Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies
Today I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1769 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every two weeks.
Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews, ranging from picture book through young adult. I also have one post with a literacy milestone from my daughter, and another sharing our latest literacy-themed game. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently.
Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one early reader, one young adult title, and two adult mysteries. I read:
I'm currently listening to Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy and have just started my annual holiday season re-read of Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. The first story, by Maureen Johnson, is my favorite of the three, so I may or may not actually read the entire book.
Baby Bookworm has been continuing to enjoy the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans. We're also reading Christmas books, like The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska and The Berenstain Bears Old-Fashioned Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain. We're also enjoying A Very Fuddles Christmas by Frans Vischer (my review of the first Fuddles book).
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. I'll be back after Christmas with the next newsletter. Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. Enjoy your holiday!
5 Stars The Shepherd Girl of Bethlehem: A Nativity Story Carey Morning Alan Marks 32 Pages Ages: 4 + …………………….. Inside Jacket: The shepherd’s young daughter helped with the sheep every single day. How she longed to help through the night as well; but her father said it was too dark and she needed sleep. [...]Add a Comment
Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and I have reviewed some wonderful titles for younger readers that explain what this special day is all about and how it came into being. There are also some stories that have a Valentine's Day theme. You can view my reviews of these books on the Valentine's Day Feature Page.Add a Comment
by Josalyn Moran
On Saturday November 19 we had the opportunity to visit the Swedish American Museum in the Chicago Andersonville neighborhood and to participate in their first Flick, Ricka, Dicka celebration.
Children delighted in having their pictures taken behind or with a life-size cut out of the literary triplets.
Delicious hot drinks were served from a hot chocolate bar complete with a tempting array of toppings. Swedish holiday cookies were provided by the Swedish Bakery.
The craft room was abuzz with decoration making including felt ice skates and cone shaped Christmas trees.
Attendance at the event was free and open to the public. Several merchants in the area, including Women and Children First Bookstore, Swedish American Museum Gift Store, The Wooden Spoon, and The Red Balloon Co. generously supported a raffle by donating delightful gifts.
Copies of the newly reissued Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka and The New Skates (complete with paper dolls) sold briskly at the gift shop.
A splendid time was had by all and we look forward to partnering with the museum on future events. A special thanks goes to Jessie Aucoin, education manager for the museum, for all her efforts in making the day so wonderful.
Oh, we’ve done plenty of Halloween books over the years, and we have a fine selection of them out this season and on our backlist. But the creepiest and most terrifying book our company has ever published isn’t a Halloween book at all.
It’s this book:
Published in 1945 with an exclusively black-and-white pallette, Time to Eat presents “correct ideas on a proper, balanced diet for children,” according to the flap copy. Clearly, though, the book does far more than kill all the fun of mealtimes, and must have been used as an instrument of terror.
Scroll down, and brace yourself. What follows are some of the most haunting images ever produced for children.
And now, the worst one of all:
Happy Halloween, everyone!
by Anastasia Suen
Whenever I visit schools the children always ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s one of my most frequently asked questions. They always seem surprised when I say that ideas are everywhere. I find ideas at home, in school, and in books, magazines, and newspapers. I also find them on the television and the internet. There is always something interesting that can be used in a story. So what did I use in this story? The clues are on the cover….
I love how the cover of my first Boxcar Children Mystery tells the story at a glance. You see the four Aldens working together. It’s a classic Boxcar Children moment! That’s why I loved these books as a child. The Aldens don’t sit around worrying – they make things happen! What are they up to this time? The title is our first clue…this book is called The Zombie Project.
Why did I choose a zombie for this book? Zombies are scary, but not too scary. After all they walk slowly, so you can get away…usually! It’s the chance that you might not escape that makes it interesting. Furthermore, zombies are dead, but they’re not. They’re “undead.” Zombies used to be people like us, but now they’re trapped between life and death because of voodoo or some sort of nasty virus. So they look like us, but not quite. Instead, they’re all gory and disgusting, making them the perfect bad guy for a mystery. If you look closely at the cover, you can see the zombie walking past the river.
Things that go bump in the night
You can see a cabin in the woods on the book cover, too. It’s right behind the zombie. I’ve never seen a zombie up close, thank goodness, but I do know about camping and staying in cabins in the woods. It’s so nice to get away from the lights of the city and see all the stars at night. Oh, but those noises…those strange noises in the woods…they can keep you awake at night. Who is really out there?
Our family has had some interesting experiences camping in the woods. One night in the middle of a thunderstorm, we heard a loud cracking sound. It was a massive lightning strike, one that shut off the cabin’s power for hours. As Snoopy would say, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Another night we heard a noise outside the cabin and when we looked out the window, it was a bear! A young bear was wandering around knocking over trash cans looking for something to eat. There was nothing to eat in our trash can, so it moved on.
