“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

The FIX IT Man

Written by:  Dimity Powell

Illustrated by:  Nicky Johnston

Published by:    EK Books, Imprint of Exisle Pub Pty Ltd 2017

Ages:    4 -8 years

Theme:   grief, loss, resilience

Opening Lines:   My dad can fix anything. It’s what dads do. He’s handy with a hammer when my furniture falls apart. He’s nifty with a needle and thread, can untangle knots I can’t.

Synopsis:   From Amazon:  It’s handy having a dad who can fix just about anything. A young girl believes her father is the king of fixing things. But following the death of her mother, she discovers that broken hearts are not as easy to repair as damaged toys and cracked teapots. Together, she and her father find a way to glue back the pieces of her lives. The Fix-It Man is a poignant picture book that explores how a child can cope with the loss of a parent (in this case, the young girl’s mother). Repairing damaged emotions is not as straightforward as gluing a broken kite back together or sewing up a torn toy. And grief affects all members of a family, with each responding in their own way to the loss. By sticking with her father, the young girl is able to strengthen her resilience and ability to cope with one of life’s harshest experiences. The author was encouraged to seek publication for this story after receiving the endorsement of several grief counselors who work with children and who recognized the need for a book such as this.

Why I like this:   Little girls know that the best person who can fix – well almost anything, is their Dads.  The cover of this book is gorgeous with a little girl being carried on her father’s back. She is obviously having fun and its warm colours beg to be picked up. The sparse well-chosen words leave much for the illustrator.  One of the beautiful sentences is… “Mama watches from her rug, the one Dad stitched together from rainbows and old hugs.”  Isn’t that beautiful?  In the spread …”She can’t be fixed by doctors or peach and honey tea. Mama can’t be fixed with lots of rest or even by Dad … or me.” You can feel the pain she is feeling of losing her mum. The next page is a full illustrated spread of her and dad curled up on a beanbag wrapped in a blanket staring at the window. The colours are pale grey. It’s obvious without any words that her mother has passed away. In the next pages she tries to keep some normality, even painting her dad’s toenails and folding the washing very aware her dad is broken. But it’s not till she cries because her teddy’s stuffing is coming out and she needs him to fix it that he once again becomes her Mr-Fix-It man. While the illustrations are of pixy looking figures with minimal detail it is the positions that the little girl takes, such as resting on her elbow while watching her Dad, that make it endearing.  A serious topic written tenderly of grief and heartbreak and the discovery that love is the best glue of all.

Resources/Findings:  Author’s website…  https://dimitypowell.com/

From the author’s website… teacherable notes…  https://dimitypowell.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TEACHERS-Notes-V-2-TFIM-with-Book-trailer-Dec-2016.pdf

Recommended companion book for kids on loss, grief …   https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Invisible-String-Patrice-Karst/9780316486231?redirected=true&utm_medium=Google&utm_campaign=Base1&utm_source=NZ&utm_content=The-Invisible-String&selectCurrency=NZD&w=AF7CAU9S4Y7LH4A8VCC9&pdg=pla-304337923643:cmp-8702409092:adg-89047769258:crv-408427422168:pos-:dev-c&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6_vzBRCIARIsAOs54z44MjG89m7VXm2geCvz2c_5TXfrkfSvUOSDbEbDLT7jSB3ctbi0cKIaAgvKEALw_wcB

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Memories – plus the WINNER of a wonderful giveaway!

 In a time of nervous concern, panic buying, and stun wonder at how such a serious virus as the Coronavirus could be happening with closures of festivals, concerts, schools, travel flights etc…  Doesn’t the world feel like a small place right now? I can only hope and pray that our dear friends around the world are heeding to instructions and taking care of themselves.  I am grateful that the internet allows us to connect with our love ones and friends wherever they may be.

