THE BIG DRAW: Illustrator Rebecca Gerlings Shares DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE

 


When Rebecca Gerlings, the illustrator of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, told me she was going to be one of the featured artists at this year’s The Big Draw Epsom, I was excited and wanted to learn more about the event and her role.

What I learned is that The Big Draw is a big deal! The Big Draw is a “a visual literacy charity that promotes the universal language of drawing as a tool for learning, expression and invention” and, according to their website, since their launch in 2000, over four million people have participated.  That makes them the world’s largest drawing festival! This year the festival ran from 1–31 October, and involved over 400,000 people from over 25 countries!

The  2018 theme was “play” and in Epsom activities included live cellists, chalk drawing on pavements, abstract art in the square, and readings and workshops in the library.  Visitors also had the chance to meet local artists, art educators and designers – including picture book author-illustrator Rebecca Gerlings, illustrator of Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse!

Here’s a round up of Rebecca’s part of the day:

 

Rebecca read Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, then lead a puppet-making workshop where children could take home their very own Delores and Fernando.

4439cb7b-874d-4228-8cbe-fa7765c752deShe cut 40 templates for both characters, snipped 40 woolly mouse tails, punched 80 mouse ears, and dotted 120 sticky eyes ahead of the event. 

 

The Fernando puppets were made by rolling each brown sugar-paper template into a little cone and securing it with sticky tape. A pair of ears and eyes and a woolly tail later and – voila-la-la! – Fernando!

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Once the kids had completed their puppets they popped them on stage for their debut performances!

All 40 cute Fernando puppets found new homes with their little makers. And in a flurry of feathers and glittery makery so did all 40 Deloreses!

IMG_2617It was such a smash that when the templates ran out a half hour before the end of the workshop the resourceful kiddos stayed to make cute characters out of the cotton wool balls meant for Delores’ wigs! 

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful day!  And perhaps it will inspire you to grab a copy of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE to read with your kiddos. And, afterwards, maybe you, too, can create puppets and put on a show!  Happy reading and creating, all!

LOVE IS KIND: Activity Guide and Printables (Bookmark this post!)

LoveisKind_emailheader_650x254_B.jpgTEACHERS AND PARENTS: This post is a treasure that should be book-marked. It contains a wonderful activity kit offered by Zonderkidz and created by my illustrator Lison Chaperon. The not-to-be-missed kit has an assortment of LOVE IS KIND-themed printables – including coloring pages, an adorable Little Owl mask craft and a post card activity!

41257812_1845944638825854_3088792384515866624_nYou can download the kit here.

IMG_7709And for your convenience, I’m also including the downloadable baking activity with  character muffin toppers seen above – perfect for birthday parties, class celebrations etc. Press here for that.

Happy reading and creating!

 

Extension Activity: DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE Coloring Page!

DivaDelores_ColoringPageR1_HighRes (1)TEACHERS, PARENTS, LIBRARIANS: Extend your story time with this printable DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE coloring page created by Sterling Children’s Books.  After coloring it in, make it super special by adding pink feathers and glitter. For extra, extra fun, use the coloring page as a jumpstart to write your own story about what you think might happen when Diva Delores and Fernando star in their next opera production.  Have fun!

PICTURE BOOK CRAFT: Feathered Fan inspired by DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE!

DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERAHOUSE MOUSE

Thank you, Rebecca Gomez, for creating this fabulous feathered fan craft to go along with DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE. The activity also includes thoughtful suggestions for a “diva-themed” discussion with your child as well as ideas for using the fan to re-enact parts of the story.  You can check it out here or by clicking the image above.

A children’s author, poet, and fan of all things creative and fun, Rebecca enjoys sharing helpful tips and inspiration for readers and writers, occasional book reviews, and random musings about life.  Her picture books WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? (Atheneum, 2015) and HENSEL AND GRETEL NINJA CHICKS, (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016).  Check out her wonderful website/blog to learn more.

I am adding the activity to the DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE extension activities tab above. Please check back periodically for more fun book-themed activities.

 

WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT: 6 Extension Activities for Two to Four Year Olds

IMG_5747This week I’m delighted to share with you Susanna Leonard Hill’s ADORABLE new board book WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman and published by Little Simon.  It’s the third in her WHEN YOUR… series and just as cute as the first two.  Now, to celebrate reading in general – and this book in particular – here are six  book-themed extension activities perfect for 2 – 4 year olds. So, invite your darling little ones to find a good spot to read… and then extend the fun with one, two, or all of these activities (which rhyme, by the way, just because).

