Category Archives: love of books

Trick or Treat – Repeat

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shutta-book-2

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

My little cinnamon sugar cider donuts, do I have a treat for you . . .

WILLIAM AND THE WITCH’S RIDDLE written by Shutta Crum and illustrated by Lee Wildish.

From the jacket flap . . .

“William and his little brother, Pinch, have been left alone at their home atop a mountain. When a witch named Morga shows up, William is forced to embark upon a terrifying journey, but he is also offered the possibility to save his family.

“The worst part of the journey is Morga herself. She has three riddles for William to solve, with only the help of an odd fellow who wakes up a different size every day and a tiny yellow dragon who can dream storms into reality.

“Three riddles. Three chances to lift an ancient curse. Three chances to save his family.”

This is a beautifully written middle grade fantasy. You’ll want to gobble it up like trick-or-treat sack of snack size Snickers! But you don’t have to take my word for it . . .

From Kirkus Reviews:

“There is humor, heart-stopping action, magic of many sorts, and tender emotions of sacrifice, love, and loss. Crum draws readers into this evidently white fairy-tale world with detailed, descriptive language and inventive syntax. An exciting, neatly crafted adventure.”

Doesn’t this sound irresistible? A copy of this spellbinding can be yours!

How?

Leave a comment–describe your favorite childhood Halloween costume–at the end of this post by Noon on Monday, October 24, and you will be entered into a drawing for a copy of your very own. No trick – just treat!

dsc04887October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace! ~ Rainbow Rowell

why rabbits play checkers and you can too

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Scooter Plays Checkers, a watercolor by Vicky Lorencen

Ironic, isn’t it. Rabbits eat carrots. Carrots contain vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision. With such great eyesight and countless stories starring rabbits, you’d think bunnies would be big on books. Not so. Nine out of ten prefer checkers. Why am I telling you this? I haven’t a clue. But it’s gotten you reading this far, and that my thimbleberry tarts, is what this post is all about.

 

Scooter Plays Checkers,  watercolor by Vicky  Lorencen

Since I can assume you are not rabbits, given that you’re still reading this, I want to recommend some books you may enjoy exploring this summer. Full disclosure–not of these are new. Regardless, they are worth exploring. And the fun thing is, you can pick them up, graze a bit and come back later to enjoy a bit more.

Right now I’m reading Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. Jonah is a marketing professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I admit to being a bit of a psychology and marketing geek, so his book interests me. It also surprised me. As a blogger I was deflated to learn that only about 7 percent of our daily communication takes place on social media. Seven stinkin’ percent! On the other hand, as a writer, I was comforted and motivated to think that means a whole lot of our interactions take place face-to-face and in writing–good, ol’ fashioned writing. This book would be especially valuable to anyone who is in the promotion phase with your book. Or for all of us who want to be ready for when that day finally, finally, sheeeesh-finally comes.

The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan. This book can teach you how to unleash the creative power of your brain–and you get to color while you’re doing it. Perfection!

Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Dreamers by Carolyn See I’m going to level with you since the chances of Carolyn See ever seeing this less than zip, this book is now 14 years old, so it’s a titch out of step. But there are so many timeless insights, pinches of practical advice–like writing charming notes, and Ms. See’s delightful perspective, you can’t help but love this.

Writers [on Writing] Collected Essays from the New York Times Treat yourself to this treasure. Barbara Kingsolver, Carl Hiaasen, Susan Sontag, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, Jamaica Kincaid, Marge Piercy,  Saul Bellow, and so many more . . . it’s like an all-you-can-read author buffet. Great car trip or beach reading.

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

How about you? What are you tucking in your beach bag? Share those titles! (But not with bunnies, because you know.)

My computer beat me at checkers, but I sure beat it at kickboxing. ~ Emo Philips

time for the spring cleaning giveaway!

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Take your pick!

Take your pick!

It’s time. As much as it pains me, I must purge my bookshelves a bit. Because I’m your fan, I want to share my purgings with you. Huh. That didn’t come out right, did it.

Moving on–we have a resource for non-fiction writers, one for picture book attempters,  a practical book for any writer and (yes, there’s more) a set of brilliant middle grade novels by masters of the genre. And you thought this was going to be an ordinary day. Silly you!

Lean in and I’ll tell you how you can be a winner of the Spring Cleaning Giveaway: simply comment on this post and let me know which book (or books), you’d like to win. Then, I’ll draw names on Friday, April 17 at Noon. Easy sneezy.

Here’s what’s on the menu (and good luck deciding!) . . .

The Magazine Article: How to Think It, Plan It Write It by Peter Jacobi

This book was published in the late 1900s (makes it sounds really outdated, doesn’t it). What it lacks in advice about online research, it more than makes up for in how to add substance, depth and honesty to your work as a non-fiction writer. Plus, it’s Peter Jacobi. He’s amazing. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, do. He’s a true orator. And can that guy write. Oh, my. Did I mention this book is signed? I almost hate to part with it.

Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books by Uri Shulevitz

This is a classic. If you write (or aim to write) picture books, you simply must have this book. It’s a treasure. And yes, I am willing to share it with you. Is that love or what?

Writer’s First Aid: Getting Organized, Getting Inspired and Sticking to It by Kristi Holl

I met Kristi ages ago at a Highlights Foundation workshop. This lady knows her stuff. While this little volume looks demure, it can be a real kick in the pants.