Our country is also in the throes of remembering the anniversary of the mass shooting which took place a year ago 15th March 2019 in Christchurch. A city, that was already recovering from the loss of hundreds during an earthquake a few years earlier. We were in Christchurch around that time with a dear friend from the USA and enjoyed walking the new wide streets, shopping and dining in fresh, modern shops and restaurants and stayed in an inner city hotel made from used containers (from the outside) that housed a restaurant and a brightly lit reception with ultra-modern compact rooms (see some pictures in the video below). We flew home to Auckland on the Thursday afternoon and the following morning visited a school where my friend was sharing a story-time with the kids, which was followed later by lunch up at Golf Harbour on the North Shore, unaware of the shooting taking place down in Christchurch that morning. Had we stayed another night down there we would have been caught up in the horror and confusion as flights were cancelled in and out of the city for a time.  When we heard and saw the horror on the TV we immediately hopped on our laptops so my friend could let her family and friends know she was safe as many knew she would be travelling around the country with me. Today 15th March (NZ time)a year later, many were to be gathering in Christchurch for a remembrance service – grieving for lost loved ones and grateful for those who survived and those who put their lives on the line to help but due to the Coronavirus it has been cancelled.

Through all this I am reminded of the memories of a wonderful time I had with my dear friend and critique buddy Vivian Kirkfield, who stayed with me for just over two weeks. She travelled first to Australia to attend the Sydney SCBWI conference 2019 and then flew on to New Zealand with me where I enjoyed showing her my special part of the world.  Below is a video of some photos looking back at the fun time we had, the story-times as well as Vivian meeting the Auckland SCBWI group. And ending with the last night at my place, chatting till the wee hours while catching up with her family, via the internet.

Also the lucky winner to get an advance copy of Vivian’s bound ARC book – FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES is…..

drum roll…….

PAMELA HARRISON!

Woohoo!    Congratulations Pamela.   I’ll let Vivian know and she will get in touch with you.  Well that’s all I have for now.  I hope you will enjoy the video of pictures below.

Posted in Vivian's Adventures down under | 6 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

The Snow Wombat

Written by:  Susannah Chambers

Illustrated by:  Mark Jackson

Published by:    Allen & Unwin (October 1, 2016)

Ages:    3 – 6 years

Theme:   snow, adventure

Opening Lines:   Snow on the stockman’s hut.  Snow on the crows. Snow on the woolybutt. Snow on my…  NOSE!

Synopsis:   It’s a big journey through the snow for a little wombat, meeting animals, birds and people along the way… but there’s no place like home. A heart-warming story set in the Australian High Country.

Why I like this:  The wombat journeys through the snowy Australian alpine with beautiful double page illustrations detailed enough for a good discussion. The text is in a large font, and lends itself to being read aloud.  It leads to predicting the scenario on the following page. Repetition is used to reinforce the concept of snow everywhere, especially on the “Woolybuts” and “My Tum”. Snow on the horses and the possums’ tails, indicates nothing escapes snowflakes when outside. Each page has about seven or eight words, just enough to tell a little of the story, and the rest is visually told. There are some feature pages with one huge word, to emphasize a point, or for humorous impact. The end pages show a trail that leads the Wombat from the trees, past the crows and the Stockman’s hut, past the sheep paddock, over the riverbank and finally to its burrow. During the reading, one can go back to the end pages and see the progress made by the wombat on his way home. This cute book was also shortlisted for the Australian Children’s Book Award. This would also make a great gift for young people overseas, who may not associate Australia with Alpine regions.

Resources/Findings:  Story read aloud…   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY7YMbDCYaE

Facts about Wombats…    https://www.livescience.com/52640-wombats.html

Interesting facts about wildlife in Australia…    https://www.activewild.com/australian-animals-list/

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like-minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon

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“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

Imagine That     – a Hoot & Olive Story

Written and Illustrated by:   Jonathan D. Voss

Published by:    Henry Holt and Company New York 2019

Ages:    4 – 8 years

Theme:   imagination, friendship, keep trying

Opening Lines:   Olive had a great big imagination, which was only just a smidge smaller than her huge heart. Her best friend Hoot, had a heart that was equally big.

Synopsis:   (from Amazon) Olive is a little girl with a big, bright imagination. Hoot is her stuffed-animal owl…and her best friend. The two love adventures of all sorts. But on the rainiest of days, there is only one thing to do: stay inside and imagine a whole new world.

Just as they’re about to begin their adventure, Hoot makes a shocking discovery―his imagination is broken! Like the best of best friends, Olive comes up with some ideas to help him. But nothing is working: not the head unscrambler, the earmuffs, or the hypnosis. Just as the two are about to give up, Olive remembers the secret ingredient to imagination, and they give it one more try.

 Why I like this:  It’s beautiful.  Trust me you will love it.  From the illustrations, which are kind of large, simple, old worldly and dramatic.  Olive has a pixie face almost fairy-like.  Hoot is her stuffed owl.  The cuteness in Hoot trying to find his imagination, while Olive’s larger than life imagination fills the page.  The author uses basic picture book tools such as the use of three’s in attempting to fix a problem. Tension rises and suddenly she works out how to fix it. They try one more time.  I love near the end when their imagination is all around them and Hoot thanks Olive for showing him the most important part.  Already they are thinking of what great adventure their imagination will take them tomorrow.  This beautiful story comes full circle with an aww ending.  The themes of friendship, helping one another, and never giving up, makes this a classic to keep.   This is the second book in this Hoot and Olive Series.

Resources/Findings:   The author’s website has a youtube video of himself producing artwork for this book as well as pictures of inside the book.   http://www.jonathandvoss.com/imagine-that   Along with other beautiful artwork.

Thoughts and resources on imaginative play…  https://www.learning4kids.net/2011/12/30/what-is-imaginative-play-and-how-to-encourage-it/

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VIVIAN KIRKFIELD – AN ANNIVERSARY, FRIENDSHIP, AND MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD

Hi everyone,

I can’t believe it’s a year today since Vivian Kirkfield and I flew to Auckland NZ from Australia after meeting up at the SCBWI Sydney Conference 2019 three days earlier for the first time.  A YEAR TODAY!  Wow!  And who said time doesn’t fly?  We had a blast, meeting all those wonderful Kidlit people such as Susanne Gervay, Mira Reisberg, Vivian’s agent Essie White, Sarah Davis and many others including our room-mate Maria Marshall also from the USA.  I literally had to pinch myself for the next few days everytime Vivian came downstairs for breakfast, just to remind myself that she was really here, in my home.  As a dear online friend and critique buddy for the past eight years that vivacious, bubbly, sweet pint-sized lady is exactly the same if not more amazing and wonderful in person as she is online folks. Known widely in the kidlit world for her huge heart, compassion, encouragement, wisdom, her inspiration and successes are a testament that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and want it enough.

When Vivian and I were talking about doing this blog post I commented on the parallels between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Munroe’s friendship, and the opening lines in her latest book MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD, and her and I. We are two very different people in looks.  Vivian, short, fair skinned with black curly hair and me, white (grey) straight hair, tanned skin and surprisingly a little taller than her.  Yet inside we were similar, with our passion for writing for children and our hopes and dreams to get our stories into the hands of children everywhere.

I thought I would celebrate the anniversary of Vivian’s world trip of Europe and down-under last year by sharing some wonderful insights Vivian shared through some of her many blog post interviews celebrating the recent launch of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD. But first I had a few questions of my own to ask her…

1.. Vivian I know in other blog posts and interviews you have mentioned how you were inspired to write about the friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Munroe and I know you love to dig for research in any form available, but how do you know what actual thread of the story you want to tell or show and when and how did you know you had enough to tell the story?

Those are great questions, Diane. In this instance, because I was so captivated by the photo of Ella and Marilyn sitting shoulder to shoulder in the nightclub…and because I was so intrigued by this friendship I had never known about even though I grew up in the 50’s, I decided I wanted this to be a story about inclusive friendships and about women supporting women. As with all stories, there are other threads woven in such as racial and appearance discrimination and gender equity.

