Kid Lit Love: Tulip and Doug

Welcome to the Kid Lit Love blog series where new picture book releases are featured on Mondays with an author interview. I am thrilled to feature my critique partner, Emma Wood and her debut picture book Tulip and Doug, illustrated by Carla Martell, published by Scholastic New Zealand. And as an added bonus, I’m including a review of this adorable book!

TULIP AND DOUG by Emma Wood and Carla Martell

Synopsis:

Tulip was famous in her neighbourhood for two reasons: 1. She was a fearless adventurer. 2. She went everywhere with a seriously strange sidekick-a potato, called Doug!

Tulip and Doug are inseparable, until catastrophe strikes and Tulip
loses her best spuddy buddy. She is inconsolable, until another unlikely friendship blossoms.

My Review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and full of heart! An unlikely friendship between an adventurous girl and a potato (?!) is funny and full of delightful surprises. The adorable illustrations add whimsy and fun, plus the view from Tulip’s headquarters is spectacular. Will Tulip ever find find Doug? Will Doug be forced into the compost bin? There’s plenty of suspense in this story to keep the pages turning.

And now I’d like to welcome Emma Wood to the blog! Emma, author of Tulip and Doug, has been one of my critique partners since 2018, when we joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge.

Emma Wood
  1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

It’s a familiar story, really – I read my own children many, many picture books, and soon developed a love for the form. I revisited all the titles I adored in childhood, which was gorgeously nostalgic. But the best part was discovering some remarkable contemporary picture books. It was a revelation to experience these beautiful, moving, profound, hilarious, outrageous and clever books, and to see how the interplay between text and art could elevate a story. I felt inspired to have a go at writing them, too.

In my day job, I write primarily for adults – I’m a former journalist who now works in communications and public relations. However, I’ve never been especially interested in writing adult fiction. I like to write for children because they are the most wonderful people on the planet. I write picture books because they introduce children to elements of language, art, storytelling, and the wonders and workings of the world around them. Children deserve to read excellent, fun, engaging, meaningful books – every bit as much as adults do.

  • Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book .

I was painting my living room walls and listening to a podcast, actually! The podcast guest shared that as a child, they had a rock friend called John that they pushed around in a pram. I found this funny and charming, and it struck me as a cute idea for a picture book. I then thought a potato friend might be even funnier than a rock.

I got to thinking about the potential ramifications of having a potato as a friend – that other children might find it a little strange, and that a potato wouldn’t be the most permanent of pals. The story of fearless adventurer Tulip and her dear, ill-fated Doug grew from that seed.

I’m delighted TULIP AND DOUG is now a book, and I hope children and their families will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! 

  • Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.

My advice is to find your people! There are so many excellent resources and supportive communities online for children’s authors and illustrators. I highly recommend Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, which is where I met my wonderful critique partners (hi, Cynthia!) and learned so much about the craft of writing picture books. SCBWI is another great resource. Storyteller Academy has some fantastic courses and teachers, as does the Children’s Book Academy. And there are heaps of Facebook groups like Kidlit 411 and Sub It Club where you can connect with fellow authors and illustrators. I’ve found all of these communities to be welcoming and encouraging, and a treasure trove of industry and craft knowledge.

Here are Emma’s social media contacts:

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Why Play Matters: Play as Therapy for Children

Welcome to my blog! Right now there are so many children all over the world who cannot attend school. Online learning at home is the alternative; not a perfect alternative, but it is what we have available right now.

Vehicles and arrows bring a multitude of play possibilities.

What I hope we all will remember is the value of play for children. Play is children’s work but it also serves as therapy, allowing children to work through big emotions in a safe and acceptable way. So let the children in your family play their way through the pandemic; it could be one of the most important keys to maintaining mental health in a challenging, uncertain time.

