Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top 10 Picture Books

Here are my picks for Fuse's Top 100 Picture Books Poll over at School Library Journal. There are still a few hours left to participate! Choose your top 10 picture books and Elizabeth will award points to each. In April, after she's worked out all the numbers, she'll reveal the Top 100!

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Just an incredibly timeless, enjoyable and imaginative book.

1 here the Wild Things Are by Maurice Senda

It's my guess that tis one of the bestselling children's books of all time. It's somethingyone can identify with, and after all these years, the illustrations still stand out as remarkabl

Good Night, Gorilla

2. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

2. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Possibly my favorite picture book of all time. Really demonstrates reading as being a conversation.

Most likely my favorite picture book ever. I love the depth and vibrancy of the illustrations. The simplicity of the text is contrasted by the detail of the pictures and of the story. It makes for such a complete and rewarding reading experience.
Front cover

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This is the cumulative tale gold standard. Not many books have endings that can compete with the thrill and beauty of this one.

4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

A classic. Who doesn't own this and love it?

a Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.

5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
This ones got story, rhythm, rhyming, repetition, humor, and fun art by Lois Ehlert.

Crazy-fun rhythm, letter knowledge and great artwork from Lois Ehlert.

6. We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

6. We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

Reading can get you up and out of your seat! Check out the author's dramatic reading.

Fn and exciting, rhythm and rhyming, repetition, and on top of that it gets you up andng. Perfect example to show that books are often meant to be read aloud, experienced and played with

7. Mae Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
7. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

A classic that's based on a true and heartwarming story. Can't get much better than that!

on't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
8. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

I picked this for its originality and innovation. There've been a lot of knock-offs in the last few years, but they just don't measure up. There's something special about this begging, whining pigeon! (And, the author's blog is lots of fun, too!)

9. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

I'd count this as another classic. Really cool illustrations. Great imagination. Humor. And it spans a wide reader age range. And, it's a forthcoming movie!!

10. No, David! by David Shannon

Yet another great original concept, full of orneriness that all kids (and parents) can identify with.
What picture book gems would be included in your Top 10?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Read Your Way Through...Picky Eating

Boo Boo by Oliver Dunrea

A small curious gosling loves to eat...almost anything. Boo Boo sets a good example to youngsters as he's willing to try new things.
Front Cover Crunch Munch by Jonathan London; illustrated by Michael Rex

With crunches and munches, slops and slurps, kids will love participating in this story that rhythmically shows how various animals eat. Parents will appreciate that it ends with the question, "How do you eat?", giving an opportunity to sneak in a reminder or a little discussion about food and nutrition!

Front Cover Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Jen Corace

Are meals and eating habits stressing you out? This delightful book brings some much-needed humor to the topic. Poor Little Pea must finish a plateful of candy before his favorite dessert -- fresh veggies!

Front Cover To Market, to Market by Anne Miranda; illustrated by Janet Stevens

This book is useful for introducing new vocabulary to young kids: a "Spring lamb", a "live trout", okra, etc. It's got a catchy rhyme that takes off from the nursery rhyme "to market, to market, to buy a fat pig; home again, home again, jiggity-jig". The humor and outlandish illustrations of this one make for a very fun read.

Eat, Cried Little Pig "Eat!" Cried Little Pig by Jonathan London; illustrated by Delphine Durand

"Eat" is the first word Little Pig learns, and appropriately so, because he loves nothing more than eating! From the mishing and mashing, the slopping and slurping, to the huge mess he makes of himself, kids and parents will enjoy the rhyming and raucous example of mealtime in this book.
So, there it is. Happy Reading and Happy Eating! Please feel free to share some of your favorites on this favorite topic of mine! ;)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dawes Arboretum

Today we enjoyed a lovely Spring day at Dawes Arboretum: 1,800 acres, beautiful scenery, elegant landscapes, walking and hiking trails, 15,000 living plants, and many species of wildlife.

Clockwise from top:

  1. we do not use the timer setting on our camera often enough!
  2. Dawes Lake
  3. The Japanese Garden and pond
  4. The Cypress Swamp
  5. trees that looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book
  6. J scouting salamanders (the salamanders had just migrated days ago to the swamp to begin their breeding season and were extremely well camouflaged, much to J's disappointment)
  7. goldfish in the pond at the Japanese Garden
  8. Conifer Glen, where we felt as if we were strolling through the setting of a Jane Austen novel
  9. my silly boys imprisoned at the Japanese Garden!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Writer Mama Winner

With big thanks to all who visited and commented yesterday, I'd like to announce that the winner of Day 16's Writer Mama Giveaway is...

