#scbwiaz17 SCBWI Arizona Regional Conference Gold

Conferences are so energizing. I went to our Arizona Regional Chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference yesterday in Phoenix and it was a blast!

The day was filled with many golden opportunities, including:

  • Learning about social media and publishing tips from industry insiders
  • Getting writing advice from professional editors
  • Receiving manuscript critiques by children’s book professionals
  • Meeting amazing local children’s book authors and illustrators

Here Suzie Olsen and I are getting ready for the opening address:

(Photograph by Suzie Olsen, used with permission)

The organizers did a wonderful job of keeping all the lectures on time and moving along. If there was down time, they filled in by giving away great door prizes. The giveaways were also an opportunity because even if you didn’t win, you got to see the awesome books — many from local authors —  that they were giving away.

The highlight of my day was when I turned over my name tag and discovered a golden ticket.

The manuscript I submitted had been chosen for a special face-to-face critique with one of the conference faculty, author Bobi Martin. It was a real honor to be one of the seven selected.

Although the meeting was at the end of the day when everyone was beginning to fade from conference overload, Bobi Marten’s critique was thorough and informative. She gave me many tips for taking my manuscript to the next level and suggested places where I could send it to be published. It was wonderful to get live feedback from an author who specializes in children’s nonfiction, plus that she thought my project had merit.

So, now it’s time to process my pages and pages of notes, and polish up my manuscript for submission. I can’t wait to attend the conference next year.

Are you a SCBWI member? Have you attended a conference?

#kidlit Fatima and the Clementine Thieves Inspires STEAM Activities

The new picture book Fatima and the Clementine Thieves by Mireille Messier and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard is fantastic. Not only is it a top notch example of a multicultural book, but it inspires any number of hands-on STEAM activities. How can one picture book do so much?

Summary:  Living in Morocco, Fatima’s family has an orchard of clementine oranges. Right before harvest, someone or something destroys some of the crop and breaks the trees. When they discover the orange thieves are elephants, what can Fatima and her grandfather do to stop them?

With help from her friends the spiders, Fatima comes up with an unusual and humane solution to her family’s problem. Mireille Messier‘s fable has wonderful underlying messages about the importance of collaboration, thinking outside the box, nonviolent solutions to problems, and how little things can make a huge difference.

What I love about the book:

  • That it features clementine oranges, which are a familiar, popular snack for small children.
  • That the author is bilingual and the book is available in French.
  • Gabrielle Grimard‘s luscious illustrations capture the time and place beautifully. You can just smell the citrus on every page.
  • The spiders

Like the orange, Fatima and the Clementine Thieves is a collections of sweet, complex-flavored messages wrapped up in a easy-to-handle package. Pick up a copy to savor with a young reader today. They will enjoy it.

Related STEAM Activities

It is easy to find great activities to accompany this book.

  1. Spiders play a major role in the story. Try some of the spider-science themed hands on activities at Growing with Science blog, like the climbing spider and making a spider web.

Clementine Orange Fractions

Gather

  • Clementines (or mandarin) oranges
  • Knife (for adult use)
  • Plates

Introduce the idea of fractions. Have an adult cut an orange in half most of the way through. Then cut another in fours. Finally cut one in eighths.

Have the children peel back the outer layer and look at the sections inside.  Have them count the sections in their fruit. Write down the counts. Do all the fruit have the same numbers of sections?  What fraction of the whole is a section in their fruit? For example, if there are eight sections in the fruit above, each section is 1/8 of the whole (roughly).

Of course, they will want to eat the results.

Art Activity

In the story, Fatima offers clementine peel flowers to the spiders.

Slice the oranges in the same way as the previous activity. Let the children peel the fruit. The peels can be used as “flowers” (see photograph below). Create scenes with different-shaped peels, other fresh plant materials, and/or your choice of art materials. Photograph the results. (See a creative example here).

For more advanced lessons, show how a three dimensional round object can be flattened into two dimensions.

Note:  The peels will curl drastically as they dry, so will need to be pressed if they are to be preserved.

Want to read more children’s books about spiders? See our list organized by genre and age at Science Books for Kids.

 

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Red Deer Press; 1 edition (June 30, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0889955298
ISBN-13: 978-0889955295

Disclaimer: Just so you know, the publisher supplied this title for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of the title links, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you, the proceeds of which will help pay for maintaining this website.

50 Cities of the USA @QuartoKids #Kidlit: Exploring Tucson and A Giveaway

 50 Cities of the U.S.A.: Explore America’s Cities with 50 Fact-Filled Maps (The 50 States) by Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Sol Linero is a fun children’s book coming out in a few weeks. Let’s celebrate by exploring one of the featured cities, Tucson, and having a chance to win a copy of the book in a giveaway (see details at bottom of post).

