Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Author/Educator/SCBWI R.A. Alison Green Myers shares the Importance of Words + Free Skype Visit and Gifts



Peace, Goodwill, and Children’s Books by Alison Green Myers






Goodwill seems to pop up in December— literally on a Holiday Cards (like ours above) or in the actions of those moved by the spirit this time of year. I carry goodwill with me all year long. Maybe it’s the “goodwill” tattoo on my left wrist that reminds me, or more so, that I’m moved by the notion and its possibilities for our world.

Goodwill: 
1a : a kindly feeling of support : compassionate interest or concern 
2a : cheerful consent 
b : willing effort


I love the notion. Don’t you? 
Kindness. 
Support. 
Compassion. 
Willing effort. 
It does take effort, doesn’t it? Each night I ask myself if I lived “goodwill” that day. Some days are better than others, but hopefully my daily actions showed kindness and support, hopefully my words showed compassion and concern. And if not, I vow to try again the next day.
While the word has always meant much to me (so much in fact that I named my son Will) the nightly question wasn’t something I came to on my own. Dwight Smith the founder of the non-profit program My Special Word influenced me. He asks himself a similar question nightly.
My Special Word began as a personal crusade fifteen years ago; Dwight Smith then developed the idea into an empowering program for children and teens. Through the My Special Word program, children learn about Mr. Smith’s journey, and his reliance on a power word (“special word”) to help guide his decisions at home and in his flourishing business. 
On starting the program, Dwight said, “I had to ask myself, ‘what can I do to make a difference in the life of a child’? I can share my story. I can give them a tool that worked for me. The power of my word SOLD, what it teaches me. What it reminds me. I can share that with kids and get them thinking about a word that would make a difference in their life. Once they have that word, they own it. They are accountable to it. They can use it to make positive choices and changes.”
Last year Dwight approached me to write books that would accompany his program. Along with Dwight’s team at My Special Word including Courtnee Carrigan and Renee Smith, we created a book team with illustrator Beth Bogert and graphic designer Greta Schmidt. The result: a series of books that spread the positive power of words. The books launched a conversation in schools and organizations across the country. 

Kids are encouraged to select a special word that makes them feel empowered. In addition, they offer reasoning behind the self-selected word. Whenever we visit a school I find myself engaged with kids talking about who they are, what they wish to become, and the journey that they are on getting to that place. They ask about my word too (and sometimes even notice the tattoo.)
As I was meeting with a fifth grader during a school visit this fall, he told me he wanted to change his word. He explained that when he heard about the program, he just picked a word to satisfy the assignment. His actions weren’t malicious. His word was love. 
He explained, “It was a good enough word but now that I am really thinking about it [the program], the word doesn’t fit me.” 
Words change. 
People change. 
Understanding changes, especially in education. After he finished the writing project he shared with me the new word that he wanted to “live by.” His explanation read, “My word is transform. I love science. I like to watch something change into something else. I like how in art some paint can transform into a picture. I feel that way about me too. Like how one day you are small and then you turn older, or how you are not good at a sport and then one day you are the best on the team. I think that is a word to live by because I want to keep changing and getting better.” The writing went on to describe other passions in his life and how the word “transform” meshed with them all. 
His writing, like so many others, showed a deep understanding of the program. Even young children that I work with share a profound connection to the word that belongs to them. I had one child share his word as “MY”. He said, “The ‘m’ stands for me and the ‘y’ for you.” He went on to talk about how important each person is that you meet. 


Kids are really freaking awesome.  
2017 was full of goodwill thanks in large part to the children that I have had the chance to meet because of My Special Word. It has been a privilege to carry out Dwight Smith’s mission in our 2017 book releases and I look forward to what 2018 has in store. 
I hope that 2018 has goodwill in store for all of you. And a special thank you to Clara for having me on today to talk about the My Special Word program.
XO,
Alison

P.S. Dwight and I would love to give away a free Skype visit to a classroom or organization. We will throw in a copy of the picture book and a class set of bookmarks and bracelets too. Please comment below and our fabulous host will use Random.org to select a winner. (Winner will be announced in one week. If you are new to the blog, please include your email address.)


Alison Green Myers wanted to join the circus.
She wanted to train tigers.
She wanted to jump through fire.
She wanted to stand on a wire, suspended high above a cheering crowd.
She probably spent too much time at her local library, especially inside the pages of If I Ran The Circus. Alison never made it to the circus (though she did travel on a carnival for many years) but her early trips to the library fed her in other ways. She spent the first half of her career teaching reading and writing, and now finds herself working in the majestic circus of children’s book publishing as program coordinator for the Highlights Foundation and reader for a small press. Alison writes about the wilds of life, mostly humans, but other scary beasts too. She is a regional advisor for SCBWI and a fellow of the National Writing Project. Carrie Howland of Empire Literary represents her novels and picture books. 

