Archive for July, 2014

Anti Bullying Solution: A Bug and a Wish

Posted on July 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Those of you who have explored Storytime Standouts will know that we frequently write about antibullying picture books. Sad to say, we have read many more “antibullying” picture books than we have shared with our readers. The reason for this is simple: many antibullying picture books do not actually provide a realistic solution to the problem of bullying. Many antibullying picture books rely on a magical solution to bullying. Rather than empowering a victim of bullying, some books provide very little help.

A Bug and a Wish by Karen ScheuerA Bug and a Wish written by Karen Scheuer with illustrations by Kalpart
Antibullying picture book published by Strategic Book Publishing

Tyler is not happy about going to school. He rides the school bus and as he walks to it, he hopes to avoid an encounter with two bullies. Unfortunately, he does not escape their teasing and he is upset when he takes a seat next to his friend.

Danae explains to Tyler than he ought to give them a bug and a wish. Tyler thinks about Danae’s advice and he tries to interpret her words but his guesses are not correct.

Danae suggests The next time the boys tease you… Tell them, ‘It BUGS me when you tease me, and I WISH you would stop.’ Danae’s advice is simple and Tyler takes it to heart. He is ready the next time the boys tease him and he is pleasantly surprised by their response.

Cartoon-like illustrations do a reasonable job of depicting Tyler’s emotions and will appeal to some children. We like the straightforward approach to dealing with teasing. Tyler learns to speak up and to explain his point of view.

A Bug and a Wish will be most effective when used as a starting point for discussions about teasing and bullying.

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.com

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.ca

Reading Doesn’t Have to Involve a Book…

Posted on July 25th, 2014 by Jody

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Storytime Standouts' Guest Contributor Explains Reading Doesn't Have to Involve a BookOn an average day, you might feel like there are too many things that need to be done to stop, sit down, and read. There is no doubt that reading books and enjoying reading are immeasurable necessities in life. However, sometimes there just isn’t enough hours in a day. That doesn’t mean you can’t fit reading in, around, or between.

1. Cook with your children

It’s more than just reading a recipe. Encourage them to do this, yes, but it also allows for you and your child to converse about tastes, amounts, ingredients, and so much more. While making pasta sauce with my daughters the other night, we didn’t follow a recipe, but we talked. Oral language is incredibly important. Listening to and following instructions, asking questions, and completing tasks are all part of cooking even the simplest of meals. Take time to do this with your children.

2. Instructions

My daughters, who both love to read, often come to me and ask how to do something (like a new game) or what something is. My response is generally, “you can read”. Reading, interpreting, and applying directions is a skill. A necessary skill. If your child looks at the directions and then passes them off to you (as I often do to my husband), get them to read them. Ask them what they are being asked. They will need this skill in the classroom for directions as simple as “write your name at the top” to how to complete an exam.

3. Comics

My youngest daughter has fallen in love with Archie. This brings me great joy because it is one of my favourite memories of being a child. I’ve had parents, in the past, who worry about their child picking up comics versus chapter books. If they’re reading, they’re building fluency and fostering their enjoyment for the task. Don’t stop this– encourage it. It is very fun to listen to your child laugh when they actually get a joke that is in print.

4. Signs and other environmental print

On long car rides, we pull out the iPods (and to be clear– a long car ride to me is from Chilliwack to Langley- I’m a bit of a wimp), but around town or anything under a half an hour, the kids go without. Generally, they’ll bring books with them but we also encourage them to read the signs and pay attention to their surroundings. Okay, maybe my husband encourages our children more strongly than others might, since I get lost quite easily. My children often ask me if I know where I’m going. Most of the time, I do. But, it’s pretty cool to have them recognize landmarks, signs, familiar areas and say, “that signs says…”. Things we, as adults, take for granted might be foreign to kids. Ask them if they know what all of the symbols mean when they’re posted. Ask them if they know what it means when a sign says 42K.

5. TV

Yes. I’m advocating television. I truly believe that your children can watch a huge amount of television and STILL love to read. I see proof of it every single day. Reading the TV guide, an episode summary, or the words that pop up onto the screen further encourage your child’s reading abilities. It all counts. Should they just read the TV guide? Probably not. The key with television, I find, is to talk to them about what they see and what they read. Another great way to improve fluency is Karaoke. Regardless of their singing ability, reading the words as they scroll along the top of the screen, while trying to sing them in unison, is hard to do. Try it with a song you don’t know and see how hard it is to match the beat, the words, and the your voice.

Regardless of how you get them reading, it is about more than books. You absolutely cannot underestimate the power of conversation with any of these activities, including reading a book. Oral language deepens and enhances our understanding of the world around us and, for children, expressing their thoughts and questions is a huge part of building their confidence and establishing connections. So, if you don’t have time for a book, there are words everywhere, all around us– improvise.

Meet Author Karen Scheuer

Posted on July 24th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Meet Author Karen ScheuerKaren Scheuer is a wife, mother, and teacher. She lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and has been married to her high-school sweetheart for 29 years. The author and her husband have a 23-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son. She enjoys calligraphy, knitting, making jewelry, traveling, reading, and never turns down an offer to dine out. She currently teaches second grade in the Council Rock School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Karen knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was four years old. When she was in high school, she wrote her first children’s book. She hopes to publish that book someday too. She has been teaching elementary-aged children for 25 years.

Twitter account @KarenScheuer1

Facebook page

Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

A Bug and a Wish by Karen ScheuerMy book is about teasing and bullying. Here is the summary:

When Tyler is teased by the other boys, his good friend, Danae, encourages him to give the boys A Bug and a Wish. When Tyler finds a ladybug and a dandelion seed, he is convinced that this is what Danae means. As his friend helps him learn the true meaning of her advice, Tyler soon discovers the solution to his problem.

This book teaches kids to use the “bug and a wish concept.” This subject is dear to my heart because bullying affects how children view themselves. When they view themselves poorly, it can then affect their schoolwork and home life. I hope my book, A Bug and a Wish, will help children stand up for themselves, and encourage bystanders to get involved. It’s a great read aloud for teachers to get their students to discuss this subject. It’s also a good book to read at the beginning of the school year.

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.com

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.ca

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I actually wrote my first children’s book in high school when I was in a “future educator” class. I am hoping to publish that book next. My husband, Bob, has encouraged me and supported me, and he is the one who suggested I should publish the book I wrote in high school, next.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

The students in my class knew I was in the process of publishing a book this school year. I would update them when I received the illustrations, or when the cover was ready, etc. When I finally brought the finished book into school, I started to read it to them. I showed them the dedication page, and asked what authors put on that page. (I was trying to present the book as a teaching lesson). The students were all wide-eyed, but one student just put his hands on his cheeks, and excitedly screamed, “Just read it already!” It was so cute.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

Since this is my first children’s book, I haven’t gone on book tours yet, but I definitely want to. I did my first ever Meet and Greet book signing at a Book shop in Peddler’s Village, Bucks County, PA, on June 14th, and I was very excited. I have a Facebook page dedicated to my book, and people have posted photos of kids reading the book, and one of my friends even posted a photo of tea towels she sewed for my book signing.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

Something unbelievable happened with my book. My son and daughter’s names are the names of the characters in the book. In the story, Tyler finds a ladybug, and puts it in his pocket because he thinks this is what Danae means by “A bug”. The day AFTER my son, Tyler, read the book, a ladybug landed on his hand! This has never happened to him in his life. He quickly took a photo of it, and sent it to me. I actually thought it was a “God thing,” and I that it was so cool!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I would LOVE to do school library presentations, but I am currently a classroom teacher, so I cannot do that at this time. My goal is to retire from teaching in a couple years, have two published books, and then travel to schools to read my books to kids! I would definitely be interested in doing library presentations in the summer months. I live in Bucks County, PA.

