Help Me Decide!

I’m super excited that my next book is nearing publication! I want your input. What do you think would make the best back cover for my early chapter book, The Lullaby Monsters?

This night time adventure features Kelsey and Thomas who meet a bunch of monsters. When monsters steal Thomas’ most prized possession, Kelsey and Thomas must face their fears in an effort to get it back. Through the story, they learn about fear and friendship in this fun adventure under the stars with an unexpected, funny twist at the end that will make children want to pick up the book and start again.

Here are the back cover options…

1. Kelsey and Thomas
2. The Monsters
3. Kelsey and Thomas Biking

So… which one do you think is best? Let me know!

I appreciate your input and can’t wait to reveal the front cover when it is ready. I look forward to your comments.

Wednesday Writing Update

Hello Friends in the Blogosphere!

Here’s my weekly writing update; keeping myself honest about the progress I’m making with writing for children.IMG_2680

This week I watched a free webinar by children’s book author, Arree Chung.  It was so good in that he reminded me that the only way to become a published author is to do the work.  So I got down to work.  I revised a couple of manuscripts and for the first time ever, I requested a critique in the facebook group Kidlit 411, Manuscript Swap.  Wow! what a community!  I couldn’t believe the quick response I got from people willing to read and give feedback.  It is amazing.  And with that feedback, I can learn and grow as a writer. If you are a children’s writer and you’re on facebook,  I highly recommend joining the groups Kid Lit 411 and Kid Lit 411 Manuscript Swap!  They are super helpful in developing your craft.

Visit me on my Facebook Page; likes are always appreciated.  Plus I’m doing a giveaway you might be interested in 😉 Have a wonderful week!

Kid Lit Love: Finn Finds a Friend by Jenna Grodzicki and Alexis St. John

Welcome to Friday’s Kid Lit Love!  Today I’m reviewing FINN FINDS A FRIEND by Jenna Grodzicki and Alexis St. John, published by Clear Fork Publishing.

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My Review:

In a blend of fiction and non-fiction, Jenna Grodzicki tells the story of Finn, the playful lemon shark. Finn tries to play with other creatures (lemon sharks, sea turtles, and even people) but has a few challenges finding a play mate. At first it seems no one wants to play with a lemon shark.  In the end, his sharp shark teeth save the day for a friendly dolphin caught in some seaweed, leading to a new friendship and new play opportunities.  Children are introduced to various creatures that swim in the ocean and Finn is a likeable character whose actions move the story forwards to a satisfying conclusion. The story provides an opportunity for children to learn more about lemon sharks that they are not considered dangerous to people (or dolphins).

The illustrations by Alexis St. John show the wonderful undersea world. This would be a great book for teachers and parents to add to their library.

Introducing….author Jenna Grodzicki!  Welcome, Jenna!

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What’s the best thing about being a writer?

There are so many things I love about being a writer. I love the excitement of a new idea. There is so much possibility with each tiny spark. I love visiting schools and sharing my books with children. I was an elementary teacher for 15 years, so I really enjoy spending time with young readers. And I love being a part of this amazing kidlit community. The friends I’ve made have been invaluable in helping me grow as both a writer and a person. 

Where does your inspiration come from?

My children are a constant source of inspiration. But my ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere. I’ve come up with ideas while at the beach, walking my dog, listening to a conversation, and in the shower, to name a few. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night on many occasions with a new story just bursting to get on paper. I carry a small notebook in my purse, so if inspiration strikes, I can quickly jot it down.

Which books are on your reading list?

There are so many books on my TBR list, and everyday it gets longer and longer. I just started readingThe Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta. I had to wait until my daughter was done with it! I really enjoy YA, and I can’t wait for Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas.  For picture books, I’m looking forward to Jess Keating’s Cute as an Axolotl, Melissa Stoller’s Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush, and Josh Funk’s Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude. And of course, my son and I are dying to read Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas.

Those sound like great books.  Thanks for joining us today, Jenna!

Jenna’s website

Cynthia’s book

 

Kid Lit Love: More Blueberries by Susan Musgrave with illustrations by Esperanca Melo

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a huge appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month (weekly during July and August) of a book I love.  All the picture books I review in 2018 from this point forward will be the books of 12×12 members or feature books from Canadian publishers, authors and illustrators.  MORE BLUEBERRIES is published by Orca Books.