Thank you, dear friends, for stopping by to celebrate “goodwill” with us. Please leave a comment for Alison and the dynamic way she is sharing goodwill in classrooms across the country. What are you waiting for? A free Skype visit with your classroom, or a child or grandchild’s classroom, a friend's? Comment now! 

Peace. Love. Joy. GOODWILL to all.  ~Clara

Thursday, December 7, 2017

FREE CRITIQUES for Children’s Book Writers


Dear Writers,

Hurry over to KID LIT INK blog: thekidlitink.blogspot.com 
Leave a comment there for a chance to win a FREE critique
from one of the authors below! 

SANTA'S CHRISTMAS BAG OF CRITIQUES


If you asked Santa for a little help with your writing this year, then this is the gift
he has on his sleigh for you… a bagful of Christmas Critiques from the children’s 
authors of KIDLITINK

Alison Meyers – (1) query letter critique – MY SPECIAL WORD.

Jan Cheripko –  (1) YA – first 10 pages critique – RAT (Contemporary-realism)

Kim Briggs – (1) YA – first 10 pages critique – STARFALL (Romance-Thriller)

Clara Gillow Clark – (1) MG first 10-pages critique – HATTIE ON HER WAY

Lindsay Barrett George – (1) author/illustrator PB critique – MAGGIE’S BALL

Gayle C. Krause – (1) rhyming PB critique – DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON?

Pat Thomas – (1) rhyming PB critique – STAND BACK SAID THE ELEPHANT

That’s seven (7) critiques in all. 

To be eligible, please follow the KIDLIT, INK blog and leave the title of your 
manuscript in the comments on thekidlitink.blogspot.com, as well as which
author you’d like to review your work.

Random.org will select the winners on Christmas Eve. Names will be posted 
on the KIDLIT, INK blog and you will have three months to respond. You can 
Private Message your email address to the authors from the KIDLIT Facebook 
page and each author will contact you.

HO! HO! HO! MERRY WRITING AND HAPPY NEW BOOK

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Announcing the WINNER of Trinka Hake Noble’s THANKSGIVING Book

Dear Readers,

Just a short post today to announce the winner before Thanksgiving. First, a big thank you to everyone who stopped by to view the post, and an extra special thanks to all of you who left a comment for Trinka. The comment contest winner for Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade is:

Congratulations and Happy Thanksgiving go out to, Patricia Crisman! Thank you for including your email in the comment and thank you for your support of authors and good books.

Your book will soon be on its way!







Be sure to check out this classic Christmas tale that was featured last year for Christmas. You can view the original post here: "Christmas Stories from the Heart" with Author Trinka Hakes Noble


Originally published over twenty years ago, and out of print since 1998, Sleeping Bear Press is proud to bring this beloved Christmas tale to a whole new audience. Moving and nostalgic, and brought to life by glowing watercolor paintings, it reveals the joy of a very special present and the love that a father and daughter share.

Junior Literary Guild Selection
CBC Book of the Year
Featured in Cricket Magazine
Included in The Golden Books Treasury of Christmas


To learn more about Trinka and her many books, visit her website here: www.trinkahakesnoble.com

Our next guest is a picture book illustrator. To end out the year we have a mystery guest duo along with giveaways for the season. Happy Thanksgiving!  ~Clara




Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thanksgiving with Author Trinka Hakes Noble + Giveaway

Dear Readers,

Our guest author, Trinka Hakes Noble, has written a very special story of gratitude and historical significance in an unusual Thanksgiving story set in 1918. Trinka’s text and David C. Gardner’s illustrations offer up a scrumptious feast for readers of all ages. You’ll want to own a copy of this poignant story for your family as a cherished read aloud during the Thanksgiving season.

Trinka is generously donating an autographed copy of, Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade. All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment below. The winner will be announced in one week.

And now, please welcome my friend, Award winning Author, Trinka Hakes Noble. . .


Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade – A Thanksgiving Story 
by Trinka Hakes Noble

Sometimes a story gets started with just one word, and for Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade that word was ragamuffin.

When I was growing up with my seven brothers and sisters, my mother endearingly called us little ragamuffins when we came inside from rambunctious play, with our hair a mess, our faces, hands and bare feet dirty and our clothes disheveled. I’ve always loved that word...ragamuffin.

