Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Now and Here

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.
-John Greenleaf Whittier

Going into the Christmas giving season. I like to get a jump start on all the gift buying frenzy. By not waiting until the last minute I avoid the malls and find something a bit more personal and thoughtful. I'm thinking Etsy this year. But, I know this is easier said than done, and truthfully I go to the bookstore to buy gift cards on the 23rd. I don't get too many gifts for the kids because I don't want Christmas to be all about, "What is Santa going to get me!" Think about it, we're creating their future Christmas nostalgia now.

As a child, some of my fondest memories are the smell of the tree and placing the ornaments in just the right spot, baking lots and lots of Christmas cookies, imagining I lived in the story book pages of Tasha Tudor's Vermont country farm.

And yet the Tudor family farm was so far from my reality. We grew up in LA with the Hollywood Christmas parade and many a warm, barefoot Christmas. It was all a bit surreal now that I think of it. Gazing agape at those houses with yes, excessive but amazing decorations, flashing light displays, candycanes, snow people, and Santas galore. I don't know how to reconcile those two different Christmas visions, the white country Christmas I dreamed about or the green tinseltown one I experienced. So, today I'll share a bit of both. You can find signed Tasha Tudor books and prints at, they're truly heartwarming. And, you can watch this video that, well... it's dancing Disney snowflakes on parade.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Books for Transition

Teach that all feelings are acceptable, and choosing books that relate to what is happening in your family's life can ease transitions and open up discussions about fears or upcoming events. Here is a list of some of my favorites for just those times.

Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi- A classic for potty training and beyond.
Feel Better Earnest by Gabrielle Vincent- The title speaks for itself, well so does Everyone Poops doesn't it?
Mommy in My Pocket by Carol Hunt Sunderak, pictures by Hiroe Nakata- This is for that first day of school separation anxiety.
Aldo by John Burningham- A useful book to open up dialogue about feelings of loneliness, or being bullied.
Would You Rather by John Burningham- I like to use this book to prep my kids for upcoming unpleasant events.
Too Many Monsters by Eve Bunting and James Bernardin- This is a great book for bedtime fears.

Just a bit of trivia, John Burningham illustrated Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1964.
Speaking of John Burninghm. Have you read Harvey Slumfenberger's Christmas Present?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kid Picks Adults Like

When I write about picture books and writing/illustration for young children, I mean pre-K through around grade 3. I think some picture books are so well done that any age, yes adults will enjoy them tremendously. For example, Swiss author/illustrator Irene Schoch has this very clever book, The Cat's Vacation. You can likely find it at your library or Amazon has a few copies. I'd love to find her German book Chiara und der Banhof.

A book I know you've seen at your library is Robert Neubecker's, WOW CITY, and WOW SCHOOL. All I can say is Wow! you'll have to see for yourself.

Here's a blog I really like, The creator reviews a favorite book in Great Children's Literature and the most current title is, Fire Race. She's previously reviewed, Spiders Spin Webs. Check her archives for more recommendations.

For a more extensive list of recommended books go to Kid Picks, a library list of great books for kids of all ages. Bookmark this very handy reference guide.

Follow these tips to raise a reader.
Read out loud with your child at least once a day. Get your child a library card and visit the library often. Attend story times and other programs for children. Read! Your children will do what you do.

I would suggest that when you read to your child you go way beyond text, which is why good picture books are an asset. Do a picture walk through the story, better yet let your child tell you what is happening. Point out elements in the story and elaborate on those she is already aware of. Ask thoughtful questions related to the story and relevant to her life experiences.

As Peter Kline argues in,
Why America's Children Can't Think: Creating Independent Minds for the 21st Century, "The Information Age requires that we not only comprehend what we read but can interpret and apply it to our personal experience, or we will become a nation of followers and not independent thinkers. As the Internet pervades all aspects of our lives, we will be required to exercise reading and interpretative skills at an unprecedented level, or be left behind in the new global economy. By 2010, the volume of available information will be growing at a rate 10 billion times faster than in 1950. It’s interpretation, not comprehension, that is needed." Sit with that for a while : )

More Mo

I'm a big fan of Mo Willems, Sesame Street writer, author/illustrator, ....more MO. Love Knuffle Bunny. I was even more excited to see Knuffle Bunny Too on the bookstore shelf than my 4-year-old. And What could be more clear to a toddler then Time to Pee or Time to say Please?

If you're not familiar with his work visit He has a dvd out with 6 stories. OK I'm not a big advocate of watching TV media for young children, but I do let my kids watch dvds like Clifford, Little Bear, Angelina Ballerina, Kipper, and Reading Rainbow. My kids make the text to TV connection, and I know the characters and story lines are appropriate for young children.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mom Is the Best!

I know it's not officially Mother's Day but given all we do during the holiday season to make sure everyone feels special, and continue traditions or create new ones, I would like to share a few mom-centered links.

If you haven't heard about Scream Free Parenting you might like to check it out. I've found Hal's parenting directives useful and supportive. You can sign-up for the Scream Free Daily, quick and inspiring tips on correcting ...I mean adjusting my attitude.

With all of the political campaigning in-motion you should be aware of Mom's Rising. This is an online "grassroots" organization bringing mom's issues to the forefront of the country's political agenda. By mom's issues I mean healthcare, flexible work options, paid family leave, childcare, and living wages among others. It's time moms had a collective voice in instituting family-friendly legislation.

You may find this site helpful on a local level, Mommasource is a bulletin board for moms to share information advice etc... If you're not already involved in a local Mother's club or are looking for more resources you can sign on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'm hoping for another crisp, sunny, Fall day. In giving thanks I want to include some links to sites that give back to the community. is an amazing program that gives a laptop to a child in another country, currently Africa, when you buy one for yourself. has a great article about recognizing the good in our lives and all we have to be thankful for. If Thanksgiving prompts you to give to those less fortunate, they've included a list of books that keep on giving- where the publisher donates some or all of the profits to a charitable cause. Many of these books have wonderfully multicultural stories. is a Bay Area restaurant and "... a school in transformation." Check it out, especially if you like healthy, delicious, vegetarian food.

And here's one that may not be so new to you but it's one of my favorites Having spent a lot of time in the classroom I'm always looking for ways to support fellow teachers and students.

And lastly, I have to include this sweet blog by Marytree. It resonates with me because it's really about the day to day simple joys of parenting. Her most recent post is titled, Today I am Thankful. BTW She make little e-books of her children's artwork using photobucket and dropshots.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


About two years ago I wrote the manuscript for a toddler book titled, You Are Joy. Intending to get it published, I sought out contacts I knew in the publishing industry. Although I received some good feedback about where my book would fit in, it wasn't the vision I had for the book. So I set out to self-publish and collaborated on the book with my sister, Kim, who came up with some terrific collage images and we finished the book. Well, that's what we thought until we came across a lot of formatting, quality and pricing issues particularly when it came to publishing a picture book.

Do not let these issues keep you from publishing your project! Remember we're here to support not discourage. Mistakes are often the cornerstones on which we build success. Now we're publishing our second book, Moon is Awake, and we're blogging about the process. I've had so many busy moms tell me, Oh , I have an idea, or I've always wanted to do that but don't know where to get started. And then there's the dynamic duo that can halt anything, time & money. You can publish your book idea for no money using print on demand, companies. There are limitations but hey, for no money up front they're a great way to get started and organize your book ideas. The POD company you choose will depend largely on your project, tech savvy, and marketing ideas.

Time, well that's another story. I often write on little pieces of paper that I find scattered all over the house. I write on the back of my daughter's artwork, grocery get the idea. Then I schedule in a few late nights to put all those incongruent sentences together and get them into a document file on my desktop. My kids may have a grumpy mom the next day but it's worth it to see my projects move forward. My sister scans her original artwork and saves it as a png. If you don't get that ask at Kinkos or a techie friend is usually willing to show you how.

Before you start your publishing venture you will want to consider:

Is your project a full color picture book or a novel, fiction or instructional book? What will be the format eg: book size, number of pages, text and illustration layout? When using POD companies it's a good idea to order a book similar to the one you are planning. You will want to check out the print and paper quality.

How much initial capital do you want to put into your project, if any?

Do you want an ISBN number for larger distribution (online book sellers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble) as well as your local book stores? Be sure to check out the booksellers guidelines. Who are you selling your book to?

Are you going to need editing, illustration, book formatting services and representation with a publishing agent? And, how soon would you like to complete your project?