I've hesitated to blog about my school readings because of the children's identities on the web. But, I've been very careful that ALL photos either don't show any kids or show their backs, never their faces. I'd also LOVE to do more school readings and hope this post will reach schools that may be interested in an author coming to their school for FREE to read to their Kindergarten through 2nd grades.
In celebration of Thomas Jefferson's 275th birthday, I did a school reading to 1st graders in Calabasas. It was the first time I wasn't in the classroom itself. Instead, I did the school reading in their assembly hall with the large screen behind me so all the kids could see the illustrations.
As always, I introduce myself and ask the kids who have pets? Most hands shoot in the air but I then qualify my question with, “Who has a pet snake?” or “Who has a pet squirrel?” There can be a few who actually have a pet snake and typically the name is “slinky” or “slimey.” That always gets a big laugh.
Then, I talk about the difference between fiction and nonfiction and introduce historical fiction. At this age, the kids are learning about fiction and nonfiction, but when I explain what historical fiction is, their eyes get big with curiosity.
I ask them if they've ever heard of Thomas Jefferson. Some of the 2nd graders have heard of him, but most of the younger kids haven't. They know who George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are, but have never heard of Jefferson. I tell them that all the characters in my story once lived, albeit 200 years ago, and that I made up a story about real people, places and things. Now, I've got them!
Because the book is in a 6×9″ format, reading to a group is hard without the use of a smart board or projector screen. The kids sit in front of me, my back is to the screen, so they can see the board and view each page of the book enlarged to almost life size. It also gives me a chance to see the kids, watch what they're reacting to, laughing or concerned.
I've received thank you notes from the kids and teachers a like. If your school is interested in having me come for a FREE reading, please use the contact me form.
Have you ever heard your favorite author do a reading? Let me know in the comments.Continue reading
WOW! I absolutely love “Wonder,” by R.J. Palacio!! I read it in 3 days, thinking about the main character and wondering what will happen to him. R.J. Palacio (R.J.) writes beautifully and ties up everything in the end.
“Wonder” is about a 10 year old boy, August or Auggie who suffers from a genetic disorder that causes facial deformities. He's been homeschooled his entire life and his parents decide he needs to start school. He's afraid to start school, with new people who will stare at him. He only wants to be viewed as an “ordinary kid.”
R.J. writes the book in 1st person which gives the reader an intimate view of what Auggie is thinking and how he's feeling. I loved watching his personality develop, how he handles people's reactions to his face and growing as a person. The chapters are short and there are eight parts to the book, each part is written in the 1st person by another character. I loved how R.J. provides insight into the characters by structuring her book in this manner.
R.J. weaves a powerful story about courage, strength and kindness. She writes about one of Auggie's teacher's homework assignment, “precepts,” which are monthly quotes to live by. As homework, each student is expected to write what the month's precept means to them. This carries her theme beautifully and adds a lot depth into the story.
As a writer, I learned a lot from R.J. She had an idea for the story, did a lot of research into the abnormality and mutation, connected herself with various nonprofits and offers a solid lessons for all to live by.
I recommend this book to EVERYONE! I know most adults don't read middle grade novels, but this book is a MUST. Congrats to R.J. for setting the bar high for fellow writers.Continue reading
I'm a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and they held their annual Summer conference at the beginning of July. I was ready to learn at SCBWI conference! Driving to downtown Los Angeles early Friday morning is definitely not an easy go, but it gave me time to think about my goals for the conference. At last year’s conference my goal was to meet as many people I could and learn about publishing and marketing a book. They didn't have many workshops on self publishing but it was still a fun experience and I met some nice people. I also bought some great kids books in their on-site bookstore, which I devoured.
This year, my goal was to hone my craft. I had 3 variations of my 2nd manuscript on my computer and was procrastinating. I felt like I needed a little help. One of the workshops I attended was called, “Meet your character: How motivation drives the story,” taught by Kendra Levin. Now, my main character is a dog named Dash, but this dog belonged to Queen Victoria. He didn't like it when Prince Albert came along.
I was stuck in my story so I leaned into my chair, closed my eyes and did the meditation exercise Kendra led us through. Imagine you're in an elevator. The door closes and the elevator starts going down. Down, down down. Finally the door opens and you see your character walking towards you. What does your character say? What does your character want? He comes across some obstacles, so how does he solve them? So I wrote down what I envisioned Dash saying to me and came up with my big idea!
After the elevator doors opened, Dash came running with a swish swish of his fur. He looked like a mop cleaning the floor. He greeted me with a sloppy lick on my face as I kneeled down and scooped him up.
“I want to be love,” he said.
“You are loved, very much,” I replied.
“But Victoria loves Albert now. How can she love me as well?”
“We are capable of loving more than one at the same time,” I said, ” Victoria can love you and Albert because her heart is big enough for both!”
“I don't know how that's possible,” he said, “But I can try to figure it out.”
It was time for me to go, so I put Dash down and waved goodbye. I saw him walk away, mopping the floor clean as he walked. He turned around.
“I love you too,” he cried, “I guess it is possible to love more than one because I have a big heart!”
Dash loves Victoria and feels threatened by Victoria’s love for Albert. but he doesn’t know that a heart is big enough to love more than one person/thing. So Dash is jealous but slowly starts to realize that not only can Victoria love both he and Albert, he can love both Victoria and Albert. Voila! Now I just need to write it!Continue reading
I love writing book reviews. I also love cooking and raised a son who loves cooking, so much in fact that he became a chef! So when a friend of mine recommended a children's fiction chapter book about a girl and cooking, I ordered it from Amazon right there amidst my appetizer at dinner!
“All Four Stars,” by Tara Dairman is the first in a series about Gladys Gatsby, an 11-year old who loves cooking and writing and wants to become a food critic. The problem is her parents don't understand food, cooking or healthy eating and have banned her from cooking in the kitchen. Gladys is distraught but soon finds herself on a culinary adventure that brings her new friendships, tastes and fun in her fictional home town on Long Island, NY.
Ms. Dairman uses Gladys' voice to tell the story and boy, did she get an 11-year olds voice right down to the “fudge.” Her descriptive writing makes your mouth water while reading about the sites, smells and tastes in Gladys' life. I cared about Gladys and her dilemma, and wanted to keep reading to find out what happens.
If you have an aspiring chef in the house, boy or girl, between the ages 8 and 11, this book is one not to be missed!Continue reading
I've been very busy sending out print copies and download links to various reviewers. I'm getting new reviews every day, but last night (maybe it was a New Year's Eve present), I received an email from ReadersFavorite.com that my review was ready.
Today, I logged into my author account and there was a 5 star review! Here is a quote from the review:
“The story is delightful…The illustrations are lively and colorful and they breathe life into the characters and give the story a good pace and movement. The book is informative and educational as it tells readers a bit about the history of the United States and teaches them new words. The book is a good bedtime storybook for parents and grandparents and can be used for read aloud sessions in classrooms and school libraries. Buzzy’s fear of moving to a new place and missing her friends is palpable and readers can connect well with those emotions.”
How fabulous is this review! But, best of all, I'm now able to download a special 5 star seal from ReadersFavorite.com! So here it is, placed on the cover of my book.Continue reading
Welcome to summer! Now that school is out, summer is the perfect time for kids to read for fun! Personally, I'm reading, “The War that Saved my Life,” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. It's a historical fiction novel about a 10 year old crippled girl during World War II whose “courage and compassion carry far more power than her disability.” You can buy it from Amazon by clicking the image.
I've searched the web and came up with some reading lists you can browse.
Enjoy your summer! I can't wait to hear about your child's favorite books!Continue reading