So when I learned that there was something called the Ragamuffin Parade, which took place in New York City many years ago, I was captivated.  I learned that on Thanksgiving morning the children of New York City would dress up like beggars and hobos, smudge coal on their faces and parade down Broadway with their hand out asking, “Have ya’ anything for Thanksgiving?” People called them ragamuffins and would give them a penny. 

On busy street corners people would throw hands full of pennies in the air and the children would scramble for them. It was called a penny scramble and it could get rough. The immigrant children who lived in the tenements on the Lower East Side loved the Ragamuffin Parade because they could fill a pocket with much needed pennies. 

But as years went by, Halloween became more popular in America. Children dressed up in costumes, marched in Halloween parades, and went trick-or-treating for candy. The Ragamuffin Parade fell out of favor.

Many of those immigrant children who fondly remembered the Ragamuffin Parade grew up to be employed by Macy’s department store in Midtown Manhattan. Some historians believe that these employees asked Mr. Macy if he would sponsor a parade for the children of New York City on Thanksgiving morning. And so, in 1924, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place.  

Iinterior Illustration
I just had to write a story using this information, and so I created a nine-year-old immigrant girl named Loretta Stanowski, whom everyone called Rettie, and placed her on New York’s Lower East Side, in a tenement apartment during World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic that swept across America. In those trying times, Rettie managed to keep her younger siblings from going to an orphanage and take care of her sick mother while her father was away at the war. The only thing that kept her going was the hope that the Ragamuffin Parade wouldn’t be cancelled due to the influenza pandemic. But, triumph she did! On Thanksgiving morning Rettie proudly marched in the Ragamuffin Parade and got enough pennies to buy something special for their Thanksgiving dinner. In this uplifting Tales of Young Americans story, this young immigrant girl not only found her strength but also found the true spirit and meaning of an American Thanksgiving. 



Other Tales of Young Americans books by Trinka are The Scarlet Stockings Spy - A Revolutionary War Tale and The Last Brother - A Civil War Tale.  













Learn more on Trinka’s website at www.trinkahakesnoble.com 

The series, Tales of Young Americans, is published by Sleeping Bear Press. Learn more at www.sleepingbearpress.com 

Reviews of Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade – A Thanksgiving Story

“Noble’s tale of parades and tenement life positively brim to over flowing with good cheer, culminating on Thanksgiving Day, 1918. Gardener’s full-color illustrations depict a bustling community where good spirits overcome bad happenings. All ends well in this parade filled with good spirits and optimism.” – Kirkus Review, July 2017

“Vivid art work and a descriptive narrative re-create a vibrant 1918 New York City populated by immigrants struggling to survive an influenza pandemic at the tail end of World War I.  VERDICT An excellent historical fiction picture book for the older reader interested in U.S. history or Thanksgiving celebrations, and this is a timely selection as this year marks the U.S.’s centennial commemoration of World War I.” – School Library Journal, September 2017

“It is slim pickings when it comes to Thanksgiving focused books. Those out there are more oft about turkeys, inaccurate pilgrim stories or pumpkins, but Trinka Hakes Noble has given us a real Thanksgiving story, with a focus on gratitude and connection to modern day traditions.” – Odds and Hens; Reach and Read, November 2017

 Trinka Hakes Noble is the award-winning author of over thirty picture books. The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, (ALA Notable, PBS Reading Rainbow feature, Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, IRA Children’s Choice, American Book Award, Scholastic Book Club Selection), illustrated by Seven Kellogg, just celebrated its 37th year in print. Three more Jimmy’s Boa books complete the series. Meanwhile Back At The Ranch (PBS Reading Rainbow feature, American Book Award, Arizona Young Readers Award, North Dakota Flicker-Tail Award) is celebrating its 30th year in print. Apple Tree Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated, (Cricket Magazine, The Golden Books Treasury of Christmas, Junior Literary Guild Selection) is presently in a Holiday Classic edition.    

Other titles include The Scarlet Stockings Spy, (ILA Teacher’s Choice, Chicago’s Crystal Book Award of Excellence, Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Award), The Last Brother, (IPPY Award Bronze, PLA Carol Field Honor Book, Storytelling Magazine Honor Award, Scholastic Book Club Selection), and The Orange Shoes (ILA Teacher’s Choice, NAPPA Honors, Jefferson Cup Award Nominee, CBC Best Books).  

Her latest titles are The Legend of the Jersey Devil (2013), Lizzie and the Last Day of School (2015), The Legend of Sea Glass (2016), and Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade (Fall/2017).  

Ms. Noble graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in painting, and went on to study children’s book writing and illustration in New York City at Parson’s School of Design, the New School University , Caldecutt medalist Uri Schulivitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and most recently at New York University.

