Setting up for an all city celebration traps workers into all kinds of twists and turns.
Unfurling flags took hours.
Some workers didn’t stop until they saw stars!
Hope you had a memorable 4th! Tell me about it! :)
Setting up for an all city celebration traps workers into all kinds of twists and turns.
Unfurling flags took hours.
Some workers didn’t stop until they saw stars!
Hope you had a memorable 4th! Tell me about it! :)
It’s true, crazy people don’t write blogs. I’ve been crazy busy these last few days. We are changing staff people at CCSS, and I have answered emails, and tied up loose ends all week in the interim.
I got my signed contract for the History of Woodlake book yesterday, and I’ve also been scanning pictures like crazy, and posting them on three different Facebook Woodlake groups.
The pictures won’t win any awards, but when I post them on FB, people recognize their tia or tio (aunt or uncle), and other family members, and it’s a lot of fun. I taught the fourth grade bilingual class in Woodlake in the early 90s. Aren’t they adorable?
The pictures show the last bike trip we took before the helmet law for bicyclists went into effect around 1993 or 1994.
The goal was to get to location that hadn’t been disturbed by settlement, where a tribe of the Wachumna Indians, a sub-tribe of Yokuts Indians, lived in this area. The Yokuts, yes the ‘s’ is part of the name, was one of the largest tribes in North America. Food was plentiful, nutritious and easy to gather or hunt. However, not even missionaries or Spanish soldiers ventured this far east more than once or twice. Settlers from South Carolina discovered this area in 1853.
Kids enjoyed walking through a sort-of-cave and looking at the paintings left by the Wachumna.
The owner of this property, who is in his 80s, remembers seeing them down by Cottonwood Creek. It’s dry most of the year. It probably was then, too.
Wachumna women harvested the many oak trees in the area. Women of all ages sat around the large grinding rock and ground acorns. You can tell who sat where by the size of the holes in the rocks. Grandmas had very deep holes. You can clearly see the deep hole on the back right.
Too soon it was time to bike back to school.
Drivers followed in trucks or vans to pick up stray bikes and bikers that broke down along the way.
I biked behind them taking pictures and hoping that no one would have problems. And no one did. :)
The Fault in Our Stars residing in my Kindle is Laurie’s fault.
She read it and posted on Facebook how good it was. When my friend Laurie says anything, I listen because she is smart and fun. I immediately ordered the book on Amazon, and put it aside to read when I finished reading the boring book, Underworld a Novel.
The boringness of Underworld overwhelmed me on Saturday. Then thought hit me that the day was too beautiful, and life is too short to EVER be bored.
Saturday was one of those rare, partly cloudy, 85-90 degree, days in central California. Vince and I sat by the pool and visited. When we ran out of words, I opened The Fault in Our Stars; he snuck off to take a picture. The little blob by the pool slouched in the rocking chair with her legs spread apart like Grandma Morris, in her not-long-enough giant-flowered dresses exposing nylons that came up mid-thigh, is me. In my defense I am wearing a bathing suit, so my thighs should be exposed.
I’m laughing out loud at the audacity of this sixteen year old Hoosier (in the book). I am a Hoosier (from Indiana), and it was great reading about a kid that attended my high school, North Central, and drove badly on streets near my home. These three protagonist children all have cancer, but one of them is hot, hot, hot, according to the girl, Hazel.
Who names their kids Hazel? Grandma Morris had a sister, Great-Aunt Hazel, but really, does this author, John Green, know me or something? It’s so Hoosier.
In the book Hazel, age 16, has terminal cancer, and Augustus, the hot one, is cancer free after a leg amputation. They meet in a cancer support group led by an old guy (probably 21 or so) who is cancer free after losing his testicles, which he talks about at every meeting. The story bounces around from hilarious to sad, and I had just finished a particularly sad page when Melissa called. Melissa rarely calls me.
“You’ve got to call(a nameless friend of ours),” she orders. “Her brother and sister-in-law are both expected to die within a few hours, and I can’t reach mom so she can call. Could you please call her?”
My gut says, “This is not a good idea, Marsha Lee. You’re crying, two people are dying, and you’re supposed to… say what?”
I’m the emotional one. Melissa’s mom is the one who gets us out of our funk. I dial my friend’s number from memory. She is not there. I have to look up her cell phone. She answers after a few rings.
“Where are you?” I ask, not knowing what to say, tears lurking in my voice.
“I’m in Utah.”
“Who are you with?”
This is the most eloquent thing I could think of to say at this point. I’m off base because I know this “secret” about her brother and sister-in-law, but I don’t know if she is in on it. Tears well up in my throat. I can’t think, let alone talk. I wish I had listened to my gut.