On the book cover you can also see Henry holding a fishing pole and a bucket. The Aldens aren’t just fishing for clues; they’re fishing in the water. This is something that our family always does whenever we go camping in the woods. Fishing is a must.
My father taught me to fish when I was Benny’s age. I learned how to fish in the river, just like the Alden children do in this book. When my children were young, we taught them how to fish, too. It can be hard to sit there quietly and wait, but when you feel that tug on your pole, ah, sweet reward.
There’s nothing like eating a freshly caught fish cooked over a campfire. Yum! Cooking over an open flame makes the food so tasty. Later, as the fire dwindles down, it’s time for campfire stories. The sun has set, so the woods all around you are dark…and then someone tells a scary story. It’s a campfire tradition.
It is by the campfire that Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny find out more about the Legend of the Winding River Zombie. They know the story isn’t true, it can’t be. Everyone knows that zombies aren’t real.Add a Comment
My three daughters, Meera, Flory, and Lelia, are close in age. Often during their early years, we snuggled together on our old beige corduroy couch and worked our way through piles of picture books. Before they went to sleep, my husband, Rody, and I read to them. And sometimes, when they were a bit older and he was away, I read aloud in the hall between all their rooms, camp style.
In those happy golden years of our shared reading, we would inevitably hit upon a part of a book that made us collectively take pause—later I dubbed this the “aha” moment. That’s when we discovered Madeline, Babar, and even Harry Potter celebrated Christmas. And being Jewish, we didn’t.
This started me writing about a character who later became Gabi Greenberg. In my book The Hanukkah Trike, Gabi lights the menorah, eats latkes, and helps tell the story of the Maccabee army’s miraculous victory. The next day, after falling off her new trike—a Hanukkah gift—her spunk and determination get her back in the saddle again. Remembering the story of the Maccabees, Gabi musters her courage, and with a skinned knee and a pebble-studded hand, she pushes those pedals again and again, until she takes off down the street.
The Hanukkah Trike is a quiet little story for young children. It could be any child’s story of perseverance.
Each one of my daughters helped me create Gabi. Each one gave me reason to write The Hanukkah Trike. And our years of reading together made me want a spirited character like them. Presenting Gabi Greenberg, lover of latkes and all things Hanukkah. Brave like the Maccabees.
Continuing our exploration of respect in relation to end-of-year celebrations and inspired by Marjorie’s beautiful post on The Christmas Menorahs, today I highlight Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem (Schwartz & Wade, 2008).
Although written in a Christmas spirit, the poem’s resonance is far more broad, as it encourages one and all to “Come away from rancor. Come the way of friendship.” A sound piece of advice to humanity in this day and age when wars and conflicts still happen in the name of religion.
As seen in the excerpted verses below, her poem is a call for peace and unity:
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
These words go straight into the heart, don’t they?
Do you know of other books for children that speak of people from different faiths coming together during the holidays? Would you recommend them? Please do share so we can all learn about how others have “come the way of friendship.”Add a Comment
The new issue of PaperTigers, focusing on Religious Diversity in relation to End-of-Year Celebrations, is now live.
The end of the year, when so many holy and secular days are observed and celebrated, reminds us of the importance of understanding and being respectful of how others in our communities engage with and
express their beliefs. Books play an essential role in helping children learn about differences (for instance, why some people celebrate different holidays, or the same holidays in different ways, while others don’t celebrate anything): but more than anything, books can help them realize that, while our individualities do matter, our common humanity matters even more.
We hope you will enjoy our new features, which focus on celebrating diversity while striving for a more encompassing and tolerant world for all our children, families and communities.
We will also be talking about religious diversity and end-of-year celebrations here on the blog this month, so we hope you will share your favorite books and experiences with us!Add a Comment
Happy Earth Day! Did you know Earth Day is a Birthday? Just as we celebrate birthdays for people, Earth day is a day to celebrate the Earth. Earth Day was born on April 22, 1970, in San Francisco, California. Every year, America and over 100 different countries join together in the celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd. Earth Day is the largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide. What better time to teach kids about our planet and how to care for it? It's important to teach children good habits, now, so they'll maintain them as they get older. Here are some Earth Day Children's Books for ages 4-8 you can read to encourage your kids to go green during Earth Day.
50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earthby Earth Works Group
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling (Little Green Books) by Alison Inches, Pete Whitehead
The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales (One World, One Planet) by Dawn Casey
A Clean Sky: The Global Warming Story by Robyn C. Friend: Judith L. Cohen, Lee Rathbone, David A. Katz
Down-to-Earth Guide To Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon
The Earth and I by Frank Asch
Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Environment by Linda Schwartz
Earth Day: An Alphabet Book by Gary Kowalski
Earth Day Birthday (Sharing Nature With Children Book) by Pattie L. Schnetzler
Earth Day--Hooray! (MathStart 3)by Stuart J. Murphy, Renee Andriani
Easy to Be Green: Simple Activities You Can Do to Save the Earth (Little Green Books) by Ellie O'Ryan, Ivanke & Lola
The Garbage Monster by Joni Sensel
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry
I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Little Green Books) by Alison Inches, Viviana Garofoli
It's Earth Day! (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer
Lets Celebrate Earth Day by Peter Roop
The Lorax (Classic Seuss) by Dr. Seuss
Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel, Alexandra Colombo
Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug by Ellie Bethel
The Polar Bears' Home: A Story About Global Warming (Little Green Books) by Lara Bergen, Vincent Nguyen
Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons
This Is My Planet: The Kids' Guide to Global Warming by Jan Thornhill
The Three R's: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle (What Do You Know About? Books) by Nuria Roca, Rosa M. Curto
Uno's Garden by Graeme Base
Water by Frank Asch
What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?: A Green Activity Book About Reuse by Ann Alter
Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?: The Dangers of Global Warming (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Anne Rockwell, Paul Meisel
Where Does the Garbage Go?: Revised Edition (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Paul Showers, Randy Chewning
Why Should I Protect Nature? (Why Should I?) by Jen Green, Mike Gordon
Why Should I Recycle? (Why Should I?) by Jen Green, Mike Gordon
Why Should I Save Energy? (Why Should I?) by Jen Green, Mike Gordon
Why Should I Save Water? (Why Should I?) by Jen Green, Mike Gordon
Winston of Churchill: One Bear's Battle Against Global Warmingby Jean Davies Okimoto
10 Ways to celebrate Earth Day with kids...
1. Plant a Tree: purchase trees through the National Arbor Day Foundation to be planted in honor of each child in your class. Print up a letter/document for each child telling them about the tree that was purchased on their behalf and how it will help our earth.
2. Clean Up and Beautify: Organize a project to clean up or beautify some area in your town. It could be at your school, or some other place.
3. Visit a local zoo or aquarium.
4. De-clutter your house and bring your old items to a donation center.
5. Go on a nature scavenger hunt.
6. Take a trip to your local farmer's market.
7. Reuse items for a craft project.
8. Feed the birds.
10. Go car-free: walk or bike to school.
Visit these websites for great Earth Day ideas, crafts, games, etc...:
Kaboose-Find Earth day crafts, games, and fun of all types.
Earth Hour - A world-wide initiative to have households, businesses, and schools turn off their electricity for at least one hour to reduce the impact on global climate changes on Earth.
Earth's Birthday Project - Butterfly and Moth Activity teaching kit, adopt and acre of rainforest, and read about Earth's Birthday with the Zwibble Dibbles.
Earth Day Groceries Project - Increase awareness of Earth Day by making special Earth Day grocery bags for your supermarket. Good school project.
Teachers.net has an Earth Day discussion board where folks are posting ideas.
A SMALL MIRACLE
by Peter Collington
From the Ingram wholesale website:
"Back in print by booksellers' popular demand, this wonderfully satisfying contemporary parable features the wooden figures in a church's Christmas Nativity scene that miraculously come to life to save a starving old woman who has done a good turn for them."
Back at Halfway Down the Stairs, we liked to claim credit for bringing this sweetheart back into print a few years ago. Ok, probably we weren't the only booksellers who adored it enough to beg for a reprint in Publisher's Weekly's Cuffie awards year after year, but still. Like Mo Willems's Pigeon, we have dreams, you know.
Anyhow, I could hardly walk a customer through this story without stifling snivels and snurps. Once the nativity figures come peeping out of the church to help the gypsy lady, I was mostly reduced to pointing and grunts. Which actually works remarkably well as a sales pitch, because this is a wordless picturebook. COMPLETELY wordless. Go on and see if you can make your way to the end without letting it slay you. I triple-dog-dare you.
One of the editors here keeps this slightly modified Día de los Muertos diorama near her desk to remind herself that the slush pile of the dead is even more eternal than the one in her office.
We’re showing it to remind you that with this fall’s new release, I Remember Abuelito / Yo recuerdo a Abuelito by Janice Levy and illustrated by Loretta Lopez, we now have two Day of the Dead picture books available, and both books are bilingual editions. Abuelito was recently featured in School Library Journal’s Curriculum Connections newsletter, which is a great collection of resources about the holiday.