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If I had to use just one word to describe the book MORE BLUEBERRIES it would be…. fun!

Blueberry cheeks, blueberry chin.

Blueberry teeth, blueberry grin.

The story is less 93 carefully chosen words.  I was attracted to the book because I love blueberries myself and because of the joyful faces on the book cover.  The rhyme and meter is spot on and the illustrations are colourful and appealing.  I like the smaller book size too for little hands.  This book would work really well for introducing children to story time because of the length of story, the rhyme, the bright and interesting illustrations, the animals and the daily routines of meal time, bath time, and bed time.  I am happy to add this book to my library!

What are you reading this summer?

Discover children’s books by Cynthia Mackey

 

Welcome!

Hello and Welcome!

I’m happy you’re here.  I hope you’ll take some time to pour a cup of tea or a nice cool glass of lemonade or whatever you fancy.  Then I hope you’ll spend a few moments reading.

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I’m an early childhood educator, a picture book writer and a music teacher.  I do my best to juggle all three.  I love writing about child development, parenting, learning through play, my own growth as a writer, picture books, music and music education, active play, nature programs for children, and did I mention picture books?

Here’s my plan for this blog over the next couple of months. (In the fall you’ll get more early childhood related posts.)

  1. Three posts per week
  2. Mondays: sharing a little about me (this is a challenge since I’m an introvert but I am going to try)
  3. Wednesdays: writing updates (this is where I outline projects I’m currently working on and tell you about my process)
  4. Fridays: picture book reviews from 12×12 authors, Canadian writers, and other great books I’ve discovered.

I hope you’ll stop by and check it out!  And leave me some comments too.  Are you a parent? a writer? a teacher?  Then I think you’ll be interested in what you find here.

Have an awesome day!

Discover picture books by Cynthia Mackey

Kid Lit Love: In The Red Canoe

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a huge appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month of a book I love.  I’m going to stray a little from posting reviews of 12×12 members books to focus on another category: Canadian picture book writers and illustrators.  In the Red Canoe is written by Leslie A. Davidson and illustrated by Laura Bifano.  It is published by Orca Books.

If I had to describe the picture book, In The Red Canoe in just five words it would be…a celebration of lake life!

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As a nature lover myself, I am always searching for picture books that focus on the natural world and its beauty.  This book does that while at the same time, appreciating the grandparent/grandchild relationship.  The rhyme and meter is very well done.  What a great opportunity for young children to pick up on the concept of rhyming words.  What I loved about the illustrations was the different perspectives as we have the opportunity to experience nature from many viewpoints.  The words were poetic and well chosen and the story flowed from one page to the next.  There’s no better way to end a summer day at the lake than with this story and a cup of hot chocolate.  As a Canadian who loves my time at the lake, I feel this book captured lake life beautifully and can recommend it as the ideal late afternoon/evening story for parents and grandparents to read while reflecting on a day at the lake.

I am happy to add this to my library.Remember_-7

Kid Lit Love: Sam and Jump by Jennifer K. Mann

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a newfound appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month of a book I love.  All the picture books I review in 2018 from this point forward will be the books of 12×12 members! Reality being what it is, life has gotten in the way of my goal but without further adieu, here is my featured picture book for June: Sam and Jump by Jennifer K. Mann.  

If I had to describe Jennifer K. Mann’s picture book, Sam and Jump in just one word it would be…adorable!9780763679477

Sam and Jump tells the story of a little boy, Sam and his treasured stuffed bunny named Jump.  In very few words, the story accurately portrays the special relationship between a young child and his or her most favourite toy.  Jump is not just a toy, Jump is a friend and when Jump gets left behind, Sam has a very difficult night being separated from his beloved friend.  At the same time, the story features a new friendship Sam develops with another little boy.  The story is of kindness, of overcoming challenges, of friendship, inclusiveness, and just plain fun.  

I’m often looking for appropriate and yet interesting books to read to my 2-3 year olds that will still be interesting for the older 4 and 5 year olds in my preschool class.  This picture book fits the bill perfectly.  I find it to be a relatable story that all children can enjoy.  It holds their interest all the way through to a satisfying ending.