The Name of your publisher Strategic Book Publishers

Classic Picture Book – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Classic Picture Book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz
Classic Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster





Written in 1972, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is available in several formats (including board book). The copy that I have is a special limited edition that includes some color.

From the moment Alexander awakens until he finally falls asleep, things go wrong for him.

At home, before school, carpooling to school and while at school, it seems as though there is a conspiracy afoot: Make Alexander’s day as unpleasant as possible. Whether squished into the middle of the backseat enroute to school or comparing his lunch with those of his classmates, Alexander feels awful. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a classic picture book

On the way downstairs the elevator door closed on my foot and while we were waiting for my mom to go get the car Anthony made me fall where it was muddy and then when I started crying because of the mud Nick said I was a crybaby and while I was punching Nick for saying crybaby my mom came back with the car and scolded me for being muddy and fighting.

I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I told everybody. No one even answered.

A great choice for older children, this is a classic picture book that will encourage reflection. Some of Alexander’s problems can be blamed on bad luck, others are due to poor choices. In any event, it is an opportunity for children and adults to reflect on the fact that we all experience some days that are terrible and horrible.

ALA Notable Children’s Book
George G. Stone Center Recognition of Merit
Georgia Children’s Book Award
Reading Rainbow book

Classroom activities from the Professional Development Institute

Lesson plan from Teaching Children Philosophy

Live Oak Media Activity Guide

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Amazon.com

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Amazon.ca

Quote from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on Pinterest.

Meet Author Jacqueline Guest

Posted on July 17th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts interviews author Jacqueline Guest Jacqueline Guest is an international award winning author with eighteen published novels. She has presented across Canada and in the United States to audiences of all ages including the University of Calgary; Manitoba Association of Teachers of English; Alberta Association of Library Technicians; MASC Conference Ottawa; University of Victoria; Cultural Diversity Institute North Central Teachers Association; Young Alberta Book Society; Wordsworth Writing Camp; Dreamcatcher Aboriginal Conferences; Saskatoon Reading Council Teachers Conference; Batoche Historical Site; the Edmonton Young Offenders Centre; Mamawenig; Back to Batoche Days; Fort Calgary’s Metis Cultural Festival, the American Indian Library Association, plus a host of other conferences and engagements. Jacqueline is the current Creator in Residence for the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. She has been Writer in Residence for the Marigold Library System and is the proud recipient of the 2013 Indspire Award for the Arts. With her experience in writing, editing, promotion, touring and the business aspects of being a writer, Jacqueline feels sharing her expertise can help new authors achieve their goals faster and with better results.

Twitter account @JacquelineGuest

Author website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

The Comic Book War by Jacqueline GuestThe Comic Book War is a great novel for readers of all ages. It tells the story of how one teenaged boy discovers a cosmic link between his comic book superheroes and his three brothers fighting overseas in WW2. It all starts when a meteorite falls from space in front of his eyes and he is able to find it…

This novel will make you believe in ‘What if?’, the biggest question in the universe. What if cosmic links do exist? What if we are all connected? What if we can tap into those connections to protect our loved ones?

This story is more than a coming of age novel, it shows us how we all cope with stress in different ways.

The Comic Book War at Amazon.com

The Comic Book War at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Mark Twain was, is and always will be my favorite author. I have many other stars on my book shelves too numerous to mention, but Twain’s stories continue to entertain and resonate with me even after all these years.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

First books are always hard, but don’t give up! Learning to write at a professional level is just like learning how to perform an athletic event at an Olympic level – it takes years of practice and dedication to achieve your goal, but it is so worth it. We will always need new books to inspire and entertain, and new writers coming up now will provide those wonderful books.

