Kid Lit Love: National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Welcome to the Kid Lit Love blog series, celebrating new picture book releases every Monday! Today’s new release is by Lisa Katzenberger, illustrated by Barbara Bakos, titled NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY from Penguin Workshop. This celebratory book will be available June 23, 2020.

NATIONAL REGULAR AVERAGE ORDINARY DAY by Lisa Katzenberger, illustrated by Barbara Bakos


Synopsis: Peter does not like being bored, so he comes up with a way to have some festive fun–he’ll celebrate a different holiday each day! He even rates them on a scale of 1 to 10. But when he wakes up one morning to discover there isn’t a holiday, he realizes he’ll have to take matters into his own hands and make up his own! That’s easier said than done, though, and nothing seems to go right–until Peter realizes that even a regular, average, ordinary day can be something worth celebrating.

Lisa Katzenberger

I had the pleasure of connecting with Lisa through social media and I asked her a few questions about her experience as a writer. We realized that both of us have done the 12×12 Picture Book challenge and loved that experience. Here’s Lisa’s interview:

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.
I have always loved books and wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, taking creative writing courses in school any chance I could and studying journalism. I even landed a job after college as a writer — albeit a technical writer. As an adult, I kept writing on the side, focusing on short stories at first and then a few novels. It wasn’t until I had kids that I remembered the joy of books for children. Reading piles of picture books, I finally knew where I fit in!


2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book.
I used to work as a Social Media Manager and we began writing content around national holidays like International Women’s Day. Then I started to notice all the fun national holidays became popular on social media — like National Waffle Day. I wondered how a child might celebrate these different holidays and the story grew from there! 


3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.
My really basic, no-frills advice is to just keep writing. This week I was looking back on some of the picture books I wrote when I was starting out 5 years ago. Stories that I queried with, stories that went out on submission to editors but never sold, stories that I thought were good. Looking back, they were fine stories but they are not as strong as the stories I am writing today. What if I had given up when the first book I went out on sub with didn’t sell? I would have completely lost the opportunity to grow and hone my craft. I would have lost book deals. I would have lost my dream. But even in the face of rejection and frustration (which I still face today), I just kept writing. Keep writing everyone!

You can connect with Lisa here…

Website link: www.lisakatzenberger.com

Twitter link: www.twitter.com/fictioncity

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!

Connecting Families With Nature

As you may know, I’m living in beautiful British Columbia and if you listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry, she reminds us daily about how going outdoors is so important for our mental health, particularly during this time while we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. It will be Earth Day on Wednesday so there’s no better time to connect with nature.

Nature is Open to You!

You’re Invited to the Challenge!

I’d like to challenge you and your family to connect with nature in some way. This blog is small, so I know the comments may be limited but I would LOVE if people would be willing to share examples of how you connect with nature. These posts will give you a prompt to go out and try. After you try it, I hope you will share your experiences.

For those who love technology but haven’t yet discovered nature, here is a bridge to get you there. Look for nature apps for your phone. This is a great way to take your love for technology outside and see what you can learn. You will be truly amazed!

Seek by iNaturalist is one such app. You will love the immediate results. As you photograph plants, birds, and flowers, the name appears. Sometimes the app only gives a more general idea and sometimes more specific identification but it is a cool way to get kids involved in looking more closely at plants, flowers and really everything in nature. You can identify wildlife too and there’s a way to earn badges if that appeals to your children. I know the former girl guide in me would have loved this though I must say that girl guide badges were MUCH more difficult to earn.

Seek by iNaturalist
A Few of My Observations
Celebrate Earth Day by searching for signs of spring!

Here are a couple I haven’t tried yet…

There’s also Outdoor Family Fun with Plum. This offers family activities to explore nature in your neighborhood. It is a PBS Kids project. Get new missions each day!

PBS Kids offers another app called Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors. There are more than 100 nature prompts offered. Adventures get saved in a journal and kids can go back and view past adventures. There are opportunities to draw, paint, take photos and record sounds.

Have you tried any of these apps? Share your experience in the comments!

Thank you 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.

Kid Lit Love: Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids

I am happy to continue the Kid Lit Love series featuring new release children’s books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book, recently released in February of this year, is Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids by Rowena Rae. It is published by Chicago Review Press.

What makes this post extra special for me is that Rowena Rae is part of our Vancouver Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators group and it is so thrilling to share her success… AND because I am a teacher of preschool who loves to take children outdoors, this book will be practical for me personally as I will be able to use the activities and biography of Rachel Carson as a teaching tool.

Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: Her Life and Ideas by Rowena Rae

Synopsis:

Rachel Carson was an American biologist, conservationist, science and nature writer, and catalyst of the modern environmental movement. She studied biology in college at a time when few women entered the sciences, and then worked as a biologist and information specialist for the U.S. government and wrote about the natural world for many publications. Carson is best remembered for her book Silent Spring, which exposed the widespread misuse of chemical pesticides in the United States and sparked both praise and fury.

