My Collaboration with James on Penny Parker Klostermans's Blog!

Kirsti Call and her 14 year-old son, James

James’s Movie: Clouds

Artist Statement: The ever changing nature of clouds makes me think of how life gives us a fresh start every moment of every day.

Kirsti’s PoemSlide1

A photo of the collaborators.James and Kirsti Jan 2016 copy
Many thanks to James and Kirsti for sharing their talents with us today.

Photo by London
Photo by London

Meet James: James Call is a 14 year old boy who loves drumming, singing, and making movies.  You can follow him on YouTube, here.  Or Instagram, here.  He’s currently rehearsing for his role as Reverend Shaw in FOOTLOOSE for the local middle school.

James and Kirsti copy

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 RumpusKids are Writers and Institute of Children’s Literature. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading or writing. You can find out more about her at or on Facebook or Twitter.

See all the Call Family Collaborations:
Side note:  James showed me this movie without the surprise ending when I wrote the poem.  I got a good laugh when I realized what he added without my knowledge :)  

Book Love, World Read Aloud Day and ReFoReMo!

Anyone who knows me knows that books are my weakness.  I’ve got books in every room of my house and I honestly go into withdrawals if I go a day without reading.  Reading aloud during the day to my older children is one of the happy hazards of homeschooling.  I read to them as they fold the clothes or do the dishes or clean their rooms.  It’s a win win situation, right?  They’re happy and they’re getting their chores done and we’re doing something educational!   I also read picture books to my unsuspecting clients. I’m a marriage and family therapist and a firm believer in bibliotherapy! So when I learned about World Read Aloud Day, I was thrilled.  Exactly one week from today millions of people in more than 100 countries will celebrate world read aloud day by reading aloud of course!  I can’t wait to read my book to classrooms in Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa and Georgia over Skype!  

To read more, go to Children's Book Academy!

7 Reasons Why Everyone Should Read Award Winning EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone

every last word1. Sam is an authentic teenaged girl with OCD who has successfully hidden her condition from her friends. She spends every second worrying about how what she does or thinks will make her seem crazy. But Sam goes from being a girl who is scared of people knowing about her condition, to a girl who learns to own it and be who she is, surrounding herself with people who know about her condition and support her.
2. Tamara Stone clearly researched OCD and accurately portrays the thoughts and feelings of someone with an anxiety disorder. This is the type of book that helps teens understand what it feels like to be anxiety ridden.
3. Sam is diagnosed with OCD and is talking with her therapist, Sue, weekly. Sue is portrayed as a loving, supportive, helpful person who makes Sam’s life better. We need more realistic portrayals of therapy in teen YA books!
4. There is a completely surprising twist at the climax of the book that makes makes the story tie together beautifully.
5. The poetry is this book helps teens understand that just writing your feelings down makes life better, whether the words are beautiful or not. As a writer, this book inspired me to write more. The poetry sprinkled throughout the book brings complexity to the characters and their relationships and ultimately makes the book a masterpiece in plot and storyline.
6. Tamara Stone’s words are beautifully written and filled with honest emotion and insight into the head of a teen who wants to hide how she is different from her popular friends.
7. This story stays with you. It was one of the first books I read as a judge for the Cybils award, and after reading 81 more books within two months, I still reflect on it. 
I was thrilled when our panel of 7 judges chose Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone to be one of the YA finalists for the CYBILS award.  Here’s what I wrote for the second round of judges:
Sam worries that her popular friends will discover her OCD. But her worst fear is: “What if I’m crazy?” In this beautifully crafted book, Sam transforms from a girl who is afraid of who she is, into a girl who owns who she is–flaws included. Covering tough topics like depression, anxiety, peer pressure, and suicide, this compelling book inspires and captivates. Brimming with poetry and honest emotion and insight into the mind of a teen who suffers from anxiety, Every Last Word proves the hurting and healing power of every last word.
ps.  I wrote this post before the Valentine’s Day announcement of the Cybils award!  Now we have 8 reasons to read Every Last Word!
What books about teen mental health issues do you recommend?
*This post was originally on Writer's Rumpus!

Preparing to Assess a Mentor Text

Just the act of reading mentor texts improves our instincts when writing, but how do you approach the research aspect? I like to read as many books as I can on the topic of the manuscript I'm writing.  I also look for books that mimic the structure that I'm going for.  Am I writing a metafiction story?  Then Do Not Open This Book!  is the perfect mentor text.  Is my story a fractured fairy tale?  The Three Ninja Pigs is right up my alley.  Am I writing a cumulative story?  Your Alien is a good place for me to start.  

As I read each book, I ask myself these questions:  
1.  What do I like about this book?  What works?
2.  What don't I like?  What doesn't work?
3.  Do I want to read this again?  Why?
4.  Would kids relate to this?
5.  Would this make kids laugh?

​Once I've read as much as I can about my topic or structure, then I have a better idea of what works, what I like, and what has already been done.  My built-in panel of five children reminds me what it's like to be a kid and when I write, I tackle my story with my newfound knowledge and a fresh perspective!  

To read more of this post, go to ReFoReMo, here!