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about my release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Seven Reasons Why Early Years Teachers Deserve Your Appreciation

May is Child Care Month so I’d like to take a moment to shine a light on the important work that Early Years Teachers are doing all over the world. Early Childhood Educators provide both the education and care for very young children AND opportunities for their parents to join the workforce. Here’s why they deserve your appreciation.

Music and Movement
  1. Early Childhood Educators require passion for the work they do. Sure the children are cute but caring for them is more than simply having fun. It requires supporting them in order that they reach developmental milestones.
  2. It requires huge amounts of patience and a sense of humour to care for a group of children day after day.
  3. Early Childhood Educators need to adapt their teaching techniques to the individual children and doing so requires creativity.
  4. Being a good communicator is critical. Early Years Teachers need to break information down into understandable pieces in a way that is understandable for a young child. Sometimes this requires sign language or use of visuals. It is also critical to be able to communicate with their parents regarding their daily experiences and general development.
  5. The work also requires great amounts of flexibility as no amount of planning can prepare for a day with young children where unexpected events can happen at any moment.
  6. Early Childhood Educators need the ability to understand and accept diversity as children come from many different home environments, have different backgrounds and learning styles.
  7. Early Childhood Educators are trained in child development and teaching techniques that are successful for young children. Many of them have a University degree in Child Development. They are able to support young children’s critical first experiences in school to set them up for a lifetime of success. This is the foundation on which all future education is built.
Art and Science Explorations

I’ve heard it said that a society can be measured by the manner in which it treats its youngest citizens. We need to value our Early Childhood Educators who are given the task of educating these tiny humans.

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. On Wednesdays, I give you an inspirational quote, and throughout the month, you’ll find family events and activities, or posts related to education and child development. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Kid Lit Love: How Long is Forever

Happy Monday and welcome to Kid Lit Love where new release children’s books and book creators are featured weekly. Today we feature HOW LONG IS FOREVER by Kelly Carey, illustrated by Qing Zhuang, published by Charlesbridge. This book was just released April 7, 2020! The title is a question many of us can relate to around the world as we wait for our isolation period to come to an end.

HOW LONG IS FOREVER?

Synopsis: In How Long Is Forever?, Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa asks him to prove it and sends Mason searching the family farm to find the meaning of forever.  

Fans of Guess How Much I Love You will love figuring out how long forever is alongside Mason and Grandpa.

Kelly Carey

It was a pleasure to connect with Kelly through social media and she agreed to answer a few questions about her experiences as a writer.
  1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was obsessed with Dynasty and when she graduated from college she thought she was destined for chunky earrings, power suits, and the thrillingly creative field of …insurance. I ended up working with actuary tables, deductible formulas, and stop-loss policies. I learned about big business, marketing, and customer service, but I was miserable.

Enter motherhood and suddenly I was a happy stay-at-home mom rediscovering a joy in books and in picture books in particular. My own mother encouraged me to apply for a course at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Best decision I ever made! (Thanks Mom!)

I loved the feeling of crafting a story and creating characters, and I found that magical space where time stands still because you’re in the zone. Writing was my zone. My power suits were donated and I turned my attention to writing and finding the KidLit community through groups like SCBWI, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, Storystorm, ReFoReMo, and The Writers’ Loft.

2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book.

            The nugget that inspired How Long Is Forever? happened when I was a teenager. A song I loved came on the radio and I excitedly squealed, “Turn it up! This is the best song ever.” My friend’s Dad scoffed, “Really? This is the best song ever?”.

That exchange stuck and launched the interaction between Mason and his Grandpa in How Long Is Forever?. Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa sends Mason searching the farm to find the meaning of forever. I loved the idea that what can seem like the best song ever to a teenager or feel like forever to an eight year old can be very different for an older adult.

The idea for a story can come from childhood memories that linger in your brain. Those standout moments that hold a reserved space in your mind, are probably the moments that will resonate with a reader. Those are the archives I love to mine when looking for a book idea.

By the way, my friend’s father was right. Thomas Dolby’s, She Blinded Me With Science was NOT the best song ever! And Mason is going to find out that waiting for a blueberry pie to bake is not forever.

