Goldie Locks, Connie Goldsmith, and Germs

What do germs have to do with writing? I meet with three of my writing pals, Connie Goldsmith, Patricia Newman (www.patriciamnewman.com) , and Linda Joy Singleton (www.ljsingleton.com ), every other week and we are all so proud of the great press Connie’s latest non-fiction books have been getting that I have to share. Connie_3Check this out:

The National Science Teachers (NSTA) Children’s Book Council chose Connie’s book, Influenza, the Next Pandemic? (Lerner 2007) as an Outstanding Trade Book. "A seamless blend of history and science!" Believe, me , it’s true! I am not a scientist (I blew up the lab in my high school Chemistry class…), and fear of needles kept me from pursuing any medical profession so I need stuff like influenza and pandemics explained to me in user-friendly terms, with an entertaining voice to keep my eyes from slamming shut, and Connie does just that.

NSTA Children’s Book Council: "The author…describe(s) the impact of the flu on generations before us, the impact of another possible pandemic, and how to prevent and care for patients with the flu. Vignettes interConnie_4spersed throughout the book make this important book real for readers."

Next out will be another book that has gotten our group to wash hands more frequently, SUPERBUGS STRIKE BACK, When AntiConnie_5_3biotics Fail  (Lerner 2007). These titles followed INVISIBLE INVADERS, Dangerous Infectious Diseases (Lerner 2006) which the School Library Journal called: "…clear, clever headed and brisk, intelligent writing that never patronizes." Way to go, Connie! For more info on all three titles, go to www.lernerbooks.com .

And speaking of germs, my lesson plans for Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox prompted Goldie_cover_largean e-mail from a wonderful Kindergarten Mom who helps in her daughter’s classroom. Missy shared this cool Germ experiment she used after she read the Kinders my book:

I cut potatoes into slices. I gave each table several slices. In one group they touched them all over and we put them in a baggie. Another group washed their hands first and then handled them before placing them in a baggie. The third group touched them all over but then spread hand santizer all over their potato slices before putting them in a baggie. The last table didn’t touch their potatoes at all. They used a set of tongs to put the slices in a baggie. I labeled each baggie with how the potatoes were treated. We decided to wait one week and check on the potato slices and see how they look. We made predictions ahead of time and will compare those with how the potatoes really did. FUN!!!

Suddenly I feel like washing my hands…and then it’s time to PBIC… and Write!

Bo Peep at Stanford

Stanford_egg_hunt_1 I met up with author pals Lynn Hazen (center) and  Kim Zarins (with the bunny ears) at the Provost’s Egg Hunt last Saturday aStanford_egg_hunt_7t Stanford.  Big thanks to another author pal, Nancy Etchemendy (R) and her husband John, who hosted the event for all the darling little bunnies of the Grad students. Etchemendy_cover

Nancy’s middle grade novel, The Power of Un , (Cricket Books 2000) is one of my all time favorite reads. Who wouldn’t want an "Unner" that could undo any event in your life?

Stanford_egg_hunt_8

The lawn of the The Buck-Meyer house was covered with eggs and the kids had a blast.

Here are some photos of my new friends "in their Easter bonnets," making sheep, and listening to stories.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Stanford_egg_hunt_11            Stanford_egg_hunt_9_2                    Stanford_egg_hunt_2                       Stanford_egg_hunt_10                                  I hope everyone had time to hang out with their own special bunnies last weekend.

And now…it’s time to PBIC and WRITE!

Caldecott, Newberry, and Curious George

Reading_rainbow_workshop_3Happy Spring Break from Erin Dealey and Curious George! Curious George was on hand to help me last weekend at the Reading Rainbow Young Writers’ and Illustrators’ workshop I taught for our local PBS station KVIE. (You get to meet a lot of celebrities in this business!)

Hi to all the kids from Del Paso, Rocklin, Sacramento, Antelope, and even Los Angeles, who came by to write and illustrate their books and submit them to the annual Young Writers and Illustrators contest. *It’s not to late if you haven’t submitted your book, by the way. The deadline is April 6th for KVIE PBS kids, grades K-3. To check for the contest in your area, go to pbskids.org. There just may be an award in your future.

Speaking of awards (and I’m not, actually) what’s all this about Caldecott and Newberry? I celebrated my BIRTHDAY recently and when I checked other author birthdays, it turns out my birth date falls between a Caldecott (Randolph Caldecott: 3/22/1846) and a Newberry (Claire Newberry: 4/10/1903.) Ha! Gotcha! You really didn’t think I’d spelled the Newbery Award–as in John Newbery–incorrectly did you?

Of course I’m thrilled that my birth-month starts off with Dr. Seuss’ birthday (3/2/1904)–especially because schools love to kick off their reading programs with Author Visits around this time and I love school visits! : ) Rocklin_unified_2_2 

Hi to all the fabulous students and staff I’ve met since January at Ruhkala, Breen, Bannon Creek, O.W. Erlewine, Antelope Creek, Benjamin Bubb (Thanks for the cool Bubb sweatshirt!), Twin Oaks, Cobblestone, Stocklmeir, Woodland Montessori, Valley View, Rocklin Elementary, Rocklin Academy, Rock Creek (This is me and some of my Rock Creek pals. Thank you Mrs. Mathias.), Oakley, Charles Brown, and Chicago Park Elementary, as well as my Scholastic Book Fair friends at Birch Lane in Davis.

