Q&A with Ted Enik – Sticks ‘n’ Stones Blog Tour

Back this summer, my kids and I had a fun time reading Sticks ‘N Stone ‘N Dinosaur Bones. I saw this book as a must for the dinosaur lover and a great read-aloud. I could definitely see how this would get a classroom of kids talking about fact and fiction, competition, and the importance of fair play. So when I was offered the chance to participate in a blog tour for the book, I jumped at it.

I’m a huge fan of the use of rhyme to engage kids. Check out the wonderful interview with author Ted Enik below as he talks about his use of rhyme and meter!

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Welcome to Day #3 of the “Sticks ‘n’ Stones” Blog Tour

To celebrate the release of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones,” written by Ted Enik and illustrated by G.F. Newland, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content about this humorous tall tale and giving away chances to win a copy of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones.”

Rhyming picture books are fun. Kids love them. Parents enjoy reading them out loud. Teachers know how well they engage children and teach them about language. But writing them isn’t as easy as it looks. Ted, author of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones,” offers advice to writers who want to try to tackle rhyme.

Q: Do you believe rhyming picture books are being published more today? As a master of the genre, do you think picture book writers should try their hand at it?

A: More than they were only a few years back. Rhyme seemed to be off limits for decades because a) I suspect a generation of editors felt it read old fashioned and, b) in a word, Seuss.

Dunno about “master,” but thanks, and I’ll work to live up to that. As far as writers giving it a try goes, I want to say a qualified “sure!” But, looking ahead at the rest of the questions, I see that some of those qualifiers will be discussed.    Continue reading →

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My Brigadista Year

Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book – all opinions are my own.

I have found that I really enjoy reading middle-grade historical fiction. They are an amazing way to learn about periods in history from a completely different perspective. Of course, I realize that you have to take the information with a grain of salt, but they encourage readers to ponder aspects of history and potentially do additional research themselves.

Recently I was given the opportunity to review My Brigadista Year, by Katherine Paterson, thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange. This book tells of an “army” of volunteer teachers who were called upon to end illiteracy in Cuba shortly after Fidel Castro came to power. The book itself takes place between March and December of 1961 as we follow young Lora on a life-changing journey.

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Lora is a thirteen year old girl inspired by the posters put up at her school that called for young men and women to join an army of teachers. She has never been outside of Havana and her family doesn’t want her to participate, but she is determined. Continue reading →

Picture Books that Make Math Fun

I will admit, I loved math as a kid. Wait, I loved math after I finally mastered borrowing – for some unknown reason, that was a major challenge for me, enough so that I remember it 30+ years later. But algebra, loved it. So I want my kids to feel comfortable with math and to enjoy it. The problem is, math is not as simple as it used to be, or at least, it doesn’t feel like it. By trying to make math accessible to everyone and to a variety of different learning types, they have somehow made it more complicated, especially to parents! But at least there are a number of picture books that attempt to bring some fun back to learning math.

Picture Books that Make Math Fun

The book that inspired me to write about this is Let’s Estimate: A Book About Estimating and Rounding Numbers, by David A. Adler. I am going to start of by saying that it would have made more sense to title this book about rounding numbers instead of estimating, but it does talk about both things, their similarities and their differences. The best page in this book is when it defines the two concepts and explains that “estimating is not rounding. Rounding is not estimating. But rounding can help you to estimate.” The majority of this book focuses on place value and how to round numbers, but with a colorful cast of dinosaurs, it is a great book for the K-2 crowd.esimate inside Continue reading →

Picture Book Biographies of Literary Giants

One of my favorite books when I was younger was Little Women. I still have my beloved copy for my daughters to be able to read. J has read an abridged version, but hasn’t yet delved into the meaty version of the classic yet. So finding a beautiful biography of Louisa May Alcott was like reading about an old friend.

louisaYona Zeldis McDonough’s wonderful book, Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott, is a joy. Louisa’s early life is reminiscent of Little Women, which is not surprising since she based that book on her own experiences. Louisa became who she was due to her parents’ unusual, at the time, beliefs, which are explained fabulously. She had a challenging upbringing and knew that she would find a way to contribute.

I loved reading about how her writing came about and her sheer determination. Her family and experiences shaped who she was and the work that she created. The back of the book also has some great quotes from Louisa May Alcott and samples of her poetry. Continue reading →

Greetings from Witness Protection!

Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book – all opinions are my own.