Outcasts of River Falls by Jacqueline GuestWhen did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I have always wanted to be a writer, but was afraid to say it out loud when I was growing up in case I was ridiculed. After all, published authors don’t come from a small village like Turner Valley, Alberta, they come from New York, or Toronto, or Vancouver- big cities with fancy schools. Well, I’m here to tell you, authors do come from small towns everywhere and you don’t need an agent or fancy letters after your name. You just have to believe- and be willing to pay your dues.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

Writing a novel is like running a marathon. It is hours of grueling practice, then many more hours honing your skills, and finally putting all that practice to work as you sit in front of your computer for hours on end, creating a world where not only your characters can live, but your readers too. I sit for long hours writing, oblivious to everything around me, eating chips with one hand while the other hand juggles a cup of tea as I pound on the keys. It’s not magic, it’s hard work. 😉

I call the room where I write a ‘Scriptorium’, (I even have a sign on the door!). People who have 9-5 jobs work in an ‘office’; a writer doesn’t have such nice tidy hours, which is why I like ‘scriptorium’ better.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?Rink Rivals by Jacqueline Guest

One of the coolest experiences I have had was working at a First Nation’s school when a young boy in Grade 5 came up to me and told me he read Rink Rivals, a hockey novel about twin boys who scrap on the ice and off. I said that was great, and he became excited, telling me he read all the pages, right to the end and he was going to read another book now and that it was the first book he had ever read in his entire life! That was the ultimate compliment.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I love travelling to share my excitement about reading with students everywhere. To see a student’s excitement when they tell me about one of my books that they are reading and how the characters are so real, the adventure so exciting and the story so compelling, now, that’s worth the time, expense, long hours and effort. I wish I was better at social media and keeping my website up to date, but I’m not a tech type, and if anyone out there would like to work on my website for me, let me know!!!

If you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I have worked every job under the sun to support my writing habit: house cleaner, retail clerk, waitress, day care worker, core analyst in the oil industry and about a million more jobs I shudder to remember. I know how fortunate I am to have this dream job of being a writer.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I would pay to dine with Mark Twain. Not only handsome, but the most talented writer ever!

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

When I write, it has to be absolutely quiet. No music, no TV, no distractions. (I even shut the chimes off on my wall clock because it was driving me nuts!)

Do you do school or library presentations?

I travel extensively to schools and libraries everywhere. I recently was at two schools in Tanzania while there volunteering to teach an adult writing class. I have various presentations geared to tandem with curriculums. Here’s some information:

Belle of Batoche by Jacqueline GuestThe Era of the Fur Trade explores Canada’s past with a session that includes over fifty artifacts such as beaver pelts, bone fishing hooks, horn sewing needles, plus we learn the uses of the Metis Sash, and the laws for the buffalo hunt. It is very interactive with students from the audience assisting me as we paddle down the river with our canoe laden with furs or demonstrating how old fashioned aboriginal toys worked. Belle of Batoche and Outcasts of River Falls are great companion reads for this session.

Dinosaurs! This is geared for students in Kindergarten and grade one/two who dig dinosaurs. The PPT session includes fossils of bones, trees, dino poop and an actual dinosaur egg and comes complete with a coloring handout.

Ghost Messages: A Voyage with the Author, a sixty minute PPT session, tandems with my novel Ghost Messages and deals with laying the transatlantic cable in 1865,an event which changed the world for all time because it changed the way we communicate. Those texters in the audience need to know how this communication explosion we live in today started. Students see an actual piece of the first transatlantic cable, plus students can win a prize by decoding and answering a secret Morse Code question.

The Comic Book War: WW2, Meteorites and Comic Book Superheroes involves my new novel The Comic Book War. Students learn about the home front war effort including savings stamps, rationing, victory gardens and a host of other helpful facts. Plus, we explore the possibility that we are all connected on a cosmic level. Could a meteorite found by our hero connect comic book super heroes here in Canada with three soldiers fighting overseas? ‘What if?’ the most powerful question in the universe!

Jacqueline Guest’s books are published by Coteau Books, Orca Book Publishers and James Lorimer and Company. She also works with Scholastic, Pearson Canada and Rubicon for short stories and levelled reading.

The Very Inappropriate Word – Synonym Picture Book Fun

Posted on July 11th, 2014 by Jody

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Storytime Standouts suggests The Very Inappropriate Word written by Jim Tobin and illustrated by Dave Coverly The Very Inappropriate Word written by Jim Tobin and illustrated by Dave Coverly
Picture book about synonyms published by Henry Holt and Co.

