Wednesday, November 18, 2020

TIMELY THANKSGIVING TITLES by Sherri Jones Rivers

      Fall is a wonderful, refreshing time of the year and especially the Thanksgiving season and all it means to friends and family. Lots of great children's books are out there that celebrate the season. I contacted the children's librarian, Heather McCue, in Columbia, SC, at the Richland County Library. They have a fabulous, up-to-date collection of kidlit books. She was gracious enough to send me a list of the more popular books in her downtown library. She broke them down into three categories--Families and Food, Gratitude, and Thanksgiving. I decided to pick two from each group. You may have your own favorites, but maybe you will add some of these to your list.


                                                              FAMILIES AND FOOD


All for Pie, Pie for all by David Martin.

This  is a cute book with whimsical illustrations that are detailed and denote a warm and cozy feeling. An especially good book for preschoolers that features animals--cats, mice, and ants. Each group feasts on the Thanksgiving pie leftovers, with the ants finishing the last crumbs. I could see children joining in on the repeated phrases--Little brother ate a piece, big sister ate a piece, momma cat ate a piece, poppa cat ate a piece and Grandma cat ate a piece. Once the pie is gone, hunger sets in and with a joint effort from the cats, the mice and the ants, a fresh pie is produced--this time it's blueberry.





Grandma's Tiny House by Janay Brown Wood 

This is a sweet story I think children can relate to. Even
though social distancing seems to be in order for now, they can remember times of big family get-togethers and
can look forward to more in the future. The cast of diverse characters gives children their place in the book. The rhyme draws you in and it's nice to have a counting book that goes past the number ten. There is always something new in the illustrations that the reader may not have noticed before. The young reader will be excited to see that a child has the solution for the too-full house.






                                                                      GRATITUDE



We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorrell.

This book rings true because Traci's mom was a part of the Cherokee nation, and Traci herself lives within that nation. The book starts with fall, since that represents the Cherokee New Year, and goes through each season with bright and colorful illustrations of everyday things that are celebrated. This book is good for all ages and introduces Cherokee culture in a charming and relatable way. For added interest, the illustrator decided to put a pileated woodpecker in each spread so the reader would have something to look forward to.




Gracias Thanks by Pat Moira 

A young Mexican/Caucasian boy shares everyday things to be grateful for. The acrylic illustrations by John Parra are full of fun details that pop with color and vibrancy. From the moment he wakes up to the bright sunshine's warmth until he goes to bed to the sound of chirping crickets, he gives thanks for the things and people in his life. The poetic writing on each page gives us the Spanish version of what's being said. (I got to practice my Spanish) This bilingual book would be a great read-aloud for classroom story time. The author's endnote challenges the reader to make a list of what he's thankful for.


                                                                    THANKSGIVING


One is a Feast for Mouse by Judy Cox.

What a fun book with lively and engaging illustrations. Mouse peeps out of his hidey hole and spies the leftovers of a big Thanksgiving feast. One green pea catches his eye and seems to be the perfect feast for one little mouse. Or is it? Reading the online reviews, I especially liked one idea of a home-schooling mom who concocted a sequencing activity. She traced the  mouse and drew a picture of each food that he adds to his stack. The kids colored and cut out the mouse, along with the foods. Then, she had them recall the foods added and glue each item  in order, just like in the book. Maybe some other families would like to try this idea.





I Know an Old Woman who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson 

Lots of versions of the "Old Lady" stories exist, but this one is perfectly suited for a Thanksgiving read. Things that might show up on the readers' table are mentioned here--pie, turkey, squash, salad, rolls, etc. The illustrations are whimsical and chaotically fun, getting more and more ridiculous. The ending is clever as she is finally big enough to be a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. In a review, one mother said she made a cardboard cut-out of the old lady, cut out a stomach, and let the kids draw and color their favorite foods to "feed" her with. Cute idea for a theme-related activity.




Some other books you might want to add to your list are Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson, and Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Craft of Revision with Author Hope Lim

Welcome to the GROG Blog, Hope Lim! It’s always a pleasure to showcase the work of picture book authors and to learn more about the craft of writing for children. 


Let’s begin with Hope’s debut book: 

I AM A BIRD

Written by Hope Lim

Illustrated by Hyewon Yum

Candlewick, February 2, 2021

 

To help our GROG Blog followers learn more about you, Hope, please share five facts.

 

1. The ideas for my stories are drawn from real-life experiences.

2. I’m originally from South Korea.

3. I have many notebooks filled with my favorite poems and my own drawings from my childhood. 

4. I like to have espresso with sparkling water. 

5. I run almost every day and use it as time to reflect. 


Share the inspiration behind your debut book I AM A BIRD.

 

The idea for I AM A BIRD started after an encounter with a stranger in Golden Gate Park. I thought she was strange at first, but I immediately recognized my perception was unfair and started to reflect on our innate fears and biases toward each other. When I came home, my husband told me about how my daughter made joyful birdcalls on their way to school on the back of his bike. I was struck by the contrast between my daughter and my simultaneous experiences. At that moment, I knew I had to write a story about exploring the fear of the unknown and combined it my daughter’s soaring spirit. That’s how I AM A BIRD was born - a story of celebrating kindred spirits discovered unexpectedly all told from a child’s perspective. 

List three words to encapsulate the spirit of I AM BIRD.

1. kindred spirit

2. friendship

3. empathy 

 

To become effective and proficient writers, students in my classes follow five-steps to write a polished/published piece of writing. Students learn skills and strategies and gain confidence through practice and revision. This third step of revision needs dedicated time to write and rewrite, redo, reconfigure, and reconsider.

Writers of children’s literature understand the importance of revision, too. Writing manuscripts requires numerous revisions and edits and countless hours prior to publication. 

Hope understands the importance of revision. She shares meaningful tips for the craft of revision and the process she uses to work from a draft to revision as she polishes her manuscripts preparing them for publication.

 

Everyone has a different revision process and technique. For me, the revision stage begins when I share my story with critique partners. They all offer different suggestions and I read them and try to see their suggestions from their perspective. 

 

The revision process needs time, patience and a lot of re-imagination. As a writer, self-editing skills can be very helpful. Self-editing begins when I have a complete draft, no matter how rough it is. I keep rewriting until the draft loses its roughness and generates ideas for a new structure, character, or ending. After going through multiple re-writes, I stop when I feel it’s close enough to share with my critique partners. I wait at least a few days to make sure it’s ready before I solicit opinions from my CPs. I find the feedback on a polished manuscript helpful. 


With early drafts, I often receive conflicting ideas on undeveloped areas, whereas polished ones tend to get similar feedback on an outstanding issue. When I receive the comments, I let them sit for a few days before applying them. I may share the revised version with them again or share it with my agent. My approach to revisions with my agent or an editor is similar. I try to look at my story from their perspectives based on their comments and start to revise only when I understand the direction they suggest.


Thank you, Hope, for sharing your thoughts and perspective about the craft of revision and how you make your stories better through time and rewriting.

 

These two spreads share the just right words, including onomatopoeia, that Hope created after numerous revisions. The bright and colorful illustrations by Hyewon Yon compliment the story line.


Just a few more wonderings . . . Tell us about five objects that sit on your writing desk. Perhaps some are functional and others provide inspiration.


1. A journal 

2. Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

3. Piles of picture books and New Yorker Magazines

4. AirPods

5. A glass of water and a cup of coffee


Please share a favorite literary quote.

 

What is essential is invisible to the eye.” — The Little Prince


What stories are you currently hard at work writing and creating? What books should we look for in the near future?

 

I am currently working on several stories, some new and some old. I’m trying to find a new way to transform my old stories while slowly putting time into new ones. MY TREE by Neal Porter Books will be out in May 2021, and MOMMY’S HOMETOWN by Candlewick will be out in fall 2022. 


Congratulations, Hope, on your debut book, I AM A BIRD, and two more books to follow! Thank you for sharing your success and a craft of revision tip on the GROG Blog today. Wishing you all the best as you continue to read, write, revise, edit, polish, and repeat.


Hope Lim is a children’s book author from South Korea and currently lives in San Francisco. Her debut book, I AM A BIRD, is to be released by Candlewick on February 2, 2021. Her debut will be followed by MY TREE, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House in May 2021 and MOMMY’S HOMETOWN, Candlewick, in Fall 2022. You can find Hope on Instagram @hopelim_sf, Twitter @hope_lim or hopelim.com.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Jazzing Up Your Writing with ONOMATOPOEIA! Plus a Bonus WORD LIST By Eileen R. Meyer


POP!

BOOM! 

WHAM!



 

What exactly is Onomatopoeia?


     Besides being a word that we all have trouble spelling correctly, Merriam-Webster defines onomatopoeia as “the naming of a thing of action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (such as buzz or hiss).” Simply put, onomatopoeia words are sound words. Clap, growl, jangle, vroom—all of these choices have distinctive sounds and are examples of onomatopoeia.

 

Why use Onomatopoeia?


     Using effective sound words in your writing—such as clang or achoo—will certainly help you come up with the most creative way to convey what is happening in a scene. Importantly, it also enhances the sensory experience for the reader. And it’s FUN!

You’ll also find that your sentences can be trimmed of unnecessary words—one onomatopoeia word choice usually replaces a much lengthier description. If you are writing children’s picture books where the economy of words is especially important, utilizing sound words will help you keep your word count low. Consider these examples:


“She made a low, mournful sound as if she were in pain” or She groaned

“He ejected gas spasmodically and noisily from his stomach through his mouth” or He belched


You get the picture. Onomatopoeia allows you to be concise. Additionally, sound words inject an element of humor and playfulness into your piece.

  

Children’s Books that showcase Onomatopoeia:

 

There are oodles of children’s picture books that effectively employ onomatopoeia. Here are a few of my favorites:

 


A Mouthful of Onomatopoeia, by Bette Blaisdell

Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson

Boom Boom, by Sarvinder Naberhaus

“Buzz,” said the Bee, by Wendy Lewison

Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type, by Doreen Cronin

Hush!: a Thai Lullaby, by Minfong Ho

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, by Candace Fleming

Roller Coaster, by Marla Frazee

Split! Splat!, by Amy Gibson

Squeak! Rumble! Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure, by Wynton Marsalis

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams

Watersong, by Tim McCanna

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen

Who Likes Rain?, by Wong Herbert Yee

Whoosh, Crunch, Roar: Football Onomatopoeia, by Mark Weakland

Zin! Zin! Zin!: A Violin, by Lloyd Moss

  

A Handy-Dandy Onomatopoeia Word List


             Writers love tools that save them time—at least, I know I do.  I recently began working on a picture book project where I wanted to associate a key sound with each of my anthropomorphic characters. I searched on the internet for an expansive list of sound words.  I found a few pretty good listings, but I couldn’t find ONE complete list that included the entire universe (or close to it) of great onomatopoeia words. So I took one for the team and gave up an afternoon to put all those lists into one comprehensive onomatopoeia word list. And POW!— I’m sharing it with YOU, our devoted GROG Blog Readers so that you may take advantage of it, too.

 

Find my list on this page on my website:  

https://www.eileenmeyerbooks.com/extras/

 

Note: I’m sure that YOU, our whip-smart blog readers may know some onomatopoeia words that I missed. If so, comment with additional words on this GROG post and I’ll add them to this handy listing. In a few weeks, I’ll reshare the document. Happy writing!


AND the winner of the picture book, SMELLY KELLY, by Beth Anderson is Angie Quantrell. Congratulations!