Friday, March 30, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: A Sick Day For Amos McGee

Last week I said I'd try to read all of the wonderful posts on Susanna's site sometime before the following Monday. Well, I'm here to report that, well, that just didn't happen. For those of you who said you were trying to do the same, I hope you fared better than I.
That said, I did manage to pass along the Lucky 7 MEME to 7 other writers. And, I did manage to type up a couple of my A to Z in April posts, although there are many to go, and I need to re-do A because I like my first idea better. Did I mention I was trying to plan ahead???
Anyway, on to Perfect Picture Books! This week's title is A Sick Day for Amos McGee. The story is an endearing one of friendship and the illustrations are amazing with so much detail it's incredible. Enjoy!

Title: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Written by: Philip C. Stead
Illustrated by: Erin E. Stead
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2010
Suitable for:
Themes/Topics: Sickness, Friendship
Opening: From the first page: Amos McGee was an early riser. Every morning when the alarm clock clanged, he swung his legs out of bed and swapped his pajamas for a fresh pressed uniform.
Brief Synopsis: Amos McGee is a zookeeper. Every day he tends to the animals in the zoo and plays individual games with each of them. One day, when Amos is too sick to go to work, his friends, the zoo animals, come to see him.
Links to resources/Activities: I would ask children what they would do to help Amos (or anyone) feel better if they were sick. I bet the answers could be pretty funny.
Why I chose this book: This book was recommended to me from our town children's librarian. The story is warm and the friendship is so heartfelt that it just pours through the pages. The illustrations are amazing and so detailed, especially the elephant. I love the way the animals give back to Amos and help him feel better.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Good Ides (of March): The Lucky 7 MEME

I've been tagged by Jennifer Lee Young over at Castles in the Sky with the Lucky 7 MEME! Jennifer is also the guest blogger for Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 post this week- so hop on over and read her awesome interview
What exactly is a MEME? I'll be honest here, while the term sounded familiar, I wouldn't have been able to regurgitate a definition without a bit of a question in my voice. In short, it's an idea spread through a culture. So, in my little culture of writers, moms and foodies I'm looking forward to sharing my turn with the Lucky 7 MEME.

These are the rules to the Lucky 7 MEME:

1. Go to page 77 of your current ms. (Since mine is a children's early reader, I'll go to page 7)

2. Go to line 7.

3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they're written. No cheating.

4. Tag 7 other victims, er, authors.

From: The Adventures of a Pizza and a Juice Box (working title), and for a little background and clarification- yes, my characters are kids who are food.

“No. I need a guitar,” Bratwurst said. “That one looks pretty good. It’s new, isn’t it?”
“Yup, but it’s not available.”
The four friends moved closer and linked elbows. Cake held on tightly to Pizza.
Bratwurst looked stunned.
No one had ever formed a group and stood  against him like that. Not only was he outnumbered, but he didn’t even have three friends who would protect him in the same way.
Brat stopped staring at the guitar and his shoulders slumped. He just looked at Pizza and his friends.  Pizza thought Bratwurst looked sad. He had an idea.
“I was thinking.” Pizza said.  “I built a skateboard last summer. Would you like to take a turn riding it before you move?”

Now, to tag 7 other authors. These are blogs that I follow and try to read from wherever I am which usually involves my car and my phone. Where would I be without the invention of smartphones????? So, check out their sites, and thanks again Jennifer for the shout out. This is my first foray into sharing my WiP publicly....

Jessica Therrien

Shelley Sly

Tina at Life Is Good

Jessica K. McKendry at Write. Skate. Dream

Patricia Marques

SA Larsen 

Kirsten Larsen at Creating Curious Kids

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

12 x 12 in 2012- March

Ahead of time. 
These are words I don't always have the pleasure of using when it comes to writing and deadlines. This month though, I have miraculously managed to finish my 12 x 12 PB manuscript ahead of time, as in today is not March 31st and it's not close to midnight. My first two pieces for the 12 x 12 were finished right at deadline, with only about 30 minutes to spare before midnight. I'd say I'm not sure what made this month different, but I think I have the answer, or at least part of it.
I had started one piece, made my notes, wrote an introductory paragraph (which I think I will be trashing shortly) and then stopped. A couple of weeks later, thankfully March has 31 days in it, I was walking in the park. This park happens to be the park next door to the people who lovingly took in our dog when she needed a new home (two of my kids have asthma). They, like us, feel more that the dog rescued them, than they her. This was something my husband and I had said for years. She is just that special.
And so- there was the inspiration for my story. It needs tweaking, and is probably way too long, but there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is one of those stories I will surely keep working with as one day it may help children and their parents, to get through the sadness of having to give away a pet, but to also understand that maybe it's time for that pet to help another family.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: The Sniffles For Bear

I've really come to look forward to Perfect Picture Book Fridays. My biggest challenge though is getting to read others' suggestions, which is a shame because I've picked up some great books from my fellow bloggers in the past. My goal for today: read through everyone's posts (before Monday), make a list, and then get myself to the library to get some new reading material. But I digress.
Today my selection is The Sniffles for Bear, by Bonny Becker. I was laughing out loud while reading this. Bears drama around his sickness is so genuine and the illustrations do such a great job of showing hie emotions that I just loved it and found it fun and funny to read.

Title: The Sniffles for Bear
Written by: Bonny Becker
Illustrated by: Kady MacDonald Denton
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2011
Suitable for: Ages 3 to 8
Themes/Topics: Sickness, Friendship
Opening: Bear was sick, very, very, sick. His eyes were read. his snout was red. His throat was sore and gruffly. In fact, Bear was quite sure no one had ever been as sick as he.
Brief Synopsis: from the publisher: Certain that no one has even been as sick as he is, Bear resists Mouse's efforts to cheer him and cure his cold.
Links to resources/Activities: I would ask kids to describe how it feels to be sick and what helps to cheer them up. Is it a friend (like Mouse), or is it a parent, or a special food? I always like ice cream. :)
Why I chose this book: This book was a recommendation from our librarian and I'm so happy she suggested it. I was actually laughing reading it because it reminded me of my kids and how when they're sick they just feel miserable and are sure that they will never feel better and life is over. Of course Bear gets better in the end, but I love the way his friend Mouse does everything he can to help his friend.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: Happy Hippo Angry Duck

Last week, I mentioned "another book" that we went back to the library to get. This is that book. Since m daughter was young, I've picked up a bunch of Sandra Boynton's board books over the years. Some have been memorized (The Going to Bed Book) some have been read in classrooms for Hispanic Heritage Month (Azul el Sombrero, Verde el Sombrero), and some have been played with so much there are marker lines through the pages (The ABC Book). Not all books receive this loving treatment from my kids, but when we find one we like, and read it over and over again, it gets memorized, carried around, spilled on, read in class, and loved; like the Velveteen Rabbit.
And so this week, I present you with Happy Hippo, Angry Duck.

Title: Happy Hippo, Angry Duck
Written and Illustrated by: Sandra Boynton
Publisher: Little Simon Books, 2011
Suitable for: Preschool and up
Themes/Topics: Feelings
Opening: From the first two pages: "Hello, little person! How are you today? Is your mood quite terrific or only okay? Are you happy as a hippo or angry as a duck?"
Brief Synopsis: This book explores moods of all kinds using the adorable animal illustrations of Sandra Boynton to create a message that is simple for the youngest of kids to understand.
Links to resources: I looked for resources but didn't find any online. However, the book is a resource in itself and provides a great platform for asking children: Are you happy as a hippo or angry as a duck? Are you amused or confused? Grumpy or contented?
Why I chose this book: As I said, Boynton's books have been in our house for many years, about 10, and each has found it's own place on our bookshelves. I like this one because I see it as a younger version of  When Sophie Gets Angry, She Gets Really, Really Angry which I had bought for my daughter, at an older age, to help her understand her own emotions. This book is very cute, but also helps the youngest of children  communicate their own moods which will lead to understanding moods and emotions as they get older.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

St. Patrick's Day- My Favorite Memory

I've always loved St. Partick's Day.
Being of Irish descent, it was celebrated with Corned Beef and Cabbage for dinner and wearing something green. Yes, I actually looked for four leaf clovers in my backyard and do remember years of drawing clovers on my face to celebrate.
My favorite St. Patrick's Day memory?
I was working in New York City and my mom met me for dinner and a play. We went to a restaurant on Park Avenue South called Patria. It was brand new at the time and had an upscale latino menu. Afterwards, wearing my green, I met up with friends and proudly flashed my driver's license which displayed my name: Tracy MacDonald. What most people don't realize is that there are two different and distinct spellings for "this name" which happen indicate the country of origin. The way mine was/is spelled is actually the Scottish version (there is a story behind this which explains a lot but I'll save that for another time). The Irish version is: McDonald. Being in New York City on St. Patrick's Day, when everyone is Irish, it didn't matter how it was spelled, everyone assumed I was Irish, which I am, just not from that side of the family.
St. Patrick's Day now- My kids go to school, wearing green, all excited to see if the mischievous leprechaun wreaked havoc in the classroom and left any treats for the kids. I always make Corned Beef and Cabbage and I throw a drop of green food coloring into my Corona.
Happy St. Patrick's Day- may the wind always be at your back 
and may the road always rise up to meet you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

Fridays seem to come faster and faster each week! Not that I'm complaining, I love Fridays. We all just veg out after a full week of homework, sports, and whatever activities come our way. Oh, and I don't cook on Fridays- even better.
But, Fridays also mean Perfect Picture Books from Susanna Hill. As I have done in the past, I'm picking a book strongly influenced by Z, my four year old. He's so good at this! So, after several visits to the bookstore, we finally bought the book, along with another of his favorites, but I'll save that one for next week. And so, I bring you: The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man.

Title: The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man
Written by: Michael Chabon

Illustrated by: Jake Parker
Published by Balzer +Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2011
Suitable for: Ages 4-8
Theme/Topics:  Action, adventure, imagination
Overview/Synopsis: From the publisher: 
 Awesome Man can shoot positronic rays out of his eyeballs, fly as straight as an arrow, and hug mutant Jell-O! Even villains like Professor Von Evil and the Flaming Eyeball are no match for this caped crusader.  And yes, he does have a secret!

Activities: The only thing needed for an activity is imagination. The way this story reads, it follows the adventure of a child perfectly, right down to the restoring of energy for more battles, and the super secret home base.
Why I Chose This Book: Z and I were in the bookstore and the cover art was what did it. Z got the book from the shelf and we sat on the couch and started reading. Next trip to the bookstore, the same thing happened. Needless to say, we now own the book and have read it several times since Tuesday. One could say the book chose us.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Confessions of a SuperHero Junkie

So there I was, last Saturday, looking for movie times for The Lorax thinking it would be a great thing to do on a rainy Saturday. March is coming like a fierce lion I don't remember knowing as a child. Perhaps we're making up for the fabulous snowless winter. But, I digress.
I didn't make it far into the movie times as I was quickly distracted by a little note at the side of the the Moviefone page noting that the Incredible Hulk saves Iron Man in the new movie, The Avengers. Well that was all it took. One click and I was well away from movie times and content appropriate for my kids and well into my own little addiction of super heroes, villains and of course the end of the earth. The cast looks great but I don't know why Ed Norton isn't playing The Hulk, and I have to say I'm a little disappointed, but will be sure to see it anyway. I know my son will want to come with me and for that, I cannot wait.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, no we have not seen The Lorax yet. Gotta fix that!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Perfect Picture Books And A Birthday

How great is it that today is both Perfect Picture Book Friday and Dr. Seuss' birthday? Ok, myabe it's just me and I've had a little too much coffee this morning. But, and I'm sure this is not an original idea, it just seemed appropriate to feature one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books today, Ten Apples Up On Top. I love the counting and the competition. Now I know where my kids get it from!
And so today, I present you with Ten Apples Up On Top. For other recommendations from some great people, go to Susanna Hill's blog for the complete list.

Title: Ten Apples Up On Top
Written and Illustrated by: Theodor Seuss Geisel (AKA Dr. Seuss)
Published by Random House, 1961
Suitable for: Children of all ages. :)
Theme/Topics:  Counting, consequences
Overview/Synopsis: From the publisher: 
A lion, a dog, and a tiger are having a contest--can they get ten apples piled up on top of their heads? You better believe it! This first counting book works as a teaching tool as well as a funny story.  
Activities: When my daughter was in preschool, it was Dr. Seuss' 100th birthday. I made cupcakes and decorated them with different numbers of apples on each. But... if you're looking for educational resources and activities, try these activites from A to Z Teacher Stuff.
Why I Chose This Book: It's a classic and I have actually had fun counting the apples and laughing with my kids over the funny things that happen when you try to pile 10 apples on your head. Oh, and today is Dr. Seuss' birthday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A to Z Challenge is Around Z Corner

So, I signed up for the A to Z Challenge in April and ever since then I've been flip-flopping stressing over what to write for it. With exactly a month to go, I figured I better get my act together.
Technically, it should be a blogger's dream: 26 days to talk about whatever I want as long as I stick to the alphabet. No sweat! After 2-3 weeks of deliberation, brain storms, and note making I think I have a plan. Thankfully, recent posts from the fabulous people over at A to Z, with much-needed pointers and guidelines, really helped me to focus. I need focus. Desperately.
What did I decide on? There are three things that I "know" about: food, kids, life and I don't necessarily know a lot about any or all of those things, but I think I know enough to be able to write about them for 26 days. Thankfully, I can plan ahead and plan around things like Easter, two separate school vacation schedules and three fabulous kids.
So, get ready A to Z, here I come!