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.

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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!

The Lullaby Monsters: Book Swag

I’m excited to tell you, I’ve been working on some other manuscripts while waiting for the final edits and book design for The Lullaby Monsters, a night time adventure about facing fears with Kelsey, Thomas and a bunch of cute monsters. This will appeal to 5-8 year olds and is divided into short chapters for beginning readers.

Today, I decided to do something fun; create some book swag for my readers! With the gorgeous artwork of Paula Nasmith, I’ve created some adorable stickers and book plates to go along with the book. And I’m giving you a preview right here, right now! Check it out…

Book plate sticker
Book plate sticker

I can’t wait for this book to be ready! We’re hoping for May or June. When it comes out I’ll be happily sending out books and stickers. I have a bunch more character stickers that I will reveal closer to the release date. Sign up for my newsletter and learn more.

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

Kid Lit Love Series Resumes!

Hello Picture Book Lovers!

I am pleased to announce that my Kid Lit Love Series will resume very soon with a focus on new picture book releases in 2020 both fiction and non-fiction.

The entire Kid Lit Community is so amazing and I’ve been fortunate to connect with a number of authors who are releasing picture books this year. Kid Lit Love posts will be on Mondays. I am excited to say I have a bunch of wonderful books to share. So if you are looking for something new this year to read with the children in your life, come and visit my blog on a Monday and you just might find a new picture book that is exactly what you’re looking for.

Here are just a few of my favourite picture books!

Some of the books are fun, some are whimsical, some share important historical information, some deal with social and emotional issues, some feature diversity, some have themes related to caring for our world or each other. And with each book, you will learn a little about the making of it and how it came to be.

Curious? Follow my blog or like my facebook page where I share the posts. And if you love a book, I encourage you to leave a review, add it to your ‘to-read’ list on Goodreads, recommend it to a friend, request it at your library, or share it on your social media.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! I hope you’ll leave a comment and visit again. Have a wonderful day!

And if you have a moment, sign up for my newsletter!

Kid Lit Love: The Paper Kingdom

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 is titled THE PAPER KINGDOM by Helen Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion, published by Penguin Random House.

Take a look at this gorgeous cover art!

The Paper Kingdom

Synopsis

Based on the author’s childhood, “The Paper Kingdom” is about little Daniel who goes to work with his parents to their job as night janitors, where he expects dreariness but finds magic and wonder, thanks to the power of imagination.

Helena Ku Rhee, Author

I asked Helena a few questions about her new book and writing for children in general. It was a pleasure to connect with her.

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children. I think I’ve always loved picture books for the synergy between the words and illustrations. In fact, I won my first story contest in the third grade, and pencil drawings accompanied that story — so I think I was training to be a picture book author at a very young age!


2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book. I was driving through Los Angeles one evening when something about the empty, quiet street triggered childhood memories. The Paper Kingdom is based on my childhood when my parents worked as night janitors. They couldn’t afford childcare, so they often had to take me to work. And to keep me entertained, they made up funny stories. They did their best to turn drudgery into magic, and I wanted to capture that sense of wonder in the story.

3. Share your advice for children’s writers. Read what’s out in the marketplace. It’s great to be familiar with the classics, but it’s just as important to read new output from current writers. Also, keep in mind that the illustrations will help illuminate the story, so no need to go into lengthy descriptions. Also, I truly value the process of putting away my draft for a few weeks, and then evaluating it with fresh eyes. That’s probably one of the best tools for making your book as clean and as lean as possible, because that distance helps you quickly spot the slow parts or the unnecessary passages or even characters.

Thank you Helena Ku Rhee for being a guest on Kid Lit Love!

Website: http://helenakrhee.com/books/the-paper-kingdom/

Twitter handle: @HelenaRhee

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: The Voice That Won the Vote

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 is titled THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger, published by Sleeping Bear Press.

THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE: How One Woman’s Words Made History by Elisa Boxer, Illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger

Synopsis: 2020 marks the women’s suffrage centennial. In 1920, after decades of perseverance, women were finally given the right to vote. But it almost didn’t happen. THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE: How One Woman’s Words Made History, tells the little-known story of Febb Burn, the mother who saved suffrage with a handwritten note to her son. 

Author, Elisa Boxer

I had the pleasure of connecting with Elisa and I asked her a few questions about her experience writing for children.

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children. I’ve been writing children’s books with themes of courage and resistance ever since I could hold a pen (the cover of one of my earlier works is attached… See “You Can’t Catch Me”) 😉

One of Elisa’s earlier book covers, You Can’t Catch Me


I was painfully shy as a child, and I can remember seeing myself and my emotions reflected back in certain books, although I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time. I have just always felt at home in the pages of children’s books, especially those with deeper emotional pull. But even though I have been writing children’s book manuscripts for as long as I can remember, and attending SCBWI conferences for the past 15 years, I never really considered making a career out of it. I was always in the trenches of newspaper, magazine and television journalism. A couple of years ago, however, I got sidelined with a severe case of Lyme disease. Since I was basically housebound, I decided to take my research and storytelling skills from journalism, as well as my love of writing, and put them to use pursuing my childhood dream.


2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book. Although I’ve always been passionate about women’s rights, I have to give my agent, Steven Chudney, credit for this idea! I got an email from him in 2018 (we had another book out on submission at the time), letting me know the women’s suffrage centennial was coming up in two years, and suggesting I write a picture book about it. As a journalist, I’ve always been drawn to stories of unsung heroes, so I started researching little-known women in the suffrage movement. When I came upon the story of Febb Burn, I instantly felt that tug, you know, that pull from within that says this is it! I was drawn in by her courage in speaking (or in this case, writing) her truth, when it went against what society expected of her. 

3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers. Something that has kept me inspired, even on the toughest of writing days, is remembering my “why” — why I wrote this book, why I write in general, what message I want to convey with my work. I want children to know that their voices matter. I never want children to keep their truth quiet. That’s my “why.” My best piece of advice is to find yours. Keep it in your heart. Let it infuse your writing and inspire you.

Thank you Elisa Boxer for being a guest on Kid Lit Love!

Website:  http://elisaboxer.com/

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/eboxer

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!

Picture Book Research

If you’re a picture book writer, you know that in order to write great picture books, you must also read great picture books. And that’s the thinking behind Kristi Call and Carrie Charley Brown’s ReFoReMo Challenge.

The goal is to read 5 picture books per weekday in the month of March for a total of 105 picture books.

Book pile for week #1

Keeping it real, here’s a list of the books I’ve read during week #1: (Is it cheating if I started a day or two early?)

  1. This is the House that Jack Built by Simms Taback
  2. Around the Table that Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill and Jaime Kim
  3. There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klosterman and Ben Mantle
  4. Snappsy the Alligator Did Not Ask To be in This Book by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller
  5. Chloe and the Lion, by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex
  6. Z is for Moose, by Kelly Bingham and Paul Zalinsky
  7. The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross BurachAre
  8. We Pears Yet? by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Carin Berger
  9. Moon: Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
  10. My Happy Year by E. Bluebird by Paul Meisel
  11. Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laurie Keller
  12. Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival by Lindsay Moore
  13. Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph
  14.  The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta; illus by Frank Morrison
  15. Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy; illustrated by Ekua Holmes 
  16. MOTH: AN EVOLUTION STORY by Isabel Thomas, Illustrated by Daniel Egneus
  17. GIANT SQUID by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
  18. Most Marshmallows by Rowboat Watkins 
  19. River by Elisha Cooper 
  20. ONCE UPON A GOAT by Dan Richards, illustrated by Eric Barclay

Reading the blog posts that go along with the challenge make it insightful, highlighting what can be learned from looking at mentor texts.

I expect to be making a few more trips to the library this month! And I must say, I am so grateful for the ability to place holds on the books so that they are there waiting for me when I stop in at the library.

What mentor texts are you reading? Feel free to share in the comments.

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Thank you for stopping by my blog! You are welcome here any time, wherever you are in the world.