One of the problems with writing nonfiction is that when there is a lot of information, it’s hard to decide what to leave out and what to leave in. From books and online in-person interviews, I had plenty of information – and when I had the telephone conversation with Ella’s long-time promoter and got confirmation that they had been friends, I knew I had enough to write an authentic accurate narrative.

  1.  I know that we are constantly told that the beginning or first sentences – the “hook,” if you will, is very important in writing any picture book.  What was the process or how did you come up with the opening lines of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD?   Was it easy or did you have to play around with it?

That’s another great question, Diane! For me, the opening lines are my way into the story…and also the reader’s way into the story. I craft my opening lines early in the rough draft writing process…and sometimes they remain the same…and sometimes they change drastically. With MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD, I originally thought I’d create the setting/time for the reader…and my opening lines went like this:

   In 1955, the year Disneyland was created, the year Velcro was invented, the year McDonalds served their first hamburger, women were supposed to be seen and not heard. But two women would not be silenced—movie star Marilyn Monroe, and jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.

     On the outside, you couldn’t find two women who seemed more different.

     Marilyn’s platinum blonde waves, baby blue eyes, and breathy boo-boo-be-doos had movie-goers going ga-ga.

     Ella had kinky curls and satiny brown skin. Her velvety shube-doobe-doos filled small smoky clubs like nobody’s business. But black jazz singers couldn’t perform in places that were for whites-only.

And if you look at the opening spread of the actual book, you will see that I totally eliminated that first paragraph…and started with what became the theme/heart of the story: On the outside, you never saw two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike, filled with hopes and dreams and plans of what might be.

The manuscript went through many revisions…and even after the Little Bee editor bought it, there were still revisions to do.

  1. I’m interested in how you are going about promoting this book. You do school visits, library and book store readings with question and answers and talks and presentations at writing conferences and retreats, is there any other marketing tool you are using?   And what works best for you?

Bookstore events can be fun…but they can also be very disappointing. Sometimes you only get one or two people who show up. Other times, you planned to read the book for story time, but the children are only 2 years old and can’t really sit to hear a story and you need to improvise and just read the pictures, skipping over most of the words. I’ve really enjoyed bookstore events geared for adults where I can chat about my journey as a writer. And writing conferences are also lots of fun because I know that my story might be inspiring to attendees. But my absolute favorite is to do school visits…the kids are amazing…so engaged and curious – the best part is the Q&A…they amaze me with their thoughtful questions.

As to what marketing sells the most books? Not bookstore events…although the bookstore usually buys a bunch of books…and often some of each of my previous titles. The school visits arranged by the bookstore are great…each school buys a box or more of books, usually. And writing conferences, especially if you are on the program, can be a nice place to sell some books because you can sign them for attendees. Honestly, I try not to stress about the sales of the books…I want to concentrate on writing the best stories I can write…and hope that editors buy the manuscripts and consumers buy the books.

When a book wins awards, as SWEET DREAMS, SARAH did, that can be helpful for sales, especially to schools and librarians. We’ll see what happens this year since SARAH won the Eureka Honor Award from the California Reading Association and was named a 2020 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.

  1. Just a quick last question… I hear you are giving a talk at the Marilyn Remembered Fan Club and also an interview with the German Marilyn Munroe’s Fan club for their magazine. Congratulations!  How fantastic is that!  Are you excited/Nervous?   Next, we will be seeing you interviewed on Good Morning America, BBC and ABC tv…lol.

Hahaha…well, I won’t hold my breath for Good Morning America…but I am very happy about the talk with the Marilyn Remembered Fan Club in Los Angeles in July…Greg Schreiner, the president, was very helpful in putting me in touch with the lady who was Ella Fitzgerald’s promoter for thirty-seven years. I’m not nervous because I love speaking with people about my writing journey and how I came to write each book. What I have found is that I speak from the heart about my passion for writing, the nervousness fades away.

And the interview for the German magazine is total fun…I can’t wait to see it!

Thank you my dear friend.  I took the liberty to post some links so if people would like more information about this book and Vivian’s process and her thoughts you can find some of the blogs she was interviewed on…

There is more on Ella and Marilyn on Maria Marshalls blog, where Vivian also has some advice if you have just learned your book is about to be published.

On Nancy Churnin’s blog, Vivian voices her concerns writing MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD and about what friendship means to her.

On Sallys Bookshelf Vivian shares her thoughts about how Ella and Marilyn stepped outside the norms society had set for them. Learn some insights Vivian came across while researching.

On Beth Anderson Children’s Writer Blog Vivian discusses mining for heart and shares how she mined heart into the story of Ella and Marilyn.

And check out another wonderful interview by Vivian as Author Spotlight on Helen Ishmurzin’s Blog.

Diane, thank you so much for having me on your blog. You were such an amazing host for me when I visited New Zealand last year…and the blog posts you did were much appreciated. I wish it wasn’t such a big trip…or else I’d be back in a blink of an eye. I so appreciate your encouragement and support as one of my critique buddies…you are definitely part of the reason my stories are so strong.

AND, I am grateful for your help with #50PreciousWords…thank you for being willing to help read, comment, and judge the entries again this year. The contest opens with an official blog post on February 29 and closes on March 5th. I’m hoping to post the winners (we already have 24 awesome prizes including editor critiques and seats in writing classes) on March 21st.

That’s right folks Vivian’s #50PreciousWords is on again and you have exactly two days left to polish those 50 words so get writing and check out Vivian’s blog with all the rules extra on February 29.  I’m looking forward to reading and judging.  In past years one author gained agent representation through this contest and another had their work picked up by an editor.  So this is a very worthwhile and popular contest. See you there.

Also I have a special announcement  …one lucky person will win a bound ARC of Vivian’s upcoming book: FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES. It doesn’t come out until January 2021 but if you comment on my blog then you will go in the draw to get an advanced copy of this amazing new book which is a compilation of NINE stories.  That’s right not one but NINE stories on how different modes of transportation came about.  And believe me it is an amazing book by Vivian.

Thank you again, dear Vivian. I’ve so enjoyed having you visit my blog and I’m sure we will see you here again in the near future. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed you will be visiting New Zealand again one day soon.   Here are a couple of pictures, memories of last years’ visit. (I’m sure facebook will share some memories too.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and traveling around the world to hug kid-lit friends. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at national writers’ conferences. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (Pomegranate); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books); and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). You can connect with her on her websiteFacebookTwitterPinterestInstagramLinkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.

Posted in Children's literature, Picture book, published writing, Vivian's Adventures down under | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

Luna and the Moon Rabbit

Written and Illustrated by:   Camille Whitcher

Published by:    Scribblers; Illustrated edition (August 7, 2018)

Ages:    3 years and up.

Theme:   friendship, imagination, bedtime

Opening Lines:   Luna was sitting with her Grandma gazing up at the bright shining Moon.

Synopsis:   (on the back of the book) Inspired by Asian folklore, this is the magical tale of a young girl called Luna who befriends the giant rabbit who lives in the Moon and goes with it on a soothing, dreamlike adventure.  Perfect for bedtime reading.

Why I like this:  This is a beautiful whimsical dream-like read, ideal for bedtime reading.  Little Luna is told by her Grandmother of the large white rabbit in the moon and that if she leaves a rice cake out he may visit her.  I loved how when she fell asleep the rabbit appeared and took Luna on a magical adventure in the nearby woods.  The soothing illustrations are all set in wispy greys of night-time. The pink rabbit onesie complete with rabbit ears and pompom tail she wears is very cute. The rabbit never speaks but understood and cares for Luna.