WATCH A LLAMA CLIP! CLIP!! After reading WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT, you and your little ones might be wonder what it looks like when a real llama gets a hair cut.  If so, grab your tablet and watch some llamas getting hair cuts with this short but fun youtube video from Galloping Winds Ranch in Florence, Texas:

 

2. TAKE A HAIRY FIELD TRIP! After reading WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT, you and your little one may decide it’s time to get your own buzz or trim.  Take along the book and read it while the stylist snip, snips.

3. CREATE A SNAZZY HAIRDO (without scissors)!  After enjoying all the snazzy llama hair-do possibilities, you and your little ones may decide you want to give each other hair-dos.  Make sure there are no scissors in sight, but do encourage gentle combing to remove the tangles.  A spray water bottle will add lots of styling options and help the hair-dos to stick.  Barrettes, ribbons, mousse and gel, optional.  Afterwards, pretend it’s picture day – just like in the story – and say “Cheese!” for the camera.

4. DO A PICTURE READ THROUGH… After reading WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT, your child may want to re-read it to you using the pictures as clues! Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to.

5. HAVE A LLAMA BOOK FEST!  After reading the story, you and your little ones may decide you want to read more llama-themed books! If so, head to the library and have a llama-themed book fest!  Your librarian can help you find some good books.

6. LLAMA CRAFT TIME IS THE BEST! After reading WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT, you and your little ones may want to do a llama-themed craft. There are oh, so many, possibilities on Pinterest and elsewhere.  Here are a couple of  links to get you started.  Enjoy!

Llama Drawing Project: http://www.smallhandsbigart.com/llama-drawing-project/

Make a Llama Vase: https://abeautifulmess.com/2018/01/make-your-own-llama-vase.html

 

SIX Nativity Activities to Teach 6 – 8 Year Olds About Christmas (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

          One of my favorite Christmas memories is of watching my daughter play with the Baby Jesus that was part of our Christmas nativity. Pretending that Baby Jesus was crying, she’d gently take him out of the manger, rock him, feed him a bottle, and softly sing a lullaby or two.
         Here she is – several years ago – sweetly singing “Away in a Manger” with me after playing with the Baby Jesus. In the background (when we sway) you can even see that little nativity.

    
         Wasn’t that adorable?!  Her sweet play inspired me to write “Goodnight, Manger”, a Christmas bedtime picture book that not only serves as a fun reminder that Jesus was once a baby who cried and felt everything we feel, but which also keeps Christ, rather than Santa, as the focus during the holiday season. 
         With all this in mind, this week I am a guest over at Noelle Kirchner, The Ministering Mom’s website, noellekirchner.com,  sharing SIX Nativity Activities to Teach 6 – 8 Year Olds About Christmas , plus there’s a giveaway for one signed copy of GOODNIGHT, MANGER! I also previously shared on her blog 8 Nativity Activities to Teach Little Ones About Christmas so please check that out as well.
Thank you for having me, Noelle!!
Blessings, all!

PICTURE BOOK EXTENSION ACTIVITY: Felt Cookie “Number Order” Game

IMG_1773Today’s craft/game would fit in nicely with a pre-k or early elementary lesson on number order and logical thinking. It can also be used as a fun extension for your  favorite cookie-themed picture book. Some of my favorite cookie themed picture books include Ame Dyckman’s TEA PARTY RULES, Laura Numeroff’s IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE and Pat Hutchins’ THE DOORBELL RANG.  

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Felt Cookie Sheet “Number Order” Game

by 

Laura Sassi

These cookies are counting on you to get their chips in number order!

To make the cookies, trace eight circles onto stiff tan felt, using a small drinking glass as a template.  Decorate each cookie by gluing on chocolate brown felt chips.  Put one chip on the first cookie, two on the second, and so on. The final, eighth cookie should have eight chips. 

Next, arrange the cookies on your gray felt “cookie sheet” in three snug rows. Your third row will have one extra space.  Snip the excess strip from your cookie sheet so that there is space for only nine cookies.

To play, mix up the cookies and place them on the cookie sheet.  See if you can arrange them in number order without picking them up! Instead, slide them around the sheet using the empty space to help you.  Have fun!

