Halloweensie Story

Susannah Leonard Hill hosts a Halloween Story Contest every Halloween.  This year the challenge was to write a story of less than 100 words that included the words: costume, haunt and dark.  Here's my attempt :)

Not a Witch

My name is Grizelda.  
Can you tell what I am?
No way.  I’m not a witch!
Yes.  I do have a black hat....
and a black cat...
and pointy boots...
and a broom.  
But I’m not a witch!  
Do you have any hats?
Do you have any pets?
Do you have any boots?
Do you have a broom?
Maybe you’re a witch.
You’re not? Neither am I.
Maybe it’s too dark for you to see my costume.
What?  My house looks haunted?
Thanks.  I try really hard.  
But I’m not a witch...
I’m a little girl just like you.

October Bonus Links Worth Your While

Mathew Winner’s Let’s get Busy Podcast, highlights the best picture books of summer 2015--perfect mentor texts. 

The School Library Journal's article, Celebrating Literacy: Kids as Readers, Writers, and Imaginers, we learn about recent picture books that encourage creativity in kids.

To read the rest of this post, go to ReFoReMo.

Halloween Treating and Reading

Halloween is always a good excuse for creativity at my house. Each costume is conceived and created by the kids themselves.

Now  that my kids are older, they make their costumes with very little help from me.  My 12 year old daughter, Naomi, made a diction-fairy costume with the help of a $1 dictionary, poster board and a glue gun. 

I've never been thrilled about the candy part of Halloween, so when I saw author Julie Falatko's post on Facebook about her Halloween tradition to hand out books, I immediately started planning my own reading and treating!

Our local library had a book sale a couple of weeks ago and I scored 175 board books, picture books, chapter books, MG novels and YA novels. 

To read more of this post, go to Children's Book Academy.

Why YA Matters

In the last 10 days I’ve read 15 YA books and as a YA CYBILS award panelist,  I’ll be reading dozens more within the next couple of months. Immersing myself in YA fiction has reminded me of why YA really matters. YA books evoke emotion, show how choices affect lives, and build empathy.
1. Good YA fiction evokes emotion.  
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall surprised me with its depth.  Beautifully written, moving, and poignant, this book powerfully demonstrates how helping other people changes you. Arthur is an authentic 13 year old grieving the death of his father. After he commits a crime, he’s offered true redemption.  I needed tissues for this one, folks!
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella was so funny that I laughed out loud and found the seventh most important thingmyself reading parts of it to my teenage kids.  The book is hilarious, yet poignant. The family relationships are quirky yet authentic at the same time. Audrey’s anxiety and depression are realistically portrayed–and even the therapy is legitimate (I’m a marriage and family therapist). I love Audrey’s journey to health and how she learns to cope with her anxious thoughts and interact with people.
2. Good YA fiction shows the ramifications of choices. Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy  is beautifully written, poignant and thought provoking. Willowdeam is the kind of MC I’d like to be friends with. She’s honest, confident, she cares about others and her choices change her relationships over the course of the book in a way that is both surprising and satisfying.  Everything that Makes Youdumplin' by Moriah McStay  shows how the smallest choices matter in two parallel universes; one where Fiona has an accident and facial scars and one where the accident never happened. I really enjoyed both universes–Fiona and Fi are distinct people and the idea of how different your life can be because of one choice is something this book demonstrates very well. The characters are well written, the relationships complex and authentic. Sibling, parental and friendship relationships are explored in a realistic way.
To read more of this post, go to Writer's Rumpus.

September Bonus Links Worth Your While

I'm excited to have the privilege of posting Bonus Links and Mentor Text Author Studies.   Here are some incredible posts that I found this month.
Marcie Flinchum Atkins' post: 10 for 10: Top 10 Favorite Picture Books to Use as Mentor Texts for Word Choice, gives fantastic examples for specific types of language.
To read more of this post go to ReFoReMo, here.

Mentor Text Author Study: Aaron Reynolds


At my house, we read Creepy Carrots, by Aaron Reynolds all the time. Why do my kids enjoy it so much?  How does Aaron succeed in making us laugh and feel a little scared at the same time? What makes me willing to read it over and over? Why do we make references to creepy carrots every time we see something orange?

Clearly, Aaron’s picture books make an impact and his versatility makes him a great author to study. Aaron’s use of humor, the unexpected, and lyrical language make his books incredible mentor texts to learn from.
Humor: Aaron masterfully writes stories that not only make us laugh, but also subtly teach.  Superhero School is fun to read and yet definitely makes a point about the importance of math.  Carnivores teaches about animals hilariously, in a way that makes us empathize with the carnivores even after they eat each other.  Chicks and Salsamakes us laugh as the barnyard animals yearn for and learn how to make southwestern food.  Pirates vs. Cowboyscomical story shows us that we have something in common with everyone--even if it’s body odor!

The Unexpected: Aaron’s stories surprise us.  In Creepy Carrots, the carrots get the best the bunny in the end. Buffalo Wings stars a rooster chef who wants to make buffalo wings, but doesn’t realize they are made of chicken! Aaron’s rhyming story, Snowbots, pairs two unlikely things, (snow and robots) into a wonderful rollicking story.  Here Comes Destructosaurus! depicts a tantruming monster who really is just looking for his teddy bear.Nerdy Birdy surprises us with how nerds can sometimes be just as exclusive as the popular kids.  

To read more of this post, go to ReFoReMo blog, here.

Sophia and I were featured on Penny Parker Klostermann's Blog

Kirsti Call and Daughter, Sophia

If you follow this series, you will probably remember other episodes featuring the Call family. Kirsti has also collaborated with daughters, Naomi and Sydney. Every time I prepare a Call family post, I’m delighted. It’s evident that creativity is embraced and encouraged in this household.
From Kirsti: Sophia made an entire series of these trees (6 separate pieces), but we chose three of them for this collaboration.

Love is Beautiful in Our Hearts by Sophia Call

Sophia's Trees
Art by Sophia Call
Kirsti’s art-inspired poem.

Poem by KirstiSlide1

And a special treat. The Call family is musically talented and today we get to hear a song from Sophia. She is singing with her older sister Sydney.
Many thanks to Sophia and Kirsti for sharing their talents with us today.

Kirsti and Sophie2

Meet Sophia: Sophia Call is a 7 year old artist, writer, singer and book lover.

Kirsti and Sophia

Meet Kirsti: Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall, came out December 2013. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer’s Rumpus, and Kids are Writers.  If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com or on Facebook or Twitter.