Archive for ‘On Writing’

July 26, 2013

Little Red Writing Hood

OMG THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!!! I squealed with excitement when I opened up the package from Chronicle Books and saw the cover. Then I squealed some more as I realized just how tremendously awesome the story was. I only just stopped squealing a few moments ago so I could share all this goodness with you! Here’s the deal. Little Red Writing is the kind of picture book you can’t help but pick up. The cover is beautiful, the colors brilliant, and the story hook tempting. Little Red Writing is a pencil? And she wants to tell a story? And she gets lost on the way to the end!!!

It’s a children’s writer’s/teacher’s/librarian’s dream come true. But here’s the good part–the kids are going to love it too. The small ones, who won’t know what a conjunction is for many a year to come, will just love the funny story of the pencil and the really gorgeously original illustrations. The older ones will love a fun reminder about how to write a story. The story starts out with Little Red’s teacher, Ms. 2 (love it!) asking the class to write a story.

littleredwriting

Title: Little Red Writing
Author: Joan Holub
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 2 – 8

Little Red begins to write:

Once there was a brave red pencil who went on a journey. As she walked along…

But then a thought bubble from Little Red interrupts the story:

Walking is boring, decided Little Red. She wanted her story to be exciting. She went to the gym and was quickly drawn into action. (LOVE THAT WRITING!) She bounced! She boogied! Then she cartwheeled right off the page…

Okay, there you go, only a few pages into the book and already a lovely little lesson about using more powerful verbs to tell your story. But it gets better, because Little Red tumbles into…

a deep, dark, descriptive forest.

Ha! Has anyone ever heard the editing advice that you should go through your manuscript and throw out all the adjectives? Well, that might be a tad harsh, but it has a ring of truth in it and even this picture book is here to warn you about it! Then LIttle Red meets some “conjunction glue” and she squeezed the bottle. What happens?

Too many glue words came out! So that is how she found herself writing a sentence that would not end but just kept going and going and running on and on although it had no purpose yet it would not…

Yes! It’s true. The book DOES just keep getting better and better. And if you have an older kid, they could find all the conjunctions on that page. Little Red Writing doesn’t just learn about parts of speech, she also learns about parts of a story.

It was the middle of her story, where something exciting should happen. And it did.

You, too will love this story all the way to principal granny and the Wolf 3000 pencil sharpener. And your kids will be introduced to so many features of writing, whether you help them realize it or not! This book comes out in September, just in time to get your pencils sharpened!

And if you liked this book, check out two word smithing books: Ann And Nan Are Anagrams and Wumbers.

July 18, 2013

anagram THIS

Okay, don’t do that because that would mean a different four-letter word and this is a family-friendly blog. But if you would like to work on some other anagrams, boy do I have the book for you. I LOVE this book! One of the most excited things about having a book blog is getting unexpected goodies in the mail. And Chronicle Books always sends me some awesome ones.

annandnanTitle: Ann and Nan are Anagrams
Author: Mark Shulman
Illustrator: Adam McCauley
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 4 – 9

Ann and Nan are Anagrams is a picture book filled with anagrams. (In case you are thinking “WHAT is she talking about?”, an anagram is a word or a phrase rearranged to make another word or phrase. Like Ann and Nan in the title of this book. Or spot, stop, tops, pots, and post on pages 4 and 5.)

There are some anagrams in the text itself.

Then she whispered like a wise shepherd.

Or how about one of my favorites:

…bring me your aunt. She’s a nut.

And as you might expect, the anagramming leads the story a bit, which leads to a crazy, goofy plot. This page gets an interesting illustration:

The schoolmaster was in the classroom teaching vowels to wolves and feeding presents to serpents.

There are also anagrams spread through the illustrations. Such as “eleven plus two = twelve plus one” on the chalkboard at school or “Gold Roaches Grade School” on the door.

The illustrations are bright and fun and remind me of an old circus poster for some reason. Maybe the fancy fonts (to point out the anagrams) combined with all the yellows and reds.

I love this book for a young reader or even a pre-reader who is learning a few words, because they can really stop and enjoy the words. It teaches them that stories are made of words and words are made of letters and that sometimes, there’s a lot of fun to be had in that!

Let your kids find the anagrams in the text. (It’s made easier with matching font for each one. And you can move on to the anagrams hidden in the pictures as well. Then have them make up their own anagrams. You could write letters on index cards and have them mix and match them around until they find different words. (For example, give them one card with “S”, one with “P”, one with “O” and one with “T” and see if they can rearrange them to make the words from the book I listed above.) Good luck!

March 26, 2013

Win something to read when you’re done swimming

Are you taking the kids to the lake this summer? Maybe you are going for awhile and need something to do when it’s time to come in from the sun? Or they need a break from the rain? Reading A Day At The Lake would be a great place to start, and then they could make up their own sound-alike words. “Flippity swish wish we were fish” is such a great line. Younger kids could think of alternatives for “flippity swish”. What are some other good words (or neologisms, they don’t have to be real words!) for fish movement? Or instead of fish, what about a butterfly, bird, cat, dog, squirrel, deer, raccoon, small child, car, motor boat, sail boat…I could go on forever!


aDayattheLake_8_9

Literacy doesn’t have to end when school is out and it doesn’t have to be limited to reading and writing. You could think of these words over ice cream cones on the porch or fish tacos at the dinner table. Encourage your kids to play with words–after they’ve played outside–and they will be hitting all kinds of multiple intelligences on what they think is just a fun family vacation.

I love the way this book plays with words, and your kids just might be inspired by that. There is some not-overwhelming rhyme, some great onomatopoeia (look that one up with the kids if they don’t know it yet!), gorgeous illustrations as you can see, and when it’s all said and done, a very fun day at the lake.

aDayattheLake_5

Win this great book by commenting below. Tell me what you like to do with your kids in the summer, and if you have any good ideas about keeping literacy alive in between campouts, let me know that, too! You have until Saturday, March 29th, at midnight Eastern time to leave your comment. Winners will be announced next week. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL OR SOME WAY FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU IN CASE YOU WIN!

aDayattheLake_coverTitle: A Day at the Lake
Authors: Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders
Illustrator: Erica Pelton Villnave
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Want more chances to win this book? Check out the full blog tour schedule here.

March 20, 2013

Vote for Little Fox (and me!)

Vote for Little Fox (and me!)

It’s the first day of Spring today, or so my know-it-all 5yo tells me. But no one told the Michigan weather gods because it’s 25 and snowing right now. I love the snow. I really do, but I’m kind of done with it. I have seeds ready to plant! I have a bike to ride! I have outdoor furniture to sit in!

So, in honor of the Spring that I wish was here, I wrote a short story for a Spring-themed contest. And I’m one of the seven finalists! (Out of 40-something, I think). You can vote for me. (Little Fox’s Springs, entry #6) at this link. Thanks in advance!

March 18, 2013

What’s Spring?

There’s no better way to get kids interacting with reading than by writing their own stories. For little kids, you can have them tell you a story and you can write it down. Give them a prompt, or choose a favorite book and have then write a sequel. Or choose a favorite character and have them write another story with that character.

Older kids might like to rewrite a favorite story from the point of view of a more minor character, inventing things that happen to that character when they are “off camera”, or not on the page of the actual book.

To get my creative juices going, I’m responding today to a writing prompt on the awesome Susanna Hill’s blog. The challenge was to write a story about Spring in 350 words or less that ends with a specific line. Here’s my attempt. (349 words!*)

***********************************************

Little Fox’s Springs

Little Fox was almost one year old.

LIttle Fox remembered summer. He played in the sun and swam in the brook.

Little Fox remembered fall. He hid in the leaves and ran with the wind.

Little Fox remembered winter. He cuddled with his mama and tunneled in the snow.

But he didn’t remember spring. It was so long ago!

“What’s spring?” he asked his mama.

“Spring is when you were born,” said his mama.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox tiptoed out of his den. He found Jackrabbit.

“What’s spring?” he asked Jackrabbit.

“A spring is a bounce!” said Jackrabbit. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Jackrabbit sprung around the meadow and back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He found Raven.

“What’s spring?” he asked Raven.

“A spring is a coil that wiggles and jiggles. Here, I’ll show you.” And Raven flew to his nest, rifled through twigs and toys and carried a spring back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a new toy spring in his paw. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Moose.

“What’s spring?” he asked Moose.

“A spring is delicious!” said Moose. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Moose trod to a small hole in the moss where clear water was bubbling. Little Fox took a drink.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox, licking his lips.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a toy spring in his paw and some fresh spring water in his tummy. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Deer.

“What’s spring?” he asked Deer.

But Deer couldn’t talk. She was busy with two very tiny, very spotted fawns.

Little Fox remembered what his mama had said. He was born in the spring. The fawn gave Little Fox a slobbery kiss.

Little Fox knew spring was here at last.

***********************************************

Now you write your story!

*Note to contest judges: I don’t have a Word Processor on my new(!) computer yet, so I entered this into seven (7!) different online word counters. 349 was the number that came up most often (3 times). 3 counters got a lower number and 1 got a higher number, so it seemed safe to assume I’m within the legal limit!

Tags: , ,
April 13, 2012

I’m buying my own mother’s day present this year!

I’ve always tinkered with writing: I have notebooks full of poems and essays from high school, college, and even yesterday. But I never really considered it seriously until one fairly awful trip through airport security after 9/11. It wasn’t pretty. As I started to think about my experience on the way home, I took out my laptop and typed an essay: an essay, I thought, that like all my other essays would just get filed away for my own pleasure.

But then on a whim, I edited it and sent that essay to the Christian Science Monitor. And what do you know? They published it! Well, many articles and essay submissions later, I’ve learned that the odds aren’t always that good.

But recently I found another break: an essay I submitted to the radio show This I Believe many years ago was to be included in their newest book of essays called This I Believe: On Motherhood. I held my breath throughout the entire editing and publishing process, expecting something to wrong, but it didn’t. And now, the book is out in stores and I’m so excited!

So if you get it definitely check out the essay “Motherhood Is Real” by yours truly on page 161. And then buy an extra for a mother you know–it makes a great Mother’s Day gift!

You can get it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or an indie bookstore near you!

November 2, 2011

where’s the girl stuff at the science museum?

Writing about girls and science and stereotypes and all that is wrong with the world at ParentMap.

October 28, 2011

the furious dragon that blows fire and is not nice

I read a great book this week. It was penned on my living room carpet (the one wearing three years worth of stains from juice boxes and wine boxes, unsupervised sharpie markers, vomiting and potty-training children, and who knows what else).

The book is called “The furious dragon that blows fire and is not nice”. The title, as you can see, tells you a lot about the temperament of the main character. It also tells you a little bit about the temperament of the author, who is currently and lunatic-ly a three-and-a-half year-old. He narrated it as I wrote. I will relate it in its entirety, with commentary:

“First, the dragon gets in his cave. He walks around it and tries to get lions and tigers and bears.* Then the dragon gets very mad and very fast.** Then the knight comes and looks for that dragon. Then he gets on his horse. The dragon looks for that knight. The dragon keeps blowing fire and trying to look for the knight. Then the dragon finally finds the knight. The knight kicks the dragon. Then the knight dashes the dragon down.*** They still fight mean.**** Then they hit each other. Then they stop being mean. Then they hear a noise…”*****

*Scribe’s note 1: Oh my! Yes, we are VERY into the Wizard of Oz. The author is planning to be the Tin Man for Halloween.

