Monday, November 28, 2011

Walking off the turkey...and the pie...and the cranberry sauce...and the other pie...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you're anything like me, there are a few things that are certain about your weekend:

  1. A lot of food mysteriously disappeared from your kitchen around the same time someone shrunk all of your pants. How did that happen?
  2. Rather than busting it through all the Black Friday sales, you spent Friday blissfully unconscious in a series of naps with a note taped to your face: “If you attempt to wake me or otherwise ruin this glorious day off by asking me to be productive, bad things will happen. Back away slowly. You were never here.”
  3. The Sunday night blues set in as you realized that in a few short hours it would be Monday and this year’s Thanksgiving would soon be no more than a memory.
A good way to shake things up and get going again is to get outside! Get some fresh air! Bask in the splendor of nature! If you live in Atlanta, you can spend that time simultaneously basking and wondering, “How on earth is it still so WARM? I’m Christmas shopping in shorts and flip-flops!” You can also take advantage of all the great scenic and historical walks and trails in the metro area.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guest Post by Author Cynthia Levinson

Our debut author Cynthia Levinson wrote this post for the PiBoIdMo blog (that's Picture Book Idea Month for all you uninitiated), and we liked it so much that we wanted all of ya'll to get a chance to read it too!  You can also hop over to PiBoIdMo if you'd like to read it there, or check out their other articles.
I was so heartened to read Carol Hampton Rasco’s opening blog post on PiBoIdMo because she made two comments that really resonate with me. Well, she said one, and then she quoted a savvy but jaded six-year-old.
First, she noted that the top picture-book choice of teachers, reading specialists, and Reading is Fundamental volunteers is NONFICTION. That buoyed me because that’s what I write. In fact, my agent, Erin Murphy, has two of my nonfiction picture books under submission right now. The six-year-old, however, quickly brought me down to earth. As he peered at a terrific looking book, he said, “it doesn’t look like a true fact book, they’re usually boring.” That’s good news for the book he was enjoying but “aargh” for the others.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving! And What You Thought You Knew About Jingle Bells

I’ll admit Thanksgiving wasn't my favorite childhood holiday.  For starters, there aren't any presents.  OK, stop judging me!  Be honest, and you’ll have to agree that presents are pretty much the barometer for holiday excellence when you’re a kid. 

It didn’t help that I don’t like any of the food Thanksgiving is famous for.   No, really.  Not the cranberry sauce or the stuffing or the gravy or the dressing (which actually might be the same as stuffing, I’m not certain), or sweet potato casserole, or green bean casserole, or pumpkin pie.  I don’t even like turkey.  Most childhood Thanksgivings had me sitting at the kids’ table, eating a slice of dry turkey slathered in ketchup with a side of cocktail olives.  

Thanksgiving too often gets skipped over nowadays, with Christmas decorations going up at Macy’s in October and Christmas music on the soft rock station in early November.  But don’t think that I’m skipping out on Thanksgiving just because this book’s title is Jingle Bells—what you might not know is that the song ‘Jingle Bells’ was actually written for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NCTE Recap

Cynthia Levinson signing advanced reader's copies of We've Got a Job
Kathy and I showing off copies of We've Got a Job

Just wanted to mention that we had a great time at NCTE this year in Chicago!  We just got our first advance copies of We've Got a Job, which were snatched up immediately in our booth.  Debut author Cynthia Levinson presented on a social justice panel, and signed in the booth, and Lester Laminack was there as well, signing and presenting an anti-bullying campaign.

If you missed out on receiving a copy of We've Got a Job, the book will soon be available on NetGalley.  See you next year in Las Vegas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stand Up to Bullying!

Tomorrow is International Stand Up to Bullying Day.

I’m afraid we’re all too aware now of the widespread problem of bullying in schools and online.  Not that it’s a new problem—I think most of us can recall some painful school day moments—but it’s escalated in recent years to new and more tragic degrees.

In the good old days you would just get picked on by the swing set, or on the bus ride home, but with Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and a slew of other online apps, it’s all too easy for anonymous cruelty to take place.  

In This Girl is Different, Evie has been homeschooled by her free-spirited mother her whole life, but she craves an authentic high school experience.   She enrolls in the local public school for her senior year, but quickly discovers that real high school is a far cry from Saved by the Bell.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where do ideas come from?

Where do ideas come from? All around! Check out Melissa Stewart’s video about the inspiration for her nature books:

There’s no denying that fall has finally descended on us here in Atlanta and that winter is on the way. The temperature is dropping and every morning on my drive into work I see roads covered in crispy, crunchy brown, yellow and red leaves. Suddenly, it's not unusual to see people in scarves and jackets and there are advertisements everywhere for events coming up in December. For me, this is my happy time--I love fall and all the promise of winter holidays ahead!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blue Thirty-two, Blue Thirty-two, HUT HUT!

