#Cybils #Kidlit Nomination Lists Make Great Reading

Are you looking for some outstanding children’s literature?

CybilsIn October each year the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (Cybils) gather nominations for the best reads from the previous 12 months. I can not overstate what a fabulous resource this is!

The lists are organized by age level/genre, so you can find appropriate books easily. I always make sure to look at the nominations for Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction. You also might want to re-visit because as the year progresses most of the books on the lists will have multiple links to reviews by the judges, who are experienced book bloggers.

Insider tip:  Are you a writer? Not only are the lists places to find great new books to read, but also you can see which publishers have been active and what they’re promoting. Another way to stay up to date.

As you can see, there are many reasons to check out the Cybils website today.


#Kidlit Polly (The Goat) and Her Duck Costume

When I was young, I really wanted a goat to take care of. I thought they were inquisitive and playful, and would be fun to get to know. We lived on a farm, but my parents didn’t like goats and so it never happened.

Now the current generation of children can be introduced to goats through the new picture book Polly and Her Duck Costume by Leanne Lauricella and illustrated by Jill Howarth.

Although this book may look like a fictional story, as the blurb says, it is “the true story of a little blind rescue goat.” It is part of a new series Lauricella has written to help fund her Goats of Anarchy farm animal rescue.

The story and the illustrations are over-the-top adorable. It is hard not to be charmed by the face of a tiny blind goat peering out of a huge duck costume. The photographs of the little goats in the back matter will melt the toughest heart.

If the book was only about cute, however, I probably wouldn’t mention it. It has another important message. Polly the goat suffers from anxiety. Being wrapped in blankets at first and later the duck costume, helps her cope. Parents and educators who work with children with anxiety might find the book a useful gateway to a discussion about anxiety, weighted blankets, etc. It might also be informative for siblings and classmates.

Polly and Her Duck Costume is a book about a little goat who needed special assistance. Maybe her story will be of some service to readers, as well. Who knows where it might lead?

Age Range: 5 – 6 years
Publisher: Walter Foster Jr (September 12, 2017)
ISBN-10: 163322418X
ISBN-13: 978-1633224186

Public domain photograph via VisualHunt.com

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.

Fine Art Adventures #Kidlit from @ChiReviewPress

For Nonfiction Monday, we have a new title from Chicago Review Press, Fine Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Classic Masterpieces by Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw.

For years I volunteered for Art Masterpiece, which was a program started by the Phoenix Art Museum to help bring art to schools. For each classroom session we would bring a print of a famous painting, discuss it, and then have a hands-on art project related to the piece. The kids loved it and got so much out of it. You should have seen their eyes light up when they saw us come in the door.

Fine Art Adventures follows the same format and would be perfect for a similar offering. Featuring 18 well-known classic works of art, children learn about the background of the art and artist, and then have their choice of hands-on activities to explore related art concepts and techniques.

As Mike Norris, staff educator at the Metropolitan Museum for Art says:

…the genius of this book is that each activity — designed for the skills of children aged between six and eight — extends logically from the original artwork, no matter what its medium, providing refreshing insights about painters and painting.

The projects range from creating a Pointillist artwork using paints and a toothbrush, to making a shoebox diorama to accompany Henry Rousseau’s Surprised!

One question you might have is whether this book is for adults or children. The brilliance of Chicago Review Press books is that, with their easy-to-read and easy-to-use format, they work for both. The suggested age range is 6 and up.

Fine Art Adventures is a great resource for either school or home use. The best part is no experience is needed!

Art Activity Inspired by Fine Art Adventures

Patterns:  Lines, shapes, and colors

Henry Matisse’s The Snail is featured in Fine Art Adventures on page 10. Our Art Masterpiece collection used a print of Matisse’s Purple Robe and Anemones, which is a lovely painting full of vibrant colors and patterns. Although it seems like re-creating the look of the print for an art project might require multiple media and drying time between layers, the secret is to use color changing markers. The markers allow the young artist to fill an area with one color and then add lines/patterns by drawing over the filled area with the color changer pen. Fun and easy!

  1. Share image of Henry Matisse’s Purple Robe and Anemones
  2. Ask the students look for repeating lines or shapes that make patterns. Look at the robe, the wall, the floor, the vase. What about the designs on the tablecloth? Do any of the patterns repeat in other areas, perhaps in another color? Are there any places without lines? (the flowers, fruit, woman’s face)
  3. Gather:
  • Color Changing Markers
  • Paper
  • Other art supplies such as Sharpies, cray pas, etc. (optional)

Crayola Color Changing Markers

Let the children experiment with the markers and/or explain how to use the markers, if needed. For a project inspired by the painting, have them draw a simple vase on a table. Add flowers and fill in the background by adding repeating lines and shapes to different areas.

Once they’ve gotten the idea, let their imaginations soar.

Looking for a way to make this a STEAM project? Check out this video which explains a bit about how the color changing markers work and how to do an experiment to discover more.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Age Range: 6 and up
Grade Level: 1 and up
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (September 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0912777044
ISBN-13: 978-0912777047

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.


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

#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?