Friday, February 28, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

What an Exciting Event!

Last weekend I participated in an online children's book conference called Write On Con - it was wonderful. What I most enjoyed about it was my ability to attend the event from the confines of my rustic studio, while wearing my jammies and drinking a big mug of coffee!

All joking aside, for a modest fee I listened to podcasts and vlogs, read pertinent articles, and was just generally inspired. I also connected with some awesome authors, writers, and other industry professionals.

The event offered different types of registrations, so since I opted for an extended ticket, I'll be able to view the presentations I'd like to revisit, or missed, through 3/22/20. A big thumbs up to Write On Con!

I highly recommend you all participate next year!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sidereal (adj.)
something related to the stars.
Example: The ancient sidereal prophecy remarkably came to pass.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Saving the Countryside
The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
by Linda Marshall and Ilaria Urbinati

Flap Copy Description:

Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn't go to school and weren't expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished.

There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it's been preserved just as she left it.

This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter's lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.

My Thoughts:
Being a Beatrix Potter fan myself, I'm always anxious to read another book focused on the amazing children's book author/illustrator. Saving the Countryside is a fantastic addition to books about the British icon! What I most like about it (besides the wonderful illustrations by Ilaria Urbinati), is the focus it places on Ms. Potter's philanthropic efforts in saving the Lake District by donating acres and acres to the National Trust of Great Britain. Readers of all ages will learn not only about Peter Rabbit, but about the generosity of his extraordinary creator.

Click here to learn about author, Linda Elovitz Marshall.
Click here to learn about illustrator, Ilaria Urbinati.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Cross-Training My Creativity

Recently, my son David and I started working on a screenplay for my first book, The Scandinavian Santa. Our purpose is to play around with the idea of bringing the book from page to stage - or film. Since David is a screenwriter I'm learning a lot!

While it's fun to dream of my book coming to life in a theatric fashion, we are well aware that this project is most likely a learning exercise for both of us. Cross-training one's creativity is always so beneficial.

David has stated it's been interesting to see the differences between a book and a screenplay - like the way a written story must paint a picture with words. Whereas, a screenplay is more like a picture book: it counts on the images (the actors' performances) to tell so much of the story.

One huge place where we connect on our creative paths, is the concept of Save the Cat! - written by Blake Snyder. That screenplay formatting has also been adapted for novelists. (Jessica Brody's Save the Cat! Writes a Novel.)
In the end it's all about story and story structure, no matter what medium you write in.
The Scandinavian Santa was inspired by Peter Swanson, my Norwegian great-grandfather - David's great-great-grandfather. In addition to David, my middle son Kevin helped in the early stages of the book by assisting with editing. My mother also added to the book by sharing her memories of her grandfather, Peter. Everything about this project has been a family affair!

Because this book has involved so many family members, it's brought us all closer together. (I even reconnected with a cousin who I'd not seen for decades soon after The Scandinavian Santa was released!) 

Do you enjoy cross-training your creativity?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Moonbow (n.)
a nocturnal rainbow made from the light of the moon.
Example: The moonbow was an angelic sign of hope to the world.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

by Alan Gratz

Flap Copy Description:
June 6, 1944: The Nazis are terrorizing Europe, on their evil quest to conquer the world. The only way to stop them? The biggest, most top-secret endeavor ever, with the Allied nations coming together to storm German-occupied France.
Welcome D-Day.
Dee, a young US soldier, is on a boat racing toward the French coast. And Dee - along with huis brothers-in-arms - is terrified. He feels the weight of World War II on his shoulders.
But Dee is not alone. Behind enemy lines in France, a girl named Samira works as a spy, trying to sabotage the German army. Meanwhile, paratrooper James leaps from his plane to join a daring midnight raid. And in the thick of battle, Henry, a medic, searches for lives to save.
In a breathtaking race against time, they all must fight to complete their high-stakes missions. But with betrayals and deadly risks at every turn, can the Allies do what it takes to win?

My Thoughts:
Alan Gratz has woven several intriguing stories into one fast-paced saga in his most recent release, Allies. Character and plot development are hallmarks in his style, and his in-depth research always makes his tales so believable. Mr. Gratz has a long list of award-winning books for young readers; Allies is definitely another success to add to his list. I highly recommend this book to readers aged ten and up, as well as to World War II fans of all ages!

Click here to learn about the award-winning author Alan Gratz.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

A Loving Reminder

While Valentine's Day is typically thought of as a day for romance, it's worth remembering that what our world really needs right now is the sort of love that is exemplified by kindness, compassion, and tolerance.

As writers and illustrators of children's books, it's even more important for us to keep those rare qualities of our better nature in mind. After all, our young readers are looking to the adults in their lives as role models. Unfortunately, right now, what they see is a polarized world full of bickering, bullying, and selfishness. This unbecoming behavior can be found in every religion and political party, despite the fact that children look to those exact communities for guidance. It's frightening.

Children's books have long been a haven and a refuge for kids who find themselves in situations that are challenging. It seems that living in the world we do, every child would benefit from reading a story where they see kindness, compassion, and courage; wonderful tales set in all sorts of settings, and with a diverse cast of characters. We need to provide all the children of our world with a refuge, now more than ever.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Grimoire - (n.)
a book of magic spells and incantations.
Example: The evil goblin sat beside a bonfire reading his grimoire.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The Evil Princess vs. 
The Brave Knight
by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Flap Copy Description:
SHE casts terrible spells. HE fights dragons. SHE is always making trouble. HE is always rescuing people. SHE is the Evil Princess. HE is the Brave Knight. TOGETHER they are... Well, they are a brother and sister who really need t learn to get along. I mean, seriously.

My Thoughts:
What pair would be better-suited to pen a humorous tale about sibling rivalry than sister and brother, Jennifer & Matthew Holm? Their text and illustrations are witty and wonderful. If you are a parent who has your own princess and knight (who are constantly battling), The Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight would be a great book to try!

Click here to learn about Jennifer Holm.
Click here to learn about Matthew Holm.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Kidlit at the 2020 Academy Awards

Each year, I'm curious as to which Oscar nominees have a connection to books/comic books for children or young adults. Those 2020 nominees with such a connection (according to my research) are listed below. (From those movies, I've only seen Little Women so far - I absolutely loved it!)

Little Women received six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture; Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score & Best Costume Design.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was nominated for one Academy Award: Best Animated Feature Film.

Avengers: Endgame was nominated for Best Visual Effects.

Hair Love was nominated for Best Animated Short Film. 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil received a nomination for Best Makeup & Hairstyling. (Connection to the Grimms' Fairy Tale "Snow White.")

Frozen II received one Oscar nomination: Best Original Song. (Connection to "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen.)

Joker received an incredible eleven Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, & Best Costume Design. (This film is not suitable for children since it's a psychological thriller.)

Congratulations to all these Oscar-nominated films from 2019, and for their amazing homage to children's literature!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Kaput - (adj.)
broken and useless. No longer working or effective.
Example: Unfortunately, the power of the presidency had gone kaput.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Women in Art
50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World
by Rachel Ignotofsky

Amazon Description:
A charmingly illustrated and inspiring book, Women in Art highlights the achievements and stories of 50 notable women in the arts - from well-known figures like painters Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keefe, to lesser-known names like 19th-century African American quilter Harriet Powers and  Hopi-Tewa ceramic artist Nampeyo. Covering a wide array of artistic mediums, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about artistic movements throughout history, statistics about women's representation in museums, and notable works by women. Women in Art celebrates the success of the bold female creators who inspired the world and paved the way for the next generation of artists.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely love Women in Art! The women featured in this book range from those with famous names to those with names that were totally unfamiliar to me. It was a joy to learn about all the talented artists - both past and present. Additionally, the enchanting illustrations seemed to bring the inspiring women alive. In today's world I feel this book is a must-read for not only children, but for anyone who supports the arts. It is also a lovely reminder of the diversity that has always been present in female creative circles - it just hasn't been told. I highly recommend Women in Art to readers aged eight & up. Bravo, Rachel Ignotofsky!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Rachel Ignotofsky.