Published by Candlewick  May 10, 2016

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Kid Lit Love: Lion and Rabbit’s Opposite Day by Tara J. Hannon

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a newfound appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month of a book I love.  All the picture books I review in 2018 from this point forward will be the books of 12×12 members! So here is my featured picture book for March: Lion and Rabbit’s Opposite Day by Tara J. Hannon.  It is also important to note that Tara self-published this book, which is a journey all its own.  Congratulations, Tara!  I’d also like to note that Tara is one of my critique partners and I really value her input and writing expertise.

My preschool class and I thoroughly enjoyed Lion and Rabbit’s Opposite Day.  In this simple story, Rabbit and Lion go through their day together with each page featuring opposites such as bottom/top, near/far, open/closed.  The illustrations are adorable with changing scenes of Lion and Rabbit indoors and out.  They are friendly and playful characters that are very relatable for children.  This is a simple story but an important one to add to your collection as there are few children’s picture books on the market that feature opposites in such a fun and relatable way.  The end of the book has an opportunity to help rabbit remember some of the opposites he learned.  My class loved trying to come up with the opposites when the story was done and were pleased with their own success in remembering the words.

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I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ask Tara a few questions.  Here’s my interview with Tara.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

For me, the best part of writing is creating and exploring worlds that only exist in my mind’s eye. There is nothing quite like sitting in a quiet room and letting my mind create something from an empty canvas. And very rarely there is a moment when something within those vast creations ‘clicks’ and an idea is born. That is the best.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Do the work. Research. Read. Study. Connect. Like any art, writing for children requires practice and knowledge. Sign up for the webinars, buy the books, find a critique group. Go whole hog and let yourself dive into it. You will never look back. Honestly, it took me a while to realize this. Once I did, my work improved tremendously.

Where does your inspiration come from?

The five year old that lives inside of my head. (haha) But really, she is still in there somewhere and I am always trying to see things the way she would.

Why do you write for children?

There are so many reasons. But if I had to pick one, I’d say its because they see things we adults can’t. Their imaginations are enviable and it is an honor to contribute to that magic… And I want them to think I’m cool.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Friends don’t steal pancakes. Oh, and that everyone is different. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Befriend it. 😉

Want to find out more about Tara’s book? Check out the Amazon reviews here.

 

Kid Lit Love: A Morning With Grandpa

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a newfound appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month of a book I love.  All the picture books I review in 2018 from this point forward will be the books of 12×12 members! So here is February’s book: A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu with illustrations by Christina Forshay.

This book, published by Lee and Low Books,  is the winner of the New Voices Award!

I was expecting to appreciate this book, but honestly, the writing and illustrations just shine beyond what I had imagined.  I plan to use this as a mentor text for myself as a new writer and would recommend it for other new writers out there.

A Morning With Grandpa follows Mei Mei, who is eager to learn tai chi from her Grandpa while he is practicing in the garden. Mei Mei has her own unique style, performing the movements with youthful enthusiasm.  Then Mei Mei teaches Grandpa the yoga she has learned at school.  The stretchy poses are a challenge but Grandpa is a willing participant.

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The book celebrates relationships with grandparents and the joy of being physically active together.  Sylvia expertly uses similes and metaphors in a child friendly way, introducing emergent readers to the richness of language.  A truly beautiful picture book to share with a child.

I had the fortunate opportunity to interview Sylvia Liu for this post. Here are my questions along with her answers.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
I love how everything that happens or that I read about is fodder for my writing. And I never feel guilty when reading for pleasure, because I can justify it as doing writerly research.
What is the most difficult thing about being a writer?
How difficult it is to write really well. How do writers get to the point where their writing is so seamless that the reader forgets they are reading and just becomes immersed in the story? I’m still trying to learn that.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Keep actively learning your craft, which means finding mentors, teachers, and critique partners to give you feedback on your work. Take writing classes and read craft articles and books. And never give up – remember, only you can tell your stories in your own way.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book, A Morning With Grandpa?
It’s never too late to learn a new skill and to spend time with your loved ones.
Which books are on your reading list?
I’m writing a middle grade cyberpunk novel, so I’m reading a lot in the genre, from classics in the adult arena (William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick) to recent MG and YA novels like Armada, by Ernest Cline and the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.
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Have you got a picture book you love? I hope you’ll post a review.  Amazon and Goodreads are great places to post.  Let’s spread the love around!