Guest Post :: Patti Wheeler of Travels with Gannon & Wyatt

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  Where We Find Our Inspiration By Patti Wheeler, coauthor of Travels with Gannon & Wyatt This past year I have had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of elementary school children about my middle-grade adventure book series. Meeting with parents and teachers along the way, one of the first questions I’m always asked is what inspired me to write these books. The answer is similar, I think, to what a lot of writers would say if asked the same question: my life. I grew up in a small town in North Florida that most people have never heard of. My father was a truck driver. He drove routes all over the southeastern United States. Sometimes I got to ride along. I remember the first time I saw the Smokey Mountains. Those high, misty mountains seemed like a different world to me, and yet it was only a car ride away. It was those early trips that opened my mind to the … [Read more...]

Book of the Week :: What’s the Big Idea, Charlie Brown?

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Peanuts: Creative Inventors, Daring Explorers, Champions of Change. The Peanuts gang embarks on brand-new adventures highlighting the exceptional people who make America great!   American history is filled with heroes from every walk of life, and we want our kids to learn about them!  Who better to teach kids about American history and its heroes than the beloved Peanuts characters who have captured the hearts of generations? Little Patriot Press’s (a Regnery imprint) newest series of children’s books uses familiar storylines from the Peanuts canon to bring alive American history. Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang will teach children about what makes America strong and the lessons we have learned over the past 250 years.  What’s the Big Idea, Charlie Brown?, Where Are You Going, Charlie Brown?, and Who Cares, Charlie Brown? focus on inventors, … [Read more...]

Book of the Week: Millie Fierce Sleeps Out

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    Little girls can be strong and fierce and brave—and sometimes their ferocity is just the thing they need to save the day. Jane Manning wrote one of my favorite children's books I've reviewed over the past two years called , Millie Fierce, and she doesn't disappoint with her latest adventure with this rather fun-loving and feisty character.  Millie Fierce Sleeps Out is a sweet tale of a fierce little girl who knows that being too fierce can ruin parties or even make friends cry.  So she decided to keep herself fierce-free all summer long and was rewarded by her mother with promise of a sleep out.  Yes, a sleep over in her very own backyard!  She imaged it as adventurous as the Amazon jungle or even Mars!  There was so much to see and explore! Her best friend, Maya, was coming as was her cousin Lizzie.  She worked hard at planning this fun sleepover in … [Read more...]

Jimmy Osmond of the Osmond Family and Children’s Author

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      When Regnery Kids contacted me about reviewing Jimmy Osmond's children's book Awesome Possum Family Band I jumped at the chance.  I use to watch The Osmonds on TV and loved the Donny & Marie show so much. I was so enthralled with the crew, my mother had a friend who worked with them over at ABC (remember back in the day when there were only 12 stations?) and was able to get a signed photograph of them.  I can still remember how excited I was and the autographed photo was my prized possession for years! Talk about memory lane!  Jimmy is the youngest of the Osmond Family and shares his personal story of finding his special talent to bring to the Osmond Family band. As the youngest, Jimmy reached out to his older siblings to dabble in their special talents, but with no luck in finding his own. With the help and patience of his Mother, Jimmy was able to … [Read more...]

In the Spotlight :: Mary Kole of Kidlit

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    A few years ago I was introduced to Mary Kole at a Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators function. She had just graduated from college and was working as an Associate Agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.  Mary spoke to a room of children's writers about the children's book industry and what changes she saw within the industry and what we could do to get our work noticed and published.  She was very dynamic and you could tell she was going places!  Fast forward a couple years, and she now runs a website Kidlit.com that has inspired thousands of aspiring writers with articles on the writing craft and getting published. Writer's Digest named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers”  every year since its inception in 2009, and her success online led to a book on the art of writing novels for teens: WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT, out now from … [Read more...]

Get Your School Involved During National Young Readers Week November 11-15th

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  Next week is National Young Readers Week from November 11-15th.  Anything that supports a love of reading is always a good thing in my book. What I found intriguing about this week was that it was started by the President of Pizza Hut with the help of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress back in 1989.  The Book It website  states that the reason the President created National Young Readers Week was because his young son was having reading difficulties and was finding it difficult to get through his reading homework.  Boy can I relate to that!  We are experiencing this with our first grader and she is having some problems with phonics.  My husband and I both had some issues when we were in first and second grade as well so I guess it can run in families!  We are in the process of helping her get to where she needs to be so she doesn't get too frustrated. If you … [Read more...]

Spotlight on The Orange County Children’s Book Festival

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This coming Sunday the 29th is the Orange County Children's Book Festival and I will be attending in the Author's Booth section dressed in my pirate gear.  This festival holds a special place for me because years ago when we attended with my (then) three year old daughter - Penelope the Purple Pirate was just a dream and I was at the very early stages of writing the story and had yet to meet Paul Johnson, our Illustrator.  I still remember walking through the book festival looking at the authors selling their books and thought to myself that one day I will be here too, selling my book.  I didn't know when (or how) this would happen, but I was determined to make it a reality.  Fast forward four years and this is my third festival where I will showcase Penelope and now Gerry the Giraffe.  My daughter has been there with me the past few years which made it even more special as I was able to … [Read more...]

In the Spotlight :: #Storyappchat

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  Carisa Kluver of Digital Storytime, Brooks Jones, author of storybook app, I Don't Like Pink from PicPocket Books, and David Fox of Electric Eggplant created #storyappchat two years ago that acts as an online community and resource for people interested in writing or developing children's storybook apps. Most Sundays, you can find them on Twitter at 6 pm PST with the tag #storyappchat as well as on Facebook here.  But what is #storyappchat exactly?  It’s a weekly Twitter meeting for those interested in creating storybook apps and ebooks for kids. They talk about all aspects of the business, from the latest software tools to avoiding burnout. Most of their weekly visitors are either authors, illustrators, software developers, librarians, consultants, app reviews and parents.  I like that each week after their chat, they will provide a transcript on their website in case you … [Read more...]

Book of the Week: Boomerang Bear

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Stuart Trotter is turning out to be one of my new favorite author/illustrators! His book Boomerang Bear is part of the Eddy and Teddy Book series. Boomerang Bear is a really sweet story about a little boy who thinks he has become "too big for Teddy," so he throws him out his window. Yikes! Poor Teddy! But guess what? The Boomerang Bear comes back, and back and back. No matter where Eddy tries to get rid of him - he even tries flushing him down the toilet - the appropriately name Boomerang Bear always manages to reappear! The story is quite clever and we even Little Red Riding Hood brings Teddy back after Eddy left him in the dark woods, and when he tied him to a rocket ship - an alien in a spaceship brings him back.  Our personal favorite was when Eddy left him on the ghost train... and a friendly ghost brought him back that night!  This is an entertaining story for children … [Read more...]

Promoting Literacy

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As parents, most of us have heard how important it is to encourage a love of reading and writing early in our children’s developmental process.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. (Source: www.unesco.org). The key to literacy is ones reading development that begins with comprehension of spoken words and the ability to decode written words.  There are several tips that Literacy Connections.com has provided to encourage parents to become active in establishing a love of reading and writing in their children. Start to read to your children at a very young age.  You don’t need to wait until your child is old enough to be read to.  Literacy Connections recommends this habit … [Read more...]