This book is the winner of the inaugural Stratford-Salariya Picture Book Prize, a competition held by the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival and Salariya Book Company

Resources/Findings:    This is the author/illustrator’s website…  https://www.camillewhitcher.co.uk/

Illustrations…  https://www.instagram.com/milly_of_bunston/?hl=en

How to draw a Rabbit…

https://www.google.co.nz/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNTRvElj301Lys5rFgW27Qqv6fwZ5w%3A1580467275236&lei=SwQ0Xo6UDpSb9QPA8Kf4Aw&q=how%20to%20draw%20a%20realistic%20rabbit&ved=2ahUKEwir7IG1063nAhXfzjgGHZkjCTwQsKwBKAB6BAgDEAE&biw=1366&bih=657#kpvalbx=_mAQ0XraIKOOa4-EP9MeF8AQ58

 

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like-minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

 

Posted in Perfect Picture Book Review, Reading Aloud | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

 

THE BOY AND THE BEAR

Written by:   Tracey Corderoy

Illustrated by:  Sarah Massini

 Published by:    2017 Nosey Crow Ltd UK

Ages:    2 – 5 years

Theme:   Unlikely friendship, Loneliness, Loyalty

Opening Lines:   Once upon a time, there lived a boy who wanted to play.

Synopsis:   (on the back of the book) One small boy wishes he had a Best Friend…  And when he discovers a message written on a little paper boat, he finds that the perfect friend is sometimes the unlikeliest of all.

 Why I like this: This delightful whimsical story is sweet and simple showing that things don’t always work out the way we expect, and special friends are those that are loyal and faithful, and leave lasting impressions.  And it’s true – absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Whimsical illustrations of mixed-media format in water-colour blues and greens of pond life really capture the mood of the writing. The origami plane at the beginning and the boats that float with messages are a nice touch. Sparse text carries us through the seasons bringing us to an aww moment.  This would also make a great mentor text – a story with heart, lyrical text with the rule of threes, page turns, a main character with a problem, and finishing in a satisfactory near circular resolution

Resources/Findings:    You can have a peek at The Boy and the Bear and also reviews from the critics here…    https://nosycrow.com/product/the-boy-and-the-bear/

Author’s website…  http://www.traceycorderoy.com/the-boy-and-the-bear

Also the author of “Just Right for Two”…   https://thepatientdreamer.com/2014/11/29/perfect-picture-book-friday-88/

“Monty and Millie”…    https://thepatientdreamer.com/2012/12/02/perfect-picture-book-friday-33/

And – “Little Penquin Lost” …  https://thepatientdreamer.com/2015/02/14/perfect-picture-book-friday-93/

Among many others.

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

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“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

STAR IN THE JAR

Written by:   Sam Hay

Illustrated by:  Sarah Massini

 Published by:    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 4, 2018)

Ages:    3 – 6 years

Theme:   Friendship, Team-work.

Opening Lines:   My little broher likes looking for treasure. Tickly treasure…

Synopsis:   When a little boy stumbles across a lost star, he decides to take care of it, putting it in a jar and carrying it with him everywhere. But when the sky calls out for its missing star, can the little boy and his sister figure out a way to return the star to its friends in the sky…even if it means saying goodbye forever?

 Why I like this:  There are lots to love about this sweet simple story. Page turns, the rule of threes such as tickly treasure, glittery treasure and litter-bin treasure.  Then there is asking the sheriff, the fairies and the wizards. It has that wonderful child feel in that the child puts the star in a jar so he can take it with him everywhere. Again the threes appear when he tries to send the star back to the sky, by climbing a tree, teaching it to fly and bouncing on a trampoline.  I loved the way how his older sister tries her best to help him. Told through his sister she comes up with the idea of attracting the attention of the other stars.  What I also love is how this story is told leaving specific details to the illustrations. A beautiful story that would be enjoyed anytime of the day, but especially at bedtime.