BonnieRose! Congratulations! You can thank Random.org for selecting the number 4! Please send me an email at katiesweb@gmail.com with your mailing address so that Christina can get a signed copy of Writer Mama on it's way to you!

Thanks again to everyone who participated in a very helpful discussion about organization. It was really enjoyable to read all of your comments, and I hope you'll stop back to The Dundee Writer again. Christina's got some talented and inspiring followers! Keep following her Writer Mama Blog Tour -- there are more chances to win!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Writer Mama is Here!

Welcome to Day 16 of the Writer Mama Blog Tour!

I'm honored to have been selected to host Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, today. If you haven't read Writer Mama, it's a must. (Read on to see how you can win a copy!) This little book, just shy of 300 pages, packs a punch! Christina guides readers through the writing process with wisdom and advice, humor and clarity, confidence and encouragement.

One point from the book that really resonated with me was the idea of hats. (Yes, hats!) As mamas, we are used to wearing different hats as our children grow: disciplinarian, cheerleader, nutritionist, storyteller. Christina realized that the same is true of writers. As your writing career grows, you've got to be your own disciplinarian and cheerleader while also trying on the hats of: accountant, researcher, editor, marketer.

Christina's daily posts throughout this blog tour not only express this concept but also explore how to succeed in each of those roles throughout the book-writing process. And, today it continues with advice on first drafts. Enjoy!

The Writer Mama Two-Year Anniversary Blog Tour Giveaway! (Catch up on the past posts here: http://thewritermama.wordpress.com/)

Post #16: The Nonfiction Book Writing Process: The First Draft

I can’t presume to know what works best for everyone when it comes time to draft your first book. But I have written a couple first drafts of nonfiction books and I have also been privy to the processes of other successful authors.

I say “successful authors” intentionally because the fact is not all books that are contracted make it across the publication finish line. Now, I imagine no writer wants to talk about this but we must. The fact is: when it comes to following through on a book contract, some writers won’t deliver. My editor, Jane Friedman at Writer’s Digest once shared with me that she kept a “book graveyard” on her bulletin board for books that were conceived but not delivered.

Feel free to shudder. What a discouraging experience! I hope it never happens to you.

Suffice it to say, you don’t want to be that writer who doesn’t deliver and you can avoid it by setting yourself up for success. Here are some of the ways I’ve seen success happen:

Don’t disappear

Keep in touch with your editor from the verbal offer all the way through the delivery of the partial first draft. Editors typically ask for a partial draft to assess that the book is on track, as agreed, and to have an opportunity to offer editorial direction before the book is complete. This is a good thing. Listen to your editor and try to find the wisdom in her suggestions. I can tell you from my experience that this collaborative attitude will create a better book.

Steer the ship

Even though you keep in touch with your editor, be careful not to imagine that she is overly consumed with your book’s progress. She isn’t. It’s quite likely that your editor is juggling many book projects on top of additional, and likely increasing responsibilities related to the overall success of the publishing company. With the economy being what it is, don’t be surprised if your editor’s job is in a precarious position. She may still be your editor by the time your book is done. Then again, she may not. Don’t worry, book projects get handed off from editor to editor. Once you get past a certain development point with your manuscript, your editor might hand you off to another editor so she can focus on acquisitions and new book development. Hang steady and roll with it. Your responsibility is to complete your book to the best of your ability no matter what is going on at your book’s publishing house.

Refine the focus

The more clear and refined your book proposal table of contents, the easier it is going to be for you, as the writer, to write the book in an orderly manner. Don’t forget that most nonfiction books require tons of research, interviewing, and compressing of information, so even if you have a solid TOC, you’ve still got your work cut out for you. If you didn’t refine your TOC, your book will likely benefit if you pause before you start drafting to refine it to the best of your ability. Be sure and run your revised TOC by your editor before you dive in and start writing.

Proceed in an orderly fashion

Sure, you want to take advantage of content discoveries as you go along in the book writing process. But you’ll be in a better position to capitalize on those discoveries the more organized you are. I proceeded in a much more orderly fashion on my second book by creating a file system just for my book research separate from all of my other projects. That way when I got my hands on new research, I could either file it according to chapter or put it in a pile to file later. This way, all of my research was always in one place and close at hand.

Remember that a nonfiction book is not typically “personal experience,” unless it’s a memoir. Most nonfiction books respond to many issues and questions, even after the central thrust of the book has been determined. The more you consider the reader’s questions and concerns as you write the book, the better you can address them in the book.

To say how to best succeed at book drafting, I would repeat my oft-repeated advice that writers are partnering with others, not hoping to be discovered by others. Your job is still your job, even after you sign the contract. I suspect that the writers who didn’t deliver on their manuscripts may have assumed that after landing the book deal, they were home free. But now you know, that once you get to this point, the really hard work has really just begun.