These fine middle grade novels, I’m offering as set. You can study them for craft, enjoy each as a fun, quick read and then share them with a child you love.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events, No. 2: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
  • Lost in Cyberspace by Richard Peck
  • Hank Zipzer, The World’s Underachiever: Niagara Falls, or Does It? by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
  • This Gum for Hire by Bruce Hale

Have you made up your mind? Don’t wait too long. Leave a comment by Noon on Friday and hopefully you’ll be a winner. Regardless, you are a fine person and there are plenty of kids who would be happy to sit by you at lunch. Remember, don’t slouch.

With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy? ~ Oscar Wilde

congratulations to the winners of the jumpin’ jolly triple-triple-triple (holy holly this title is long) giveaway to giveaway!

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Giveaway goodies!

Giveaway goodies!

Congratulations to . . .

  • Randy Bulla, winner of JAKE and LILY by Jerry Spinelli.
  • Danielle Hammelef, winner of FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo.
  • Erin Fanning, winner of EXTRA YARN by Marc Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Winners, please contact me with your mailing address and let me know if you’d like to take me up on the free gift wrapping option.

Whether you decide to experience the joy of giving away your giveaway prize or cherishing it yourself (and who could blame you?), I hope this special treat adds fun to your holiday.

Many thanks to everyone who entered–and invited friends to follow Frog on a Dime. I understand a few squirrels may be added to the list (thank you, Randy!)

Wishing you all a lovely holiday season, filled with laughter, craziness (the jolly kind), moments for quiet reflection (and of course, reading) and much joy!

Oh, and cookies. Can’t forget those.

Merry Reading from Frog on a Dime! Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Merry Reading from Frog on a Dime!
Photo by Vicky Lorencen

it’s the frog on a dime jumpin’ jolly triple-triple-triple (holy holly this title is long) giveaway to giveaway!

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

One of the ways I “still” myself during the holiday season is to sit and sip tea while perusing my collection of favorite and familiar Christmas and wintry books. There’s something magically lulling about those beloved images and the lilting language. Looking at the covers, I can almost hear a cheery “welcome back” before I even turn the first page.

Knowing you love children’s book and might very well love to give a book to a child you love, Frog on a Dime is offering a very special holiday giveaway for you to giveaway!

There are three outstanding children’s books up for grabs . . .

Giveaway goodies!

Giveaway goodies!

JAKE and LILY by Jerry Spinelli

FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo

EXTRA YARN by Marc Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

To enter:

Step 1: Invite a friend to follow Frog on a Dime.

Step 2: Leave a comment on this post to let me know which book you’d prefer (with a 2nd choice, just in case) AND let me know that you’ve invited a friend. You don’t have to name names. We’ll be on the honor system. (Just remember, “he” knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.)

I will draw three names on Friday, December 12 at Noon. Each winner will receive a book—and I’ll even gift wrap it with my own little hands, if you like. Then I’ll send them off to the lucky winners spit-spot!

Enter today!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~ Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers (1836)

you just never know

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

At the close of the SCBWI – Michigan conference on Mackinac Island, book reviewer, blogger and first grade teacher extraordinaire Ed Spicer (I know cheers will erupt at the mention of his name!) shared about one of his students. Brycen struggled with reading. He simply could not decipher those black squiggles on the page. That is, until he found a book that unlocked the magic for him. The title of the book isn’t significant to Brycen’s story. It was well reviewed and nicely illustrated, but it was not a groundbreaker or a bestseller. That didn’t matter to Brycen. He simply loved that book, and it loved him back by patiently waiting for him to decode it word-by-word until he could read it with ease. By reading it over and over and over, that story gave him the confidence to select more titles.

He’s such a book lover now that, well, why don’t I let Brycen tell you . . .

Ed Spicer shared Brycen’s story to remind authors and would-be authors that our stories make a difference regardless of critical acclaim or popularity. We may never know how one of our stories set up camp in a child’s heart and made a forever home there. And that’s okay. We just need to make the best stories we know how and trust they’ll find the hearts that need them, hearts like Brycen’s.

Feeling small or discouraged today? Keep crafting your stories with love and care. Because you just never know.

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading. ~ Maurice Sendak

but I don’t even like kids

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"Look. I'm carrying a kettle of scalding water."

“Look! I’m carrying a kettle of scalding water.”

What’s with the face? You don’t like honesty? It’s not completely accurate to say I don’t like kids, because I do–on a child-by-child basis. But the species in general? Not so much.

And in case you’re wondering, yes I have two children of my own. Do I love them? With all my heart. Do I want to be surrounded by a battery of wee nose miners on a daily basis? Oh, my. NO.

I knew it. “The face” is back. You’re wondering why I want to write children’s books when I’m not a super fan of kids. Let me explain how I reconcile the apparent disconnect–at least as I understand so far.

Not too long ago I met Andrew Karre, the editorial director for Carolrhoda Books, at a retreat for children’s writers. He told us he believes children’s literature is about children, and not written for children. What’s the distinction? Motivation. Rather than being audience-centric and focusing on pleasing the reader, Karre suggests the drive to create children’s literature needs to focus inward. Intriguing perspective, isn’t it? I had to noodle over it for quite a while, but I think he’s right.

From the time I recognized myself as a writer an ice age ago, I knew I wanted to write children’s books. Isn’t that odd? So specific. So narrow. Children’s literature has an innate openness, optimism, humor, bravery and tenderness that makes it irresistible to me, as a reader and a writer. Those are the qualities I want funneling through my brain, my heart and my imagination. Writing about children allows me to experience that. I am so lucky. Knowing a child may enjoy what I love to write is a spectacular bonus.

What about you? Why does children’s literature call to you?

(And by the way, if you like kids, it’s okay. I still accept you.)

A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.
~ C.S. Lewis