Afterwards, treat yourself to some real home-baked chocolate chip cookies.  Yum!IMG_1758.JPG

 

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: An Interview with Zonderkidz picture book author Glenys Nellist (PLUS a CRAFT and a GIVEAWAY!)

Today, in celebration of the release of the board book LITTLE LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD (Zonderkidz, 2015) I am delighted to be interviewing author Glenys Nellist.  She’s here as part of her blog tour. And since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, Glenys has also brought along a printable Valentine’s Day craft which she will share after the interview. One lucky reader will also receive a free copy of this terrific new rhyming Bible storybook for littlest readers.  Well, let’s get started.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Glenys.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What was your journey to becoming a writer?
I have loved reading, writing and anything to do with words ever since I can remember. It all began at primary school in England, where one day a week, I was one of the lucky few withdrawn from the classroom to sit in big, comfy armchairs in the teachers’ lounge. There, with pencil and paper at the ready, I would write. When I became a primary school teacher myself, I used to write poems and stories to use in my classroom, but it wasn’t until my husband and I came to pastor a small church in the United States, fifteen years ago, that the publishing world opened up for me. It was at that little church that I began to write my own curriculum, to be used in children’s ministry, and pretty soon had this crazy dream of writing a children’s storybook Bible. It was a dream that would take me ten years to fulfill, but it was worth pursuing!
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What inspired you to write LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD and then LITTLE LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD? 
When my four sons were young, a wonderful little book called The Jolly Postman was published in England. It was their favorite book, written in rhythm and rhyme, that told the story of a postman who delivers letters to nursery rhyme characters. The innovative feature of the book (which is still in print today) is that the pages are actual envelopes containing real letters. I can still remember the joy on my youngest son’s face as he reached inside the envelopes with his chubby little fingers to take the letters out. It was this book that became the inspiration for Love Letters from God. 
 
It was my editor’s idea to produce a toddler, board book version of the original, and Zonderkidz had already started work on condensing some of the stories. However, since I know the literacy value and the sheer fun of rhyming words for little ones, I thought it would be great to write Little Love Letters from God in rhyme. I took just eight of the original eighteen stories, and rewrote them as simple poems, while trying to retain some of the same language used in the original book. It was a challenging, but fun, exercise that I think turned out really well!
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The Bible is full of stories.  How did you select which stories would be included in the original and now the board book version of LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD?
 I knew from the outset that the original book wasn’t going to be just a retelling of Bible stories. Each story had to include its own love letter from God, and a simple Bible verse…a first person promise that God might speak directly to the child’s heart, called God’s Wonderful Words to You. Since it was quite a complex project, I drew up a chart outlining each story, what the love letter might include, and what might be an appropriate Bible verse. It was working on this chart and needing to find balance without overlap that helped me see what stories, apart from the iconic, obvious choices, should be included.
When it came to choosing stories for the toddler version, I simply chose the iconic ones, that every children’s storybook Bible should include.
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Tell us about the illustrations. How long did they take Sophie Allsopp to complete?  Was the process of bringing your words to life through pictures at all collaborative?
 I think it took Sophie about eighteen months to complete the illustrations. My editor asked me what sort of illustrations I had envisioned, and since Sophie had done some work for Zondervan in the past, they approached her. Really, I must credit my wonderful editor, Barbara Herndon for the whimsical illustrations, and for the ‘scrapbook’ feel of the finished product…that was totally her idea! From time to time, Barbara would let me have a peek at what Sophie was doing, and of course, I was delighted. I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
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Let’s take a quick peek at the book trailer for the original LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD.  It really shows how beautifully the scrapbook style illustrations enhance the text. 

What’s next?  Are there more LOVE LETTERS in the pipeline?  Also, where can interested readers find your books?
 I’m delighted to say….YES! You can be on the lookout for CHRISTMAS LOVE LETTERS which will appear on the shelves later this year, and in 2017, one written especially for girls. I also have a new SNUGGLE TIME series coming out soon! Readers can find out more at the links below. Thanks so much for having me Laura!
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It’s been my pleasure!  And now for the craft! 

Enjoy this free, downloadable Valentine Craft which features the Good Shepherd from Little Love Letters. With special thanks to Glenys’s creative friend, Debi Weaver for her cute design.

