Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Giveaway!

Have you heard of the Midge and Moo series of picture books? Kerry McQuaide is the author and illustrator of six lovable and educational stories featuring Midge and her beloved stuffed animal, Moo. And through June 10, she is hosting a giveaway!

The books:

Midge and Moo are best friends. They came home from the hospital together when Midge was just two days old, and they do everything together. If Midge builds a tower, Moo knocks it down. If Midge tracks mud in the house, Moo gets the blame, too. They are always there for each other, and readers will find that Moo gives Midge the confidence she needs to explore, learn, and grow. I just love the sweet interactions between this little one and her lovie.

With colorful and playful illustrations on each spread, children will get a zoomed-in view of the relatable activities between Midge and Moo. The stories are short and sweet with just a few words per spread -- perfect for repeat reading with kiddos ages 0-5.

The author:

Kerry McQuaide grew up with parents and sisters who believed snuggling and laughing were a part of reading picture books. And now, she hopes to touch lives with her own stories of love, kindness, and friendship.

"When you read to kids, it is magical when you all laugh at the same part.
It is a wonderful way to slow down and bond. And kids are so funny,
they’ll ask the same questions over and over. “Is her mom mad at her?”
or “Why is she sad?” They are processing the world they see
reflected in the books and the human emotions they experience
in their own lives through theses stories."

The giveaway:

Through June 10, Kerry McQuaide is hosting a fun giveaway. You could win all of the Midge and Moo picture books, the brand new Midge and Moo Coloring Books, plus crayons of course (8 books total)!

I think this would be a fabulous way to build or enhance a library for your little one. Snuggle up and read the stories together, and then, the next day, revisit the themes through coloring together.

Enter here! (Scroll down just bit to enter.)

And if you don't win but would still like to enjoy the Midge and Moo books, they are available here.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Humbling Story

Well, May has been a crazy month! The kids' last day of school was last Thursday, and there were all kinds of end-of-the-school-year festivities. My oldest graduated from elementary school, so now we'll have a middle schooler, first grader, and preschool kiddo. :)

I haven't been doing as much writing because of all this busyness. And being home with the kids all summer, I'm not sure how much progress I'll make. So I'm still soaking up what wisdom I can in hopes of putting pen to paper periodically over the summer and then in a more focused manner in August.

But something kind of funny and kind of embarrassing happened last week. Back in February, I had entered a 50-word poem into Vivian Kirkfield's 50 Precious Words contest (in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday). I was pleased with my little poem and got some positive feedback. I titled it "Pair Skate," and one of the words I used was "swizzled." I was proud of the word choice, thinking I had come up with an original spin on the term "swizzles" used in ice dancing.

Well, last week, we finally checked out Tara Lazar's Little Red Gliding Hood.

The story is a sort of mash-up of a variety of fairy tales, with well-known characters and plot lines making an appearance throughout. The main premise is that Little Red needs to find a skating partner for the Pair Skate. And throughout the book, it talks about Little Red swizzling and twizzling.

Well, I was embarrassed. I mean, it was an honest mistake, but I had submitted a piece of writing that was extremely close in theme, content, and word choice to another well-known published piece. Humbling.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever accidentally copied someone and found out later? Is there any way to avoid this? If you are a creative in some way, shape, or form, I'd love to hear about any experience with this!

Check back tomorrow for a giveaway opportunity and I'll also spotlight a new picture book this week (hint: it involves a tree and a secret!).


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fetch! (These 5 Picture Books about Sticks)

Friendship. Loneliness. Family. Imagination. Perseverance. These are a few of the powerful and moving themes found in this darling collection of books featuring sticks. I think that you and your child will find that these common pieces of wood can be extraordinary, indeed. Enjoy!

1. Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

This heartwarming rhyming book begs to be read again and again. Stick and Stone are alone, until they meet each other. They become fast friends, and Stick, well, "sticks up" for Stone when a meanie teases him. Their bond grows, but then there is a frightful storm, and Stick is blown away. Will Stone be able to find him?

Ferry's sparse use of words and sweet rhythmic verse convey an incredibly moving story of friendship. And the pairing of text and illustrations in this book is touching and meaningful. The reader hears and sees the delight and significance of a good friendship, as well as the power of defending those close to you. And then, wonderfully, the illustrations show reconciliation with that bully at the end. So great. This one is certainly a "10" in my book. ;)

2. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson; illustrated by Axel Scheffler (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008)

From the author/illustrator duo that brought us The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom, Stick Man tells the story of a stick who is taken farther and farther away from his family in a series of mishaps: a dog who thinks he is a fun toy to fetch, a swan who wants to use him in her nest, a family who brings him inside for their fireplace. Will Stick Man be able to survive and return to his family?

Told in the well-paced, rollicking rhyme that is characteristic of Donaldson's storytelling, this is a tale with adventure and tension and lots of heart. The use of repetition gives this story a structure that is captivating for kids, and they can chant along with the refrain: "I'm Stick Man, I'm Stick Man, I'M STICK MAN, that's me, And I want to go home to the family tree!" And you will love Scheffler's endearing, detailed portrayal of this adorable stick. :)

3. Papa Gave Me a Stick by Janice Levy; illustrated by Simone Shin (Star Bright Books, 2015)

This is a beautiful book and story. Antonio wants his own guitar (guitarra), like the ones he's seen in the mariachi band. But his papa says they don't have the money for such things. Instead, with a wink, he hands him a stick. In a series of events, Antonio helps animals and people around the town, who in turn gift him little items. When he finds a gold ring lost by a groom, he is gifted the thing he wished for the most.
This book is unique and diverse and provides a glimpse at another culture. While children will already relate to the themes of family, love, and longing, they will also be exposed to Spanish terms and Mexican symbols and traditions. A heartwarming story with beautiful illustrations -- I hope you'll check this one out.

4. Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis (Harper Collins, 2008)

In this sparsely-illustrated, minimalist picture book, there exists an unseen narrator who repeatedly warns the main character, a pig, about the potential dangers of the stick he is carrying. Each time, the pig retorts, "It's not a stick!" And for each spread in which the pig tells the reader it is not a stick, the illustrations expose the triumphant imagination of the stick wielder -- for he is imagining the stick is a fishing rod to catch a shark, or a paintbrush for a masterpiece, or a sword with which to fight a dragon. This seemingly simple book is incredibly powerful in concretely revealing the imagination at work -- perfect for reading with children and celebrating the power of imagining. I love it.

5. Stick! by Andy Pritchett (Candlewick Press, 2013)

Another minimalist picture book, this one features a dog with a stick. And he wants someone to play with him. With one word per spread, he tempts the various barnyard animals with "Stick?" but they all have their own entertainment ("Mud!"). Discouraged, he flings the stick away -- but it is thrown back! And now he has a new friend.

It is amazing how a story can be told in such spare wording, but this one will have you rooting for the dog to find a playmate and delighting in the emotions that the illustrations convey. A great book for repeat-reading with kiddos!

Happy reading!