**Scribe’s note 2: The author also gets very fast when he is very mad. I think like most first novels, this book is partly autobiographical.

***Scribe’s note 3: I’m not sure the exact meaning of “to dash down” but it is clearly violent and said with a lot of volume and emotion. (Volume and emotion go together in the same way as the previously mentioned qualities, speed and anger.)

****Scribe’s note 4: This page was written after I reminded the author that he only had a few pages left. (We had created and bound the book before writing it.) I think it was his way of saying “So what? you can’t force a peaceful resolution on me!”

*****Scribe’s note 5: Showing that he’s learning something about stories, if not his own temper, he decides when faced with the last page to end the fighting. But not the suspense. You should hear “DUH, DUH, DUH” playing as the story ends.

Follow up with the kids

No, you can’t find this book on Amazon. Not yet, at least. But you could find one a lot like it in your own living room. Sometimes the best stories for finding a connection with your kids aren’t already published and on a shelf somewhere. Sometimes you need to take a stack of paper, punch some holes, tie it together with ribbons (Halloween ribbon in our case) and let imagination fly. Chances are, you will find out something your child won’t otherwise tell you (like the fact that when he’s frustrated and doesn’t always know what to do with his anger he wishes there were a dragon he could dash down).

Writing a book like this with your child not only gives you insight into what they are feeling and thinking, it also helps them practice story-telling skills, using their imagination, feeling empathy for characters, and problem-solving (unless, of course they decide to ignore the problem in their story and just continue the fighting…)

You can be creative about how you make the book. Don’t stop with just stapling (or tying) paper together. If you have an older child who has worked hard on the book, consider scanning in the drawings and printing the book out. Or sending it to a printer as a photo album and getting a nice hardbound copy printed out. (Think holiday presents!)

If drawing isn’t your child’s thing, or they are searching for inspiration, consider cutting magazine photos for the pictures, or printing out family photos for a fun family-inspired story.

Have fun with this! And I hope your knight and dragon, or your princess and unicorn, or whatever the story is, becomes a wonderful family memory.

May 13, 2011

All about momming, in six short words

Ever just wanted to explain yourself?  As a mom, a date, a friend, or just a human?  Smith magazine allows you to do so, and only requires six words!  In fact, they mandate that it’s only six words, which is what makes it so difficult.  They published a really popular book of six-word memoirs and now manage a website where anyone can publish their own–as many as they like.

Recently, one of my “momoirs” was chosen to be featured in the Huffington Post in an article about six-word momoirs for Mother’s Day.  You can read it here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-smith/mothers-day_b_853780.html#s275300&title=Wendy_Lawrence

If you are interested in other six-word memoirs I’ve written, you can check out my page at Smith: http://www.smithmag.net/community/people.php/WendyLou

January 26, 2011

Illustrator Video Giveaway

I am very excited about this!  One week from today on Wednesday, February 2, I will be posting a giveaway great for anyone aspiring to illustrate children’s books!  The video series, hosted by a published children’s illustrator Will Terry, will give you tricks of the trade from the mechanics of drawing, color, and technique to the literary qualities of creating a good character.  Check back for my blog entry and comment on the entry to win!  (Or subscribe to the blog now so you know you won’t miss the post!)

Anyone who writes a comment on the blog entry will be entered. 

(UPDATE: Because I’m clearly new at giveaways and don’t give great instructions, your name will be entered whether you comment on THIS POST OR the GIVEAWAY POST on FEB 2.  So you have from now until 36 hours after the Feb 2 post to comment in order to win.  If that isn’t clear enough, then just email me!)

Entry rules as follows:

  1. one entry per person
  2. additional entries for each of the following: being subscribed to the blog; posting a link to this blog entry on facebook or a relevant listserv
  3. comments must include an email for notifying you if you win

All names will be put in a hat, one drawn at random, and the winner notified by email.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 681 other followers