Friday, March 22, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

Spring is Here!

In some ways, the winter that just departed felt like one of the longest I can remember here in the Pacific Northwest. (Even though I'm aware that the seasons are always relatively the same length!) The up side to feeling like you're sequestered inside your own home, is that if you're a writer, there's no excuse for not writing. Thankfully, during the last few months, I did accomplish a lot on my writing projects.

If you'd like to read my recent quarterly newsletter, click here.

Last week I posted a contest with a Rafflecopter Giveaway - click here.

Since I'm looking forward to spending some time in my garden, I'll be taking a Spring Break. (I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy on April 4th.)

Wishing everyone a bright and inspirational spring!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Perron (n.)
an exterior set of steps with a platform at the entrance to a large building.
Example: The princess raced up the perron of the stone castle.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Bibliophile's Corner

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science
by Joyce Sidman

Flap Copy Description:
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be “born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.”  Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them?

One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor–winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.

My Thoughts:
Joyce Sidman, renowned author and poet, has crafted an important and informative book that is just exquisite. The hours of research Ms. Sidman put in on Maria Merian's life in preparing to pen this biography is quite obvious - I loved it! The Girl Who Drew Butterflies recently won the Robert F. Sibert Medal for best informational book of 2019 - bravo! The illustrations and photography included in this beautiful book perfectly illuminate Ms. Sidman's text. I highly recommend The Girl Who Drew Butterflies to everyone, especially young scientists!

Click here to learn about author/poet, Joyce Sidman.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

It's a Rafflecopter Giveaway!

In anticipation of kids being in the "Great Outdoors" this summer, I'm featuring a Rafflecopter Giveaway of my middle grade fantasy novel:
The Tale of Willaby Creek.
I'll not only be giving away three signed copies of that book, with matching bookmarks, but the Grand Prize will be one signed copy of each of my three books! (See sidebar.) Amazon gift cards are also featured! The winners will be announced on Friday, June 7th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Surfeit (n.)
an excessive amount of something.
Example: The historic mansion was filled with a surfeit of luxurious furniture.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bibliophile's Corner

Front Desk
by Kelly Yang

Flap Copy Description:
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

My Thoughts:
Kelly Yang's debut middle grade novel, Front Desk, is a breakthrough book in children's literature. Never before have I read a more authentic and insightful novel for young readers. I wept as I learned details about the young protagonist's life in California - and back in China. (Loosely based on Ms. Yang's life.) However, it is also well-written, humorous, and a fantastic addition to the growing number of diverse books for young readers. I love it when I read a book that is not only a mirror, but a window for children of all backgrounds. Bravo, Kelly Yang! I highly recommend this award-winning novel to readers aged eight to twelve.

Click here to learn about the author, Kelly Yang.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

Love is the Cure

In January my husband and I were lucky enough to attend the Elton John Farewell Tour in Glendale, Arizona. The reason I'm blogging about our experience is that Sir Elton John's message that Love is the Cure was laced throughout the concert and within all of his lyrics; that's a message that I attempt to include in the stories that I pen, and the words that I speak. I believe every author of children's books should make that her goal. However, it wasn't just his message, but the energy of the 71-year-old rock music legend. He seemed just as excited about performing in 2019, as he was in 1973 when I attended his concert in Portland, Oregon!

It was a thrill of a lifetime to dance with my husband, Michael, to the music of Elton John - live. It occurred to me that my taste in rock music hasn't changed much; Elton John and the Beatles were my favorites then, and now.

I was amazed that in the middle of "Trump Country," as images of a diverse cast of characters were displayed above Elton John, the crowd's cheering never wavered. A reminder that the arts can bridge a variety of beliefs.

So, thank you, Sir Elton, for an evening I'll always remember - not only for your fantastic performance, but because of how you've lived your extraordinary life - it's been so inspiring!