Tim Coffey is the latest Albert Whitman illustrator to be featured online for the annual Robert’s Snow art fundraiser. Tim illustrated the award-winning books Red Berry Wool, by Robyn Eversole, and Mabela the Clever, by Margaret Read MacDonald. He also wrote and illustrated Christmas at the Top of the World, and if something about his style looks familiar, it’s because he also has a line of scrapbooking products. Today he’s being profiled by Pam Calvert at her blog The Silver Lining.
Once again, the Robert’s Snow auctions begin November 19th, and we’ll let you know when you can bid on snowflakes by your favorite Albert Whitman illustrators to raise money for cancer research.
We’d wanted to try Hoppin’ John—the black-eyed pea dish served on January 1st for good luck—ever since Uncle Albert published New Year be Coming!: A Gullah Year in 2002. So this time last year, when we were in the middle of production on the book Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas, we were sure to cook up a pot of black-eyed peas at home on New Year’s Day. Not just for the good luck (though editors could always use some, you know, to make up for bad rejection-letter karma) but for research purposes. We picked a recipe and fixed it for dinner.
It was some tasty stuff, and we like to think that we were pretty lucky in 2007. Good things are happening with our current and upcoming titles, which we’ll continue to tell you about here. And for this new batch of peas on Monday, we’ll be serving it with greens (for money), cornbread (for gold), and tomatoes (for health). Also, celery for starred reviews, and ham for getting our books on state master reading lists. Okay, we made those last two up. Still, we’re going to try!
If you’d like to make your own batch of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, try author Gail Piernas-Davenport’s recipe, which appears in the back of Shanté Keys. Click below for more, and have a Happy New Year!
3/4 cup chopped onion; 3/4 cup chopped celery; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 2 teaspoons canola oil; 1 12-ounce package fresh black-eyed peas, rinsed*; 2 2/3 cups chicken broth; 1/2 pound cubed ham; 1 bay leaf; cooked rice.
Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté onions, celery, and garlic until tender, about 3 minutes. Add peas, chicken broth, ham, and bay leaf. Boil for 3 minutes, then lower heat, cover and simmer until peas are tender, about 45 minutes. Check the pot occasionally and add water if needed. Remove bay leaf and serve over cooked rice. Season to suit taste.
* This recipe uses fresh black-eyed peas, which can be found in the produce section of your supermarket, but you can also use canned peas or dried peas (follow instructions).
We’ve found this time of year we get more manuscript submissions in our slush pile than usual. We think this might be because 1.) plenty of people—especially teachers and school librarians—are on holiday break in late December and have extra time to stamp all those SASEs and 2.) “Write and publish a children’s book” sounds like a fabulous New Year’s resolution, doesn’t it?
We don’t mind the extra mail—and yes, we do read ALL the submissions, every last one. And with all these new aspiring authors, there are bound to be questions. One we hear a lot is: When’s the best time of year to submit a manuscript? It depends on the publisher: some places receive unsolicited submissions for only a few months out of the year (and some don’t at all). But we’re always open to submissions—for us, the slush season is year-round. We read all the time, and when we’ve found enough book projects to fill our next list, we look for books for the list after that!
We publish books twice a year: our Fall list comes out in September, and it’s when we publish books about fall and winter holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Groundhog Day, and so on), while books about spring and summer holidays (Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.) are published in March on our Spring list. Plenty of our other titles have seasonal considerations as well—we make sure we publish our books in time for African-American History Month, the start of the school year, or even the apple harvest. Sometimes, it’s all in the timing.
But if you’re a writer wondering when you should send your holiday or seasonal book manuscript—well, “anytime” still applies. (One thing we editors learn early on is to have flexible imaginations. We’ll read stories about Santa Claus even during a heat wave in August.) Keep in mind that it always takes time to consider a submission, and even longer to publish it—this is especially true of picture books: an illustrator will need several months to produce the artwork. So if you sent us a Christmas story last week, it isn’t likely to be published in time for next Christmas. (Alas, your friends and family won’t get your book in their stockings, and you’ll have to give them all Chia Pets again.) And if you have a picture book idea about, say, the winter Olympics, you’ll need to get it into a publisher’s hands ASAP for it to be out in time for 2010—and at some publishers, you’ll be too late already.
What this all means, of course, is that your New Year’s “publish a children’s book” resolution for 2008 will probably take until at least 2009 to accomplish. So what are you waiting for? Read our guidelines!
Though the winners of the Cybils Awards will not be announced for a few months, the final nominations are in. If you are not familiar with this award here is a little information as written by editor of the Cybils blog, Anne Levy:
Oh man. If I didn't already own the Lisbeth Zwerger edition of The Gift of the Magi, I'd be sorely tempted by this: