Thursday, March 28, 2013
Just wanted to let you know that Renee La Tulippe was awesome enough to have me guest post over on her blog, No Water River, today.
I briefly describe what poetry means to me. It's short and silly and there is a video where you can get a good look at my yellow teeth. (BUT COFFEE IS SO WORTH IT!)
Please stop by and say hello! Renee's blog is AMAZING and is such as great resource for kids, parents, writers and teachers interested in poetry.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Is anyone there?
(Cue microphone feedback.)
I would just like to say that if anyone is actually reading, I have missed you. And...I am back!
Well kind of.
Let's see. Where to begin after such a long blogcation.
Oh, forget it.
I had a wonderful holiday season. It was filled with joyous people, fattening food, well-deserved wine, a trip to Disneyland, two kids' birthdays, the start of three, real-out-of-the-house, no-baby-drool jobs, the first days of my last semester of grad school, and the scandal of all scandals, Bunnygate 2013, involving the adoption and loss of this dude:
If you've seen him hopping around your neighborhood, please send me a message. I prefer sky-writing.
BUT, before all this craziness began, I attended my regional holiday mixer for SCBWI.
There was a book tree.
There were brownies.
And there was Gennifer Choldenko. Eep!
WE BREATHED THE SAME AIR.
As the speaker at our cozy event, Gennifer described her life experiences that led her to becoming an author. Oober interesting. All of it.
But the most memorable piece I took away from her talk was a quick, don't cough or you'll miss it, aside comment she made. She said that before she was published, she knew she had talent. She felt it. She possessed something special.
It just made me wonder if that is what we all feel. Is each talented person born with this feeling in their gut?
I had the chance to
(That's me. And Gennifer Choldenko. I'm the Andre the Giant look-alike on the right.)
Eh? Anyway. Back to the story.
Know what she said?
She said she had never told anyone that before.
Now, I just have to believe that this comment was meant for me to share with the world. That if you feel that warm, jittery, sometimes-you-just-might-be-sick-because-you-love-something-so-much feeling in your gut, you must follow it.
Because Gennifer Choldenko did. And look what it got her.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I am so excited to announce the winner of Amy Dixon's, Marathon Mouse, is
I hope this book will inspire you Pam, to keep on keepin' on. Best of luck to you with your full load of classes!
Thank you so much for all of you that took the time to read and comment on Amy's post. It resonated with so many visitors which just goes to show what an amazing resource and outlet a blogging community can be. I am so grateful to Amy for sharing something so personal and also for those of you who described your own experiences with making hard choices.
This blog series has surpassed my expectations. I am in disbelief that busy authors take time out of their schedules to contribute their most humbling moments. I feel this act of generosity is a testament to the goodness of the kid lit community, which I am so happy to have found.
I would love to continue this series after the New Year, when things settle down, (things will settle down, right?) and would love for you to join me! Please stay tuned and have a wonderfully peaceful and creative holiday season!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
To win a copy of Amy's book, Marathon Mouse, please leave a comment answering one of the two questions below:
Saying no is a hard thing to do. Unless you are my son. He's two. What was the last thing you said "no" to and felt really great about? Or if you never say no, what is an example of a time when you KNEW you should have said no, but didn't AND disaster resulted?
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Today, I would like to share with you my very first, podcast! This was a homework assignment if you can believe it, and in it, I tried my hardest to merge a few of my passions: education, parenting, and children's books. In this groundbreaking podcast =), I
(Please forgive my stutters, squeaky voice and lack of know-how. =) ) Props to Katie Davis. HOW DO YOU DO IT?!
Just so you know, the generous Matthew Cordell is giving away free signed stuff for buying his newest masterpiece, if you contact him by December 1st. GET ON IT! Here is a peek at my personalized bookplate.
In order to help us prepare for the podcasting experience, my Digital Media and Online learning professor asked us to watch This American Life host, Ira Glass discuss storytelling.
There are four segments and I found them all to be so validating as a children's writer! (The third segment especially resonated with me, as a professional banana peeler and doubty writer.
Next up, I would also like to announce the winner of Linda Boyden's amazing, Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas.
