MOPS Visit: Thank you, Woodside Chapel!

I LOVED reading GOODNIGHT, ARK  and GOODNIGHT, MANGER to the adorable toddlers and preschoolers at the Woodside Chapel MOPS group this morning.  I was also honored to share an inspirational Easter message with the moms as well as some tips for sharing our faith with our kids. Afterwards, I enjoyed signing books and chatting. Thanks for having me!  

MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. MOPS groups typically meet monthly at a local church.  Meetings may include a devotion, speaker, craft for the moms, as well as special story time/play time/ and crafts for the little ones.  Today’s meeting also included a tasty breakfast. To learn more about MOPS, check out their website at www.mops.org. You can also find encouraging words on their blog, Hello, Dearest.

GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE: Launch Party!

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There’s an ADORABLE new picture book out just in time for Valentine’s Day called GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE.  Written by Diana Murray and humorously illustrated by debut picture book illustrator, Bats Langley, GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE (Sky Pony Press, 2017) is the story of an appealing young monster who wants to make his sweetheart the perfect valentine. Unfortunately, he’s also hungry! The story is funny and cute and would make a wonderful addition to your Valentine’s Day book collection.  I also find it amusing that it’s currently listed as #1 at Amazon in the category “Children’s Spine-Chilling Horror” and “Children’s Valentine’s Day Books”. That’s quite a combination – and a winning won!    

To celebrate it’s release, the AFA Gallery in SoHo hosted a monstrously delightful book launch event.  The three hour event included…

 book-themed treats…

lots of opportunity to chat with author and illustrator…img_3830

and, of course, books to be signed !

Many of Bats Langley’s preliminary sketches were also on display and for sale.  img_3832

I hope these pictures give you a sense of the magic, not only of the event, but of the book itself.  I can’t wait to share my newly signed copy with all my teacher friends as well as our children’s librarian.  Happy reading, all!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR:

Diana Murray is a poet and picture book author whose other books include City Shapes, Grimelda: The Very Messy Witch, and Ned the Knitting Pirate. Diana’s award-winning children’s poems have appeared in many magazines, such as Highlights and Spider. She lives in New York City with her husband, two very messy children, and a motley crew of lizards, snails, and fish.

Bats Langley grew up in Wolcott, Connecticut and attended the Rhode Island School of Design. His art has been shown in galleries in New York City, Los Angeles, Hangzhou, China, and has even been displayed in the United States Capitol building. Mr. Langley has also been a regular contributor to Ladybug and Spider magazines. This is his first picture book. He resides in New York, New York.

GOODNIGHT, ARK: A Framing Follow-up

After my post last week about about framing my newly arrived, and oh-so-special, original Jane Chapman illustration, many of you requested that I share the outcome.  As you may recall, I spent almost two hours at the frame shop dithering over matte, frame and layout.  That dithering led me to write (for myself, mostly) a little writerly pep talk, which I certainly needed that day. I hope it was just what you needed as well. Here’s that pep talk  post, just in case you could use a writerly boost.

Now, without further ado, here’s the final framed version – first in the shop…

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and now hanging in a cozy lamp-lit corner of my living room where I can enjoy it everyday!

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This is where I’m sitting right now as I write this post and this is where I look forward to writing some more tomorrow and on Sunday.  I hope you, too, can find a nice cozy place to curl up and be creative this weekend. Happy reading and writing, all!

Happy Book Birthday! GOODNIGHT, MANGER (board book edition)

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Hip hip, hooray!

It’s on its way!  

GOODNIGHT, MANGER, the board book,

releases today! 

With sturdy pages and a padded cover, the board book version of GOODNIGHT, MANGER is terrific for littlest readers who want to turn the pages themselves. With full text, it’s a good size– perfect for showing off all the wonderful details in Jane’s illustrations.

Interested in a signed copy?  Here’s how:  Call The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ to order the book or books you want. Be sure to explain that you would like to have them signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books. Readers can either pick them up in-store at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details.

I thought this was a nice way to make signed copies available and support a wonderful independent book store.  Their number is: The Town Book Store (908) 233-3535.

It’s also available at your favorite local or online bookstore! Happy Reading, all!

Going on a PATTERN Hunt (Plus a Craft): An Extension Activity for GOODNIGHT, MANGER

img_3308Teachers and Parents:  This is the second in a series I will be posting especially for you.  Over the course of the next few weeks, and in celebration of the release of the board book edition of GOODNIGHT, MANGER,  I will be posting several book-linked activities for you to enjoy with your children. 