3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.

The best thing I ever did for my writing was to really immerse myself in the KidLit community. My advice would be to take a class. Check out the offerings at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and join The Society of Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Both offered me a wonderful way to get feedback on my work and to improve my craft. It was through SCBWI that I met my first critique partners and we started 24 Carrot Writing a blog for writers, that has been offering help and advice to fellow writers for over five years.

My advice to other writers, based on my journey, would be to get out into the writing community. Meet fellow writers, take classes and workshops, offer your own help and advice, listen to editors and agents, and become a part of the community. I think the community will reward you for your efforts – it did for me.

You can connect with Kelly here:

website:http://www.kcareywrites.com/   

twitter: https://twitter.com/KCareyWrites

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellycareywrites/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KCareyWrites

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Kid Lit Love: Seven New Children’s Book Releases in 2020

A couple of months ago, I was able to connect with several authors in the kid lit community who have new books being released this year and would like to be included on the Kid Lit Love blog series. It was amazing to get such a positive response from creators of children’s books and has been a pleasure to help get the word out about them. Some of these are debut authors and though 2020 may not be the easiest year for a book release, it is a pleasure to celebrate book birthdays together! I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all who have participated and those who will be participating in the future. I hope you will take a closer look at these wonderful new releases. Let’s all spread some Kid Lit Love!

Here are the books and authors featured in March and April:

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

May is Child Care Month

Did you know that May is Child Care month in the province of British Columbia?

As we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we have learned how essential child care is to our world and how interdependent we are on one another. At the University of British Columbia, medical students who are not yet fully trained are choosing to provide child care for health care workers in order to help out. Some child care centres have remained open, accepting only children of essential workers. Some centres have been forced to close due to the fact that many children are staying home with their families.

If you are looking for child care, it can be quite challenging to find a space in our province. Parents need to get their children on wait lists and be willing to consider different arrangements or driving to less convenient areas of the city. Child Care centres have trouble finding qualified staff because of shortages in the workforce. Retention of child care staff is also an ongoing challenge.

Preschool science

Now that we can see how essential a universal child care service is to our world, I hope that more citizens will ask questions of our government representatives and hold them accountable for working towards solutions that will be help everyone concerned. Add your voice to advocate for a better system. Our government needs to do better. Even if you do not have a child, it impacts you if and when you require medical services from a health professional whose ability to work is compromised due to inability to access child care services. It impacts our entire economy as it supports the workforce. Universal Child Care benefits everyone, in fact it improves our Health Care System by strengthening the work force. If we’ve learned anything from the fight against COVID-19, it is this: we’re all in this together.

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Connecting Families With Nature Virtually

Although some teachers continue working in order to provide essential service for health care workers or education for students with special needs, many, like me, are at home and unable to be with their students. Because teaching is such a relationship focused profession, I am fairly certain that many teachers are missing their students and the role they play as educators.

Navigating how to keep up the relationships has been especially difficult for me, as I have been working casual, as more of a substitute, though I work with the same students quite regularly and still do miss them quite a bit.

Japanese Maple

One bright moment where I still felt like a teacher was when I shared a nature app called Seek by iNaturalist with a few families. I asked them if they would be willing to share any feedback they have if they happened to try out the app and how their children responded. It was such a pleasure to hear back that their children not only tried it out but took photos to every single living thing in their backyard using the app and had fun while doing it. It shows me the way forwards for families with young children is probably a three step process:

  • present an activity that is open-ended for the family to try
  • allow families a week to try it out
  • gather in a zoom meeting to share experiences with the activity

Do you teach young children? How have you been maintaining relationships with your students? It is challenging but there are ways to make it happen.

I hope you’ll share ways you have been able to keep relationships up with your students in the comments. Are you teaching virtually? Sending email assignments? What works well for you and what have you learned from trying new methods?

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.