And Happy Birthday to some of my favorite writers: Sid Fleischman (March 16th), Lois Lowry (March 20th), Robert Frost (March 26th), and Beverly Cleary (April 12th.) Boy, am I in good company or what? 

In celebration of all things Spring, I’ll be reading LITTLE BO PEEP CAN’T GET TO SLEEP at Stanford University on Saturday April 7th at the Provost’s Egg Hunt from 10:30 – 11:00, and signing books afterwards. This event is for grad students and their little bunnies. I’m looking forward to seeing my SCBWI pals Kim Zarins who will read her Playful Bunny from 11:00 – 11:30 and Lynn Hazen who will share Buzz Bumble to the Rescue! from 11:30 – 12:00 noon.

Meanwhile, it’s time to PBIC and WRITE NOW.

 

Fat Tuesday and Empty Calories in Rhymed Picture Books

Before I get back to my very belated promise to give you the scoop on HarperCollins editor Kristin Daly, here’s a shameless link to my February 1st I LOVE TO READ segment with Courtney Dempsey on KMAX Channel 31 Good Day Sacramento:

http://www.cbs13.com/video/?id=16859@kovr.dayport.com

I might not have linked it directly but see if you can check it out. The whole crew at KMAX is great fun and the 9:30am hour was perfect! (How do those EARLY Daybreak folks survive and STAY PERKY with a call time in the middle of the night?) Anyway, thank you Courtney, and Allison and Lisa. I’m looking forward to a return visit in time for Good Summer Reads for Kids!

O.K. back to Kristin Daly, who loves rhyming picture books. (Yay!) Yes, editors say they don’t want rhyming picture books but that’s to cut down on the piles of manuscripts they get from writers who are better off using prose. For great examples of good rhymes where every word counts, check out the ones she’s edited at HarperCollins for author Sudipta Bardan: Snoring Beauty and  Hampire and Pirate Princess. Of course I wouldn’t be upset if (second shameless plug) you looked at Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox or Little Bo Peep Can’t Get To Sleep too.

Here’s my question to you: How do your stories show up on the page? I wrote my latest book, The Happy Mistake, The Invention of the Telephone  (Pearson Learning 2007), in prose and honestly it wouldn’t have felt right in rhyme. Neither would the manuscript I wrote recently about an art gallery adventure! If you have a manuscript that seems forced, try a draft in prose and see what happens.

Then again, some manuscripts just come out in rhyme. I don’t plan them or anything. They just show up in my brain that way. (Scary, I know…)

Kristin Daly says those of us who write in rhyme should beware of "Empty Calories," her wonderful term for the extra words stuck into lines or stanzas in an attempt make the rhythm work or force the rhyme. So I vote for giving up those Empty Calories on this Mardis Gras evening.

And don’t forget to PBIC.

The Best Books in the World

Valley_oak_12 I visited the kids at Valley Oak Elementary in Davis CA last week. Here’s a picture from one of the p.m. Kinders, Kerryne. You can view more of their letters and fabulous art work in my photo album: Letters From Kids.  I wish I could have displayed more of them but those in pencil didn’t scan well. Like the one from Melanie who wrote,

"Books are the Best! You have the BEST BOOKS in the world! I want to be an author too!"

Note to Melanie: Thanks! You’re awesome! Remember what I said in my assembly, ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE!

I’ve also included letters I got last spring from the 6th graders at North Davis Elementary. (Sorry it took me so long!) These kids are probably in middle school or Junior High now but I love the book they made me. One of the letters that was too light to reprint was from 6th grader Cindy Mo:

Dear Ms. Dealey,

Your performance was amazing! Every single joke of yours was hilarious and original. When I first walked into the multi-purpose room, I thought I was up for another boring day, but boy was I wrong! Your books are wonderful and I love the way you tie them into nursery rhymes’ characters, making it much more entertaining/ And I will never forget what you said about being an author. You are right; nobody can know what occupation they will be in the future.

Sincerely,                                                                                Cindy Mo

Note to Cindy: You go girl! I hope 7th grade is a good one for you!

Kerryne and the afternoon kindergarteners at Valley Oak made me a book too. Valley_oak_10 Here’s a page that Celine made for me,and a princess story by Simone. See why I love school visits? If I can inspire kids to read and write and believe in themselves, life is good. Valley_oak_11

And yeah, I know I said I’d get back to HarperCollins editor Kristin Daly’s talk at the fall SCBWI conference in Davis a few weeks ago (boy, I’ve been in Davis a lot lately!), but I’ll save that for the next blog. Meanwhile it’s time for me to PBIC and WRITE NOW! Maybe you should join me…