Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My top 10 picture books

A few weeks ago, my writing group was in our usual deep discussions about our manuscripts when some how (I don't quite remember) we got on the subject of the book Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown.

Crystal, whose blog is here, had mentioned how she was not a fan of Where the Wild Things Are and had written about it as such, much to the ire of several people. That opened up a conversation about our favorite picture books.

I have to admit I hadn't thought much about what constituted a favorite picture book. There are certainly many, MANY things that could cause one to qualify a picture book to be in their "Top 10" (with longevity not necessarily being the most important one) but I guess it all depends on what your point of reference is.

So here are my top 10 picture books (and my reasons why):

10. Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh - This one makes my list because the first time I saw it in the bookstore, the colorful cover somehow made me open it. And what I found inside made me laugh out loud. I bought it right then and there and saved it for my own kids.

9. In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak - This is a book from my childhood. I have to admit when I found it years later with the intention of reading it to my own kids, I found the story (and pictures) to be a bit bizarre. But my kids, especially my youngest, loved it just as much as I did.

8. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz - This is another from my childhood, and it still makes me smile whenever I read it. It always reminds me that no matter how bad things get, there's always tomorrow.

7. Pinkerton, Behave! by Steven Kellogg - My love for this book is two-fold. I grew up loving Steven Kellogg's books, and when I when through school to get my teaching credential, this was one of the first books I read to my 1st graders. They loved it so much, they asked me if there were more . . . and sure enough I found Steven's other Pinkerton books: A Rose for Pinkerton and Prehistoric Pinkerton. Although the original is still my favorite!

6. Oh, Were They Ever Happy! by Peter Spier - This is another book from my childhood that I brought with me to 1st grade. There's something about the bright watercolor paintings Peter Spier uses and the mere idea of a family of children painting a house for their parents and being so proud of the outcome!

5. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney - Words cannot describe how much I love this book. One of the few picture books that can make me cry . . .

4. Rolie Polie Olie by William Joyce - My oldest son originally received this as a Christmas present but it went from child to child to child. It's catchy rhyme and rhythm makes it an easy-to-memorize book. But my appreciation for it didn't come until I ended up in the ER with my then 3-year-old youngest son. The doctor was getting ready to stitch up a huge gash in his head when he told me, "Tell him a story". My mind went blank until I said, "Way up high in the rolie polie sky . . ." and my son answered, "is a little round planet of a really swell guy."

3. The Grumpy Ladybug / The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - I will never be able to think of these two books without thinking about my daughter and myself. The Grouchy Ladybug for her and The Hungry Caterpillar for me. I also have a HUGE appreciation for these books as I truly believe they helped to open up my daughter's artistic eyes. I will always love Eric Carle for that.

2. Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell - I have two favorite memories of this book. The first was when I received my first copy of Clifford from a book order when I was in 1st grade. The other was when I found a copy of Clifford in the 1st grade classroom I was teaching in and realized I wanted to write for children . . . it was all because of Clifford.

1. Goodnight Moon / Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd and Felicia Bond - I will forever love these books for giving me hours and hours of bonding time with all three of my children.

Now, I realize that many of you out there have your own favorites, so obviously this list is VERY subjective. However, I do have a few additional books that I need to give an honorable mention to, and would recommend to ANYONE:

The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble and Steven Kellogg
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Pete's a Pizza by William Steig
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Emily by Michael Bedard and Barbara Cooney
and ANY Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells (especially Bunny Mail and Max's Dragon Shirt)

So what are your favorites?

Friday, July 23, 2010

An early edition of WOW . . .

Good morning!! Being on this time difference has led to some strange things. One of those being an early edition of this week's WOW.

It's a fun one . . . but kind of random . . . and very long!


The definition of pickle includes:

1. An edible product, such as a cucumber, that is preserved and flavored.
2. A solution of brine or vinegar for preserving and flavoring food.
3. A chemical solution, like an acid, used to remove scale and oxides from metal before plating or finishing.
4. A disagreeable or troublesome situation, a plight.
5. A rundown in baseball.


So which one am I using for this post?

Should I make you guess??

Nah . . .

Okay, even though in most cases the first one would apply (especially since my kids LOVE pickles - and I didn't realize definitions #1 and #2 could be interchangeable). And since it is baseball season I could use definition #5. And I had NO idea #3 existed!

That leaves me with definition #4.

Yes, even though I am on vacation, I'm in a bit of a pickle right now.

I've been drifting around a bit in the writing department this past week. Feeling kind of lost . . . not sure which direction to go.

I had one of my magazine articles rejected a few days ago. And even though I was bummed when I got it, I also was able to figure out that my other short story must be under consideration since I haven't heard back from the magazine and it's been over 2 months since the deadline passed.

That got me thinking about my magazine stories again . . .

I go through phases where I want to focus on my short stories and non-fiction articles. I come up with ideas, collect information, write it down, and then either write the story . . . or forget about it.