Resources/Findings:  :   Author’s website…  https://www.samhayauthor.com/

Teachers teaching and fun packs…  https://piedpipertheatre.co.uk/teacher_resources.php

See the trailer of the show Star in a Jar…    https://piedpipertheatre.co.uk/news.php?id=126&title=STAR_IN_THE_JAR_TRAILER

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Perfect Picture Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

12 Days of Christmas – SUCCESSES!

Children’s author Julie Hedlund (founder of 12×12 online Writing Challenge) challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES on our blogs of this past year. This is in the hope that we can build goals for the coming year from these successes.  So I decided to participate and here is my list from 2019.

  • Even though I had many interruptions during the year with visitors and trips away overseas and other life commitments I still managed to post at least 20 picture book reviews on my blog.
  • I was very lucky to meet up and spend time with one of the most endearing kidlit people you could ever wish to meet. To spend time with Vivian Kirkfield, see her in action in schools, libraries and conferences, and to be able to show her my special place in the world and for us to spend time talking and working on what we are both so passionate about (writing for children), was a dream come true for me.
  • I entered at least three writing contests this year and although not winning a place in any of them the experience was very rewarding and helped keep my creative writing chops alive.
  • I had competed in more twitter Pitches than I had done in previous years.
  • Revised more manuscripts than in previous years, and also improving in the revision process and allowing myself to experiment and stretch myself, enjoying favourable feedback from my loving, kind and generous critique buddies, whom I cannot be without.
  • Subbed more manuscripts this year and although no contracts I did get some wonderful feedback from some agents (including Essie White whom I met at the Aust East/NZ SCBWI Conference in February).
  • At the Aust East/NZ SCBWI Conference in February I got to meet some interesting Kidlit members and had such a wonderful time with – Sarah Davis, Susanne Gervay (whom I had met before), Mira Reisberg, Maria Marshall another 12x12er and Melanie Dixon who Vivian and I met up with again in Christchurch where she lives, besides Kaye Baillie and Essie White.
  • I also made new friends with 12x12ers residing here in New Zealand such as Kathy Derrick who reached out to me when she heard Vivian was in New Zealand and Kate Talbot who arrived in New Zealand this month to live permanently here in Auckland, which is really awesome for me.
  • Researching for a picture book story based on New Zealand wildlife and fauna which is a first for me.
  • Recently winning a critique from agent Charlotte Wenger resulting in favourable feedback.

What were your successes in 2019?  You are welcome to share in the comments below.

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THE 9TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Once again at this time of year there is a Christmas treat on Susanna’s blog. A buzz of writing fever and excitement.   Writing a Christmas story of only 250 words (the title not included).  The rest of the requirements are here.

Here is my Christmas story is below.  Enjoy…

GRAN’S CHRISTMAS SHORTBREAD

Mina’s Gran always makes the best Christmas treats – cake, pudding and the prettiest shortbread cookies.

But Gran had a fall through the winter and was slowly becoming forgetful so now lives in a rest-home.

Christmas won’t be the same without Gran’s Christmas treats thought Mina.  Her lip quivers remembering how special she felt cuddled up in Gran’s arms watching television and munching on those shortbread cookies.

Christmas just won’t be the same.

While helping her Mom put up the Christmas tree Mina came across a box with paper clippings from Gran.  Among them was a picture and recipe of Christmas shortbread cookies. Mina’s eyes widened – Gran’s cookies! She could make them.

Racing round the kitchen pulling out a tray, on tippy-toe Mina grabs the flour. With softened butter she whips, slips and slides the dough round the bowl.  Mina wipes her sweaty brow.

Without them Christmas just won’t be the same.

She follows Gran’s tip and retrieves the dough from the fridge, rolls and cuts the shapes.

The smell as Mina lifts the cookies from the oven to decorate floats through the house.  She pipes colored squiggles, her eyes twinkle like the colored balls.

On Christmas morning Mina races into Gran’s room, dressed in her Christmas best she hugs Gran.

“Look what I made Gran!”

Gran’s face crinkles with joy. Her eyes sparkle at the Christmas shortbread.

“They look just like mine.”

Mina cuddles up with Gran, munching Christmas shortbread.

Mina sighs. This is the PERFECT Christmas.

 

 

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