Aaaaaannnnd lastly, I am SO EXCITED to share that this week's Banana Peelin' author is none other than Marathon Mouse's, Amy Dixon! I just love her and am so excited to have her on the blog. PLUS, she has agreed to give away a copy of Preston and his little Marathon Mouse-self to one lucky commenter. Check in on Thursday for more details!
Friday, November 16, 2012
I love learning about different cultures. People are interesting! Everyone has a story and I hope you find today's interview as interesting as I did. I also hope that it makes people think about what they see and read in a new light.
Linda is offering her book Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas, to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment below describing one reaction, thought or feeling you had related to this post and you will be entered. The winner will be selected next week!
Can you tell us a little about your Native American background?
My father grew up in a small town in Tennessee and his family was of Irish/Cherokee ancestry. My mother’s parents’ families emigrated from Quebec, Canada, in the early 1900s eventually to southeastern Massachusetts where my siblings and I grew up.
Like many of my generation, my family only spoke about being “American.” Of course I was a child in the 1950s when it was not cool to be anything but American. As I matured I wanted to know more about Cherokee history and traditions.
How does your heritage influence your writing?
I came to my heritage late; my family isn’t enrolled in any tribal nation and I wasn’t raised in a traditional Native way. Mixed-blood people often wonder where they belong and that longing for “home” comes through in my poetry, for example.
In all my writing, I think how might this impact the Seventh Generation down the road? I strive to create books or art that would make my parents, children, and grandchildren proud; to produce works that will educate and enlighten non-Native people.
First, the terms, Indian and Native American, really convey nothing. They are simply gross generalizations. I think indigenous is more accurate, meaning the people who originally inhabited the land. Regardless this semantic debate goes on and on so I take the simple road: use them all! Truthfully, most Indians prefer to be called by their actual tribal affiliation, for example Cherokee, Abenaki or Lakota.
The underlying misconception with any of these generic terms is that all Indians were the same, and nothing could be further from the truth. The indigenous peoples of the Americas possessed and still do possess great diversity within their cultures.
Another misconception is that all Native people vanished after their tribal lands were taken; that there are no modern Indian people alive today and that is completely untrue.
What inaccurate images of Native American cultures in picture books do you see the most? What should the public know about each?
In picture books, things have vastly improved within the last twenty years. Publishers are actively more sensitive to our concerns and act upon them. That said there are still not enough Native American authors, illustrators, and publishers in the publishing world.
As mentioned already, books, especially picture books for young children, need to show accurate specifics of Native Americans whether set in present day or in the past. We did not all live in tipis! Indigenous peoples of the Americas lived in many different types of houses, wore clothing with ornamentation specific to their clan or tribe that reflected their tribal affiliations as well as their geographic regions.
~Have the authors/illustrators done their research? Have they interviewed tribal members/leaders? Have they listened to tribal elders?
~Is there anything in this book—words or pictures or any underlying theme--that could embarrass a Native child and misinform a non-Native child?
~Does the story contain positive Native role models for both Native and non-Native children to identify with?
~Does this book foster positive American Indian family values, such as cooperation, sharing, and respect for tradition?
Do you have any favorite picture book titles that you would recommend to educators and families that accurately portray Native American cultures?
There are so many, but here are a few of my favorites:
Margaret Bruchac’s “1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving.” This nonfiction book is the REAL Pilgrim/Indian story with excellent photos.
Joseph Bruchac’s “A Boy Called Slow” and “Crazy Horse’s Vision.” The first is a snapshot of Sitting Bull as a young boy and how he earns his adult name. The second is also a glimpse into the life of the Lakota warrior-leader, Crazy Horse.
Cynthia Leitich Smith, “Jingle Dancer.” A delightful story about how a young girl and her female relatives work together to make her jingle dress for powwow.
James Rumford’s “Sequoyah.” Although a non-Native, Jim’s biography of the Cherokee genius, Sequoyah, is accurate, sensitive and beautifully illustrated; plus each page is printed in both Cherokee and English.
Richard Van Camp’s “A Man Called Raven.” This story set in contemporary Northwest Territories of Canada blends the past with the present to helps kids value the natural world.
And of course, my own!
“The Blue Roses.” The winner of Lee and Low’s first New Voices Award, this book helps kids understand the circle of life through the metaphor of a garden.
“Powwow’s Coming.” A contemporary Indian family introduces the Native tradition of powwow to young readers.
“Giveaways, An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas.” Every entry word in this nonfiction book originated in a Native language and celebrates the contribution Native languages have made to modern English. It has won a number of awards, too.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for interviewing me for your blog. It’s been a pleasure.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Next week is Thanksgiving and festive picture books are floating around the universe to celebrate. Today's post will be followed TOMORROW by an extra special interview between Linda and myself where Linda describes her Native American heritage as well as some thoughts on popular depictions of Native Americans in children's literature. Make sure to return tomorrow for a cornucopia of good information. I know. That was bad. I'm such a turkey. Okay. Now I can't stop. Gobble.
And now, a blast from the past!
Welcome to the 2nd official Banana Peel Thursday!
So excited you could join me. Eeek!
I don't know about you, but how many of us went straight to the library or bookstore last week after reading Susanna's stories to try and hold one of her books in our hands?
I know I did!
There is something about learning the ins and outs of someone that makes me completely enamored with that person. Example, football. Eh. Take it or leave it for me. But as soon as I learn a player's story, I am hooked on their team and personal well being. LT, just one example. Aaron Rodgers, being from my town, makes him kind of interesting, another example.
With that said...I hope that all of us become hooked on these authors and choose to support them for having so graciously spilled their guts by checking out their books and by popping over to their website/blog to let them know how much we appreciate their work!
With that said...
Do you ever wonder where your words come from? In the age of free trade, and then thank goodness fair trade, we have become much more aware of the origins of our clothes, coffee and chocolate.
But what about our WORDS?
I received Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas, as a gift from a classmate of mine at the end of a course that focused, so appropriately, on valuing the beauty of our nation's cultures and languages. It was the perfect gift. I was floored. Not only had I have never seen a more beautiful alphabet book in my life, but it came autographed by the author/illustrator, Linda Boyden.
Flash forward almost exactly one year later, this bloggin' fool discovers that she is in the same SCBWI region as Linda Boyden! (Executing ecstatic dance this very moment.) She is now even her FACEBOOK FRIEND! (Delivering ecstatic dance one more time...whooo, I'm pooped!)
Not only is it beautiful, but this book is witty and the fact that it recognizes the often overlooked contributions of indigenous cultures and languages to our modern world gives it an A+ in my book!
THANK YOU Linda Boyden for choosing to participate in the second Banana Peel Thursday!
This morning, January 11, 2012, I read how the celebrated author/illustrator, Jerry Pinkey’s latest
book, “Twinkle, Twinkle” is in the running for the Caldecott…and yes, it is a retelling of the song and of course, simply breathtaking.
"Powwow's Coming" is included on Reading Is Fundamental's 2011 Multicultural Book List!
"Poetry may not change the world, but its lack will." Carol Willette Bachofner
Thank you so much Linda for sharing your slips with us!
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Happy Banana Peel Thursday! Wait a minute...it's still Wednesday! But I am having issues with Blogger. So Thursday it is. (It's Thursday somewhere, right?) If you missed Wednesday's post, it's down there, past this one. It's me blabbing about Povember. And if you are asking, "What the heck is Povember?", well, you just need to scroll down to check it out!
Today's post is from the archives, from way back when, in... January.
But first, a WINNER! The winner of Janee Trasler's masterpiece, Caveman: A B.C. Story, is...
You go Romelle! (Which really means, you go and send me your address right away so I can forward it to Janee! Yay!)
And now, let us revisit the post where the brain behind PiBoIdMo shared some of her most humbling experiences while writing for children!
Do I even need to introduce today's guest author? If you are involved in the online, children's writing community or perhaps have needed a 3AM boogeyman assassin, I highly doubt it.
Ladies and gents of BaPeTh (AKA Banana Peel Thursdays)...may I present to you, the slips of PiBoIdMo's own Tara Lazar!