Okay, I have no idea what "blue thirty-two" means or if "HUT" is what they actually say down there on the field, but I love football and the competition of team sports. I particularly love the camaraderie and brotherhood of the team. Having never played on a football team, I can only imagine the warm fuzzies the guys must get knowing that their teammates have their backs. Okay, maybe not warm fuzzies, but some manly, scruffy version of warm fuzzies.

It takes a lot of hard work to become a team in the truest sense of the word. One of my alma mater's claims to fame is that 'Remember the Titans' was filmed in large part on our campus -- the scene in which the boys are called upon to tell Coach Boone something they've learned about another teammate is one of my favorite scenes. It shows the building blocks of teamwork and what it takes to invest yourself in those relationships. (It also helps your sense of teamwork if you have an awesome musical score playing in the background, but that's a post for another day.) Fred Bowen tackles (pun intended) these important lessons in his latest title, Quarterback Season.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Girls and Ponies

I was one of those annoying girls that grew up with my own pony.  In fact, I used to ride my pony around our ‘neighborhood’ (I use that term loosely, since I’m not sure five houses randomly plunked down along a dirt road really comprises suburbia), and sell wrapping paper, or cookies, or whatever we had to hawk for our school fundraiser.

When my sister and I weren’t racing our ponies around, we were playing with our horse figurines, or thumbing through the Dover Saddlery catalog, earmarking our favorite bridles (I wish I was exaggerating.  We were fairly boring kids).  Besides being a horse-crazy kid, I was also a voracious early reader, and had every copy of The Saddle Club and Thoroughbred series (my mom thought The Babysitter’s Club books were too racy).  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Make Butterfly Memories: A Guest Post By Author Sandra Markle

Sandra Markle, author of Peachtree's Butterfly Tree, posted these helpful activities on her blog.  They are so amazing, and such a great guide to using Butterfly Tree at home or in the classroom, I couldn't help but share them here with you!

You can read the original post here, on Sandra's blog, Write On!


The best memories are the times we share. So I developed these activities for children to enjoy while reading my book, Butterfly Tree (Peachtree Publishers, 2011).

First, the heart of this book is about making a memory—taking time to do something together you can remember sharing forever. Talk about and then write about a special time you remember sharing with someone.

*Where and when did it happen?

*What happened?

*What was the key moment of that shared time?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aunt Susan would be so proud!

Did you vote yesterday? It may not be a presidential election year, but yesterday we celebrated Election Day just as we have every year since 1845.  Well, almost as we have since 1845.  See, a whole lot has changed in our country and in our culture since then, and much of this change is more recent than you’d think.

One of the biggest changes came in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment which guarantees that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” 

Approving this amendment was a long and arduous process many years in the making. Our recent title, Marching with Aunt Susan, details one of the many rallies leading to this giant step toward gender equality in our country.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Margaret Mitchell!

Margaret Mitchell was an enigma in her day. Virtually unknown except for breaking convention as a socialite and as the first female reporter for the largest newspaper in the south, Mitchell's first manuscript was published almost in spite of her best intentions (After having given her manuscript to Macmillan publisher Howard Latham, she sent him a telegram reading "Have changed my mind. Send manuscript back.").  It went on to become one of the most popular novels in American history, selling over 30 million copies worldwide. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Turn Back the Clocks!

Tomorrow is the end of Daylight Saving Time!  Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour tonight and enjoy that bonus hour of snoozing.  Here are some sleep-centric Peachtree titles to get you in the mood for some extra Zs.

Please Don’t Wake the Animals
 Written by Mary Batten, Illustrated by Higgins Bond

All people sleep. So do all other mammals. Birds sleep, too. Even snakes, fish, and insects have a way of sleeping. How different animals sleep on land, in water, and in the air—and the special ways they do it—is the subject of this fascinating book for young readers.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Notes from the Litter box: Cats rule, Dogs drool

Hello my faithful readers! I’ve been away for a while but someone finally left a computer on overnight, allowing me to make my long-anticipated return to the blog! I’d have done so sooner, but do you know how hard it is to push a power button when you’re a cat? Really, my dependence on these humans is so frustrating at times. I’ll continue my futile attempts to distract them as they leave in hopes that they forget to switch everything off more often. I could get used to this computer being on--it makes a great heater for me to sleep on!

Remember how I said that a cat makes a better ‘man’s best friend’ than a dog? I just about flipped my lid when I saw this book: