DYK the traditional 10th anniversary gift is tin? You know, the stuff used to make green beans cans and Dorothy Gale’s heartless friend. I know. It surprised me too.
Then I did a little digging about what makes tin so special. Turns out, tin has a lot going for it.
Tin is pliable, flexible and adaptable. G’head—Roll it! Spin it! Extrude it!
Tin protects other metals like steel from corrosion and boat bottoms from barnacles. (I mean, who wants bottom barnacles?)
Tin may be weak on its own, but it can be tintastic when it is alloyed with other metals in materials like bronze and pewter.
And you know what, my little sugar crystals? You and I are a lot like tin. We creatives need to adapt and be flexible in order to learn, grow and develop our skills.
By offering empathy and encouragement to one another, we help to protect one another from the corrosion of disabling discouragement.
And when we “alloy” ourselves (work together), our strength is multiplied. How is that not tin-tastic?
[BONUS info: One other way we’re like tin—did you know when a bar of tin is bent, it makes a crackling “cry”? Who knew metal could get emo? We can all relate to that when we’re hunched over in despair or disappointment.]
My wee tin cups of tenderness, I cannot thank you enough for your TEN years of you being you-ness. Your encouragement, participation, comments, willingness to be my guest from time to time, and kind words have made my life sweeter by tenfold. To thank you, I’m offering my finest giveaway in a decade.
Enter to win an extra special, one-of–a-kind 10th anniversary memento designed to serve as a source of encouragement. I’ll include extra goodies too—like a coupon for critique of up to TEN pages of your work. To enter, leave a comment on this post by Friday, December 16/10:10 p.m. (EST).
When I left Queen’s, my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I am going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes – what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows – what new landscapes – what new beauties – what curves and hills and valleys farther on. ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl’s parents stop suddenly when they spot something growing in a ditch by the side of the road…watercress!
With an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail-covered plant as they can.
At first, it’s embarrassing. Why can’t her family get food at the grocery store?
But when her mother shares the story of her family’s life in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged.
Together, they make a new memory of watercress in this tender storyinspired by the author’s childhood memories and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Jason Chin.
(Description source: Jacket flap, WATERCRESS by Andrea Wang)
Here we are, Thanksgiving Week, and I am feeling so grateful for time to chat with my extra special guest–Andrea Wang!
Andrea is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster (APALA Honor, PW starred review) and Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando (JLG Gold Standard Selection, Sakura Medal, Freeman Book Award Honor, SLJ starred review). She has two books releasing in 2021: Watercress (JLG Gold Standard Selection, starred reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, PW, Horn Book); and The Many Meanings of Meilan, her debut middle grade novel. Her work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. She is also the author of seven nonfiction titles for the library and school market. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in the Denver area with her family.
Welcome, Andrea. Thank you for stopping by Frog on a Dime. I’m so excited! Let’s hop right in and talk about your latest picture book WATERCRESS . . .
I see you dedicated WATERCRESS in memory of your parents and described them as “immigrants and inspirations.” In what way did they inspire you?
It takes an enormous amount of courage to give up everyone and everything you’ve ever known to go live in a place where you don’t speak the language, all in pursuit of a better life for yourself and your family. Finally understanding the hardships and sacrifices my parents made inspired me to not only pursue my dream of writing, but also to be vulnerable and emotionally honest in my writing.
What do you feel is gained when parents and grandparents open up to their children/grandchildren about family history and memories?
I talk about this in my Author’s Note, so I thought I’d share that part of it here: “…it’s important, too, for children to understand their family history. Perhaps if I had known about the hardships they had faced, I would have been more compassionate as a child. Maybe I would have felt more empathy and less anger. More pride in my heritage and less shame. Memories have the power to inform, to inspire, and to heal.”
Those are great insights, Andrea. Thank you.
What do you hope young readers take away? What about parents? Teachers?
I hope all readers see that, no matter where you are from or how you identify, we all share a common humanity. You may not be a child of immigrants or have had to pick food from the wild, but everyone has felt embarrassment, shame, and the feeling of not belonging. The emotions in WATERCRESS are universal. We need to be kinder to each other, to reach for understanding rather than react out of ignorance.
No surprise, next I’d like to ask a few questions on behalf of my fellow writers, okay?
How long after you wrote WATERCRESS did you feel ready to share it with anyone?
In its current form, I think I shared the manuscript with a few critique partners right after I wrote it. Mostly, I wanted to get their feedback about what they thought it was–just a poem, or could it be a picture book? They thought I should send it to my agent immediately, so that’s what I did. But it took me about eight years to write this version of WATERCRESS and I did share those previous versions with critique partners, so it was an iterative process, like writing always is.
I’m so glad you persevered–and that you listened to your critique partners!
What was your approach to this autobiographical story compared to previous manuscripts?
