Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Announcing the LUCKY WINNER of DADDY CAN YOU SEE THE MOON?

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments about Gayle's beautiful post for Veteran's Day, honoring military families. If you weren't the lucky winner today, we hope you'll purchase a copy of Gayle's book as a gift for a special youngster in your life.

Thank you, Gayle, for your generosity in giving away a personalized copy of Daddy, Can You See The Moon?

                           The LUCKY WINNER IS: Kathy Cannon Wiechman

***CONGRATULATIONS***   
(Please email me with your mailing address and to whom you'd like the book personalized)
Thanks, Kathy, for your great support.




This book explores an incredibly difficult and painful topic with exquisite grace. The emotional resonance is palpable. The voices are strong, and the relationships are beautiful and complex. Thank you, Gayle, for having the courage to tackle such an important and challenging topic. I highly recommend this book.
Lauren Kerstein LCSW, P.C.














Learn more about Gayle and her books: www.gayleckrause.com


I'll be back in one month for a picture book giveaway in time for the Holiday Season! 

~Clara

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Honoring Veterans and their families with Author Gayle C. Krause

Dear Friends,

For Veteran's day we have a very special post to honor Veterans and their families. Please welcome our good friend, Gayle C. Krause, and read her beautifully written post about military families and learn about her poignant picture book, Daddy, Can You See The Moon? Gayle is generously donating a copy of her book for the #CommentContest. Winner to be announced in one week on Veteran's Day. Read on. . .

Writing from the Inside Out. . . by Gayle C. Krause


With Veterans Day coming up, the whole country celebrates the courage, bravery, and sacrifices of our soldiers. But in DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON? I hope to make readers aware of the sacrifice of our military children
Nearly two million children have parents currently serving, and that number doubles when you include the children of veterans post 9/11. They’ve had to say goodbye to their parents multiple times during what has been the largest sustained deployment in the history of our all-volunteer force.
Military children live in every zip code of our country and on military posts and bases across the globe. They have learned the true meaning of sacrifice and appreciate the expensive price of freedom. Our safety depends on their parents, but their everyday lives are mostly invisible to the general public.
On average, military children move and change schools eight times from the start of kindergarten to high school graduation. As quickly as orders come through they must pick up, pack up, and say goodbye to friends. With each move, military children must cope with the stress of making new friends, adapting to a new school environment at awkward times, and figuring out how to fit in once again.
I hope DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON? helps civilian children understand and appreciate the child of a soldier/sailor, who may be sitting next to them in class. Recently, at a book festival, I had two adult brothers read the book cover to cover, and another man, did the same and “thanked” me for writing this story. 
Written in rhyme, the lyrical couplets make the serious subject easy to read. Please take a moment to appreciate the military child and understand that your freedoms are based on their sacrifices. 
And I’d like you to know that 10% of the royalties from this book are being donated to OUR MILITARY KIDS, https://www.ourmilitarykids.org
Clara has asked me to include a writing tip and for this book, I’d say EMOTION is the key. Experts say “show, don’t tell.” Here are some examples to show that emotion.

I could say that the boy and his siblings miss their dad and it’s hard for them to carry on without him. But the military child understands that to be the child of a soldier means that they’re expected to deal with the hardships of missing a parent. I sum it up in this couplet:

“It’s six full moons since Dad’s been gone, 
but Mom and me, we soldier on.”

And since the soldier dad told his son to look at the moon each night before he goes to bed and know that he will be looking at it too, they would still be connected. But when the dad comes home a wounded warrior, the simple emotion in the child’s question as he looks at the moon alone, sums up his fear.

That night as I lay in my bed,
I think about what Daddy said.
“Daddy…can you see the moon,
marching in a dream platoon?”

Maybe if I stare real hard, 
the moon will stand to be your guard 
and watch you in your healing sleep 
so we can have you back to keep.

So, I hope you all ask your library to order DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON? or you may even win a copy by leaving a comment below. You can follow my writing journey at www.gayleckrause.com

Gayle C. Krause is a PAL member of SCBWI, 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, and a past member of the Poet’s Garage. She’s served on Angie Karcher’s Rhyming Revolution Selection Committee, choosing the “best” rhyming picture book for 2015 to 2018. A Master educator, she’s taught Children’s Literature to prospective teachers. Ms. Krause writes fiction for Young Adult, Middle Grade, and young children. Rebecca Angus of Golden Wheat Literary represents her. 

Thank you, Clara, for allowing me to share such an important picture book with your readers. 


This book explores an incredibly difficult and painful topic with exquisite grace. The emotional resonance is palpable. The voices are strong, and the relationships are beautiful and complex. Thank you, Gayle, for having the courage to tackle such an important and challenging topic. I highly recommend this book.

Lauren Kerstein LCSW, P.C.






Thank you, Gayle, for sharing your beautiful story with us and for honoring Veterans and their families. 

Thank you, dear readers, for leaving a comment for Gayle about her post. I know many of you are military families, and Gayle's book would be a perfect gift for a youngster in your life who may be counting the days until a mother or father comes home. 

Be sure to visit Gayle here: www.gayleckrause.com

~Clara

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

LUCKY WINNER OF FRANK and BEAN + News

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for all the great comments on last week's post by Jamie Michalak about her great new duo, Frank and Bean. I think we all agree that Jamie's tasty ingredients for writing early readers was a delightful recipe with invaluable insights about writing for young readers. 

Please don't forget to visit Jamie's website to learn more about her books, author visits, a FREE activity guide for classrooms using the Joe and Sparky series, and much more! Check it all out here: www.jamiemichalak.com


Praise for FRANK AND BEAN:
(Candlewick Press, Pub date: October 8, 2019)

A 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection
An Amazon Best Book of the Month

"A hilarious tale of hot dog meets bean....The Bert-and-Ernie–esque odd-couple pairing results in countless laugh-out-loud exchanges. --Kirkus


Without further ado, the winner of FRANK and BEAN is: 
***Cathy Ballou Mealey***
Congratulations, Cathy!
You'll hear from me and Jamie very soon. 

Thank you, Jamie, for another great book and another very special post! Thank you, dear readers, for your support of great books and wonderful authors!

I'll be back early November with a rhyming picture book. Stay tuned!

Happy Reading!
~Clara





Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Author Jamie Michalak introduces FRANK and BEAN + Giveaway

Dear Readers,

Please welcome our good friend and Author, Jamie Michalak! Jamie has a super-great post featuring her new fun duo in her Early Reader, Frank and Bean, but she's also shared a mini-workshop with valuable insights about the craft and super-great tips for writers interested in writing an early reader of their own.

Plus, Jamie has generously donated a book for the comment contest which she will personalize for the winner! How cool is that? All you have to do is leave a comment by October 21st for a chance to win. If you're new to the blog, please include your email address in your comment so I can get in touch if you win! We'd love to hear your thoughts about Frank and Bean or about Jamie's Early Reader Workshop. Enough from me. Read on!

Writing from the Inside Out with Author Jamie Michalak

5 INGREDIENTS FOR A TASTY EARLY READER
by Jamie Michalak

Now that autumn is here, all I want to do is hunker inside to cook up comfort food and write or read in my cozy chair by the fire. Every fall, I turn into Owl from Owl at Home. So perhaps that’s why several of my forthcoming books are food-themed. As is this post. I wish I could serve you a warm bowl of soup to go with it.

Frank and Bean, illustrated by Bob Kolar, is a new early reader starring a contemplative hot dog and a rambunctious bean. Frank is a quiet writer, who keeps a secret notebook. Bean is a loud one-bean band. He has the tunes, but he’s missing something: the words. Together Frank and Bean form an unlikely friendship — and a rock band! 

Like most of my stories, I began writing Frank and Bean as a picture book. But Bean’s big personality demanded more room, so the story became an early reader. The early reader is my favorite format to write. Perhaps because I remember the thrill and accomplishment of reading my favorite early readers, the first books I read all by myself — Mouse Soup, Frog and Toad Are Friends, and Amelia Bedelia.  

Frank and Bean, illustrated by Bob Kolar, is our new early reader starring a contemplative hot dog and a rambunctious bean. Frank is a quiet writer, who keeps a secret notebook. Bean is a loud one-bean band. He has the tunes, but he’s missing something: the words. Together Frank and Bean form an unlikely friendship — and a rock band! 

Early readers help beginning and newly independent readers build reading confidence and a love of books. And while early readers tend to be the Rodney Dangerfield of children’s books, they’re an invaluable bridge from picture books to chapter books. 

What makes a good early reader? Lovable characters, engaging plots, memorable endings, zippy dialogue, and varied action, all whipped up into a story that’s frustration-free. The best early readers work not only as a read-alones, but as read-alouds.
If you’re interested in cookin’ up an early reader of your own, you don’t need to include a hot dog, a bean, or picnic foods at all. Here are five other ingredients you might consider:
  1. A hop-to-it opening: No need for a long set-up. Jump right into the action! On the second page of Mouse Soup, a weasel leaps out of the tree and catches our main character. Arnold Lobel hooks us from sentence three! 
  1. A simple storyline: Beginning readers put a lot of energy into reading the words, so an involved story can be overwhelming. Stick to one idea or conflict, and avoid subplots. (Keep your sentences short and simple too.)
  1. Well-chosen, delicious words: Use words kids know or can sound out. Add spice with alliteration and onomatopoeia. The Children’s Writers Word Book is an excellent source for checking to see if you’re using familiar words for your intended audience. I often throw in a few challenging words, however, if the reader can sound them out or the illustrations provide picture clues.
  1. Repetition, repetition, repetition: “Faster, faster, faster!” cries Owl in Owl at Home. Predictable text helps kids figure out the words. Try repeating sounds, refrains, or patterns. But use repetition creatively, so it doesn’t become dull.
  1. Humor with heart: Humor without heart is a one-note joke. What is at the core of your story? What’s the emotional underpinning that gives it resonance?
Choose your ingredients. Put all in a pot to simmer and condense (approximately 500 - 1500 words). Then season to taste. 

Enjoy and happy writing!

Jamie Michalak is a children’s book author and former editor. Her nearly forty books include the early reader Frank and Bean, illustrated by Bob Kolar, and the Joe and Sparky early reader series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Kirkus Reviews called Joe and Sparky,
Superstars! a “little treasure” in a starred review. She also wrote the forthcoming Dakota Crumb, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Candlewick Press, 2021).

When not writing, she can often be found singing off-key, drinking too much coffee, or hanging out with her two sons. Jamie was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and grew up in the same neighborhood that Dr. Seuss once lived in. She now resides with her family in Barrington, Rhode Island. Visit her at www.jamiemichalak.com

Illustrator bio:
Bob Kolar is the author-illustrator of several books for children, including Trucker and Train, AlphaOops! The Day Z Went First, Big Kicks, The Boy & the Book, and Racer Dogs, which has been adapted into a TV show called “Turbo Dogs.” Bob lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with his family. Visit him at bobkolarbooks.com 

Advance praise for FRANK AND BEAN:
(Candlewick Press, Pub date: October 8, 2019)

A 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection
An Amazon Best Book of the Month

"A hilarious tale of hot dog meets bean....The Bert-and-Ernie–esque odd-couple pairing results in countless laugh-out-loud exchanges. --Kirkus

"Kolar’s (Trucker and Train) sleek, animation-style digital art and Michalak’s (the Joe and Sparky series) highly performative dialogue build to a manic hilarity that makes these pals, as Bean might say, 'half cool and half amazing.'" --Publishers Weekly

"Kolar’s digital art is clean and pleasing, and the book contains four short chapters. An engaging and humorous tale of two friends whose personality differences lead to growth as well as some fun adventures. --School Library Journal

Frank likes peace and quiet. He likes his tent, his pencil, and writing in his secret notebook. Bean likes noise. He likes his bus, his trumpet -- toot, toot! -- and making music. Loud music. But Bean is missing something: he does not have words. What will happen if Frank shares his words with Bean? 

