Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fun Giveaway at Patchwork

Amanda, over at Patchwork of Books, is giving away TWO of my favorite books. BELIEVE ME, I hardly want to share this with all of you since I am hoping to win - but I will be generous and kind - and share anyway!! Ok, I admit it, I get more chances to win if I blog about it!!! But you MUST go see it - the new Llama and the new Ladybug Girl - who can pass that up!?!?!?

Share a Story - Shape a Future

Where have I been? I had no idea THIS was going on! Share a Story - Shape a Future is a site/idea all built around sharing books with kids. I love it and it looks wonderful! Here's the line-up. It all begins March 9 and will last for one week!
Share a Story - Shape a Future

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sparrow Girl

Since my first Clementine read - I have been a HUGE Sara Pennypacker fan! So when I saw she had a picture book coming out - I had it ordered months in advance for our library. When we got Sparrow Girl in, I read it right away. This is such a great book that I just had to share. The story is set in China and surrounds a true event that took place in 1958. Chairman Mao decided that everyone could help get rid of the Sparrows as they were eating too much of China's wheat crop. So - they did - they had everyone - children included - cover the land and make as much noise as possible so that the birds would die of exhaustion or heart attacks. The plan worked - the sparrow population was GONE in three days - BUT without the sparrows, the locust population grew and contributed to a famine that killed between 30-40 million Chinese people. This picture book is the story of a little girl, Ming-Li, that decides to try to help save some of the sparrows - it is wonderful - and she comes out the winner!! (See, that's another reason I LOVE this book - she was all about helping those birds - from one bird lover to another!) The illustrations are marvelous - Yoko Tanaka, the illustrator - really shines in this, her first, picture book.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand
I always think this is fun - so here's what's on my NEW nightstand - yes, we redid our bedroom and we got rid of our tables and upgraded to classy square nightstands - just had to throw that in!!

Real Life and Liars by Kristina Riggle - this is an ARC that I am reading from Harper Collins - while it's not my normal fare - I am enjoying it. I will review it here soon, but suffice it to say - it's REAL - it's what families are REALLY like.

I'll Cross the River by C. Hope Flinchbaugh - this is next on my To Be Read List - looks good - I'll fill you in when I get done!

Meet the Bible by Philip Yancey and Brenda Quinn - this is what I use for daily readings - I wanted something "meaty" that included daily scripture readings and this fit the bill - I love it!

The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick - I know, EVERYONE has this on their nightstand - but I REALLY do want to start it - I think my husband hopes I do soon!!

Lastly - my current Beth Moore study - Stepping Up - POWERFUL - that is all I can say - it is JUST what I needed.

So, what's on your Nightstand!?!?!

Monday, February 23, 2009


I am so impressed with this kids' online browser that I must share! KidZui was developed by Scholastic and KidZui - they came up with this ingenious idea for a web browser. Once you sign your child up - you can have them help you make a Zui - an online character just for them. Then, once the parent approves the account - the searching begins. I love it because they tailor it to your child's age - so my 4 year old daughter has pictures that pop up like "Hello Kitty", "Carebears", etc. She can then click on those links and it will take you to that website. The kids earn more points by exploring - I think this will be a hit with my daughter! I am very impressed so far - it is a great way for kids to search AND parents to know where they are searching. The parent's page is wonderful! You can track where they have been, who their friends are, etc. I highly encourage you to check it out. You can download the free browser here:

By the way - if you download - PLEASE leave a comment and let me know what you think. IF we get the most comments on this promotion - we are all eligible for a PREMIUM membership for free!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Elsewhere Chronicles

Lerner Publishing has a wonderful new Graphic Novel series called the Elsewhere Chronicles. Now, I wouldn't know how wonderful they were if I hadn't had some students read them for me!! I am not a big Graphic Novel fan myself and would have a hard time knowing what was great and what wasn't :) So the students gladly read them for me and gave them a big thumbs up! The stories take place when four kids open a passageway in the library - uncovering a world of monsters and other crazy creatures. The teens liked this series and are hoping for more!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hunger Games

I have heard all over blogland that Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games was WONDERFUL and they were all right. I just LOVED this book! It caught me from page one and now I am just all giddy over the second book - to be released in Sept. of 2009. To be honest, this isn't one of those books that I thought I would even like - the whole idea of a community in the future that makes each district send two children - one boy and one girl age 12-18 - to participate in the Hunger Games seemed a bit odd to me. But I was SO wrong! What starts out as 16-yr. old Katniss, taking her sister's place - turns into a fast-paced race for survival. I just LOVED the book and HIGHLY recommend it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cybils Awards

The Cybils have been announced!!! Go HERE to see the winners. (I must say that I am thrilled with the choices - I was on the first round committee to choose a non-fiction picture book - and man, was that ever tough to narrow down!!!) Way to go judges!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alexander Calder in REAL LIFE!

I posted about Sandy's Circus - that wonderful children's book that I think should be HIGHLY publicized!! Well -I ran across this fun UTube Video that would great to pair with the book - it is of Alexander Calder performing his "Circus". Worth checking out!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kirby Larson

Not only was I able to interview one, but TWO magnificent authors. The second is Kirby Larson - who has written one of my favorite books, Hattie Big Sky. I asked Kirby some questions about writing and herself which she answered below.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Because I was such a huge bookworm, reading all the time as a kid, writing stories felt like a natural next step. One of my favorite things was making up little plays and making my two younger brothers and sister be in them, but I always got the starring role! I had no idea that I could be a writer of books for children, however, until I was an adult. The trigger for pursuing that path was Arnold Lobel's MING LO MOVES THE MOUNTAIN. When I read that book to my then-small children, a little switch went off inside me and I knew I'd found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I truly do hope I'm writing until I'm 99.

What is the story behind the first book you got published – how many tries to find a publisher, etc.?

This is ancient history -- so long ago, I can scarcely remember! I do remember that I began writing for children when my kids were teeny ones; maybe it was in the late 80s. My first book wasn't published until 1994. Along the way, I accumulated enough rejection letters to start a good-size bonfire -- and I'm still getting rejections! The first book that sold was a chapter book, one I was inspired to write by my daughter who loved Patricia Reilly Giff's Polk Street School Kids series. She got so frustrated when we'd read all the books out at that time. That made me realize that perhaps there was room in the market for more chapter books. . . maybe even one written by me! Before I even started the manuscript, I studied Patricia Reilly Giff's books thoroughly, even typing two of them out to help me get a feel for the rhythm, pacing and length of a chapter book. My daughter's second grade teacher was crazy about pigs so I played around with that idea and soon had a chapter book manuscript of my own, Second Grade Pig Pals. That manuscript was rejected only 4 or 5 times before Holiday House published it.

How do you choose your topics for your books?

It varies with each book. The chapter books focused on that confusing time of life, in the primary grades, when you're trying to figure out the "rules" of life, like how to be a good friend and what on earth it is that adults want from you. The Magic Kerchief grew out of my childhood love of fairy tales; Hattie Big Sky out of a curiosity about my great-grandmother's homesteading experience and the Two Bobbies out of wanting to share a story of hope in a time of trouble.

What is your favorite food??

Homemade berry pie is something I can never resist and red licorice is my favorite junk food.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Thank you for not asking for favorite books! I hate trying to answer that question; it's really, really hard for me to select just a few. Authors I read and admire include (but are in no way limited to): Laurie Halse Anderson, M.T. Anderson, Betsy Byars, Karen Cushman, Brenda Guiberson, Karen Hesse, Laura Kvasnosky, Barbara O'Connor, Dave Patneaude, Katherine Paterson, Ann Whitford Paul, Neal Shusterman . . . and I hate the fact that in putting these names down I am omitting many, many others. The children's literature world is full of fine, fine writers and illustrators -- we are so lucky!

Who has inspired you as a writer?

My mom and dad believed I could do anything, if I set my mind to it; I am ever grateful to them for their faith. My husband carried the financial burden of our family for far too many years, all the while certain I would someday "make it." I am thankful to my kids for story ideas and for my favorite word, "Mom," and I couldn't keep writing without the support of the generous and loving community of children's book creators.

Plans you can share for upcoming books?

My friend, Mary Nethery, and I have a second book coming out in fall 2009; titled Nubs: A Mutt, A Marine and a Miracle, it tells the amazing story of an Iraqi dog and his bond with a US Marine. I am working on another (and overdue-to-the-editor) historical novel and am taking notes for a possible second story about Hattie.

What has been one of your favorite books to write?

Hattie Big Sky was my favorite to write for so many reasons: it felt like a love letter to my grandmother (and great-grandmother) and it also introduced me to research -- something I've discovered I thoroughly enjoy. The research and writing of HBS also led me to other historical fiction ideas, so I've got book ideas lined up for a ways to come.

Where is your favorite spot to write?

I have a great (and very messy) office at home which suits me well but, lately, I've been taking my laptop to a local coffee shop because I like what happens when I change up my work space and habits.

Can you tell us a bit about your family….

I have a darling and long-suffering husband who has been my sweetheart since we attended the Senior Prom together in 1972. Our son, Tyler, lives in New York and currently works for HBO though his mother is not-too-patiently waiting for the day when he also becomes a writer. Our daughter, Quinn, is an interior designer who lives with her husband, Matt, in a community about 40 minutes south of us.

Thanks again to Kirby Larson for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Deborah Hopkinson

I am so honored to be able to interview this wonderful author - Deborah Hopkinson. I posed some questions and these were her fun answers! Enjoy!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As a girl I loved to read. I think I wanted to be a writer from the time I was in fourth grade. But I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about that. When my daughter was born and we began reading picture books, I realized that picture books were short enough for a busy working mom to try. And so I’ve been writing ever since. I have also worked full time during my writing career and am now vice president for college advancement for the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

What is the story behind the first book you got published – how many tries to find a publisher, etc.?

My first picture book was Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, published in 1993. It took about two years to find a publisher. After the first year and a half of sending it out, I decided to send it “simultaneous submission” to a number of publishers at once. Three weeks later I got a phone call from Anne Schwartz, an editor who I have had the good fortune to work with ever since.

How do you choose your topics for your books?

I like to tell students during author visits that reading is the most important thing that writers do. So, I read a lot! I also listen to NPR and get ideas from stories from documentaries, the news, the Internet, and from traveling. Not all topics lend themselves to children’s books, so I am always telling my students that I still get rejections too.

What is your favorite food??

That’s easy! Apples, of course. Everyone who has read APPLES TO OREGON knows that folks who eat apples are strong, “mighty strong!”

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I have to admit that I am one of those folks who read Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte every year! I even dragged my daughter on a “literary pilgrimage” to Great Britain once, and of course we went to Bath and Haworth, where the Brontes lived.

Who has inspired you as a writer?

I am inspired most of all by the ordinary people in history – people like Ella Sheppard Moore, the pianist for the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, who probably never imagined that her story would still inspire people a hundred years later. Or Matthew Henson, the subject of my new book, KEEP ON!, who was America’s African American explorer and encountered entrenched discrimination throughout his life.

Plans you can share for upcoming books?

I have some exciting books in 2009. Home on the Range and Keep On! are out this spring, and this summer brings a book illustrated by Carson Ellis called STAGECOACH SAL, about the first California girl to drive a Wells Fargo stagecoach. Coming up in the Fall is MICHELLE, a picture book about Michelle Obama illustrated by AG Ford.

What has been one of your favorite books to write?

ABE LINCOLN CROSSES A CREEK, which was recently named an ALA Notable, was so much fun to write. My editor, Anne Schwartz, did a fantastic job of helping me envision this story as a collaboration between author and illustrator.

Where is your favorite spot to write?

Well, although I do have an office in my home, I have to admit my favorite spot to write is sitting on my bed with my laptop and a portable ironing board – which is where I am at this very moment.

Can you tell us a bit about your family….

My husband, Andy, and I have two grown children, Rebekah and Dimitri, who also live in the Portland, Oregon area. And we have always had a lot of pets. Right now we have a canary, a cat, and two dogs. But when we lived in Walla Walla, Washington a few years ago, our son, Dimitri, also kept pigeons, geese, chinchillas, quail, chickens and (until it ate all my plants and I made him give it away) a sheep.

Thanks again to Deborah Hopkinson for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check

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