Kid Lit Love: CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT by Nancy Churnin

Welcome to Friday’s Kid Lit Love!  Today I’m super happy to be interviewing Nancy Churnin and reviewing her picture book, CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT, published in 2018 by Albert Whitman and Company. Nancy is the author of several more books listed below.

I was pleased and excited to receive CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT for a few reasons.  First off, I’ve never written a picture book biography but it is something I’ve been thinking about trying so reading lots and lots of picture book biographies is  a goal for me right now.  Nancy’s book really impressed me in how it can take on the feeling of a fictional story in the way it is written.  Her particular style makes a great mentor text for me.  Yay!

And then there’s the fact that no matter how old I get, I just love getting mail.  Any kind will do (except bills of course).  Letters, packages, etc.  If it is addressed to me, I always open it with anticipation.

Finally, I grew up with a Dad who had a passion for golf.  Along with this passion, he was raised with a set of beliefs that are challenged by this story.  Though I have great love and respect for my father, some of his beliefs needed to be challenged, and I’ve always known that so I’m really happy this book exists. I’m well aware that there are more people who were raised in the same manner as my father and share those strongly held, yet misguided beliefs.  So for me, the story is very relatable.

My Review:

From the opening lines of the story, I was hooked.  I wanted to turn the page.  Would Charlie get caught? Nancy’s writing brings Charlie’s story to life.  Children will root for Charlie as he pursues his dream to play golf.  From his beginnings secretly playing late at night, to his days serving as a caddy, to playing on the PGA tour in front of a cheering crowd, the story takes us through Charlie’s golfing career, inspiring us through the challenges he faced.  It also celebrates his accomplishment in terms of being the first step towards allowing black people the freedom to play on the PGA tour which had been impossible before Charlie Sifford. I highly recommend this story .  It would serve as a great discussion starter in any classroom.  What if your most loved passtime had to be hidden from others?

The Interview:

Introducing……author, Nancy Churnin!  Welcome, Nancy!

 

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What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Words and stories are the invisible threads that connect us all together in one large human spirit. It is the most incredible joy to learn that something I’ve written has inspired someone to smile, to hope, to believe that he or she can make a positive difference in the world.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Write what you love! What will make your book stand out is the passion you put into it. If you write what you love, you will find yourself telling the story the way only you can tell it. That authenticity of you speaking from the heart will go to the heart of your readers. Also, persevere and have patience. It’s not for us to know how long or winding the journey will be. But if you keep going, you will get there.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I am inspired by people who who have dreams that can’t be deterred, by people who are kind, by people who persevere until they’ve made the world a better place. Those are the people I like to write about, the people that I hope will inspire kids to dream big and help others, too.

Why do you write for children?

Kids are open to inspiration. I hope my books touch all ages and it has meant so much to me when I’ve been told by adults that they’ve been moved by my stories, too. But kids have more time to think and are more open to asking questions that go beyond to survival to how they can make the world a better place. That’s why I think books about inspiring people can have more of an impact on children than on any other group. Also I just love spending time with kids — they tell you exactly what they think, with no filters, which is always fun and refreshing!

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

With CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT, I hope readers will take home the message that you can achieve your dreams if you don’t give up and that by achieving your dreams, you can open the door for others to achieve theirs, too.

Author’s bio: Nancy Churnin is the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and author of THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME (Albert Whitman), on the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids list, the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2X2 and Topaz lists, the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Association’s Monarch Award Master List and Connecticut’s 2018 Charter Oak Children’s Book Awards list. MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN (Creston Books) is the 2018 winner of the South Asia Book Award, a finalist for the 2018 Children and Teen’s Choice Book Awards, a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection, a 2018 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, on the 2018 ILA-CBC Children’s Choices list and a Silver Eureka Award-winner. CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF was featured at the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis May 19, 2018. Coming out in 2018: IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING in May and THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE in October. In Spring 2019: MARTIN & ANNE. A native New Yorker, Nancy is a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University School of Journalism.

Website: http://www.nancychurnin.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyChurninBooks/

Twitter: @nchurnin

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Wednesday Writing Update

Hello to my wonderful readers!  There may be only two of you, but you are appreciated all the same.  It’s all about quality, not quantity, right?

Anyway, I’m checking in with you for my weekly writing update.  This helps keep me going with my writing.  I’ve got plenty of time this summer for writing, but the sunshine is a distraction so I need to stay focused to get things done.

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This week I felt very fortunate to get some awesome feedback from my critique group.  They really dug into my story and were super helpful with their comments.  I’ve done some revisions now based on their thoughts and I’m feeling really happy with the story.  It is getting closer to being an actual picture book one day!  This one is fiction, but it is a book that is needed in the world with a main character who has sensory processing issues.  Yes, all people can be heroes and that includes people with SPD!

Next, I’ve begun delving into non-fiction picture book biography writing.  This is completely new territory for me. I had an idea for an individual who has never had a picture book done about him and I’ve begun my research.  I’ve got a ton of notes and quotes!  Now to wrestle it all into a compelling story that is geared for 5-9 year olds.  Hmmm… That may take some doing.

How is your summer going?  Are you getting things done? Enjoying the sunshine? Getting some rest and relaxation? Let me know in the comments!

Check out my picture book!

Happy Monday!

Welcome to Monday!  This is your opportunity to learn a little more about the writer behind the blog.

As you may already have learned, I am an introvert.  I get worn out from being around large groups of people.  This is why I love teaching preschool and piano.  My preschool is small, so we have 15 children at a time.  There are no other preschool classrooms on the same site so I only need to get to know the families and children who are directly in my class. And with piano, I get to teach one student at a time.  This works very well for my introverted self.  The summers off are truly a time to rest and recharge and I really enjoy my alone time now that my children are both graduated from high school.  Still,  I’m sure I’ll miss them terribly when they eventually move out.

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I’m working on relaxing and am hopeful that by the end of August, I’ll be fully rested and recharged and ready to go back to work.  I’m feeling very grateful that I’ve been able to enjoy a couple of months off each year.  It really helps me to appreciate and enjoy my preschoolers, piano students, and their families when I go back every fall.

What makes you feel grateful?

Books by Cynthia

Back to School Blog Giveaway! Coming Soon!

Greetings and welcome to my blog!  I wanted to let you all know I’m in the planning stages for my next blog/facebook giveaway.  It has been too long since the last one 🙂

I’m working on the prizes right now and what they ought to be.  You can expect a picture book or two in the package, that’s for sure.  But what else?  Hmm… an Amazon gift card might be a pretty good prize.

Do you have ideas for prizes? Ha! Silly question.  I’m sorry, I am unable to give you a trip for two to Paris.  C’est impossible!  I’ll think on it some more…

Hey, here’s a thought…any teachers of preschool/kindergarten looking for some amazing activity ideas based on some amazing picture books? How about a set of story stretchers to go with my amazing picture book giveaways.  Now that would be awesome for back to school!

Books by Cynthia

 

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

 

Wednesday Writing Update

Hello and Happy Wednesday!  I’m giving weekly writing updates to keep myself motivated.  Writing consistently can be a challenge when there are so many distractions.  This is my way of keeping myself on track so please humour me here.

So this week I’m feeling incredibly grateful for my online critique group, who have given me some amazing feedback to help move my story forwards.  I’d left this one aside for several months while working on other projects but I’m still very passionate about the story.  It is a fiction picture book that features an autistic main character whose sensory challenges make it very difficult for him to enjoy something as simple as going to the beach with his family.  It is a super challenging story to write because if you know much about autism, you know it presents itself quite differently in each individual.

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Yes, it is getting dark and I’m still working.

Anyway, thanks to Tara Perkowski, Tasha Hilderman, Sue Macartney, Akilah Pikou and Emma Wood, I have a new direction and inspiration for this story.  I’ve written a couple of new scenes to develop the story and main character further.  Revising this story hasn’t been easy but I know it is getting closer to where I want it to be.

How do you keep yourself motivated to get things done?

 “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” -Creighton Abrams

Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker is written by Cynthia Mackey

Happy Monday!

Here’s a chance to learn a little about the writer behind the blog.  Thanks for stopping by to read 🙂

So my story for this week continues on the walking theme.  As I mentioned, I like to go for walks.  And living in Victoria, B.C. is great for that because year round, the weather is fairly mild so walking outdoors in winter might be a little cold, yes, but it is rare we have a day that would stop me from going outdoors. Here’s a photo from my weekend walk.

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I love all the hanging baskets in Victoria at this time of year.  I also really like the historical charm of this building.  It makes our little town feel unique.  What could be better after a walk on a hot day than a cold beer or glass of blush wine?

I really like walking in the snow too, when we get snow.  But that’s usually only a few times a year.  Here’s a photo from a rare walk in the snow I took last winter… you might have to squint to see the snowflakes!

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Most of the time, we need to be prepared for wet weather.  That doesn’t bother me either.  If I get wet, I just dry off later and enjoy a cup of tea or hot chocolate. No umbrella needed!

Do you like to go for walks? What is your neighborhood like?  Please share in the comments 🙂

Have a wonderful week!

 

 

 

<p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BfeysYclGgb/&#8221; style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>A rare walk in the snow today #canyouseetheflakes #westcoastwinter</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A post shared by <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/mackey_cynthia/&#8221; style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;” target=”_blank”> Cynthia Mackey SCBWI Member</a> (@mackey_cynthia) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2018-02-22T01:49:39+00:00″>Feb 21, 2018 at 5:49pm PST</time></p></div></blockquote> //www.instagram.com/embed.js“>instagram photo

And here’s one of the places I can walk to from my house… I do like a glass of wine every once in a while, how about you?

 

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