Today's Book Drawing: To enter to win a signed, numbered copy of Writer Mama, answer the following question in this blog's comments:

How organized of a writer are you? Do you have an orderly writing practice that works for you?

Thanks for participating! Only US residents, or folks with a US mailing address can participate in the drawing. Please only enter once per day.

Where will the drawing be tomorrow? Visit http://thewritermama.wordpress.com/ to continue reading the rest of the Writer Mama story throughout March 2009!


Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz (Writer's Digest Books 2007)

Kids change your life, but they don't necessarily have to end your career. Stay-at-home moms will love this handy guide to rearing a successful writing career while raising their children. The busy mom's guide to writing life, this book gives stay-at-moms the encouragement and advice they need including everything from getting started and finding ideas to actually finding time to do the work - something not easy to do with the pitter-patter of little feet. With advice on how to network and form a a business, this nurturing guide covers everything a writer mama needs to succeed at her second job.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

today's beauties

Haven't done this reflection in awhile...

  1. Driving in the car and a song comes on the radio that makes the perfect soundtrack to the mood you're in, the scenery you're admiring, and the activities of the people you're passing.
  2. A brand-new journal with crisp clean pages.
  3. Taking a day (or, okay, most of a day) to unplug and unwind outdoors, soaking up some fresh Spring air.

What are you enjoying or admiring these days?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

all a-twitter!

Happy Almost Spring! We're in Daylight Savings time; temperatures are rising; birds are chirping; and it seems everyone is all a-twitter!

Are you on twitter? When I first heard about it, I thought to myself, "Do we really need another venue to make ourselves seem more self-absorbed? Do people I know and/or don't know need (or even want) to know what I'm doing at random moments throughout the day?" But, I gave it a fair shot for the sake of a work project and what do ya know, this girl is hooked! It's an easy and fun way to connect with friends and co-workers. It's become a great way to discover events around the city. It's a free advertising tool for your blog, and an extra way to chat, share links, etc with other bloggers. I even get occasional updates and glimpses into the lives of biggies like @halseanderson and @realjohngreen!!

Check it out. You may be surprised to find out who's tweeting. Everybody's doing it; why aren't you? ;) The Library of Congress, School Library Journal, The Columbus Dispatch, President Obama, The Today Show, CNN, and countless other radio, news, social, and community organizations. And those are just the "serious" ones! There are also plenty of tweeps out there doing it for fun and laughs. (Not convinced? Read this article. And this one. And, lastly, this one.)

So, aside from being all a-twitter about twitter, I'm also feeling so giddy and excited about my latest blog news. As you know from some of my posts, as well as my blog header, I'm a wanna-be writer. :) For now, it's mostly this blog and book reviews and product reviews, but I do dream of being a published author one day. A major source of advice, information, and encouragement is Christina Katz, who blogs at The Writer Mama, and is the author of several books on the business of writing, one of which is so perfectly titled The Writer Mama: How to Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids. So clever!

Well, the book was a great jumping off point for me, and one impetus that brought me to blogging. After reading the book, I checked her web site, found the blog, subscribed to her newsletter and found a couple other great "writer mama" blogs from her blogroll. A few months down the line, I stumbled across her on twitter, which makes it very easy to see what she's up to and get much-needed reminders to write!

So, the news. I've taken a very roundabout way to get here, but here we are. During the month of March, Christina is celebrating her blog's 2 year anniversary, and she's doing it up big with a blog tour and giveaway -- every day in the month of March. And, drumroll please, she'll be stopping by this very blog on Day 16!!! I'm thrilled to have been selected to participate. You'll be thrilled too because on Day 16 (Monday, March 16, 2009) you'll have the chance to win a copy of The Writer Mama!
Hope you'll check back! tweet, tweet!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Take Another Looky

Remember Lookybook? I've posted about it before because it's such a cool concept. Although it doesn't appear that they've added any new titles in awhile, it's still worth the occasional look.
During some down time at work last week, I showed the site to one of my young little customers who was hanging around the desk chatting with me. She pulled up a stool and spent a good 15 or 20 minutes clicking through the books, reading to me. It was a great experience. She got some reading practice; she was able to read a book, like the one below, that the library does not currently own; and, it revealed a new dimension in which she could explore books and authors!
Take a peek at I Get Around by Deborah Miner. Cute and active two-page spreads chronicle Rover's day doing his favorite things. It's an enjoyable read for toddlers and preschoolers and boosts early literacy skills such as Print Awareness and Phonological Awareness.