Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day 1

Today is the first day of November.  Its the month that we celebrate Thanksgiving.  However, so often food preparation and eating, holiday sales, and general busy lives crowd out time to express gratitude.  I have a lot to be thankful for and need to take a moment to acknowledge those things.

So, today I am thankful for....

.....the community of friends that surround me and remind me of how rich my life really is.

.....homemade brownies baked with snickers that a friend made.

....a moment of quiet to reflect on all the amazing things in the world.

Also, today kicks of Picture Book Month.  And what better way to celebrate than by reading...

Edited with reflections by 
Katherine Paterson
Illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Chronicle Books (October 15, 2013)

What are you thankful for?

Carnivores Book Trailer & Giveaway

Author:  Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator:  Dan Santat
ISBN 978-0-8118-6690-3
Audience: Ages 5 to 8
Publication Date: September 2013

Description from Chronicle Books:
The lion is king of the jungle!
The great white shark is sovereign of the seas!
The timber wolf is emperor of the forests!
But . . . it’s lonely at the top of the food chain. It’s difficult to fit in when plant eaters can be so cruel—just because you ate a relative of theirs that one time! What’s a carnivore to do? Aaron Reynolds’s roaringly funny text is perfectly paired with Dan Santat’s mouthwatering illustrations, creating a toothsome book that’s sure to stand out from the herd.

Aaron Reynolds has written many delicious books for kids including the Caldecott Honor Book Creepy Carrots. Though Aaron spent six years as a vegetarian, he is now a committed carnivore. He lives in Chicago.

Dan Santat is the illustrator of many acclaimed books and the creator of Disney’s animated hit The Replacements. He lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, a rabbit, a bird, and one cat.

Check out this great book trailer by Dan Santat:

Here is a peek at some pages:

It is tough being a vegetarian when your natural inclination is to be a carnivore.

Click here to download the Activity Kit.

Thanks to Chronicle, enter to win a special Carnivores Prize Pack including the book.  This giveaway is open to those with US or Canadian mailing addresses.  You must be 13 or older to enter.

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Sea Monster And the Bossy Fish Blog Tour - Giveaway & Interview with Kate Messner

When I was asked to participate in the Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish: Making Fishy Friends Blog Tour, I was thrilled.  I adore both Sea Monster's First Day and Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish.  And Kate Messner is an amazing author who writes picture books and early chapter books and middle grade novels and is one of my favorite authors.   Today, I am excited to welcome author, Kate Messner to Kid Lit Frenzy.  Thanks Kate for stopping by and chatting.

The Sea Monster books are wonderful and funny and have great lessons. What inspired you to write about a Sea Monster of all things and did you have someone in mind when you created the character?

Aw, thanks! The inspiration for Ernest the Sea Monster actually came from the legendary lake monster where I live: Champ of Lake Champlain. I’m not making this up…really. We have a Loch-Ness-Monster-esque lake monster that people have reported seeing since the 1600s. I always thought the people who reported those sightings were a bit over-imaginative until my family saw a big, unidentified something swimming through the waters near our house about eight years ago. What was it? I’m still not sure, but whatever it was, it got my writer’s brain churning, and the first sea monster book was the result!

Now that you are a full-time writer, what is the hardest thing or the thing you miss the most about the start of the school year?

The smell of new pencils. Confession: I have a bit of an office supply addiction, so I still pick up a few school supplies for myself when I do my kids’ fall shopping. I love teaching, and I’d miss it like crazy if teaching weren’t still very much a part of my job. These days, instead of showing up in the same classroom each morning, though, I’m visiting schools around the country to give presentations and writing workshops for kids, and I love it.

If you can spend the day with your favorite book character (not a character that you wrote) who would it be and what would you do?

Albus Dumbledore. I’d ask him to teach me everything he knows and share his lemon drops.

What is one book that you read over and over again as a child? What book did you never return to the library because you loved it so much and couldn’t let it go? 

Oh, gosh…there wasn’t just one! I was a voracious reader as a kid and remain one today. My favorites growing up were Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books and Judy Blume’s TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING.

What was the book that turned you into a reader? 

Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a reader. My parents joke that they had to stop having dinner parties because I’d follow their guests around lugging a huge pile of books and looking pathetic until someone put down his or her drink and read to me.

What new projects are you working on?