I don’t know that I’d call it an “approach,” because that sounds like I went into this project with a plan and that’s not how it was at all. The first version of this story was in the form of a personal essay for adults, which I thought would be a good format since I was using my own memories as material. But that piece didn’t really work, so I rewrote it years later as a fictional picture book. That version was from a 3rd person POV and it was better, but too long and lacking an emotional heart. Several more years later, I found the perfect mentor text (A DIFFERENT POND by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui) and revised the manuscript again, returning to 1st person POV and paring away every single word that felt extraneous, so that it came out in free verse.
Your use of spare text meant you needed to lean on the illustrator, Jason Chin, to communicate for you at times, including one of the story’s most poignant scenes. That’s a challenge for many picture book writers. How did you reach to that level of trust?
While I was writing this free-verse version of Watercress, I honestly wasn’t thinking about the illustrator or the illustrations at all. I was writing for myself, and I knew exactly what I meant by each line. I did consciously add a couple of clues (“Mom never talks about her China family,” and “Mom never told us what happened to him.”) leading up to that scene you’re referring to, so the reader is primed for the reveal. I also went back and made sure that every description in the text conveyed character, emotion, and/or setting that was necessary to the story. Everything else got pared away. I would advise PB writers to write illustration notes in their first drafts, then go back to each note and ask if it’s really necessary to the story. Does it add depth to a character, convey emotion, or establish atmosphere? Would the story and the reader suffer if the information was omitted? If not, then delete! If yes, then try to work the information into the text using vivid verbs, metaphors, and adjectives. I always aim to not have any illustration notes in my manuscripts.
Thank you, Andrea. If I’m ever brave enough to attempt another picture book, I’m going to follow your brilliant advice!
And now, one last question, this time for my curious foodie friends . . .
Do you prepare watercress now for your family?
In WATERCRESS, the family eats the vegetable stir-fried, which is how I prefer it. I don’t follow a formal recipe since it’s so simple, but this is how I make it:
1-2 tsp cooking oil
1 bunch fresh watercress, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, sliced
toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
In a wok or large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high to high heat. Add garlic and stir quickly with a spatula.
After a few seconds, add the watercress and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes, until the watercress has changed color and the stems are tender.
If the bottom of the wok runs dry, a couple of tablespoons of water can be added to keep the vegetables from scorching.
Add salt to taste and transfer to a serving dish.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!
Andrea, thank you so much. It’s been a delight and an honor to have you as a guest today.
A Bonus Thanksgiving Surprise! Win a Copy of WATERCRESS!
As an expression of thanks, Frog on a Dime invites you to enter for a chance to win your very own personalized copy of WATERCRESS, signed by both Andrea Wang and Caldecott honoree Jason Chin.
TO ENTER, simply leave a comment below.
The names of THREE lucky winners will be drawn at Noon on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25.
The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon. ~ Paulo Coelho
Oh what a pleasure it is to proclaim the winner of this year’s Summer Open House giveaway drawing.
Congratulations go to Lori McElrath-Eslick! You will receive your very own, one of a kind doodle, personalized with your initials or those of someone you love.
Please send me a message with your preference and mailing address, and I will get to doodling!
Heartfelt thanks go to everyone who entered the drawing. Your comments and kindness are most appreciated. I will think of you as I doodle more curlicues, spirals and paisley patterns. I hope you will doodle away the summer too!
Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~ Ray Bradbury
December birthdays can be bummers for some, I suppose. But Frog on a Dime is fine with a sidebar birthday. It’s still fun to celebrate! And the best part, my darling dangling participles? The best part is the birthday giveaway! This year’s prize package is filled with all manner of goodies sure to solicit “Oh, wow!”s from the lucky recipient.
Might that lucky duck be you?
To enter Frog on a Dime’s 7th Birthday Celebration giveaway, leave a comment with this blog post (or with the Facebook post). Your comment MUST INCLUDE your favorite (or least favorite) 7-letter word.
The day for the drawing giveaway is Lucky Friday, December 13 at 6 p.m. (Eastern Time). Can’t wait!
I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ~ Ovid
Summer may be slip-sliding away, but there’s still time for my blog’s seasonal giveaway.
To enter, all you need to do is comment on this or any post on my blog. Tell me your favorite summertime thing to do when you were a kid. That’s it!
Deadline: Noon on Wednesday, August 14. So hurry!
Your Prize Package will include:
Journal to Capture Sparks of Brilliance On-the-Go
One of a Kind Doodle with Your Initials in It
Manual Thought Generator (aka a Slinky!)
Disclaimer(s):No purchase necessary (or even an option). Shipping & handling included. Safe when used as directed. Do not submerge. Batteries not included. Dryclean only. Frog on a Dime is furnishing this Prize Package “as is.” None of the authors, contributors, agents, editors, miscreants, vandals, ambidextrous nose miners, or anyone else connected with Frog on a Dime, in any way whatsoever, can be held responsible for your (mis)use of the contents of the Prize Package. Remain seated until the ride has come to a complete stop. Do not refrigerate after opening. Contents may settle during shipment. Prize Package sold by weight, not by volume. Frog on a Dime does not provide any warranty of the item(s) whatsoever, whether expressed, implied, or statutory (whatever that is), including, but not limited to, any warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or any warranty that the contents of the item will be error-free (because). Use at your own risk. Subject to approval. Driver does not carry cash. No substitutions. Do not fold, staple or mutilate. Some restrictions apply (but you can’t make me say what). Void where prohibited. Employees must wash hands. For off-road use only. All terms and conditions shall be rendered null and void on a whim. If state laws apply to you, some or all of the above disclaimers, exclusions, or limitations may not apply to you and you may have additional rights. (Go You!) I know you are but what am I. This tag may not be removed except by the consumer under penalty of law. (Ooo, scary!) See store for details.
Congratulations to Linda Geiger! You are the winner of the Frog on Dime 6th Birthday prize package.
You will receive:
Your very own, one-of-a-kind doodle, made by yours truly, with your initials incorporated into the design.
A brand new notebook to capture your shiny ideas in the new year.
An assortment of creativity-inducing treats.
A 10-page critique of the manuscript of your choice.
My heartfelt thanks go to everyone who entered. I am deeply grateful for all of your kind, encouraging words. You gave me such a boost to hop into Frog on a Dime’s 7th year! You’re the best, my little cranberry tarts!
Linda, please provide me with your mailing address via the Frog on a Dime Contact Page. Then, be ready to receive your prize parcel! Congratulations!
If you chase anything in life chase the things that get you excited about living. Chase the things that give you hope, happiness and a glimpse of a better life. Chase the things that make you want to be a better person. Chase the things that inspire you to think, create and live joyfully. Chase the things that reinforce in your soul that you can make a difference. Chase the things that make you want to transform your heart from selfish to selfless. When you chase that kind of storm you are chasing rainbows. ~ Shannon L. Alder
I held my breath and with a shaky finger clicked “Publish” for my first post in December 2012. My intent was to fill a niche nothing else could–much like that little frog on a dime. I wanted to offer my own brand of encouragement, and maybe help you laugh and learn a bit along the way. Not exactly lofty goals, but to me, worth pursuing. I am delighted to have reached the six-year mark and will do my best to continue to add warmth and light to your day, my little blueberry scones.
To thank you for your kindness, comments and the encouragement you have given me over and over again, I want to give you an opportunity to win a thank you prize!
Enter for your chance to win this entire parcel o’ prizes:
*** Your very own, one-of-a-kind doodle, made by yours truly, with your initials incorporated into the design.
*** A brand new notebook to capture ideas in the new year or fill with your own doodles and drawings.
*** An assortment of creativity-inducing treats.
*** A 10-page critique of the manuscript of your choice.
Six quick-as-a-wink ways to enter!
Become a new follower of Frog on a Dime. (Sign up via the home page.)
Invite a friend to visit Frog on a Dime.
Comment under this post on Facebook.*
Like and retweet this post on Twitter.
Share a comment, suggestion or question on this post below.*
*Your brilliant suggestions for future post topics, your writing-related questions or nominations for guest bloggers are especially welcome.
ENTER BY MIDNIGHT (EST/US) ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7.
The Lucky Winner’s name will be selected on Saturday, December 8.
Whichever season you’re in, rejoice and celebrate your life as you might not experience it twice. ~ Joan Ambu
That’s according to my husband, the cherry pie fanatic. We have vacationed in its vicinity many times, typically in Frankfort, MI, and I am sure the allure, beyond the peaceful atmosphere, gorgeous scenery and beautiful beaches, is being in easy driving distance to aforementioned Center of the Universe.
Now, if you’ve driven all the way to Frankfort, and spent time in Beulah, you might as well stop at another special spot in neighboring Benzonia, home to the one of a kind print shop of the late author and artist Gwen Frostic.
I’ve lived in Michigan all my life and visited Ms. Frostic’s unique printmaking shop a few times. Because I share her love of art and nature, I’ve also enjoyed her writings, and sending her lovely block prints, cards and stationery for years. But to be honest, I never really knew a lot about her as a person. That is, until now, thanks to a lovely new non-fiction picture book from Sleeping Bear Press–NATURE’S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY written by Lindsey McDivitt and illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen.
The art and writing of Gwen Frostic are well known in her home state of Michigan and around the world, but this picture book biography tells the story behind Gwen’s famous work. After a debilitating illness as a child, Gwen sought solace in art and nature. She learned to be persistent and independent–never taking no for an answer or letting her disabilities define her. After creating artwork for famous Detroiters and for display at the World’s Fair and helping to build WWII bombers, Gwen moved her printmaking business to northern Michigan. She dedicated her work and her life to reminding people of the wonder and beauty in nature. (Description provided by Amazon)
NATURE’S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY will be available on July 15 in your local independent bookstore, as well as online retailers, like Amazon. My Michigan teacher friends, especially, will definitely want to add this to their classroom libraries.
Author Lindsey McDivitt will be stopping by the following Michigan venues, if you’d like her to meet her. She’d be happy to autograph NATURE’S FRIEND for you too!