Ms. Noble is a board member of The New Jersey Center for the Book, The Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, The Author’s Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  In 2002, she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters from the state of New Jersey for her life-time work in children’s books along with letters of accommodation from The US House of Representatives, the US Senate and the US Congress.  She was also awarded Author of the Year, 2016/2017, by the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.  She lives in a circa 1780 house in historic Northern New Jersey.  Learn more at www.trinkahakesnoble.com 

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Thank you, dear readers, for spending time with us here. I am truly grateful for your encouragement and support of authors and good books! I’ll be back in one week to announce the winner of Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade.   ~Clara








Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Veteran’s Day, an early Celebration - Author Gayle C. Krause shares. . .

Dear Readers, 

Please welcome our good friend, Author Gayle C. Krause and join her in celebrating the people who served in the military. I think all of us have a family member, friend, or neighbor who has served our country. My own son is a proud Army Veteran and I am very proud of him and his service. If there someone you’d like to honor for their service, we would be honored to have you mention that person in the comments. 

Author Gayle C. Krause
Clara has asked me to do a blog post for Veteran’s Day and I happily agreed. Of course, I couldn’t help but include a connection to my newest novel, TWICE BETRAYED, a MG historical fiction set in Colonial Philadelphia. What does Colonial Philadelphia have to do with Veteran’s Day, you may ask. Simple…

The American Flag!

Our “Stars and Stripes” fly high on Veteran’s Day – in parades, in front of government buildings, in military cemeteries, and on citizen’s homes, much like the flag that flies in front of Betsy Ross’s house on Arch Street, in Philadelphia.

In the United States, Veterans Day celebrates the people who served our country in the military during times of war and peace. But serving our country did not originate with the conclusion of WWI, when Veteran’s Day was first celebrated. (November 11th, 1919). We could go back to The Revolutionary War to find people who served our country. And my main character, thirteen-year-old Perdy Rogers is one of them. In my story, it is she, not her employer, Betsy Ross, who created the first American flag.

Why can I do that? Didn’t we all learn that Betsy Ross made the first flag, the one with the thirteen stars in a circle? Well, yes we did. But unfortunately we now know that information has never been verified. 

Mini-History Lesson Excuse me, but once a teacher, always a teacher!

Actually, George Washington, George Ross (Betsy’s husband’s uncle) and Robert Morris asked anyone who was able to sew, to design a flag for the U.S. Continental Army. 

That included haberdashers (dealers in men’s clothing and sewing articles), tailors (clothes makers), mantuamakers (women’s dressmakers), seamstresses (women who sewed clothing or household items), and upholsterers. (people who designed and sewed furniture with coverings, stuffing, and springs, bed ticking and draperies)  

So anyone who sewed could have designed the flag we know today as having thirteen stars in a circle and the thirteen red and white stripes, which both represented our colonies. 
It wasn’t until 1870, almost 100 years after the Revolutionary War and 34 years after her death that Betsy Ross’ grandson, William J. Canby, presented a paper to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, claiming it was she who made the first flag. But he had only old family stories and no real proof. Even Betsy Ross never claimed to have made the flag, only the five-pointed star.

My interpretation of our country’s first flag is intertwined in Perdy Roger’s story---

Accused of being a Loyalist spy, she hunkers down in the upholstery shop and makes a lap quilt for her little sister, who falls ill after Perdy sneaks her out of the house on a damp night to help friends carry out an elopement for an older girl. 

But the next day the girl, a milliner’s apprentice, is found drowned with coded spy letters in her bodice, gold coins sewn into her hems, and a hand-written journal implicating an unnamed sewing apprentice in Philadelphia as her accomplice. Suspicious eyes turn to Perdy. 

But Perdy is no spy!

Today, our flag still has thirteen red and white stripes that represent the original colonies, but the stars, which represent our states, now number fifty.

TWICE BETRAYED is available on Amazon both as an e-book, a hard cover, or a paperback. http://amzn.to/2A5KN7K

Below, children can make their own American flag in honor of Veteran’s Day, or replicate the first American flag. All you need for either is a photo of the flag and…

Paper Flag – 1 piece 24” x 36” red construction paper. 
        -1 piece 24” x 36” white construction paper cut into 13/4” strips
-1 piece 9” x 12” blue construction paper
-1 package of gold foil sticky stars
Put flag together based on photo of the Colonial Flag

Ribbon Flag – 1 piece 9” x 12” blue felt
-1 embroidered stick’em stars
- 13 36” strips of red and white, lace, ribbons, fabric
-1 spring-loaded curtain rod



Doing something to celebrate Veterans Day with children is a great way to honor those who have kept our country safe. And reading TWICE BETRAYED together, might be a way to spur an interest in our American history. 