I’m super-excited about my next picture book with Chronicle, which comes out in the spring. It’s called TREE OF LIFE, and it’s about Costa Rica’s almendro tree – a rainforest giant that provides food and shelter of various sorts to more than a thousand different kinds of organisms. In addition to exploring biodiversity, this book plays with numbers, too, as the animals multiply from page to page. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the third title in my Marty McGuire chapter book series with Scholastic (MARTY MCGUIRE HAS TOO MANY PETS!) and working on a new middle grade novel called ALL THE ANSWERS – my first book that involves magic! That one comes out in 2015.

What is the name of your favorite Indie bookstore and where is it located? 

Oh dear…I’m not sure I can choose just one because there are SO many amazing indies out there. But a few of my beloved local favorites are Flying Pig Books, Phoenix Books, and Bear Pond Books in Vermont and the fabulous Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, which handles signed book sales for my Skype classroom visits. All of these stores have incredible, book-loving people behind the counters and are truly special places for readers.

What are you reading? 

My TBR pile (and currently reading pile) is always an eclectic mix of kids’ books and research, mixed in with the occasional grown-up book. Here’s what’s on the table by the couch right now…

Anything that you wished I had asked you about? Or anything else that you care to share with the readers of Kid Lit Frenzy? 

Just a big thank you! The readers of SEA MONSTER’S FIRST DAY are the reason that our lovable Ernest is back. I so appreciate everyone who loved this book and shared it, and I hope you’ll enjoy SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH just as much!

Teachers, Librarians, and Parents - Chronicle has provided a "Friend Fish" Pledge.  

click on image to download PDF

To check out all of the post for the Sea Monster Blog tour, check out Chronicle Book's Interview with Kate Messner, here.

Thanks to Chronicle Books for providing a copy of Sea Monster and the Bossy Day by Kate Messner to one lucky reader.  Please enter the rafflecopter form below.  Participants need to be 13 years or older and have a US or Canadian mailing address.

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How a visit to an Indie Bookstore brings me to a picture book post on Chronicle Books...

Recently, I have been to a couple of author events at Skylight Books in Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.  It is a quirky, artsy, independent bookstore in a quirky, diverse, artsy neighborhood.  I would spend more time visiting the store if it wasn't such an annoying drive to get there. 

However, while I was there yesterday waiting for Elizabeth Ross' book launch to begin, I spent some time browsing in the children's corner.  It made me realize that Chronicle Books is a perfect match with Skylight Books.  Both have the same quirky, artsy, indie feel that I have come to love and appreciate, which made me realize that I have a stack of picture books from Chronicle that I was trying to figure out how to feature.

Out of the stack of Chronicle Picture books here are some of my favorites that are sure to delight your youngest readers....

Upcoming Releases:

WIGGLE! and HIDE AND SEEK by Taro Gomi
Ages Infant to 2; Board Books - August 2013

DIGGERS GO by Steve Light
Ages 2 to 5; Board Book - August 2013

Sea Monster and Bossy Fish by Kate Messner; Illustrated by Andy Rash
Ages 3 to 6; Hardcover - August 2013

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack
Ages 2 to 5; Hardcover - September 2013

Yeti Turn Out the Light by Greg Long and Chris Edmundson; Illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan
Ages 3 to 6; Hardcover - September 2013

The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud
Agues 3 to 6; Hardcover - October 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - On a Beam of Light

Author: Jennifer Berne
Illustrator: Vladimir Radunsky
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 23, 2013)
Audience: 2nd to 5th grade
Source: Purchased
biographical *nonfiction * scientists

Description from GoodReads:
A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe. Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky invite the reader to travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.

My thoughts on this book:
I have read a few children's biographies on Albert Einstein.  Many were well done.  However, Berne's On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein seems to have captured my attention on a different level.  Maybe it has to do with Radunsky's quirky illustrations that seem to spotlight Einstein's unique personality. Or maybe it just is the Berne's ability to write about Einstein in a personal way for young readers.  There is enough description of Einstein's early years and schooling to give readers a sense about Einstein.  Adults who know more of Einstein's background should feel that just the right balance of highlights from Einstein's life is mixed with some of the things that made Einstein such a great physicist. 

"He was racing through space on a beam of light"...doesn't the image above perfectly capture Berne's text?!

There is something about this picture of Einstein walking without shoes and licking an ice cream cone that made this a favorite image of mine.  I guess it felt like it captured Einstein's unique personality which always seemed to hint at his inner child.

Berne includes some great notes on the end page which can be used to encourage further learning and research.  Can I just say this is a wonderful book and you should go out and buy it?  Seriously, add it to your classroom or school library.  Read it aloud to kids.  However, no matter what you do, don't miss this book.

For more information about Jennifer Berne: website | publisher page

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews: