Tag Archives: picture books

The Day Before NaNoWriMo Starts

I know. Most people think of October 31 as Halloween. I have a seven-year-old, so you’d think I’d be sitting here thinking about Halloween and taking him out trick-or-treating tonight too.

But no, not me. All I can think is this: today’s the last day before NaNoWriMo starts!

I haven’t done that much prepping, partly because my NaNoWriMo novel (ELEMENTAL) is one that I’ve already started; I’ve written about 10,000 words of it (which won’t, of course, be counted in my November word count!).

I also haven’t prepped much because I’m a pantser, rather than a plotter (other names for this style of writing are discovery writing, and, yes, plunger!)

It’s not that I write blindly without knowing where I’m going; what I tend to do is end each writing session knowing what the next scene or handful of scenes will be, but that’s about it.

In other words, I write like this:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

I’m doing an “unofficial” NaNoWriMo novel as well, which will really take the driving at night in the fog metaphor to a whole new level for me; I’ll be starting a middle grade WIP, FORTUNE, tomorrow. I plan to write this one in long hand, in a non-linear fashion; I’ll just add scenes as they visually come to me. It will definitely be an experiment!

I also have a “secret” goal when it comes to NaNoWriMo this year, only I’m not going to say what it is, because I’m not exactly super confident I’ll be able to meet this goal! But it’s one of the reasons why NaNoWriMo feels so exciting to me this year, even more than it did last year.

Another reason I’m so excited is because I’ve gotten more involved in the online writing community this year; there’s something about the energy of knowing a lot of other writers all playing the same NaNo game in November that’s really motivating.

And I’m also excited about November for a non-NaNoWriMo-related reason. I’ve decided to participate in PiBoIdMo 2010! Yes, that’s right – in addition to Novel Writing Month, November is also Picture Book Ideas Month! The goal? To come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.

Yesterday, I even bought a lovely little blank journal to play PiBoIdMo with, so now I’m all set!

So anyway, back to today being the day before NaNoWriMo starts.

Since I expect to be super busy in November, I’m going to relax a bit today. Work a bit on one of my upcoming indexing deadlines (which don’t stop existing because of NaNoWriMo, unfortunately for my time but very fortunate for my pocketbook). And maybe read a cookbook or two (we picked up a couple of new ones yesterday). Not to mention tonight’s trick-or-treating.

Oh, and I’ve been bugging my husband to make this scrumptious sounding Pumpkin Seed Toffee. He was looking for bittersweet chocolate, so I think I might have succeeded!

What are you doing on this day before NaNoWriMo starts? Are you participating this year? Or just planning to have a real blast with Halloween tonight? Or both?

Review: Flotsam, by David Wiesner

FlotsamI wish that I had known more about Flotsam, by David Wiesner, before I read it for the first time two weeks ago to Dylan, my six-year-old, at bedtime.

I might have done things a little differently.

For one thing, I would have had my husband standing by, camera in hand, ready to take pictures of Dylan’s face as we looked through this beautiful book.

It was such a pleasure watching his deepening look of wonder.

Flotsam, a wordless picture book, has a lovely little plot, and the best moment for me was the look on Dylan’s face when he realized what was going on. The amazement and wonder just blossomed on his face, and it’s something I’ll always remember.

Flotsam tells the story of an underwater camera, the pictures it takes during its journeys, and the children who find it. It is a gorgeous, magical and incredibly imaginative book.

We have read this book every night so far since that first night, and that sense of wonder is still there. The pictures are so beautiful, and have prompted many discussions. My personal favorite is the picture of the turtles with the cities of shells on their backs; Dylan’s favorite is the mechanical fish.

Flotsam mechanical v.1

When we have to return this book to the library, I will be buying a copy for our own personal library. It’s definitely a keeper.

And even if you don’t have kids – even if you don’t like kids! – check your local library and see if they have a copy. Flotsam won the Caldecott Medal, so most libraries are likely to carry it. Browse through it and see for yourself.

This book trailer also gives you glimpses of what the book is like:

Where to buy Flotsam:

U.S. (Amazon.com) | Indiebound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Book details: published by Clarion Books, 2006, Hardcover, 40 pages

Flash Review: Little Skink’s Tail, by Janet Halfmann

Little Skink’s Tail, by Janet Halfmann

Little Skink's TailWhile Little Skink hunts yummy ants for breakfast, she is suddenly attacked by a crow! But she has a trick to escape she snaps off her tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Little Skink is happy to be alive, but she misses her bright blue tail. Little Skink’s Tail follows Little Skink as she daydreams of having the tails of other animals in the forest. Readers will enjoy pretending with her, trying on tail after tail. The first is too puffy-fluffy, and another too stinky! Then one day Little Skink gets a big surprise…and she doesn’t have to dream of tails anymore. The For Creative Minds section has information on tail adaptations and communications and a mix-and-match tail activity.

My thoughts: This is a little gem of a book that accomplishes two things: it tells a wonderful story, and it helps parents explore the world of animals and their tails with their children. The first time I read this book to my son, I was surprised because for some reason, I had expected the book to be non-fiction; instead, it is the delightful story of Little Skink who has to snap off her beautiful bright blue tail in order to escape from danger. The book follows her as she uses her imagination to try on the tails of other animals; the story ends with a happily-ever-after, as Little Skink turns around one day and sees her tail has grown back.

This is a picture book that my son often asks me to re-read, and it has also served as a great way to start an educational (but fun) discussion about why different animals have different tails – what are the different functions of different kinds of tails? Why would switching to a different kind of tail be not only impractical but possibly dangerous? What types of animals are lucky enough to be able to grow back a tail they’ve lost? Little Skink’s Tail is a great picture book that manages to educational, too. It’s no wonder it has won several awards.

Where to buy: Amazon U.S. | IndieBound | Chapters (Canada) | Amazon UK

Review: Olivia Helps With Christmas, by Ian Falconer

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: Oh, what a wonderful, joyous ride is Olivia Helps With Christmas! This is a wonderful book about all the ways little ones get ready on The Big Day, with of course a dollop of special Olivia spice to it. Children don’t have to have met Olivia in any of her previous books to enjoy this one. We had several laugh-aloud moments. It’s a great book for ushering in the holiday season. See below for the full review.

From the jacket flap:

… Not a piglet was stirring.

Well, maybe just one.

Continue reading

Exploding My TBR Pile: Kirkus Reviews’ Best Children’s Books of 2008

I have just ended up swelling my TBR list (as if it needed it!). I just came across Kirkus Reviews’ Best Children’s Books of 2008, via the Write4Kids blog.

It’s a great list of children’s books; some of them already are on my TBR, but some of them aren’t. I’d like to make my way through all the picture books and children’s fiction titles on this list (I’m not that big on the non-fiction, biographical or historical titles). The following are winging their way to my TBR pile as I type:

The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap, by H.M. Bouwman

Chicken Said “Cluck”, by Judyann Ackerman Grant

Savvy, by Ingrid Law

Traction Man Meets Turbo Dog, by Mini Grey

Clementine’s Letter, by Sara Pennypacker

I Will Surprise My Friend, by Mo Willems

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, by Lenore Look

The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson

Others on the list that I’m also eager to read:

The Unnameables, by Ellen Booraem

Stinky, by Eleanor Davis

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, by Marla Frazee

The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd

Why do I feel like a kid in a candy store?