Going on a PATTERN Hunt (Plus a Craft):

A GOODNIGHT, MANGER Extension Activity for Pre-Readers

Seeing and recognizing patterns are important skills for pre-readers. They lay the ground work for understanding words and stories. With that in mind, here are some fun pattern-related activities you and your child might enjoy after reading “Goodnight, Manger”.

Picture Patterns: Each page of “Goodnight, Manger” is full of colors and patterns. Colors alternate to form stripes.  Shapes are repeated (ex: stars, squares, dots, rectangles, milk splashes, palm fronds). As you explore Jane’s wonderful illustrations, see how many visual patterns you and your child can find. Afterwards, grab crayons and paper and make your own patterned star ornaments. (See sample below).  Or go on a pattern hunt around your house looking for fun visual patterns in curtains, plants, tiles etc.

Text Patterns: The text, too, is patterned visually. Pre-readers might enjoy examining the lay out of words. With your child, notice how the text is clumped into verses. Count how many lines are in each verse (four) and note that this is a repeating pattern throughout the story.

Sound Patterns: When you read the story aloud you’ll note that the sounds of the words form their own patterns as well. With your child, listen for sound patterns. Each verse contains rhyming words at the end of the 2nd and 4th lines (ex: fed/bed, itches/twitches). There are also words that repeat one right after the other (ex: No! No! No! and tap, tap, tap).  After exploring different sound patterns, you and your child might enjoy making a game of creating your own sound patterns using rhyme and repetition.

EXTRA FUN:   Celebrate the joy of Christmas and reinforce the fun of patterns with this simple craft.

img_33071. Cut a simple star shape from stiff paper.

2. Review different pattern options with your child – ex. stars, stripes, dots, swirls, etc.

3. Using pencil, have your child lightly outline the patterns on the ornament, using Jane Chapman’s delightful illustrations as inspiration.  Then, using markers or crayons, color it in!

4.  Tape a yarn or ribbon loop to the back. Then, hang your pretty patterned star on a door nob or on the Christmas tree.

THE PHOTO SHOOT: A Day in the Life of a Picture Book (and its Author!)

 

p1060649One of the unexpected necessities (and fun bits)  of being a picture book author is the occasional photo shoot. Luckily for me, my neighbor Rick Gerrity is a photographer.  Four years ago (Sheesh, where did the time fly?) he graciously took a few book flap/publicity shots of me at home – on the porch, on the stairs and with our sweet pooch, Sophie. The front porch picture now graces the book flaps of my first two books.

Now, four years older and with two more books coming out, it seemed about time to update those photos. Rick, once again, said he’d be happy to take the pictures and really went above and beyond in brainstorming new settings that would capture the picture book spirit.  He’s the one who had the idea to visit Donaldson’s Farm in Hackettstown, NJ, a beautiful fourth generation family-owned farm, and one of only five in New Jersey that grows sunflowers for the Audubon Society!

Our morning began with a tour of the farm given by the lovely Katie Donaldson. In addition to growing 40 acres of sunflowers, they also cultivate umpteen varieties of tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, lettuce, pumpkins, peaches, apples, berries and more! After the tour, it was time for the photo shoot.  =)

I hope the photos below give you a sense of the magic of the day. My daughter came along and Rick let her use one of his fancy cameras.  Thus, the shots captured below are both hers and Rick’s. Thank you Rick, Katie and Miss A. for helping make this such a special and memorable day!

The sunflower field we used was at its peak with about 22,000 sunflowers! Breathtaking! First, we took a few shots by the edge.

Then I stepped into the field… further and further!  What fun! We took shots with the hat and without.

Next, it was time for books to have their time in front of the camera.  The pumpkin patch seemed a fun setting. It was a little tricky getting the books to balance!

When the sun disappeared behind the clouds, we dashed back to the sunflower field for a few more shots.  All in all, I think Rick took about 100 pictures!  There were many good ones, but my favorite is the one I’ve saved for last.   Happy Monday, all!p1060633

 

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY: Goodnight, Manger BOARD BOOK Edition!

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I thought it would be fun to kick off fall with a GIVEAWAY!!! That’s right, to celebrate the release of GOODNIGHT, MANGER, the board book edition, Zonderkidz is offering FIVE copies of the new edition in a Goodreads Giveaway!

