Sep 21, 2016

It's CYBILS Time Again:

After sitting on this announcement for more than a week, I can finally share the news. I've been chosen to serve as a Cybils Round One Panelist in 2016 for Elementary and Juvenile Nonfiction

Stay tuned for details about when and where and how you can nominate your own favorites from 2016 releases in each and every category. Once that nomination period ends, I and the many other panelists will get to work reading, examining, reviewing, considering, reflecting, ... and eventually reducing very long lists to the finalists for round two judges to consider.
In the process I (we) will be reviewing, sharing, recommending, and celebrating many amazing titles, so it's a win-win all the way around.
But for now... I'm dancing! (Not as cute as Snoopy here, but the spirit is the same!)

Sep 13, 2016

Revving up for Bedtime: RACE CAR DREAMS and MORE

Nothing reveals the wide range of tot-temperaments as clearly as bedtime. Some wind down willingly with a warm bath, a snuggle, and a sleepy-headed story. For others, the setting sun triggers escalating energy requiring a very different bedtime book from the likes of GOOD NIGHT MOON.  

Running Press Kids, 2016

For those whose motors rev instead of idling at sundown, RACE CAR DREAMS might lure the speedsters into bed long enough to listen to a story a time or two through, gradually idling into their own dreams. 

Written by Sharon Chriscoe and illustrated by Dave Mottram, Race Car is reluctant to leave the track but makes eventually its way into the car wash then rolls on down the road to park under the reading tree. 

Interior Spread, used with permission
The car, its ever-present buddy, Wrench, and even the scrub brush are personified with simple but appealing expressions. With generally solid rhyming text the gradual transition to sleep plays out in night-hued backgrounds under starry skies. Race Car finally succumbs to sleep when his tires literally fold under him, not unlike some bedtimers whose legs must give out before they finally let their eyelids droop. 
It's no surprise when Race Car dreams and finds itself right back on the track, winning the race at the checkered flag. Speedway fans will especially enjoy the topic-related vocabulary.

Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

A similarly energetic cast of characters make an appearance in 10 LITTLE NINJAS, the August release written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Nate Wragg. Both a counting book and a bedtime book, the gradually diminishing and diverse horde of ninja-astronaut-adventurer-role-players resists bedtime successfully until a mom-figure repeatedly puts a halt to their persistent pursuits. 
The crisply-rhymed text, exuberant antics, humorous  patterns, and role-specific vocabulary make it a rich source for repeated readings. This one could be especially helpful in multi-child households.  

Chronicle Books, 2011

There's no more important time than bedtime to match the right book to the right interest, and the success of other specialized titles demonstrate that the market can support well-done offerings. Author Sherri Duskey Rinker and  illustrator Tom Lichtenheld prove that with GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE and STEAM TRAIN, DREAM TRAIN.
Chronicle Books, 2015

As long as the there are kids who need to sleep (Hmm, could that define infinity?) there will be a need for bedtimes books with special themes and varied characters. The common thread of rhyming text, deep-hued and soothing backgrounds (even when portraying energized events), and word choices that are both repetitive and engaging make all of the above worth a try in any household.
RACE CAR DREAMS and 10 LITTLE NINJAS could be your best bedtime friends. Give them a try.

Here's the blog tour schedule for RACE CAR DREAMS to check out what others think about that recent release:
9/7 MomReadIt
9/14 MamaBelly

Sep 11, 2016

History Comes to Life in Picture Books- and Historical Novels

It's been a busy few weeks (and months) as the launch date nears for Book Two, BJORN'S GIFT, in the trilogy that developed from my debut novel, ODIN'S PROMISE. In the run-up to release day I've been privileged to provide guest posts on several blogs. 

Today, the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, my post on UNLEASHING READERS blog goes live, here. In it I linked to a wonderful post by Donalyn Miller in which she shares ten important books about 9/11. 

My post emphasizes the importance of including picture books among the titles shared, especially for older readers before launching novel studies.  I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it, consider subscribing to Ricki and Kelley's blog, and click through to Donalyn's post. Those of us old enough to have experienced the unforgettable 9/11 and all that followed find it hard to imagine that the learners in our schools have no living memory of that time. They need to have meaningful access to major historical events, and we can all gain a great deal by reading books on those subjects, especially ones intended for younger readers. 


Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.