“A couple of ladies from church.”
I’m at a complete loss. Does she or doesn’t she know? She doesn’t give me any clues. By this point in the conversation, the pent-up tears wailed out a little. It turned out that she knew.
“I’ll call you when I get back in ten days, and we can go to lunch,” she cut me short after I stumbled around some more.
“OK,” I replied and hung up. I never felt dumber and more useless.
Moral: When tears are in your eyes, wait to call.
Oh, and you’ve got to read The Fault in Our Stars. It’s amazing.
After I read Steven King’s, On Writing, I thumbed through his suggested reading list at the end of the book. Granted he published his book ten years ago, so these are not the most up-to-date books. Probably voracious readers have already heard of Peter Abrahams, but I started at the top of the alphabetized list, so I started reading his books. He does what I haven’t even come close to mastering. He writes descriptions, metaphors newer and fresher than clean socks, similes as puzzling as a Sudoku, which I never work out correctly no matter how much scratching I do along the sides. If I had to categorize Abrahams books, my guess is that they fit best as drama or mysteries.
In Lights Out Abrahams chose a wrongfully imprisoned, vengeful murderer as the hero. This poor man’s mother neglected him. His older brother set him up, lied to him and abandoned him, leaving “Nails” to serve his entire sentence in prison for something he never did. Of course, he killed a few bad guys in prison that picked on him, which kept him locked up. When he eventually emerged, looking younger and more fit than his outside colleagues, he looked for his errant brother. Nails seemed dumb, but you had a feeling he would solve the mystery of why he went to prison, and get the good-looking woman in the end. You wondered if his brother would get caught, and by whom. He did, but not in any way I would have expected, or chosen to read, for that matter, but it kept me reading. No matter what he did, Nails’ brother got an appropriate comeuppance, but not one you’d wish on your worst enemy.
Revolution #9, published in 1992, told the classic story of a smart woman marrying a man she thought she knew, and finding out on her wedding night that she didn’t even know his name, nor the people who came and took him away. The government thought they could close the twenty year old murder case when a counterfeiter blew Charlie’s cover in return for favors he would soon need again. No one had reacted with more surprise than Charlie when the bomb he had built and set under the building exploded, killing the eleven-year-old son of a professor at his college.
Running for his life, abandoned by the real terrorists, Charlie changed his identity, and took cover as a lobster fisherman. He laid low until he accidentally fell in love. When he married, news of Charlie’s reappearance twenty years later triggered many levels of events reaching into the depths of the government before the reader discovers the true perpetrators. But did they get away with it, and let Charlie live? Only those who read the book know for sure.
I also read Oblivion. Such a title that might have clued me in to the surprise, but it didn’t. It’s unclear by the end of the book if it actually has a resolved, happy ending. It’s sort of happy, but because of the oblivious, I’m not sure.
Petrov is an investigator who wins court cases for his clients. He’s dramatic and thorough, attacking each case with the tenacity of the locked door on my front loading washer. (That’s another story.) Somehow along the way, he loses his way, and ends up in the hospital, falls in love with the nurse, and ends up head to head against his past and another love. Abrahams packs more surprises into each chapter than I have had in my life. If you read it long ago, you may have forgotten all the turns and twists, but I doubt it.
If you haven’t read this trio of mysteries, treat yourself a few days of good reading this summer. :) What are you reading?
If you’ve never seen a tree so wide you can drive your truck through it, then you need to come to the Sequoia National Park. The Kaweah River surges down from the Sierra Nevada, through the Big Trees, forming the Delta where big agriculture lives in Tulare County.
The huge forests that attract thousands of tourists world-wide today, might have been wiped from the map before their secret was discovered were it not for the drama that unfolded in the mountains in the 1880s.
I met author, Jay O’Connell, in the Pizza Factory in Three Rivers on the day Sally Pace and I made ad sales calls for the Kiwanis Magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills.” I went home, and sure enough, I had his book, Cooperative Dreams A History of the Kaweah Colony, in my library, but to my loss, had never taken the time to read it.
“Three key issues of the nineteenth-century California history are illustrated by events at Kaweah.” The issues prominent in the 1880s, when the Kaweah Colony formed were: “land and its acquisition; labor and the organization of it; and conservation. … They are personified by three major characters in the drama of the Kaweah.” Charles Keller found the land, and knew it would be perfect to start the perfect cooperative colony. Burnette Haskell, son of none other than Eddie Haskell (not from Leave It To Beaver, but very much like him in personality) gave voice to the organized labor movement so prominent in those years. Finally, Visalia’s own “Father of the Sequoia National Park,” George W. Stewart championed conservation so effectively that the results surprised even him.