Yesterday I pulled up one of the websites for a magazine I'm going to be published in, and found their open themes list had been updated. That got me thinking. Again.

So now I'm in a big pickle . . . do I continue to work on my novel, revise my picture book, or try to FINALLY write down my stories/articles?

A pretty pickle indeed.

Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend . . . have a good one! :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Let the countdown begin . . .

I am pretty big on countdowns. I like the build-up that comes with them . . . doesn't matter what it's for, birthdays, New Year's, vacations. But my biggest countdown always comes this time of the year when I'm waiting for one MAJOR event:

The national SCBWI conference in Los Angeles.

I am now down to single digits in the countdown department for the conference and I've got all the symptoms . . . excitement, fear, wonder, but mostly awe. Awe in the sheer number of things I'll be doing, and who I'll be seeing.

It's a bit like knowing you've won the lottery, but you're not sure what your prize is.

I had the opportunity to submit Sophia to be critiqued at the conference this year. I know I've mentioned this, but last year I had another novel critiqued by an editor and the editor requested the entire manuscript. Unfortunately that didn't work out, but the thing is, you never know what might happen . . .

And that in itself is a wonderful thing. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's WOW time!!

I have to admit this week's WOW isn't very imaginative, but it's appropriate nonetheless. The word is . . . drum roll please . . .


HA! Didn't see that one coming, did you?

Vacation: A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest or relaxation. Especially one with pay granted to an employee.

As you can tell, based on my last post, I am on vacation right now. But a vacation can mean different things to different people. Especially if you take the entire definition to heart.

For example, a couple weeks ago my family left to go out of town for a few days. Now for some people since they are still at home, it wouldn't be called a vacation (I mean it would for the family but not for the one left behind). However, since my duties as a mom were pared down significantly, one could have called it a vacation for me as well . . . especially in the rest department.

Unfortunately, the only part that doesn't apply to me is the "Especially one with pay granted to an employee". Because I write for myself and because I haven't been at my day job at the elementary school long enough, my being paid for being on this vacation just isn't happening.

Although, I am sitting here writing, after just finished reading a book, and my family is down in a steamy pool area while I'm in a nice air-conditioned room.

I think the trade-off suits me just fine.

Have a great weekend! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Time for summertime reading!

Every summer I try to accomplish one goal . . . to read one book a week.

Some summers I have better luck than others. Last summer was great! But that was because I had 3 trips in the first 5 weeks after school, and I am a trip reader.

What is a trip reader, you might ask?

When I go on a trip, whether it be on a plane, train or automobile, I am a captive audience to whatever book I may have in my hot little hands at that time. Three years ago I got through about a third of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows thanks to a 3 hour car drive from South Bend, Indiana to Chicago . . . and then while waiting 7 hours for our delayed flight to San Francisco!

Unfortunately, the first part of this summer has been spent spending too much time indoors . . . and not spending that indoor time wisely.

However, in 2 days I will be leaving to go on vacation. And that opens up brand-new trip reading time!

So am I excited about going on vacation? You betcha! I've got a stack of books just waiting to be read.

I just hope I can get through them all!!

I'll keep you posted. :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

An all brand new WOW!

Things have been pretty quiet this week . . . at least they have been here. Wish I could say it's for some amazing reason, but unfortunately laziness is my only excuse.

However, I am back on target with my WOWs and this week is a particularly interesting one . . .


Okay, so when I looked baffled up, it comes under the root word of baffle. There are two different definitions depending on the figure of speech you are using:

Baffle:(n) - 1. To frustrate or check (a person) as by confusing or perplexing.
2. To impede the force movement of.
OR (v) - 1. A usually static device that regulates the flow of a fluid or light.
2. A partition that prevents interference between sound waves in a speaker.

The definition I was thinking of when I came up with this word was the noun (since that's that one that uses the ending of ed).

There are times when I am baffled at the amount of time it takes for things to happen in the publishing world. I know it's a necessity to have patience in this business . . . I went into this with a complete understanding of it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get frustrating.

So, regardless of how baffled I am, I will keep plugging away . . .

What choice do I have?

Happy Weekend!! :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Saturday edition of WOW . . .

Yes, I realize it's Saturday, and yes I know I haven't posted my WOW yet, but I've always liked the saying, "Better late than never." Soooooo . . . .

Welcome to the Saturday edition of WOW! The WOW for this week is . . .


The definition is,
Luminous: 1. Emitting light, especially self-generated light.
2. Full of light, illuminated.
3. Easily comprehended or clear, Enlightened and intelligent; inspiring.

As I'm sure many of you know, we just went through a full moon cycle this past week. Since I usually work at night, I get the opportunity to see the moon most of those evenings. And this week did not disappoint! The first night I saw it out I couldn't help but marvel at it's amazing beauty and brightness and the WOW popped into my head.

And with that, I hope you all have a luminous 4th of July!! :)