With a laugh-out-loud narrative and bright, graphic, comical illustrations, this fresh and funny story will go down easy for beginning readers and young listeners alike.



Thank you, dear book-lovers, for stopping by to leave a comment in support of great authors and great books for children. We really appreciate hearing from you! 

I'll be back in a week to announce the winner. Don't forget to visit Jamie here: www.jamiemichalak.com

Happy Reading!
~Clara






Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A lot of FIRSTS for this year's NOVEL BEGINNINGS WORKSHOP

Dear Friends,

K.L. Going and I are really excited about our Highlights Foundation workshop this August, and we think you’ll be really excited about Novel Beginnings, too! We have a lot of “firsts” lined up for you that we can’t wait to share:

--You can submit up to the First 50 pages of your novel to be edited before the workshop, and Kelly and I will meet with each attendee one on one to go over your pages with you.

--Our guest editor this year is Liz Kossnar and in addition to her presentation, Using the Market to Your Benefit: Looking at how elevator pitches and comp titles help build the picture of your project, attendees will have an opportunity to sign up to meet with Liz for a one on one, on the spot, review of a First chapter.

--Jennie Dunham, our literary agent will do a Q & A, and when we meet for our final wrap-up session, she’ll do an on the spot critique of First pages! 

That’s a lot of Firsts and a lot of great feedback for writers attending Novel Beginnings! Plus Great food, charming accommodations, and stimulating workshops. Plus, K.L. has exciting updates to share about her new MG novel, The Next Great Jane, coming Summer of 2020 from PenguinRandom House Publishers.

Sign up soon. August is just around the corner.

Read more about what we have planned for you by clicking on the link:
Novel Beginnings: Building Strong Foundations for Your Novel & Your Career
August 8-11, 2019

FACULTY

K.L. GOING

K.L. Going is the award winning author of numerous books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the…
Learn more

CLARA GILLOW CLARK

Clara Gillow Clark is a critically acclaimed author of six novels of historical fiction for middle grade readers. In addition…
Learn more

LIZ KOSSNAR

Special Guest Liz Kossnar enthusiastically joined the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers editorial team in November 2013. She…
Learn more

JENNIE DUNHAM

Special Guest Jennie Dunham has been a literary agent in New York, New York since May 1992. In August 2000…
Learn more





So what are you waiting for? Register today! 


August 8-11, 2019



Saturday, June 8, 2019

LUCKY WINNER of **NIXIE NESS** COOKING STAR



Dear Friends,

Thank you, each and everyone, who stopped by for the Book Birthday, and thank you everyone who offered topics for Claudia’s series or left a comment. Enjoy this little bit more about **Nixie Ness** and then discover if YOU were the winner!





Perfect for fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, and Clementine, this new chapter book series features recurring characters, and each book will highlight one activity they do at their after-school program. The books are illustrated in black and white and include a bonus activity that corresponds to the book's plot. 

Nixie Ness: Cooking Star features a recipe for morning glory muffins. The next book in the After-School Superstars series, Vera Vance: Comics Star, is scheduled for release in Spring 2020.


JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION





Claudia Mills is the author of almost 60 books for young readers, including most recently the Franklin School Friends series from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and her new After-School Superstars series from Holiday House. In addition to writing books, she has been a college professor in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins University in Roanoke. 

Visit Claudia at www.claudiamillsauthor.com.



The lucky winner of **NIXIE NESS** COOKING STAR is: Becky Scharnhorst (selected by random.org, because I always want everyone to win!) Becky, please send an email with your address and to whom you’d like the book personalized by Claudia.

Thanks again, everyone, for your support of authors and good books! Next up in August and again in September with her new picture books is our friend, Tracey Kyle! Jamie Michalak and her new early reader series, Frank and Bean will be joining us the beginning of October, and I have a very special guest for Halloween whose books will send ghostly shivers down your spine!

Happy summertime reading!

~Clara







Tuesday, June 4, 2019

BOOK BIRTHDAY LAUNCH with AUTHOR CLAUDIA MILLS

Dear Friends,

It’s been awhile since we met here, but I just had to share AFTER-SCHOOL SUPERSTARS with all of you! My dear sweet friend, Claudia Mills,  is launching this new chapter book series today published by Holiday House. The first starring character in the series is: Nixie Ness, Cooking Star. It’s a perfect pick for summertime reading about cooking and friendship and sure to be served with a large dollop of humor! And YES there is a comment contest, that's so super easy to enter! All you have to do is leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of **NIXIE NESS** COOKING STAR. Spread the word on twitter and FB and you’ll get more chances to win. Now enjoy the rest of the post brought to you by NIXIE and Claudia!

"Likable Nixie creates a terrific recipe for winning back old friends and making lots of new ones.” – Kirkus 


Junior Library Guild Selection



WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT. . . by Claudia Mills

I love school.

I’ve always loved school. Even as a child, I loved school so much that instead of crossing off the days left of school until summer vacation, I’d cross off the days left of summer vacation until school started again.

So when I became an author, I specialized in writing school stories. I drew inspiration from my own school memories, but especially from school activities and projects at Mesa Elementary, which my two sons attended in Boulder, Colorado. Their fifth grade biography tea was the seed for my chapter book Being Teddy Roosevelt. An assignment to write a diary in the persona of someone who lived through the Civil War became The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish. The third-grade space sleepover provided the culminating scene for How Oliver Olson Changed the World. My recent chapter-book series, Franklin School Friends, features a school reading contest, spelling bee, and track-and-field day. Yay for school as an endless source of material for authors like me!

But after writing literally dozens of school stories, I found myself yearning to branch out a bit. And so I decided to write about . . . . after-school! Millions of kids in America attend after-school programs that offer their own rich array of activities that could provide fodder for fiction. Like school itself, after-school programs bring a disparate group of kids together and provide great opportunities for kids to learn and grow – the two things I loved best about writing school stories. But after-school programs can offer learning possibilities that go beyond the test-driven school curriculum. If I set a series in an after-school program, what fun it would be! 

Thus was born my new chapter-book series, After-School Superstars, with each book featuring a different month-long after-school “camp,” with the same diverse group of kids, with each book starring a different protagonist. I did a lot of brainstorming to come up with camp topics that would provide material for entertaining scenes that would be different from what kids would be doing during a typical school day. First up: cooking camp! Next up: comic-book camp! Third in the lineup: coding camp! I haven’t yet settled on the topic for the fourth camp: ideas welcome!


This month I’m introducing the first book to the world: Nixie Ness, Cooking Star. In the course of a month jam-packed with cooking activities, Nixie and her comrades – Vera, Nolan, and Boogie – make a wide array of yummy lunchbox offerings, pet treats, pumpkin recipes, baked goods for a huge bake sale, and international cuisine for the camp’s concluding around-the-world banquet. But it’s also a friendship story. Nixie’s mother’s new job means that Nixie will no longer spend afternoons at home with her best friend, Grace – and that Grace will now be spending afternoons instead with “best-friend stealer” Elyse. So as Nixie chops up carrots for pita-pocket fillings, bakes Morning Glory Muffins, and learns how to make saag aloo, she’s also trying to figure out how to keep her best friend – and even how to expand her ideas about friendship.     


Claudia Mills is the author of almost 60 books for young readers, including most recently the Franklin School Friends series from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and her new After-School Superstars series from Holiday House.  In addition to writing books, she has been a college professor in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins University in Roanoke. 

Visit Claudia at www.claudiamillsauthor.com.



Thank you, dear readers, for stopping by the BOOK BIRTHDAY celebration for **NIXIE NESS** Cooking Star. Thank you, dear Claudia, for sharing with us and for donating an autographed copy of your new book! I’ll be back on Saturday to announce the winner!