What I didn’t know was that there was such a mysterious aura around the often-told story. For fifty years even historians did not know how the park came to be included in a bill that originally reserved only a small portion of the trees for posterity. Even more amazing was the reason for including the magnificent trees in the preservation act.
O’Connell gently unfurls the story, introducing each character, using primary sources including letters, newspaper articles, and interviews of survivors of the colonies conducted in the 1940s by Tulare County historical expert, Joe Doctor, to authenticate his narrative.
As a student of local history, I found this fascinating, but California’s history, its dream belongs to the world as did the settlers that came in the 1800s.
A few weeks ago I read Breathing on Her Own published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas written by Rebecca Waters, a friend in a Facebook writers support group. This book struck a chord with me because one of my friends in Visalia has gone through much of the same trauma.
Breathing on Her Own doesn’t sound like a lightweight romance, and it isn’t. Waters walks us through the difficult healing process of a mother whose married adult daughter is paralyzed after a car accident. WARNING: Do not have unprotected sex if you think that parenting ends when your child leaves home at the end of… high school… college… when they get married…
Molly Tipton, an active church-goer and Christian, battles God as she goes through the healing process after the car wreck. Her daughter had been drinking, and the weather was bad. Who got the blame for the accident? God, of course. It was HIS bad weather that made the road slick. Well, maybe it was the “girlfriend” with Laney, she had always been a bad influence, but she died instantly, so it was hard to keep blaming her.
After the weeks Laney lingered in the hospital, Molly struggled through numerous changes and tribulations. That first night in the hospital watching her daughter struggle to breathe on her own, Molly never suspected that the caring officer, Officer Steadman, would later charge Laney with the manslaughter of one of her closest friends. Molly and her husband, Travis, shared responsibilities for Laney’s children as the road to recovery wound around Obstacle Mountain. When Laney left the hospital still unable to walk, Molly and her husband had hard financial decisions to make that threatened their retirement plans as they tried to help her daughter’s family cope with living with a disability.
Accidents are only a second away from any of us. As she reached out to help , Molly discovered that her own life needed overhauling.
I recommend this book. It’s an easy read, but then it’s not!
A few days ago I told you that I switched to iPage. The switching procedure takes ended up being more complicated than I thought it would to switch, but I wanted to save $200 or so. The service was great. Eva called me, and answered my call. However, I returned to WordPress because I had to transfer my own data to the hosting site. Because my paid membership expired, I couldn’t do that and take my pictures. I discovered that WP has a less expensive product to host the website, and give more room for storing my pictures. I jumped on that train, and I’m back in business at WP. For my simple purposes the $99 program is enough. Just thought I’d share.
Writing the romance novel in November, ushered me through a hidden door from a room I thought I knew well, the Writing Room. My scores on tests throughout my training and career in education, convinced me I knew how to write, spell, and that my knowledge of grammar probably out classed Strunk and White – a good argument against multiple choice tests.
A romance site that helps new writers write the genre of romance recommended Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I devoured every word, making more notes and highlights that I have ever made in my kindle. I noted vocabulary and description. He writes honestly without worrying who might be upset reading it, as long as it is true to character.
Stephen King started writing at about the same age I did, around age 10. I entered a writing contest looking for new talent. When the rejection slip came back, I wadded it up and threw it away. Not Stephen King. He began his lifelong collection of them. He nailed them to his wall, and counted them as a step up to the next level of achievement. What I learned from Stephen King is that you have to push yourself to publish. Eventually you learn what you are doing wrong, if you keep working at it. I wonder what might have happened if I had kept trying to publish my writing.
Stephen King’s advice shot me right in the forehead. In my first composing enthusiasm, I opened myself for the inevitable criticism that accompanies first drafts. (duh) I was so excited when I wrote Girls on Fire that I sent it to anyone who was kind enough to take a look when it was fresh off my fingertips. I discovered that it put one person to sleep, the grammar appalled another reader, and my main character had way too many character flaws. That’s all good information, but there was more eye-opening to come. After reading several books on how to write, I shudder because I know there are many MAJOR errors remaining after the fifth or sixth draft. Master writer, King operates differently. “Write with the door closed… When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. … Once you know what the story is and get it right – as right as you can, anyway – it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.”
“Let’s say you’ve finished your first (fifth or sixth, in my case) … If you have someone who has been impatiently waiting to read your novel… then this is the time to give up the goods … if, that is your first reader or readers will promise not to talk to you about the book until you are ready to talk to them about it.” (p. 210) Then he tells us impatient novice writers to let it sit at least six weeks before we start talking about it with the reader(s). Finally, it’s time to do the real editing work, most of which has to do with character motivation.
King noted when to ignore your first readers. “Some will feel Character A works but Character B is far-fetched. If others feel that Character B is believable but Character A is overdrawn, it’s a wash” (p. 216). Leave it be – yeah! Another hint, “As a reader, I’m a lot more interested in what’s going to happen than what already did” (p. 224). “Everyone has a history and most of it isn’t very interesting” (p. 227) (No wonder my reader fell asleep!)
King’s wise words made my fingertips itch, and my brain dry up for the moment while I try to absorb his advice. In my humble opinion, every new writer, and some of us experienced ones, should read this book.
I must be my father’s daughter since I can’t ever pass up the opportunity to get on board a ship, whether it goes somewhere or it doesn’t.
The USS Constitution is still a commissioned ship manned by humorous navy docents. I wonder if having a sense of humor comes as part of the package when one joins the navy. Most navy vets I know tend to have a “dry” sense of humor.
The first one told us about the upper deck and the construction of the ship, which is 10% original. The second deck docent instructed us on the daily lives of 500 sailors living on hard tack and grog.
Some of the visitors had difficulty with the height of the ceilings in the “day of sail.” These guys all adjusted in their own ways.
Hope you are having a great weekend. What are you doing this weekend? My friend’s son, Matt, is picking me up soon, and driving me to see more sites outside of Boston. :)
We visited the revitalized Visalia Electric caboose at Mooney Grove Park today.
Many of my Tulare County Historical Society friends asked me what I have done since I retired.
“Blah blah, and by the way I’ve written a book.”
“Oh, what kind?” Their eyes light up. (probably a history of something in Tulare County)
“A romance.” Their eyes unlight. “How nice.”
Writing a romance is not easy – even for dummies. I’ve read Writing Romance Books for Dummies book as part of my market research and learning process, and I’ve learned that there are so many different kinds of romances. Additionally, I learned that most of the readers are well-read, well-educated, intelligent females. “Jess!” This book is a great place to start if you are serious about writing, and it will help you avoid the pitfalls I fell into as I wrote, then maybe you wouldn’t have to spend so much time rewriting. I purchased a whole library of books for writers, but I’m not going to review them because, unless you are going to write books, you wont be interested in them. Besides I haven’t read them yet! hehe :)
Here is the list of romances I’ve read in the last month.
|Title & Author||Review|
|7||Waking Up Married, Mira Lynn Kelly||Connor meets and marries the girl of his dreams who spontaneously wore a tee-shirt with the words, “GOT SPERM?” sprawled across the font. When Megan woke up in Vegas married, and throwing up the drinks from the night before, she was ready to right the wrong immediately. However, Connor told her he wouldn’t give her a divorce until she tried the marriage. This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.|
|7||Hidden, Catherine McKenzie||This suspenseful romance begins with the accidental death of husband/friend, and reveals the depths of the lives his death devastated. The reader plunges from one point of view to another. It was confusing for the first few chapters because the author bounced back and forth in time as well. Nonetheless, it was a page turner. This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.|
|5||Killer Cupcakes, Leighann Dobbs||Lexy moved into her grandmother’s house right next door to a handsome investigator. Unfortunately, she became the object of his investigation when her former boyfriend died as a result of poisoning after eating her cupcakes. This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.|
|5||Cupid’s Curse, Kathi Daley||Zoe’s father falls in love with the wicked witch of the West, and when someone dies, Zoe steps out of her animal rescue business to help the police solve the murder. She determines that the wicked witch, not only killed the victim, but that her dad is in danger as well. The author keeps the reader guessing until the end to find out if her theory was correct. This definitely is categorized as a contemporary romance.|
|6||Bang! You’re Dead, Debra Salonen||With a heroine named Judy Banger, this can’t be anything but an erotic comedy. Poor Judy is old by romantic standards, but brings home an really old guy who treated her with respect and concern. They have graphic sex, and he dies. As much as this isn’t my kind of romance, if you could even call it that, it is very funny. This definitely can be categorized as a erotica, but leans heavily into comedy. It is contemporary as well.|
|3||Sneakers, Sandals, and Stilettos, Natasha Deen||I had to stop reading this book in the middle, and I lost interest and never went back to it. It might be great.|
|9||Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts||This suspense romance spins two romances. The primary romance blazes between daring, young, beautiful Rowan Tripp, lead “smoke jumper” and a rookie “smoke jumper.” The second, and less combustible romance develops around Rowan’s single parent/father, Iron Man Tripp, a retired “smoke jumper.” The nearly 500-page book moves swiftly through mishaps, murders, and near accidents. Amazingly, I solved the murder successfully, which is unusual for me. This definitely can be categorized as a contemporary romance.|
|7||Shotgun Bride, Linda Lael Miller||Kade McKettrick needed marry to please his father and earn the right to inherit his property, so he ordered six brides. By the time they arrived in early March, 1885, he had fallen in love with a feisty hotel clerk who worked for his sister-in-law. The two of them fought through many rugged, wild-west adventures fighting off bad guys, and nearly getting killed. This book had two other minor romances brewing at the same time, and several tragedies. I never realized there were so many cowboy romances until I read the Writing Romance book. This was my introduction to this genre.|
About fifty percent of books written today are romance. Romance sells, and even if the book is classified as a different genre, there is usually some romance woven into the plot. The books listed above classify as romance first, and historical or suspense second. I hope this ream of romance reviews helps you pick out your next good read. But save room in your romance-reading schedule for Girls on Fire when it comes out! :)
I have the fortune to be going to the historic city of Boston on social studies business. I’m extending my stay since I have never been there, and live in CA, so I’ll be there from April 1-8 then on to Philadelphia and Delaware from April 8-15. Thanks to Google Images for all the pictures.