Find out more about Glenys and her books here:

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Don’t forget to enter  the GIVEAWAY!!!!! If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of LITTLE LOVE LETTER FROM GOD, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, simply post a comment below. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident with a street address (as opposed to a P.O. Box at least 18 years old to enter.) The contest ends Thursday, 2/18/16 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced on Friday! This giveaway is now over.  Winner has been announced.

PICTURE BOOK CRAFT: Bendy Knitted Snake Inspired by GOODNIGHT, ARK!

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Here’s a fun craft for the parent or grandparent (or aunt or uncle, or teacher or friend) of a little GOODNIGHT, ARK fan.

I love Jane Chapman’s depictions of the snakes in GOODNIGHT, ARK.  Her amicable yellow and green striped snakes appear on many of the spreads and are about the coziest looking snakes I’ve ever witnessed.  So when, in the process of sorting through my yarn drawer, I discovered some leftover yellow and green yarn balls, imagine my excitement!

Want to make your own cute Bendy Knitted Snake? Here’s how:

Gather:

green and yellow yarn (to match the snakes in GOODNIGHT, ARK)

knitting needles (I used size 6)

a yarn needle

two yellow pipe cleaners, twisted together to make one long piece (so that snake is bendable)

Create:

1. Cast on six stitches with yellow yarn. Knit a row, pearl a row, etc. until you have 12 rows. This will be the head.

2. Switch to green for two rows, then alternate four rows of yellow, with two rows of green until you reach your desired length.

3.For the tail, switch to green, reducing every other row until two stitches remain.  Cast off.

4. Using the yarn needle and green yarn, add on two green snake eyes.

5.  Before stitching the snake closed, gently poke the tip of your pipe cleaner strand through the pearl side of the head (and then back again). Fold the tip in firmly so that the pipe cleaner will stay in place and not be pokey.  Stretch the pipe cleaner out so that it fits nicely in the snakes insides.  Every so often as you stitch the underbelly closed with yellow yarn, loop a stitch around the pipe cleaner so that it stays in place. Continue until snake is completely stitched together.

6.  Now you have a cute reading buddy to share with your little reader. For extra fun, make a pair!  It might even be fun to let your snakes slither across the pages of GOODNIGHT, ARK as this friendly fellow is. Enjoy!

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FUN MAIL: Pre-K Class in PA Celebrates GOODNIGHT, ARK with PIZZAZZ!

photoYesterday, I received a lovely note from Mrs. Riethmuller, a pre-K teacher at the Elfinwild Presbyterian Church Preschool in Allison Park, PA describing how much she and her students have been enjoying “Goodnight, Ark.”

Here are some excerpts from Mrs. Riethmuller’s delightful note, along with pictures that show her class room all decked out “Goodnight, Ark” style!

“I must share with you that the Purple Room is featuring “Goodnight, Ark” for Reading Adventure Days this week. The children are loving your book. We have almost 300 children that will hear it! Your rhymes are clever and, of course, we are familiar with Jane Chapman’s illustrations. This familiar Bible story is FUN!”

“In addition to hearing “Goodnight, Ark”, the children have been able to make a quilt on the felt board, build an ark on the light table, make play dough animals, decorate a lantern, decorate a quilt square to be hung on the wall and enjoy and animal cracker snack! It has been like “Christmas morning” with excitement!!

And now for the pictures!

11128388_10206592798447575_844729744_n The these colorful patterned paintings were inspired by Jane Chapman’s end pages. Didn’t the children do a marvelous job!

Can you spot the copy of “Goodnight, Ark” on the table in the corner surrounded by pairs of animals?  FUN!

11198440_10206592798767583_1141299336_nHanging from the ceiling are the lanterns like the one Noah had in his hand and stars from the cover of the book. The cover letters and stars are also featured the door. The back wall is an ark and the children chose to create boars, skunks, or quail (all embellished with glitter, of course!).

11210239_10206592798927587_614217309_n The last picture shows more Noah’s ark-themed elements. Look closely at the little red dots above the silhouettes of the children and you will notice they are ladybugs! (Also inspired by the end pages.)

Thank you, Mrs. Riethmuller for sending me such a fun note! I just LOVE seeing how you and your students have brought Noah and his ark to life in your classroom. Happy Reading Adventure Days to you and your class!