Keeping early work to myself? Shnikies! I wish I had that advice a few months ago! WOOPS!
Thank you so much Tara for taking the time participate in this week's BPT. I am so eternally grateful to have had you as a guest. You are wonderful. I know I am much wiser having read this as I am sure many other readers are. =) I wish you the best of luck in any future banana peels you may encounter.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
When I started writing for children and blogging about all of my shining experiences, I was on a break from school. This fall, I have put my student hat back on and MAN, OH, MAN, am I a lost puppy.
The only other time I can compare it to is when I was a server in a semi-busy restaurant. The cups were clanging, voices muffled, Six Pence None the Richer playing faintly, seemingly on repeat in the background. The room would start to spin and I didn't know who the heck wanted what.
There are people on the patio? Oh yeah!
I have to take all those dirty dishes off the table? Whoops!
And a lovely customer, screeching, "IS SHE NEW?!" bringing the entire joint to a stop...(I'm pretty sure even silencing Six Pence None the Richer.)
That confusing, whirlwind of an expereince is EXACTLY what I am reliving now, only this time around I have kids, a muffin top, a messy house, grad courses, and a killer love for children's literature and blogging. The last couple of months, I've felt out of the loop. Due to the demands of schooling, I have spent less time writing and reading for children than ever and I can't help but wonder, was this just a fluke thing, this whole writing for children business? Is it over? Was I dreamin'?! I mean HOW THE HECK DO PEOPLE DO THIS WITH DAY JOBS?!
And then November hit.
Thank goodness for November.
Actually, I think they should change it to Povember. We must honor the letter "P", because for many of us, it is the symbol of both community and indulgence. Besides being the month of massive amounts of pumpkin pie (double "P" goodness), November is the month of the picture book! While my picture book flame may have been reduced to slight flicker earlier this fall, Povember has really rekindled my writerly motivation, breathing oxygen with the strength of a Galaxy 9000 Leaf Blower DX.
Maybe Target does have it right. Christmas has come early as I far as I am concerned. In my world, Povember is filled with the sweetness of blog posts from children's book industry professionals, TWO FOLD. First I have the daily posts of Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo then I click on over to Dianne de las Casa's Picture Book Month extravaganza. (And not always in that order.) The best part is, I get to take advantage of it all over here in my west coast time zone, sneaking peeks the night before. A little treat for me. I really look forward to it. Like a dessert. Just like pumkin pie. I heart Povember.
Here is an awesome video for Picture Book Month done by my amazingly talented and silly, motion graphics designer, friend CARTER HIGGINS!
Pretty inspiring, huh?
And with this I leave you, but not without a wonderfully, wacky quote from the late and great Maurice Sendak on the topic of inspiration:
"I feel it in me like a woman having a baby, all that life churning on inside me. I feel it every day: it moves and stretches, yawns. It's getting ready to get born. It knows exactly what it is."
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Janee has been generous enough to offer a copy of Caveman, to one person who responds to this question in the comments:
What is ONE modern convenience for which you are forever grateful?
The winner will be chosen via Radom.org and will be announced the beginning of next week! Good luck!
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Embarrassment bites the big one. I’m actually embarrassed to even TELL this marginally absurd story of massive overreaction (by more than just one participant). But alas…here goes….
This particular Banana Peel Moment took place just as I started to pursue a career in children’s books. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I was stalking, er…checking out websites of publishing companies that seemed to have an affinity for rhyme. I quickly discovered an editor I will now refer to as “Dragon of Death”. Just Kidding. I’ll call him, “Richard”.
And then I wait. And I wait for what feels like a completely impossible amount of time. Like my whole world has been sucked inside some sort of sci fi black hole of frozen silence hell and all I can hear in my head is TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK. I mean, we had been emailing back and forth for like 30 minutes. Why would he suddenly go completely silent the moment I sent my story?? Something was wrong. He must not have gotten it. He’s just sitting there waiting for it, right? And I’m sitting there waiting for him while he’s waiting for me and…oh lord, this can’t be good. I need to send it again.