I’ll be arriving at 11:00 p.m., so I’m sure the city will look beautiful. For me it will just be 8:00. I’ll be raring to go! However, I’m alone, so I’ll get settled in my hotel, and maybe write a post or two with Manny. The good news is that I’m going to get to visit blogger friend, Eunice at NutsForTreasure while I’m there.
I investigated a couple of blogs. Free choices of interesting sights to see abound. Many friends told me to walk the Freedom Trail which starts at the Visitor Information Center in the Common.
I must see the Mapparium, a walk-in, three-story-high, stained glass globe.
I’ll enjoy visiting the Museum of Fine Arts free on Wednesday after 4:00 p.m. If I tour the Samuel Adams Brewery from 10:00-3:00 beforehand, will I have more fun, or fall asleep on the floor? zzz
Maybe I should explore the Massachusetts State House the war ship, USS Constitution, and the Old North Church instead. Most of them open at 10:00 also. I’ll have plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast while I get used to the three hour time difference.
If you have been to Boston, or lived here, what would you suggest for me to see, or are you a blogger friend who lives there?
Large or small, I like social studies conferences. Teachers starve for social studies professional development because it differs from other subject area conferences.
The social studies include four core subject areas: geography, economics, history and civics.
The activity we did at the N. CA conference this weekend had us identifying where and when pictures had been taken. Each group of 4 had two different pictures. This particular activity showed change over time in Germany.
Now I understand a little piece of my grandfather’s life a little better.
At the other conference we Skyped author/scholar, Allyson Hobbs from Stanford, also sponsored by Glider Lehrman Institute who studied the effects of African-Americans who passed for white, and what they missed from their black culture by giving up their identities. Can you imagine giving up/turning your back on who you are? She made it personal.
We heard Major General Patrick Brady tell us that people may not have equal opportunities, but we all have access to as much courage as they want. The more we use, the more we have.
We met political cartoonist, Lalo Alcaraz who has one of his paintings hanging from the wall of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor
Where else but a social studies conference can you rub elbows with people who played a part in exciting events you read about in the news?
Intensity sparked like electricity during a Power of Democracy Task Force meeting. Where can you get direct contact with legislators, Department of Justice, and Department of Education at the same time?
We honored our best and finest social studies teachers at the awards program – AKA Emmys. Twitterers tweeted during the conference.
Brent won a bicycle at the membership booth. Exhibitors gave free stuff to everyone. Best of all teachers connected with other teachers and shared ideas.
Next March we go to Oakland. The National Conference will be in Boston in November. California Council Needs YOU! If you teach history-social studies in CA, please join us.
Blue sky and 75 degrees made today a tourist-magazine perfect day to look for Cal’s Used Bookstore, located with great difficulty at 5240 Westside Road in Redding, CA back behind rows of what looked like Storage Wars.
While it isn’t Powell’s Used Books in Portland, Oregon, owner, Carl, filled several rooms with many genres of used books, and seemed knowledgeable about them all. He walked me through the romance section, saving me hours of tedious looking.
It was hard to compare the numbers of books in both the new and the used bookstores. What is interesting about a used bookstore is which books come back to be resold, and how long they stay on the shelf. Carl arranged his books in alphabetical order, but highlighted more authors, by setting the books on a little shelf (or book) and piling them up, spine showing.