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it’s bedtime for baby Jesus. Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels singing, and three kings bearing gifts, it’s too noisy. Cuddle up as everyone works together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams.

Giveaway ends Tuesday, October 11th – which is the official release day!  Click here to get to the giveaway page.

 

And the winner is…

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I’m delighted to announce that the winner of this week’s special giveaway, signed copy of Rebecca J. Gomez’s newest picture book, HENSEL AND GRETEL NINJA CHICKS is…

JULIE!!!!

Congratulations!  I will be in touch with you today so we can get the book to you.

Thanks again, Becky, for the interview and for sharing your fun extension activities with us! I’d also like to thank everyone who took the time to comment on this week’s post and to my daughter , once again, for lending me her snazzy hat for the drawing. IMG_2887

Happy reading and writing, all!

SUMMER WRITING: 10 Fun Ideas for RELUCTANT WRITERS

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With the lazy days of summer almost upon us, it’s time (at least at our house) to think of ways to keep up those writing skills and maybe even foster a little LOVE for writing!  Here, then, are TEN ideas inspired by the interests of my kids.  Use the ideas as presented, or adapt them to the interests of your kiddos. Either way, enjoy!

  1. Keep a summer scrapbook/ journal of all the fun things you have done.  Entries can be as short or as long as your child is able/willing.  Include drawings, photos and clippings from brochures, postcards etc. No matter how reluctant they are, if they are at all like my daughter, they will enjoy seeing the “book” that emerges over the summer – little bitty writing steps that over time turn into a treasured keepsake!
  2. Bake a batch of tasty words! Kids love cooking with mom or dad, so why not sweeten the writing process by writing some original recipes!  Make this a weekly project and you could have a lovely recipe booklet by the end of summer. (Now wouldn’t that make a precious holiday gift for the special people in your life?)
  3. Write a letter of appreciation to your favorite author, athlete, or artist. My daughter recently wrote one to a ballerina at the London Royal Ballet.  Not only did she have fun writing the letter, it also was a great lesson in addressing an envelope.
  4. Pretend to be a sportscaster. Head to the little league field or watch a baseball game on tv.  Keep a running narrative of what’s happening in the game.  Use sporty verbs and phrases like “up to bat” “he rounds second”  “and it’s out of the ball park” etc. This was a big hit with my son when he was younger.  (He filled page after page covering, not just baseball, but hockey and football too!)
  5. Have a party! Have your child make and send their own invitations for a summer sprinkler party (or the fun event of your child’s choosing). Writing invitations is a great way to practice organizing and sharing important information – who, what, where, when, etc.  Don’t forget to include a catchy description of the party theme!
  6. Read, read, write!  Reading good books provides provides great modeling for good writing. Why not challenge your child to a weekly writing prompt based on the book they are reading.  One week they could retell a scene from a different point of view. The next week, the could design their own book jacket for a book.  They could also write a mini-sequel, or a skit based on the book.
  7. Be poets! Poems are short, fun and perfect for summer.  Check out this recent post for specific suggestions on how to infuse a little poetry reading and writing into your summer.
  8. Knock, knock, who’s there?  Over the course of the summer, create a lift-the flap joke book.  For each spread, write the joke on left hand page.  Write the answer on the write hand page.  Then cover the answer with a square paper flap.  Illustrate the flap to match the joke.
  9. You’ve got mail!  Enlist an eager long-distance relative to be a summer pen pal.  Choose snail mail, email or text messages. Then write, write,write!
  10. Blog it! We haven’t tried this yet, but my daughter is begging me to set up a private blog for her to share fun things on such as crafts, funny stories, travel posts and more.  For my comfort level, this will be a private blog with access via password to long-distance family members and friends.  What a great way to combine writing with technology!

How will you spread writerly love with your kiddos this summer?  I’d LOVE to hear!

SCBWI Summer 2016 Reading List is NOW AVAILABLE!

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HEADS UP  ON A GREAT NEW RESOURCE FOR PARENTS, TEACHERS and KIDS!

The Society of Children’s Book Writer and Illustrators (SCBWI) has put together a SUMMER READING LIST for 2016 which includes books of all genres from SCBWI  authors and illustrators, including front list and backlist titles. Per their description “This is an opportunity to find that book that a kid or teen will enjoy and can engage with the fun and adventure of reading. Authors and illustrators from close to your hometown to those around the world are featured on the List. The Lists will be published bi-annually this year in the Summer and Winter.”

Here’s the link.  ENJOY!