In this all ages picture book, we learn about synonyms, how to expand our vocabulary, and the power that words have. The first line drew me in immediately: “Michael collected words”. I love words and we all have words we hate and love for whatever reason. The way it sounds on our tongue, for what it means, for what it rhymes with, etc. Words are fun and I think it is a great concept to introduce kids to the idea that there are so many ways to say the exact same thing.

Michael pays close attention to all the words that come at him every day– at school, at home, on television, and at baseball. The illustrations of the words that pop up in Michael’s day are entertaining in their presentation. For example, Michael likes “hard words for soft things” and the word “elastic” is stretched as though inside of an elastic instead of a speech bubble. My students and my own children enjoyed looking over the pictures repeatedly.

Michael likes to use the words he finds but when he hears a bad word on the school bus, his friends tell him that is not an appropriate word. The more he is told not to use the word, the deeper his desire to use it, until he finally yells it out at the top of his lungs. In class. Michael’s teacher asks him to stay after school and he is sure that he is in trouble.The Very Inappropriate Word

What happens next is unique and I truly enjoyed the lesson that the teacher wanted to impart in the book. Instead of detention or a long lecture, she asks him to find new spelling words. In essence, she lets him see how many words exist that are powerful and fun, while also being appropriate. She gives him a responsibility to help her and that trust, along with the wonderful task of exploring new words, diminishes the power of the inappropriate word.

Sometimes our actions are strengthened by the reactions of others. Michael’s teacher didn’t give him the reaction he expected. Instead, she showed him a different path and let him find his way. What we say is important but so is how we say it. I like that this book shows kids there are other ways, other words, to communicate what they are trying to say.

On another note, there are a number of fun activities that you can do with this book. In my classroom, I used the example on the first page where we see a picture of Michael, surrounded by “M” words. The students drew a self-portrait and tried to find as many descriptive words about themselves that started with the first letter of their name as they could. Not an easy task but upper intermediates will enjoy the challenge while they learn some dictionary and thesaurus skills. A second activity I tried was to give a word and see who could come up with the most synonyms. So, if I put “happy” on the board, they all had thirty seconds to write down as many words as they could that meant the same thing. This is a great way to do a quick check of their vocabulary understanding. Even if you just use the book as a fun read, the students will get lots out of it.

The Very Inappropriate Word at Amazon.com

The Very Inappropriate Word at Amazon.ca

Meet Author Aldo Fynn

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Aldo Fynn enjoys writing wacky, fantastical stories. Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer is his debut novel. It’s the first book in the Adventures of Prince Iggy Series. He’s also written two wacky, laugh-out-loud picture books. He lives under his desk and promises he won’t come out until Book 3 in the series is complete. Which is a shame because his desk is based in Los Angeles, where it’s sunny and 70 degrees most of the year.

Twitter account – @AldoFynn

Facebook page

Author Website

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer written by Aldo FynnTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer is an over the top-fantasy adventure where a lost-now-found prince learns that believing in himself pays off when battling evil bullies. It’s a quirky and fast paced story with 30+ black and white illustrations ideal for middle grade readers (ages 8+) and adults looking for a different kind of hero.

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer (The Adventures of Prince Iggy) at Amazon.com

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer (The Adventures of Prince Iggy) at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Mark Twain. Because he’s one of literature’s greatest humorist.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

Staying focused and finishing the work.

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?Waldo Battles the Fly by Aldo Fynn

All my books have actually been published electronically first. Since I’ve partnered with a small-indie press, we decided that going digital first would enable the books to get to readers more quickly. BOA Press has internal resources to produce the digital format whereas as print production required working with third parties. The feedback I have received on the e-book format and illustrations has been very positive. Some of my readers still rely on print so we planned for that once digital was completed. There is something special about holding a book in your hands with your name on the cover.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Again Mark Twain because his life was as colorful as his books.

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

Music is a big part of my life. I listen to music everyday before and after I start a writing session. I listen to everything from classical to electronica to jazz.

The Kissing Hand – A Picture Book Classic for Starting School

Posted on July 8th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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The Kissing Hand -  A Picture Book Classic for Children Starting SchoolThe Kissing Hand written by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
Classic picture book published by Child & Family Press


Despite the fact that my youngest son was very familiar with the preschool that he would be attending, separation was a major problem for him. He had been to his older brother’s classroom countless times. He had met the teachers and knew the playground BUT, when it came time to stay by himself, he was devastated. He simply would not let me leave. He grabbed my arm, he wanted reassurance and most of all, he wanted me to stay nearby.

Since that time, I have taught many classes for preschool-age children and have dealt with many youngsters who don’t want mommies and daddies to leave. Their eyes well up and they send a clear message that they will be heartbroken if left. Almost without exception, my experience has been that when mommies and daddies show confidence in their child’s ability to cope and when they don’t hesitate, the child manages fine. Sometimes a few tears are shed but a skillful teacher will quickly have the child happily engaged in an activity.

For some children, I offer my small brass bell. We put it outside the classroom and their parent is instructed to ring it when they arrive just before pick up time. Usually we are enjoying a quiet circle time when the bell is rung and the child’s eyes light up when she realizes that mommy or daddy is waiting outside.

For other children, I have a small stuffed ladybug – it is just the right size for small hands. I encourage children who are feeling separation anxiety to “look after” the ladybug for me. Usually, within a few minutes, the child is happily playing and the ladybug has been left behind.

The Kissing Hand shares the story of Chester Raccoon and his reluctance to leave Mommy and go to school. He claims that he would rather stay at home, play with friends, read and swing. Mother Raccoon is ready with a simple but reassuring message:

“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently. “Even if they seem strange and scary at first. But you will love school once you start.”

She shares a secret with her son.

Mrs. Raccoon took Chester’s left hand and spread open his tiny fingers into a fan. Leaning forward, she kissed Chester right in the middle of his palm.

Mrs. Raccoon is a wise mama. My best guess is that she is sad to see her youngster start school. She knows she will miss him and that he is taking a big step toward independence but she puts her own emotions aside and she equips Chester with the knowledge that his mother’s love will always be with him. She also shows confidence that he is ready to take this step away from home.

A great choice for children heading off to preschool or kindergarten. Do not be surprised if your child’s teacher shares this story during the first week of school.

The Kissing Hand at Amazon.com

The Kissing Hand at Amazon.ca

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

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Meet Author Elizabeth MacLeod

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Author Elizabeth MacLeodElizabeth MacLeod is one nosy author, which is why she loves writing non-fiction. She’s very curious about why people do what they do, and she likes sharing with kids the amazing facts and secrets she uncovers.





As a kid in Thornhill, Ontario, the idea of being a writer never crossed her mind — she figured most authors were already dead and they definitely weren’t Canadian. Besides, it was science that interested her.

But writing was already part of her life. After dinner on school nights, she and her two brothers would trudge up to their rooms, close their doors and start to do their homework — or so their parents thought. A few minutes later, a piece of paper would come sliding under her door. One of her brothers had drawn a picture, usually of some weird creature.

She really couldn’t draw (she still can’t!), so the only way she could respond was to write a short story, often about a mad scientist or space alien. she’d slip the story under her brother’s door and — well, not a lot of homework got done.

At university, she studied sciences — there was hardly any writing involved at all. After she graduated she had a number of jobs, but none of them had anything to do with writing. She wanted to be an author but she was too scared to admit it to anyone, especially herself. However, one day she gathered up her courage, phoned a newspaper and sold an article she’d written. Wow!

Soon after this she attended a publishing workshop in Banff, Alberta, which led her to a job as an editor at OWL magazine. After a few years she switched to book publishing and became an editor at Kids Can Press. Meanwhile, in her spare time she began writing non-fiction books for kids. Then she became a part-time editor and writer. Now she’s a full-time writer, working for a number of different publishers.

One of the things she especially likes about writing for kids is that she gets to investigate so many interesting topics. She’s written articles or books on subjects such as weird breeds of dogs, Marie Curie, hoaxes, the northern lights and many, many more. Did you know that some dinosaurs were as small as chickens? Or that Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, got tired of having his work interrupted by his invention?

She’s written many biographies about such people as Helen Keller, Albert Einstein and Samuel de Champlain. One of her favourite things is discovering how inventors and writers come up with their ideas. She’s written a series of biographies for readers ages 6 to 8, and one for kids aged 8 to 12.

More recently she’s written about royalty, and the mysteries and crimes that surround them. Monarchy has always fascinated her. She loves going behind the scenes with monarchs from Cleopatra to Dracula to find out just what they would do to hold onto power or protect their families. These books have also let her research forensic techniques, ranging from DNA testing to crime-scene procedures.

Secrets Underground North Americas Buried Past written by Elizabeth MacLeodTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past is for readers age 10 and up. This is a great book for anyone who likes spine-tingling mysteries and eerie surprises! I think kids will be amazed to read about these buried secrets, including the top-secret equipment that lies deep below Grand Central Terminal in New York City and the network of abandoned tunnels below Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

The book also tells about the ships that were abandoned in San Francisco harbor during the Gold Rush. I travelled to the city and found numerous plaques and displays about the forgotten, buried ships. Many people who lived in San Francisco knew nothing about the ships but I’m proud of the fact that I was able to track them down.

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past at Amazon,com

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

I’ve had a different writing career from most other writers. I started as an editor at OWL Magazine, so I was on the inside of the publishing world from the beginning. The first few books I published were books that publishers asked me to write.

It can be really tough to get a publisher to accept a book proposal so I’d suggest aspiring authors prepare themselves as much as possible. Colleges and universities offer great writing courses, and so do organizations such as CANSCAIP and SCBWI. These are wonderful opportunities to meet other writers, have your proposal assessed by an expert and improve your writing.

I think it’s important for all authors, aspiring and published, to remember to never give up. If you really believe in a book idea but a publisher turns it down, revise the proposal as necessary, then send it out to another publisher. From being on the inside of the publishing world, I know there are lots of reasons why one publisher will turn down a book idea that will work very well for another publisher.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

I work at a large desk with a keyboard and good-sized computer monitor. I’ve got piles of papers and books, as well as a ceramic vase full of pens, a pewter pot holding paper clips, a grapefruit-scented candle (I read somewhere it helps with creativity) and a few other bits and pieces.

But you probably wouldn’t notice any of these things because you’d likely be focusing on our cat Cosimo. While I work, he’s usually stretched out under my desk lamp. Even on the hottest summer day, he seems to like the warmth!

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

In my presentations, I ask a lot of questions, so you’d think I’d be used to receiving some amazing answers, but kids always surprise me. I was talking once about the biographies I’ve written and telling kids about magician Harry Houdini. One boy shot up his hand and offered to share a magic trick with the group. How could I say no?The Kids Book of Canada at War by Elizabeth MacLeod

I also wrote The Kids Book of Canada at War, so I talk to students about John McCrae (author of the poem In Flanders Fields) and other brave Canadians who served in World War I and II (including my dad). I often get teary-eyed when I think of their courage and kids usually notice this. I wish I weren’t quite so emotional, but then the kids always want to share their stories about relatives who served in wartime. I guess I help them form a connection that makes them proud.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I’ve taken part in a number of book tours, in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and throughout the Maritimes. I write about such interesting people and topics, so I love sharing the incredible facts I’ve uncovered. I visit classrooms, libraries and bookstores and have also done interviews on radio and television.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I’d choose Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables books. I still re-read those books and I’ve written two biographies about her. Maud (as she liked to be called) had a tough life, so I’d ask her where she found her inspiration. I’d also like to know if she’s surprised that Anne is still so popular, what Maud thinks of all the books written about her and how she feels about Anne’s incredible fame in Japan.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I’ve written a series of biographies for first readers as well as a series for 8 to 12 year olds. So I can bring some of the world’s most incredible people to life for kids of many different ages. Kids are drawn into the wonderful stories about these well-known personalities with the many photos and artifacts that I use to illustrate my talks. I ask questions, request opinions, involve students in activities, etc.

Bunny the Brave War Horse by Elizabeth MacLeodFor students up to grade 2 or 3, I can also speak about my latest picture book, Bunny the Brave War Horse (Kids Can Press). This is a World War I story and is based on a real horse and rider. I can talk about the war as well as about horses; I also discuss World War II and show artifacts that belong to my father, who was a navigator with Bomber Command in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

As well, for older students I can look at the mysteries of history and how we’ve used modern technology to solve many of them. Using images and artifacts from my books Secrets Underground, Bones Never Lie and Royal Murder, I look at historic events and show why they matter, how they affect us today and how we can learn more about them. I also explore the forensic techniques used to solve crimes and mysteries and encourage kids to consider how to use deductive reasoning and other investigative methods in their own lives.

I’ve worked as an in-house editor, so as part of my presentation, I can also talk about the publishing process, from initial idea to final book. I discuss the team of people needed to produce a book, and again show artifacts to illustrate the various steps and to involve the audience.

As well, I have given many presentations to adults. One of my most popular talks is about how to get your children’s book published, including writing the best query letters, avoiding first-timers’ mistakes, etc. Since I have worked as an in-house editor, I can provide the view point of both an insider and a freelancer. I’ve also given presentations to many teachers and librarians about why biographies are important (for instance, they’re fun, they make history come alive, they can boost self-esteem and more) and how to interest children in biographies. I can provide handouts to participants for both of these talks.

I live in Toronto and I’m very willing to discuss travelling with anyone who would like me to speak in their classroom or library.

Classic Picture Book CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Posted on July 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Looks at CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that TypeCLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Classic Picture Book published by Simon and Schuster





Today we are continuing our Classic Picture Book series with a look at CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type. Originally published in 2001, it is a must-read for young children.

When Farmer Brown’s cows get their hooves on an old typewriter, they put it to excellent use. They communicate with the farmer via a series of brief messages:

Dear Farmer Brown,
The barn is very cold
at night.
We’d like some electric
blankets.
Sincerely,
The Cows”

Initially Farmer Brown decides to ignore the cows’ demand but he soon discovers that the cows hold the upper ‘hand.’ The determined cows go on strike and refuse to provide milk. Before long, the hens have sided with the cows. They are also cold and they halt egg production.Storytime Standouts features CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Poor Farmer Brown, his frustration with the upstart farm animals is clear. His farm simply must have milk and eggs.

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type is a fun story that helps children to gain print awareness. The reader’s attention is drawn to letters, words and print. As well, Farmer Brown’s body language is great to watch. The terrific illustrations in the story encourage children to “read between the lines.”

A 2001 Caldecott Honor Book, CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type is a not-to-be-missed book for children aged three years and up.

2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title
2002 Vermont’s Picture Book Awards: Red Clover
A 2001 ALA Notable Children’s Book for Younger Readers
2002 Charlotte Award (New York State Reading Association)
2001 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for Picture Book
2001 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book for Children’s Illustrated

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type at Amazon.com

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type at Amazon.ca

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type Teaching Resources

CPALMS – Florida State University – CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type First Grade Close Reading Lesson

Education Miami Rosenfeld Legacy Project – Introduce the Jewish value of Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

6 By 6 Interactive Spaces Kansas Statewide Early Literacy Library Program for CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Theater Works USA Study Guide – includes PDF printables (matching game, wordsearch, sequencing activity)

PBS Kids – Cornerstones Lesson Guide (two week teaching unit) for CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board CLICK, CLACK, MOO Cows that Type on Pinterest.

Watch CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type on YouTube

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