Monday, March 31, 2014

Rhyme Time

 by Kathy Halsey
Today I'm featuring my grandson's favorite rhyming picture book as a mentor text for all of you joining me in Angie Karcher's RhyPiBoMo.
 Check out her FAQ page because there's still time to join in on all the fun. OK, confession time, here - rhyming is out of my comfort zone, and that's why I'm up for this challenge that began with guest bloggers and lessons March 30. Angie has even created a super list of rhyming books to serve as mentor texts for all of us would-be rhymers!   
SKELETON CAT by Kristyn Crow, illustrated by Dan Krall has been read to death by my three year old grandson and me. This cute picture book has plenty of onomatopoeia and is just plain fun to read aloud.The rhythm is so catchy that Tobin recites lines from it while he plays outside! The plot is simple but hooks readers right away. Who doesn't dream of being in a rock and roll band? Skeleton cat auditions as a drummer for a rock band, and the rhyme/rhythm really echo a drummer's beat. (I've been listening to my hubby play drums for 25 years now, and Kristyn Crow has got the drum cadence down cold!)   
I double-dog dare you to recite the following lines from SKELETON CAT aloud. Go ahead, no one's listening... 
"He went: Rattle, rattle. Clink, clink. Rattle, rattle clink. Tip tap. Clickety-clack, ka-plink, ka-plink, ka-plink. He rocked and he rollicked and he clunked around, and the kids in a playground heard the rattlin' sound..." See, it's addicting, right? Rhyming is fun!
Go to your favorite local bookstore, head to the library, and stock up NOW for RhyPiBoMo. Please comment on YOUR go-to rhymer on the GROG and enter to win great prizes as our launch party continues! 
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Saturday, March 29, 2014


by Janie Reinart

Welcome to Saturday Stretches. We all need to warm up before we sing, exercise or write! We will be sharing ideas here to help you “work out” your writing muscles. Take a deep cleansing breath and stretch

For more writing inspiration, share your "stretches" with us. Please post them in the comment section.

#1 Excerpt from Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

CIRCLE your favorite phrases or words in the excerpt. 

CREATE a free verse poem telling a different or new story using the words or phrases you selected. 

You may add your own words and repeat words or phrases in your free verse poem.

In this season, whenever Antonina crossed the park on her way to the trolley stop, church, or market, she walked through corridors thickly scented with linden flowers and abuzz with half-truths—in local slang, lipa also meant white lies.
Across the river, the skyline of Old Town rose from the earl morning mist like sentences written in invisible ink—first just the roofs, whose curved terra-cotta tiles overlapped like pigeon feathers—then a story of sea green, pink, yellow, red, copper, and beige row houses that lined cobbled stoned streets leading to Market Square. 
In the 1930’s, an open-air market served the Praga district too, near the factory on Zabkowska (Tooth) Street designed to look like a squat castle. But it wasn’t as festive as Old Town’s, where dozens of vendors sold produce, crafts, and food below yellow and tan awnings, the shop windows displayed Baltic amber, and for a few groschen a trained parrot would pick your fortune from a small jug of paper scrolls.
Just beyond Old Town, lay the large Jewish Quarter, full of mazy streets, woman wearing wigs, and men sideburn curls, religious dancing, a mix of dialects and aromas, tiny shops, dyed silks, and flat-roofed buildings where iron balconies painted black or moss green, rose one above the other, like opera boxes filled not with people but with tomato pots and flowers.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Reading is Magical ~By Suzy Leopold

     The Cat in the Hat, Charlotte’s Web, Good-night Moon, Stuart Little and Winnie the Pooh are all beloved children’s books that my Mom read to me fifty plus years ago.  You may recognize the list of classic book titles, may have listened to, or even read the same books as a kid.  I am so thankful that my Mom instilled the value of reading in me.  She modeled for my sister and me the value of learning, as young children.  Visiting the public library and checking out a tall stack of favorite books, and sometimes checking out the same titles numerous times, was a family event that we enjoyed, prior to kindergarten and continued throughout our attendance in elementary school.  Reading picture books to my sister and I was a special time when Mom shared the joy of reading with us.  Reading was part of our daily routine, usually as a bedtime ritual, while cuddling in bed or sitting together in a big, comfy chair. 

     Do you value literacy and the importance of reading everyday?  Do you promote the love of reading everyday?  Parents can help promote their child's literacy and the development of reading comprehension.  Even before a child can exhibit the skill of reading, young children begin to acquire basic concepts about literacy.  The single most important activity for building these understandings and skills, that are essential for reading success, is reading aloud to children.  Board books read to babies from birth develops the infant’s brain that continues to develop during the first year of life. Nursery rhymes read to tiny toddlers, lays the foundation for language development. Picture books read to children during the preschool years, builds success in learning. Reading to and with elementary school age kids, equals expanded vocabulary and builds a foundation for student achievement.  

     Want your child to be a better reader, develop the habit of reading as lifelong learning, and be successful in school?  It is plain and simple; just read.  Reading is magic.

Image:  Scholastic 

Read and Write Everyday!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Writing for Children's Magazines, Part 2: Some Submission Nuts & Bolts -- by Christy Mihaly

Are you considering writing for children’s magazines? Here are some submission basics.  (For the first part of this post, go to Part 1.)

Your Market

Kids’ magazines need lots of lively writing. If you write quality material that appeals to children, you can find a magazine to publish it -- the trick is finding the right one for you.

My market research started with Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers, from the Institute of Children’s Literature:

    Another great resource is author-editor Evelyn Christensen’s e-zine, Writing for Children’s Magazines. For her alphabetical listings of magazines with links to their websites, go to: Thank you Evelyn! 

     To keep abreast of changes in the market, the monthly subscription newsletter Children’s Writer is also helpful.  Its Marketplace section includes updates on magazines’ needs. (

Get a sense of a magazine’s individual style by reading it. Browse online samples. Look in your library for back issues, or buy some samples. Don’t skip this step – you must understand your target magazine’s tone and character.  (Editors recommend reading at least 12 issues before submitting to a magazine.)

Review the magazine’s website -- carefully -- for the target age of readers, submission guidelines, and other requirements. Some magazines accept submissions only by e-mail; others only by U.S. mail. For articles, a magazine may want a bibliography, copies of sources, photo releases, etc.  Check and re-check.

Where to Submit?               

Do you want to submit on spec, send a query, or write to a theme?  There are magazines out there for all these preferences.

The largest, Highlights for Children, circulation about two million, doesn’t use themes. Other general interest children’s magazines are the Fun for Kidz publications (Hopscotch for Girls, Boys’ Quest, and Fun for Kidz), which are themed, and the U.S. Kids magazines (Jack & Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Turtle), which aren’t.

The magazines in the Carus/Cobblestone group (the “bug” magazines – Spider, Cricket, Ladybug, etc. – along with AppleSeeds, Calliope, Odyssey and several others), are highly respected and often used in classrooms. Some of these are themed, others not. 

Specialized magazines include National Geographic Kids, Boys’ Life (a Boy Scouts publication),Sports Illustrated for Kids, Pockets (devotional magazine used in Sunday Schools), and Skipping Stones (multi-cultural).

     There are hundreds more. Explore e-magazines and regional magazines.  And if you have a particular interest or expertise, from horses to skateboarding to archeology, look for a kids' magazine in that field. 

What about themes?

Some magazine themes are substantive and specific (I had an article in a 2012 AppleSeeds issue about “Who Did What in the Age of Exploration”); others, not so much (a current Hopscotch theme is “Unique and Unusual”). 

I prefer themes, because they tell me what the magazine wants.  An announced theme often gets my mental wheels turning.  And I really like that if a magazine accepts a piece for a themed issue, I know it will be published on the date that specific issue comes out, rather than sitting in a file drawer for months or years.

You'll find theme lists on individual magazines' websites.  In addition, children's author and educational writer Liana Mahoney has compiled and posted a list of magazine and anthology themes, which she regularly updates.  Thanks, Liana!  See her website at:

One more thing about themes: more than once, I’ve been surprised to learn that an article I submitted for an announced theme was accepted . . . but that it would appear in a different issue, with a newly announced theme that fit my piece to a “T.” So – anything can happen!

Manuscript or Query?

     With fiction, you have to submit the complete manuscript.  For nonfiction, requirements vary.  Some magazines (e.g., Pockets, Hopscotch, Spider) generally require manuscripts.  Some accept either manuscripts or queries (e.g., Boys’ Life).  Others (like many in the Carus/Cobblestone group) accept only queries. 

I love queries!  Although a query requires substantial research and thought, and you have to follow the magazine's guidelines, it’s never as much work as writing a complete article.  Then if the magazine accepts your proposal, you’ll have a clear assignment (including focus of your article, tentative title, and word limit). When you write the article, you’ll know it’s just what the editor is looking for. 

I hope this helps you find the right magazine home for your writing. Of course . . . if you already have a polished manuscript, and your research indicates it’s a good fit for a particular magazine – then send it out! Good luck with it, and let me know how it goes!