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I had so much fun reading this book and would find myself finding ways to sneak in a chapter here and there. Quite impressive for a debut novel, but it is obvious that Jake Burt knows his audience well (he teaches 5th grade). Totally not surprising that the book is already a BEA Editor’s Buzz Pick for 2017!

Nicki Demere is a foster kid who happens to also be a kleptomaniac. After getting sent back from her most recent family, she finds that while her background of crime hasn’t helped her win over families, the US Marshalls might have a need for her to help hide a family of 3 by making them a family of 4. Continue reading →

Poetry for Kids

One of the most wonderful things that we can do for our children is to open them to the world of poetry. Poetry used to be a huge part of a child’s life when nursery rhymes were still popular, but poetry has gotten lost in the shuffle of modern life. It isn’t that poetry isn’t there, it is simply that we are not always as aware of it and classic poems are less often read to children. Poetry for Kids, a new series by Moondance Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing, is hoping to change that.

Charles Nurnberg, Publisher at Quarto Publishing Group, explains this situation eloquently:
“Many years ago, my grandmother read poetry to me at a very young age, even Shakespeare. She felt, as I now can appreciate, that the emotion and mood of poetry, even when it is almost too hard to understand, is so essential to understanding the world around us. I’m hoping that this series, with its selection of a very diverse group of poets, and with art by some of the world’s best illustrators, will bring that all to life for a new generation.”

The edition on Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite childhood poets, is beautifully separated into seasons. The gorgeous illustrations lure the readers in and adds a lightness to poems that can sometimes be quite dark. Continue reading →

Let the Museum come to Life with Mr. Owliver

I love being able to talk to my daughters about art and share a love of viewing art. We don’t have a lot of access to museums where we live, so I have to supplement with books and through their amazing art program at school. To engage kids in art, you have to make it come alive. That is exactly what Carolyn Bracken managed to do in her upcoming book, Mr. Owliver’s Magic at the Museum.

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In this fabulous book, Mr. Owliver is a night watchman at the Animaltown Art Museum. He loves his job and is perfectly happy to have the night shift, considering he is an owl. His job starts when everyone is leaving the museum at the end of the day, so he spends his night being able to see famous paintings without any crowds and at whatever pace he wants. Over the years, he has come to see the characters in these paintings as his friends. Continue reading →

Diverse Books, Now More than Ever

Diverse Books,Now More Than Ever

Diversity in children’s literature has always held a strong place in my heart and is something that I promote at every possibility. When Charlottesville happened, I couldn’t wrap my head around how our country had seemingly traveled backwards in time. I went back to check out books that focused on diversity, that focused on the experiences of racism that African-Americans have faced in this country, I took comfort in how far children’s books have come to show inclusion instead of exclusion. It wasn’t enough, but it was a start. Continue reading →

Sukkot – the Fall Harvest Festival

Every fall, Jews around the world come together to celebrate Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, also known as the High Holidays. Five days after Yom Kippur is over, another holiday starts again, this time, it is the wonderful holiday of Sukkot.

Picture Booksabout Sukkot

Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest and the exodus from Egypt. Many families build their own sukkahs  or have one at their synagogue. A sukkah is a temporary hut topped with branches and decorated with autumnal, harvest, or Judaic themes. One mitzvah of sukkot is to share a meal in the sukkah. Another is to shake a lulav and etrog and rejoice before God. The lulav is actually made up of branches from palm (lulav), willow (aravot), and myrtle (hadassim) trees and the etrog is a citron fruit. The four items are meant to represent the various personalities that make up the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity is emphasized on Sukkot. More than anything, sukkot is a holiday of coming together.

Since Sukkot is a holiday of community, it is a great time to come together and read a book to understand the many meanings of the holiday. Continue reading →

Learning about Weather from Bel the Weather Girl

With all of the hurricanes swirling around the east coast, my girls and I were curious about weather, so we of course checked our local library. One series that we found does a really amazing job of taking complex weather systems and breaking them down in a way that any child can understand – Bel the Weather Girl.

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This creative series was written by Belinda Jensen, a meteorologist based in Minnesota. Believing that knowledge is power, Belinda developed a series of engaging and enlightening presentations that reveal the science behind weather, and discovered, just as she hoped, that children aren’t nearly as frightened when they are informed. We managed to get our hands on 4 of the 6 books in the series. They are a great way to educate children about big weather concepts and hopefully help them have less fears about harsh weather patterns. Continue reading →