He pointed out authors that sold well, so I bought four books at $3.50 each. He told me that books by J.R. Ward flew off the shelf faster than any others, and so he only had a few of her books. I bought her book, Envy, published in 2001. She is a #1 NY Best Selling Author. Paranormal romance currently sells well.
Traditional romance books by Debbie Macomber, author of Back on Blossom Street published in 2007, come back into the store by droves.
Robyn Carr sets her stories in local venues, which draws readers in this area to her books.
Carl showed me where to find children’s books, then left me to enjoy them by myself. I found VERY few fiction picture books. Early readers and early teen books prevailed. Cal’s stocked mostly non-fiction science and social science children’s picture books. Of the fiction books available, one earned the Caldecott Honor, John Henry by Julius Lester, pictures by Jerry Pinkney, published in 1994. -mint condition. I’m guessing that it is around 2,000 words, which makes it almost 4 times as long as The Australian Writer’s Centre suggested length for picture books. This book cost me $4.50, and is $14.36 at Amazon. However, I might never have bought it at Amazon because there are so many choices, whereas, it was the only Caldecott Award winning book at Cal’s.
The other book I purchased, Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, who also wrote Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type which is a Caldecott Award winner, and one of my favorite books. It still had it’s $0.98 price tag on the spine and I paid $3.50 for it. :)
My analysis of the situation is that once people purchase picture books, they either wear them out, hand them down, or keep them until they have grandchildren. Most do not come back for resale unless they are not very good. On the other hand, people reuse paperback books. These sold for $3.50, about the same price as the hardback copies of the children’s books, almost half of their retail value, $7.19 paperback or $5.38 Kindle. I learned that authors do not get any more than name recognition from the sale of used books.
So where do you get your books?
When I went to Barnes and Noble in Fresno to check out the competition in romance novels and children’s books, I looked through the new lens of market research instead of Common Core Standards.
Most of the romance books lined one aisle filed alphabetically by author’s last name. Commonly the bookstore displays the titles spine out. Occasionally an author earned the right to face cover out.
Barnes and Noble displayed more Nora Roberts books than any other author. Since I had never read one of her books, I found one in another display of bargain books, a hardback book selling for $6.98, originally $27.85. What’s interesting for the neophyte author is how many books there are, and how few of them are actually spotlighted.
It was easier to read in the children’s section, so I spent the most time in that section. It intrigued me how few of even the spotlighted books were what I would consider “great reading.”
I stayed three hours in the bookstore until I got hungry, and in that time read, took pictures and made notes on about 20 picture books as well as the romance books. In that time probably three or four children came with their parents to read. A clerk stayed close by to help them find books, and she talked to me about the children’s birthday bonus I could sign up to receive.
Out of the many, many children’s picture books available, only a very small percentage of authors made it to their own shelves. Many of these are books that are common household words, like Dr. Seuss, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. One can find some classics in several different places around the bookstore. Packed into the back corner, one bookshelf housed prized picture books by age level.
You can see Eric Carle’s books on the bottom for the very young. Next are the oldest pre-school aged books. I read two of them, one I liked and one I didn’t. Days later I saw a wordless cartoon telling the story of Flying Books by William Joyce. I thought it needed words, but I had read the book. At the very top, out of reach sat books for two year olds. My favorites were in the younger stories. I especially enjoyed The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen. This story began, “The dark lived in the same house as Laslo.” What a catching first line, then the story unfolded from “dark’s” point of view. “Sometimes the dark hid in the closet…” These were among the best I read.
I read books from the less advertised sections. I chose a book by Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Welton Hamilton because they offered an online class on writing children’s literature. The Fairy Princess Sprinkles in the Snow had all the glitz a little girl would want. It seemed long, but I didn’t count words. The book centers around a spoiled little girl who wants to be in the concert but was not chosen. It seems contrived and didactic in places to me, but Julie Andrews wrote it, so how awful could it be?
I also noted publishers, and published dates, award-winning books. I photographed book jacket marketing statements, and purchased my favorite books. When I came home, I looked for my favorite authors online, and friended them on Twitter and Facebook if they were available. Now I am a veritable expert on the market for romance and picture books. Onward to getting ready to publish and hit the shelves.
Oops, where’s that book by what’s her name, Marsha somebody?
I joined a writing group called “My 500 Words”. The goal of the group is to write 500 words each day. Obviously, my writing slacked off the week of our big California Council for the Social Studies conference.
The prompt for today is to copy a favorite from the classics and try to emulate the style. When I did my day of market research in the bookstore, I looked at children’s books. I loved the book, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, written in 1993. (That’s a classic, isn’t it?)
Chester Raccoon stood at the edge of the forest and cried.
“I don’t want to go to school,” he told his mother. “I want to stay home with you. I want to play with my friends. And play with my toys. And read my books. And swing on my swing. Please may I stay home with you?
Mrs. Raccoon took Chester by the hand and nuzzled him on the ear.
“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently. Even if they seem strange and scary at first. But you will love school once you start. You’ll make new friends. And play with new toys. Read new books And swing on new swings. Besides,” she added. “I know a wonderful secret that will make your nights at school seem as warm and cozy as your days at home.”
Chester wiped away his tears and looked interested. “A secret? What kind of secret?”
“A very old secret,” said Mrs. Raccoon. “I learned it from my mother, and she learned it from hers. It’s called the Kissing Hand.”
“The Kissing Hand?” asked Chester. “What’s that?”
“I’ll show you.” Mrs. Raccoon took Chester’s left hand and spread open his tiny fingers into a fan. Leaning forward, she kissed Chester right in the middle of his palm.
Chester felt his mother’s kiss rush from his hand up his arm, and into his heart. Even his silky, black mask ringed with a special warmth…
So I wrote my version, The Eskimo Kiss by Marsha Ingrao 472 words
Misty Rabbit stood outside Tree House School and cried.
“I don’t want to you to go away,” she told her friend. “I want you to stay here. I want to hop along familiar roads, play and be friends. And talk about growing up. And eat giant carrot burgers and drink chocolate malts. And ride bicycles together. Please stay.
Rusty Raccoon took Misty by the foot and nuzzled her ear.
“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” he told her gently. There will be roads for us to hop along again. But we both have to follow our families now.”
“You are going to school. You’ll learn to write books. And make author presentations. And shake feet with lots of new friends who buy your books. Besides,” he added. “I know a wonderful secret that will make your days at home seem as warm and cozy as our school nights together.”
Misty wiped away her tears and looked interested. “A secret? What kind of secret?”
“A very old secret,” said Rusty Raccoon. “I learned it from my mother, and she learned it from hers. It’s called the Eskimo Kiss.”
“The Eskimo Kiss?” asked Misty. “What’s that?”
“I’ll show you.” Rusty Raccoon spread his fingers on both sides of Misty’s face. Leaning forward, he gazed into her eyes, rubbed her nose with his nose.
Misty felt her friend’s Eskimo Kiss rush from her nose down her neck, and into her heart. Even her long ears tingled pink.
Rusty Raccoon smiled. “Now,” he told Misty, “whenever you feel lonely and need a little love, just touch your nose, and think, ‘Rusty loves you. Rusty loves you.’ And that very touch will jump from your nose and fill you with yummy thoughts.”
He took Misty’s foot and carefully held it over the kiss. “Now, be careful. Don’t lose it,” he teased her. “Don’t worry. When you wash your face, I promise the Eskimo Kiss will stick.”
Misty loved her Eskimo Kiss. Now she knew her friend’s love would go with her wherever he went. Even to school without him.
That night, Misty stood in front of her friend, and looked thoughtful. Suddenly, she turned to her friend and grinned.
“Come closer,” she told him.
Misty placed her front feet on both sides of Rusty’s face. Next she leaned forward rubbed her friend’s nose with hers.
“Now you have an Eskimo Kiss, too,” she told him. And with a sweet “Good-bye” and “I love you,” Misty turned and danced away.
Rusty Raccoon watched Misty Rabbit hop over a jumbo rock and across the meadow. And as Rusty scampered in the opposite direction, he stopped and pressed his hand to his nose and smiled.
Misty’s Eskimo Kiss filled his heart with warm words.
“Misty loves you,” his heart rang. Misty loves you.”
A Kissing Hand was the most touching of the books I found this week, but there were several others that I liked as well.
Mommy’s Little Monster by Dawn McNiff, illustrated by Kate Willis-Crowley will capture your heart, too. No one can hate these monsters. Tiny Troll’s mom is going to a party without him. You should see his look, and even more, his toys! Mommy gets ready, and if you’ve ever wondered what a troll does to doll herself up, wonder no longer. She even slimed her scales! Wait till you see her purse! Off she went, and in comes Mrs. Hagi, the babysiter. Tiny Troll’s poor toy slug slammed against the wall. Such a temper! Mrs. Hagi knows just what will make him better, but doesn’t force it on him. He smells warm mudmilk from the swamproom. Soon he and Mrs. Hagi were enjoying more mudmilk than his mother EVER allowed him to have, and Tiny Troll, the happy toddler, fell fast asleep. When his mommy came in to kiss him good night, “her bristles smelled of mold again.” Best of all she brought him a bag of rotten worms from the party. Life is TOO good!