Gayle C. Krause writes Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels. She’s an active member of SCBWI, KIDLIT INK, and a past member of 12 x 12, the Historical Novel Society and The Poets’ Garage. She serves on the Rhyming Revolution’s Best in Rhyme Committee, selecting the best national rhyming picture book for 2015-2017. She was assistant poetry editor for Underneath the Juniper Tree, a dark fantasy magazine for children. Her work has been nominated for the Boston Globe /Horn Book and The International Reading Association Award. A Master educator, she’s taught Children’s Literature at the secondary and post-secondary levels and offers critiques for children’s writers through First Peek Critique, found on her website: http://www.gayleckrause.com.
Twitter - @GeeCeeK

LitPick Book Review
By LitPick Student Book Reviews on May 13, 2017

Twice Betrayed is a wonderful, emotional, thrilling book full of romance, mystery, and excellent historical integrations.

Prudence Charlotte Rodgers, or Perdy, is a thirteen-year-old girl who is apprenticed to Miss Betty Ross at a sewing shop. Because of this annoying job, Perdy unfortunately almost never finds any time to hang out with her friends. So when Lizzie and Jane Ann come by asking if Perdy would like to help them with something, Perdy readily agrees to join in. However, when an innocent little escapade one night turns ugly the next day, Perdy’s life is turned upside down.
Now Perdy is being accused of aiding a British spy! She is isolated from her friends and is even called to court because of misleading evidence found in her bedroom. Betrayed by one friend, aided by another, and then betrayed again, will Perdy be found innocent or guilty? Can she restore her name?

Opinion:This story is brilliant as it easily relates to the reader’s emotional senses and the need for justice. As readers follow Perdy, the main character, through this mystery, they will find themselves being drawn into an effortless tale woven together by both myth and truth. While the readers are attempting to solve the mystery of who is the real traitor along with Perdy, they also learn about the very real threat that spies posed to the U.S. during the Revolutionary War. Twice Betrayed is a marvelous historical-fiction mystery book that any teenager will enjoy! Reviewed by a LitPick student book reviewer Age: 14




Thank you, dear readers, for joining us to honor our Veterans this week and all year round. 

I’ll be back soon to celebrate a Book Birthday and giving thanks with Trinka Hakes Noble!  
 ~Clara

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

UPDATES + WINNER of The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid by Kara LaReau.

Dear Friends,

Our next featured author/illustrator is Trinka Hakes Noble coming later in November to celebrate a Book Birthday for her Thanksgiving themed picture book. I’ve been given a sneak peek and I know all you historical fiction and story lovers will be wowed by the richness of text and illustrations. But WAIT! Our good friend Gayle Krause is joining us next week with a Patriotic post for Veteran’s Day and a bonus craft for kids.

But it’s Halloween and I know you’re eager to learn WHO won last week’s comment contest for The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid by Kara LaReau. The winner is announced in the middle of the post!

★”Another tale for fledgling chapter-book readers that highlights the profound value of kindness to others.” (Booklist, starred review)

“Readers will be following right alongside these two likable rats as Ralphie confronts his past misdeeds and Louie screws his courage to the sticking post….Charming.” (Kirkus)

INFAMOUS RATSOS ARE NOT AFRAID. Text copyright © 2017 by Kara Lareau. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Matt Myers. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. Among other celebrated titles, she edited Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,and the Mercy Watson series. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH and OTTOThe Boy Who Loved Cars, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay BovĂ©; a chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill. Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.


The winner of The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid is:  K.L.Going! 

!!!!CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

And be sure to check out this first book in the series!

A 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book

Louie and Ralphie Ratso are no softies! Readers are sure to chuckle as the determined Ratso brothers’ plans to act tough go hilariously awry.


Louie and Ralphie Ratso’s dad, Big Lou, always says that there are two kinds of people: those who are tough and those who are soft. Louie and Ralphie are tough, tough, tough, just like Big Lou, and they’re going to prove it. But every time they try to show just how tough they are, the Ratso brothers end up accidentally doing good deeds instead. What’ll Big Lou do when he finds out they’ve been acting like softies all over the Big City? Perfect for emerging and reluctant readers, this clever and surprisingly warmhearted chapter book shows that being tough all the time can be really tough.

Thank you, dear book lovers, for your comments and encouragement for the featured authors and their stellar books! You’re the best. I’ll be back before you know it!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 
~Clara