Check out this movie trailer of ROCKETMAN. It's a musical fantasy about the breakthrough years of Elton John's life - due out this May!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Draughtboard (n.)
checkerboard (British.)
Example: The floor of the country manor was a black and white tile draughtboard. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Bibliophile's Corner

Counting Birds
The Idea that Helped Save Our Feathered Friends
by Heidi E.Y. Stemple and
illustrated by Clover Robin

Flap Copy Description:
What can you do to help endangered animals and make a positive change in our environment? Get counting! Counting Birds is a beautifully illustrated book that introduces kids to the idea of bird counts and bird watches. Along the way, they will learn about Frank Chapman, who used his bird knowledge and magazine Bird-Lore to found the first annual bird count.
Bird counting helps professional researchers collect data, share expertise, and spread valuable information to help all kinds of birds around the world, from condors to hawks to kestrels and more.
Counting Birds introduces kids to a whole feathered world that will fascinate and inspire them to get involved in conservation and become citizen scientists.

My Thoughts:
Counting Birds - The Idea that Helped Save Our Feathered Friends is the perfect picture book to encourage children to bird watch! In it, the author tells the true story of how official bird counts came into being in the United States - but it's so much more. Heidi Stemple's book also features challenges for the young reader at the end of the book, and in addition to that, the illustrations by Clover Robin are exquisite! I highly recommend this beautiful and important book to all young readers.

Click here to learn about the author, Heidi Stemple.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Champion of Creativity

"Dr. Seuss"
Theodor  Seuss Geisel

Since tomorrow marks the 115th birthday of the iconic children's book author Dr. Seuss - Theodor Seuss Geisel - I thought it only fitting to feature him as a Champion of Creativity. After all, he, more than most authors, artists, etc., is worthy of that title!

After researching the extraordinary life of Theodor Seuss Geisel, it's become apparent to me that the volume of his publications and awards are beyond anything I can come close to addressing in this small blog post. Therefore, I'll share just some of the highlights from this remarkable man's life and long career that resonated with me.

He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 2, 1904 to parents of German descent. After the onset of World War I both he and his sister Marnie experienced anti-German prejudice from the children in their lives. (Later in life, he would adopt strong liberal views.)

Theodor attended Dartmouth College where his writing skills were put to good use in the humor magazine, Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern. After graduating from Dartmouth, he moved to England where he attended Oxford University. It was there, that he met his future wife, Helen Palmer. Although Theodor desired to earn his doctorate in literature and become an English teacher, Helen encouraged him to find a profession that would also utilize his drawing skills; she'd been most impressed by the animal drawings in his numerous notebooks. So he left Oxford without earning his doctorate and began sending his writings and drawings to magazines and advertisement agencies. After earning enough money to convince himself that he could make a career as a writer, he moved back to the United States with Helen, where they were subsequently married.

Theodor and Helen settled in New York City, where he continued writing, primarily for the humor magazine Judge, which established his career. It was in a 1927 article in Judge where Theodor Seuss Geisel first used the pen name of Dr. Seuss. In 1931 Dr. Seuss illustrated a children's book, Boners - a collection of children's sayings. In 1936, while he and Helen were on a cruise, the ship's engines inspired a poem that would become the first children's book he would write and illustrate: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. However, according to a variety of accounts, prior to the publication of his book, Geisel received somewhere between 20 and 43 rejections! In fact, while he was walking home to burn the manuscript he ran into an old Dartmouth classmate, which led to the book's publication by Vanguard Press. (I love anecdotes like that!) Following that book, he wrote four more children's books before the onset of World War II.

Leading up to World War II, Dr. Seuss wrote many political cartoons. He was a staunch supporter of FDR, and subsequently entered the U.S. Army in 1943 as a Captain. He became the head of the Animation and Film Department for the U.S. Government where he wrote several films, some of them propaganda. Design for Death was one of his war films; it won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

After the war, Theodor and Helen moved to La Jolla, California - that is when his career as a children's book author/illustrator really took off. Books like: The Cat in the Hat (1957); How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957); Green Eggs and Ham (1960), are just a few of the sixty books that Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated in his lifetime.

Theodor Seuss Geisel died on September 24, 1991, at the age of 87.

Dr. Seuss received far too many awards to mention in full, here are just a few:

Dartmouth College awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1956, thus making his pen name legitimate.

Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his "contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America's children and their parents."

On 2004 U.S. children's librarians established the annual Theodor Seuss Geisel Award to recognize the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the U.S. during the preceding year.

Two Emmy Awards.

Two Academy Awards.

A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Geisel's birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading that was created by the National Education Association.

Let's all celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss by reading a book!