The Day the Crayons Quit, another favorite of mine by Drew Daywalt illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, had me in stitches. And I finished my quilt!
Duncan liked to color. The crayons had some complaints. They each wrote him a letter. Tired Red needed a rest after Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Purple expressed his irritation with Duncan’s out of the line coloring. Beige clarified his identity. Gray discussed the elephant in the room. White felt invisible while black tired of always being an outline, and wanted to be a beach ball instead. Proud Green turned out to be a tattle tale. Orange and yellow fought about which one of them more accurately represented the sun. Broken Blue couldn’t see out of the box. Diva Pink complained that he never came close to her. She was such a mouth, that one couldn’t blame poor Duncan. Peach, peeled bare, wanted clothes. Duncan solved their problems in the last picture in his book.
Old women laughing in the children’s book section of Barnes and Noble seems weird, but if you go there and read this book, sneak into a corner. All people will see are your shoulders shaking. :)
No David! by David Shannon appealed to me, but my husband thought it was too stupid for publication. Sorry David. He probably didn’t want to fess up to being just like David as a kid. The text is stupid, I have to admit, but the drawings, complete with David’s finger in his nose made me laugh.
So what books are your favorite children’s books that you and your children have enjoyed over the years?
Today I spent several hours at Barnes and Noble in Fresno doing market research for both picture books and romance. I’ll describe that experience later. Tonight I want to share the most touching book I have read, The Kissing Hand. Written in 1993, I missed it since I stopped teaching kindergarten in 1985, so it was new to me today.
Chester Raccoon does not want to go to kindergarten. His wise mother tells him that we all have to do things we don’t want to do, but has a secret to share with him.
Chester stops crying long enough to check out the secret. Mom kisses his palm and tells him that he can touch his face with his hand and get the kiss any time he feels lonely or afraid.
Chester loves his hand. In the end Chester takes his mother’s hand and leaves her with a kissing hand to treasure in his absence. Mom loves his gift and needs it as much as he did.
Trying to limit my books to 500 words is torture. I was sure this emotional tale used many more words, but no, Penn packed tremendous love into merely 488 words. However, at the end is a letter from the author, a must read for adults. It turns out that this story stemmed from her experience observing a mother raccoon and her baby in the wild. Mommy Raccoon actually imprinted her scent on baby in a touching move as the illustrations show us, twenty years later.
My goal is to write something this touching and helpful. You must give this book to someone you love, and need to leave, no matter what their age. The Kissing Hand – remember it!
People love animals. Popular picture book writers use this adoration. Children and adults alike identify with real and stuffed animals. One of my writing groups asked the question, “If you were an animal, what kind would you be? Why?”
I love dogs, cats, and guinea pigs because they have been my favorite pets.
This prompt reminded me of teaching strategy called Four Corners we practiced in a teacher training seminar. Each corner had a white piece of poster paper with the name of the animal written at the top. Participants went to the corner that represented the animal with which they most closely identified: gorilla/monkey, lion, snake or rabbit.
I chose rabbit because none of the others appealed to me. As we defended our choices with other participants who had chosen the same animal, I developed an affinity with the rabbit.
First we listed characteristics of the animal we chose, real, stuffed and pictures. Here are my random thoughts today.
In the next part of this exercise we determined which of the other three animals would be OUR most fearsome enemy and why. Our group determined that lions were probably most dangerous to the rabbits since they are avid carnivores.
Finally we decided which animal would make the best ally. I can’t remember which we chose, but personally I would prefer an alliance with a monkey or gorilla and not a snake. Snakes can travel on and under the ground as well as hang from trees. If I am enjoying my underground home, I don’t want a snake slithering in on me in the middle of my private family moments. I’m not sure that I would trust a large hungry snake not to mistake me for a mouse, and try to eat me for dinner.
I hate to admit it, but I am prejudiced against reptiles because they don’t have fur. Mammals are more my type. I identify better with critters with feet, since mine are so lucky.
A monkey, however, is crafty and smart, like me, but has the agility of swinging from trees. The monkey could help me watch out for dangers from above, while I protect him or her from things on the ground.
As a girl with a harelip, I couldn’t help but choose the rabbit group. As a child, I never felt ugly because of my mouth unless some rude stranger pointed it out. I had far more serious physical failings that caused me great pain as a young teen. I wore a triple A padded bra. :) I didn’t need my harelip to feel insecure.
So if you too have had physical failings, I’ll leave you with a famous quote from the Velveteen Rabbit, that I find heartening.
“Once you are real, you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.”
Which animal would you be, or would you choose a different one altogether?
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