This book gives information-packed tours of fifty prominent cities throughout the United States, including Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boise, Boston, Burlington, Charleston, Charlotte, Cheyenne, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Newport, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland MA, Portland OR, Rapid City, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle, St. Louis, Tucson, Virginia Beach, and Washington, D.C.

Each city is presented in huge two-page spread (the book is an extra-large 11 inch x 13.4 inch format). Let’s take a look at Tucson as an example of how it works.

For each spread, the location of the city is given on a map in the upper right hand corner. Interesting historical information, places to see, and famous citizens of that city are scattered over the pages. If that wasn’t enough, the illustrator has included fun visual searches to some spreads, plus the author gives recommendations for children’s books set in each city.

Selected Fun Facts from 50 Cities about Tucson:

There’s a lot to see and do in Tucson. (Note:  The photographs are from my personal collection. The book does not contain photographs.)

• AGUA CALIENTE PARK Here, the cactus wren rests in the hole of a cactus, its nest protected by the prickly spines of a cholla or leaves of a yucca.


• DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE  More than 5,000 B-52s, helicopters, and other aircraft are stored at The World’s Largest Boneyard (aka airport graveyard). (Our family also likes to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum, shown in the photograph above.)

• THE DESERT MUSEUM  cares for 230 native species, like the venomous gila monster, whose skull is covered in tiny smooth bumps. (These javelinas are some of the featured native animals found there.)

• THE EL CHARRO CAFE The chimichanga was invented here—by accident! Ingredients include rice, cheese, and machaca (dried meat), and avocado.

• THE SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK  This tree-like cactus grows additional arms as they age, sometime growing more than 25.

• THE TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART Make your own Day of the Dead-inspired art pieces at the annual Día de los Muertos celebration, which remembers relatives who have passed away.

• THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA  A collection of elegant mathematical models once used to teach concepts now live on as art. (The University of Arizona also hosts the Tucson Book Festival in March. It a fabulous place to introduce children to books.)

• TUCSON INTERNATIONAL MARIACHIS CONFERENCE In 2010, 555 mariachis broke a guinness world record when they played in honor of mariachi legend Nati Cano.

• VALLEY OF THE MOON  A former postal clerk created this landscape of winding paths, stone towers, and hidden grottoes to spark the imagination.

We also enjoy the Tucson Botanical Gardens and Tohono Chul Park, especially in early spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

As you can see from the examples, 50 Cities is a great book to have on hand if you’re planning a trip, moving to a new place, or studying the geography and history of the United States. It’s the kind of reference book kids will return to again and again.

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions (September 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1847808700
ISBN-13: 978-1847808707

Giveaway

The giveaway is now closed.

Would you like a chance to receive a copy of 50 Cities? Simply login the Rafflecopter below — making sure you leave a valid e-mail address — by 12:00 a.m. EST August 24, 2017. Rafflecopter will randomly pick the winner and I will notify @QuartoKids (they have kindly agreed to ship the prize.) Their only request is that the giveaway is open only to US residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any difficulty with the Rafflecopter form, please let me know in the comments

Want to find more children’s books with strong settings? Try our Reading Through The States website.

Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

nonfictionmonday

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Hopping into Summer with The Hidden Life of a Toad

Let’s take a look at the new picture book The Hidden Life of a Toad by biologist and photographer Doug Wechsler.

Many books feature what we commonly call frogs, but hardly any concentrate on their less colorful, bumpy cousins the toads. The Hidden Life of a Toad brings some well-deserved attention to these fascinating creatures.

In addition to filling a neglected niche, the book has a great deal more going for it. First of all, Wechsler went to great lengths to capture high quality images of every step in the toad life cycle, and his photographs are stellar. He waded into water, spent nights in the woods, and brought toad eggs home to watch in a tank. You can read about what he did to take the photos in the back matter.

Next, as a biologist, his facts are impeccable. Back matter is filled with supplemental information, including a glossary, toad facts, and suggestions for helping toads. It is sure to inspire future toad biologists to want to learn more.

Finally, what is even better is that he has studied children’s literature and his writing is spot on, too. It is full of lively verbs:

One embryo wiggles.
It wriggles.
It jiggles about.

The Hidden Life of a Toad delivers all you can ask for in nonfiction and more. Share it with a young reader today.

Related:
See Growing with Science blog for related activity suggestions.

Visit our growing list of children’s books about frogs and toads.

Similar review previously published on Nonfiction Monday blog.

Disclosure: This book was supplied by my local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.