Carson’s personal life and scientific career were rooted in the study of nature. Using examples from Carson’s life and works, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids  introduces readers to ecology concepts such as the components of ecosystems, adaptations by living things, energy cycles, food chains and food webs, and the balance of ecosystems. This lively biography includes a time line, resources, sidebars, and 21 hands-on activities that are sure to inspire the next generation of scientists, thinkers, leaders, agricultural producers, environmental activists, and world citizens. Kids will:

  • Collect a seed bank of local plant species
  • Chart bird migration through their region
  • Make birdseed cookies
  • Model bioaccumulation and biomagnification
  • Build a worm farm
  • And more!
Rowena Rae, author

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

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t start writing for children until I had my own children and read out loud to them. I loved the picture book format and began jotting down ideas. I also enrolled in local children’s writing classes and online classes, and I heard about Highlights Foundation, in Pennsylvania, which holds workshops for children’s authors and illustrators. In 2013, I took their nature writing and science writing workshops and, two years later, their middle grade nonfiction workshop. That’s when I realized that my writing voice was older than picture books. I became hooked on writing about science and nature for middle grade readers!

2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.

In 2015, I met Amy O’Quinn (at Highlights). She was writing a book about Marie Curie for Chicago Review Press (Marie Curie for Kids), and when the book came out, I bought and read it. I loved learning about Curie’s personal and work life, and the book design and photographs were gorgeous. I told Amy how much I’d like to write a book for the same series, and she encouraged me to submit a proposal to the publisher. But who would I propose writing about?

I didn’t have to think for long. I had discovered Rachel Carson’s books when I was studying biology at university. Her descriptions of sea life and other organisms captivated me. Later, I went to Johns Hopkins University (where Carson had studied biology) to do an MA in science writing and rediscovered Carson’s books, this time appreciating her lyrical writing style. So when I was thinking about who to write a biography of, it seemed obvious: I should write about a woman who had been both a biologist and an author. The fact that Carson also has a fascinating life story kept me enthralled throughout the many months I spent researching and writing my book, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids.

3. Please share a resource for children’s writers.

Everyone approaches things differently, but what’s worked for me has been to take classes and workshops (in-person, online, self-directed), to read books and other resources (mentor texts, books on craft, blogs, etc.), to connect with other children’s writers (both published and aspiring), and especially, to write as much and as often as I can.

Right now, during the rather strange time we’re living through with the COVID-19 pandemic, Highlights Foundation is offering a series of free craft webinars. (I know I keep mentioning Highlights in my responses. No, I’m not on their staff! Yes, I’m a huge fan of their workshops and the inspirational setting where they hold their in-person workshops in rural Pennsylvania.)

Contact Rowena:

Rowena is having a productive year with three more books soon to be released! Look out for these titles:

  • Meg and Greg: A Duck in a Sock (April 14; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, first in a series); 
  • Chemical World: Science in Our Daily Lives (May 12; nonfiction for ages 9-12); and 
  • Meg and Greg: Frank and the Skunk (August 18; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, second in the series).

Thank you 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.

Kid Lit Love: Bedtime, Daddy!

I am thrilled to be returning to my Kid Lit Love series featuring picture books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book, to be released in May 2020, is titled BEDTIME, DADDY! by Sharon Giltrow, illustrated by Katrin Dreiling, published by EK Books.

BEDTIME, DADDY! by Sharon Giltrow and Katrin Dreiling

SYNOPSIS

Putting Daddy to bed can be hard work. Especially when he starts crying! This story will show you how to wrestle your daddy into his pajamas and read just one more bedtime story. “I’m thirrrrrrrrssssssty,” says Daddy. “I need to poop … I’m hungry … But I’ll miss you,” he says, while he looks at you with cutie eyes. You’ll have to battle the bedtime excuses and use go-away monster spray until Daddy finally goes to sleep. Bedtime can be a mission for many, but with these gorgeous illustrations of a little bear and his dad, this is the perfect role-reversal bedtime story to help put any fussy child to bed in a fun and positive way. Full of heart and humour, Bedtime, Daddy! is for anyone who wants to try and put a grown-up to bed.

Sharon Giltrow

Bio

Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, WA with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not participating in writing challenges and writing, Sharon teaches with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Sharon was awarded the Paper Bird Fellowship in 2019. Her debut PB Bedtime Daddy, is due to be released May 12th 2020 through EK books.

For those homeschooling their children, you can download Sharon’s Teacher Guide to accompany the book here.

It was a pleasure to connect with Sharon through twitter! She took the time to answer a few questions, giving us a behind the scenes view of BEDTIME, DADDY and writing for children in general. And her list of facebook groups is so valuable for children’s writers.

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

I loved reading and writing as a child and even had my own personal library set up in my bedroom with library cards and all. Also, from a young age I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Now as a teacher what I love most is to read books to children. Writing my own picture book seemed to be the logical next step. So, I started writing picture books back in 2006 when my first child was born. It has taken fourteen years for my first picture BEDTIME DADDY to be released.

2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.

My picture book BEDTIME DADDY is based on real life events. Well mostly 😊. The inspiration behind BEDTIME DADDY is my children and their daddy. One night when my husband was putting our son to bed, I thought that I would love for someone to put me to bed, especially at 7 o’clock. Cue lightbulb moment! How about a book where the child puts the parent to bed? Then I researched or mostly remembered all the steps it takes to put someone to bed.  The protests, the stalling, the distractions, the excuses, the monsters but as well as all the sweetness and fun of bedtime. A sprinkle of humour and BEDTIME DADDY was born.

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

My advice for children’s writers would be to find your writing community. Join the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. Join writing groups. Find critique groups. Surround yourself with other writers. Having a supportive group of fellow writers is essential. Here are some great Facebook groups you can join:

Also read as many picture books as you can. It is a great way to learn the craft of writing picture books.

Connect with Sharon Giltrow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

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

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

Reading for Research: Reforemo Challenge Wrap Up

At the beginning of March, when I began the Reforemo challenge, I had no idea that the libraries would be closed and much of the world shut down. Here’s my March 7th post, before the world changed. The first half of the month, I was able to check out many of the books and I still have many of them at home with the library currently closed and the loan period extended. Honestly, the whole world pandemic thing threw me for a bit of a loop, how about you?

Thank you Carrie Charley Brown and Kristi Call for doing this challenge; I hope to catch up and read through the daily posts I’ve missed over the coming weeks.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read over the past 2 weeks, some of which I’ve researched using You Tube read alouds:

  1. Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli
  2. Vroom by Barbara McClintock
  3. Twinderella by Corey Rosen Schwartz
  4. Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
  5. The Bear’s Garden by Marcie Colleen
  6. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
  7. Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
  8. The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
  9. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  10. Truman by Jean Reidy
  11. How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
  12. Nine Months by Miranda Paul
  13. Pirasaurs! by Josh Funk
  14. Whale in a Fishbowl by Troy Howell and Richard Jones
  15. On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen
  16. Little Frog and the Scary Autumn Thing by Jane Yolen
Truman

How did I do with the challenge?

So keeping it real, I didn’t quite make it through the Reforemo challenge to read 100 picture books in the month of March, but I did discover a bunch of fabulous picture books in my research and what strikes me above all is the sheer diversity and variety of books out there available to children. It opens up new possibilities for creating books for young children and inspires me to keep writing as each writer has a unique voice that contributes to our diverse and changing world.

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers for my picture books, including my 2020 release, The Lullaby Monsters.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. You are welcome back any time!

Kid Lit Love: Little Mole Finds Hope

I am thrilled to feature Little Mole Finds Hope written by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Sally Garland, on the Kid Lit Love Blog Series today! Little Mole Finds Hope is published by Beaming Books and comes out in a year (2020) where hope is exactly what the world needs.

Little Mole Finds Hope by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Sally Garland

Synopsis: When Little Mole is feeling sad in his dark, underground home, his mother shows him how to look for hope. He finds that signs of spring are everywhere, from the daffodil bulbs under the soil to the tiny buds on the branches above. Hope can be found–even in the darkest places. 

Author, Glenys Nellist

Today we welcome Glenys Nellist to the Kid Lit Love Blog Series!

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.
Originally a primary school teacher in England, it wasn’t until I relocated to the USA in 2000 to become a Children’s Ministry Director in a small church that I began to explore writing for children in a serious way. In my position at that church, I began writing my own curriculum, which included retelling Bible stories. Then one day, I picked up The Jesus StoryBook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. I read it, cover to cover, and immediately knew that I wanted to write like her. It was the inspiration I needed to write my first book, published in 2014 by Zonderkidz. It was called Love Letters from God and it quickly turned into a series of its own.


2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
Little Mole Finds Hope was inspired by one of the letters from God that I penned in that first book, Love Letters from God. In the letter, I was exploring the idea that hope lives in darkness: a baby is born from the darkness of the womb; a butterfly emerges from the darkness of the cocoon, and daffodil bulbs spring forth from deepest, darkest earth. I knew, then, that I wanted to write a story of hope that would encompass this truth, and Little Mole Finds Hope was born.


3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.
When I was writing that first book (Love Letters from God) I became discouraged and gave up half-way though. I put the manuscript on the shelf, where it sat for over a year. If it hadn’t been for my husband, who encouraged me, I would never have picked it up and finished it. And without that first book, I would never have written twenty more. I often think about all those half-written manuscripts, lying on dusty shelves in hope-robbed rooms. So, my advice to all children’s writers and aspiring authors would be.. don’t give up!  

Thank you, Glenys, for sharing your lovely new book with us today! Please find links below to learn more about Glenys and her books.

Peek Inside Little Mole Finds Hope
Author Website Facebook
Twitter Instagram

For more new picture book releases, both fiction and non-fiction, stop by the blog on Mondays!

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers for my picture books, including my 2020 release, The Lullaby Monsters.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. You are welcome back any time!