)

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

What do you do when you want to remember something? Do you say it to yourself again and again until you learn it? That’s using repetition. Repetition is an effective technique in poetry. It helps create a pattern in a poem. It can help us remember. It can add emphasis to a certain word or phrase. It can connect the parts of a poem to each other.

(Rahel Spilka wrote the following poem in one of my workshops many years ago. It's still one of my favorites.) Repetition ties Rahel’s poem together.

Blowing in the Wind
The tree’s branches are
blowing in the wind.
Like a cradle rocking
blowing in the wind.
It sounds like a baby crying
blowing in the wind.
The branches are swiveling
blowing in the wind.
Seems like a Mom saying,
blowing in the wind. 
Rahel Spilka, Grade 2
If your poem includes a word, a phrase, a line, or even a stanza that you want to use more than once, go ahead. Just make sure that what you repeat is important to the poem, or it can feel or sound overdone.

Have fun! Have fun! Have fun!

JoAnn Early Macken

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19. The Princess and the Pony, by Kate Beaton | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Princess and the Pony, Kate Beaton! Giveaway begins July 13, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends June 12, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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20. What Pet Should I Get?, by Dr. Seuss | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of What Pet Should I Get?, by Dr. Seuss! Giveaway begins July 28, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends August 27, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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21. If You Were Me and Lived in … China, by Carole P. Roman | Book Giveaway

Prizes and samples provided by Carole P. Roman The Children’s Book Review | July 29, 2015 Enter to win a complete autographed set of the If You Were Me series, written by award-winning author Carole P. Roman and illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga; including If You Were Me and Lived in … China: A Child’s Introduction to Culture Around the World! […]

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22. Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons

Enter to win a copy of Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons, by Margaret Wise Brown! Giveaway begins August 4, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 3, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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23. Back-to-School Book Giveaway!

For the first time in nearly twenty years, no one in our house is going back to school! I won’t miss packing lunches or saying goodbye every day. But I am looking forward to visiting schools myself. I love working with students and teachers in poetry presentations and writing workshops. (For program details, see my web site.) 

Many teachers and writers I’ve worked with have asked for a poetry writing plan they could follow on their own. Write a Poem Step by Step is that plan, based on the workshops I present in schools. It describes a simple, logical method of writing a poem. It includes examples written by elementary school students in my workshops. And we’re giving away an autographed copy! You can enter to win below. The giveaway is set to begin on Friday, August 7, and run through Friday, August 21. 

In our neighborhood, we’ve still got time to squeeze in more summer fun before the back-to-school frenzy begins. Here’s a summertime poem from Write a Poem Step by Step.

The Beach

The waves come
and crash on shore.
Shosh, shwash, shosh, shwash
The sand is as smooth as a wooden polished floor.
The sand goes through my toes.
The day was as hot as a heating vent.
I built a sandcastle,
but the waves washed it away.
Shosh, shwash, shosh, shwash.

Sarah Ilbek, Grade 3

The line “Shosh, shwash, shosh, shwash” uses invented words that sound like waves crashing on the beach. Like many creative writers, Sarah made up words to fit her poem. I recommend using this technique sparingly and only when a reader can understand the meaning from the context.

Sarah also repeats the line “Shosh, shwash, shosh, shwash.” Watch for a Wednesday Writing Workout on using repetition in poetry next week.

Don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway below!

Tabatha Yeatts is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken

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24. Your Alien, by Tammi Sauer | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of YOUR ALIEN (Sterling Children’s Books, August 2015), written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Goro Fujita! Giveaway begins August 9, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 8, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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25. Kate Messner’s Thumbs-Up Revision Tool for Anyone, Any Time

Just in time for our back-to-school TeachingAuthors posts, which JoAnn kicked off Friday with a Book Giveaway of her WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP, I share my THUMBS UP review of Kate Messner’s REAL REVISION (Stenhouse, 2011) – a must-read for anyone any time of the year  (really!) who wants to get his or her writing right.

Personally, I’m a Big Fan of the prefix “re” – as in, back to, return to, again and again. According to my trusty online dictionary, verbs affixed with re connote restoration and repetition, a backwards motion, a withdrawal.
Think Second Chances.
Think Do-overs.
REAL REVISION makes all of the above possible, breaking down the revision process into doable, fun-even tasks, by sharing the revision strategies of a bounty of award-winning children’s book writers – Mentor Authors who truly show readers that all writing is revising. 

Kirby Larson, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Jane Yolen, Kathi Appelt, Mitali Perkins, Donna Gephart, Tom Angleberger, Tanya Lee Stone, G. Neri, Rebecca Stead, just to name a few – share honest-to-goodness manuscripts and revision experiences of specific titles they’ve published in order to illustrate a key element of narrative – say, voice or characterization, setting or plot, and the writing process – maybe research, seeing the Big Picture, word choice, copyediting or brainstorming. 
I’m talking REAL examples that lead to raised eyebrows and bulging eyes and all sorts of head-shaking responses.
Each Mentor Author’s offering is the stuff of a mini, personalized writer-to-writer one-on-one.

Each Mentor Author also offers a Try Out for the reader that accompanies the teaching point of each chapter– an easily-reproducible hands-on, doable, concrete exercise that underscores what’s – really – important.

The quotes that begin each chapter are delicious, too.
For instance, Lisa Schroeder’s:
Revision is like cleaning your room because it may not be fun while you’re doing it but when you’re finished, you can stand back and see what you’ve done, and think, ‘Wow! That looks great!’”
Or Kirby Larson’s:
“Revision is like a newborn because it’s a 24/7 commitment and worth every sleepless night.”
Or Donna Gephart’s:
“Revision is like a lottery ticket because it’s a golden opportunity to make your work even better!”

Throughout REAL REVISION, Kate herself wears both her author and teacher hat, sharing her writing life, her process and the revision stories of her books.  Kate happens to be a National Board-certified teacher – and – the award-winning author of such books as the E.B. White Read Aloud Award winner THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z., SUGAR AND ICE and the Marty McGuire chapter book series.

I don my two TeachingAuthor hats to sincerely thank Kate for bringing REAL REVISION’s Mentor Authors and their realistically-presented, insightful and informative revision strategies to the page in such a fun and readable instructive way.

Whether it’s back-to-school for you, and/or back-to-writing, don’t leave home without this anytime/anyonetool.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway for JoAnn Early Macken’s WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP.

Here’s to that prefix “re” and second chances!

Esther Hershenhorn

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