Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Book of 2011, 2012, 2013...

2003, 2007. Third edition, 2009.
It's not even a children's book, but it should be part of the required reading in Civics/Economics classes in High School (and in college, too)! The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey gripped me from the very beginning. When I got near the end, I didn't even want to check my emails for a week!

This book is FULL of real-life examples of regular people who have gotten out of debt, saved for their children's college funds, set up for retirement, paid off their homes, and built wealth. It is SO awesome, and I'm only on step 3! If one of your goals for 2012 is remotely related to money, then please read this book. It will change your life if you choose to implement his 7 baby steps. The examples are the BEST part of the book. I'm thinking about reading it again!

I'm all fired up. I love to save money, even as a child. Once, I cried because my mom bought me some clothing. I didn't want her to spend all her money on me. I was probably 9 or 10. My sisters all came to me to borrow money (a big no-no, according to Dave, but hey, cut me some slack, I was only 16). $5 here and $10 there. I did a lot of babysitting. It wasn't until I was 18 and working, actually a couple years later, until I started to love to SPEND money. Learning to budget can be tricky. There are so many different ways to approach it. This book doesn't go into detail about how to set up a budget, but it is a very important component of it. The book's motto is "Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else." It's true. If that's what you want, then you have to make sacrifices, but only temporarily.

I'm looking forward to 2012 to see how much fun I'll have following my yearly budget. Hope it goes well. Another companion book is Suze Orman's The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. She does go into detail about how to set up a budget. That's what I did, before I ever heard of Dave's book. I'm saving up to buy a "new" (3-5 years old) car in 8 years. Can't wait to pay cash for it! 2020, here I come!

Happy New Year!

Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas! and a Wordless Picture Book

I'm still alive. Haven't blogged in over a month. Next year, I think I'll take December off. I visited my dad for Thanksgiving. We had a great time. For Christmas, we're staying home. I  think I'll Skype-visit family for Christmas. With all the visiting, decorating, partying, shopping, wrapping, baking, and caroling, I haven't wanted to do any blogging, although I have thought about it some. I've missed it, so I wanted to drop in and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas (or another happy holiday) and a Happy New Year, too!

Today, I'm roasting a turkey. Haven't done that since Home Ec. in 9th grade. I didn't sleep well last night, but not because of my turkey anxiety. My daughter (just turned 5) climbed in the bed with me and I had to sleep squished in the middle all night long. So I'm up bright and early getting ready for the day. Hope to get some laundry done, too.

A cute book to read this season is Peter Spier's Christmas! It is a wordless picture book. Published in the 80's and brings back some fun memories and a feeling of nostalgia. I hope a lot of families still follow these traditions. My family never used real trees, but I often wished we did. Either way, it's such a cute fun little book that honors family togetherness at Christmas. If you get a chance to view a copy, enjoy!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beautiful Writing Is Punful

This week's READ-4-LUCK pick is Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Michael Austin.
"In this humorous retelling of a Cuban folktale, a cockroach interviews her suitors to decide whom to marry."
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Year: 2007
Word Count: 1020
Book Level: 3.1

RATINGS
CHILDREN: 
 
Children love the animals: cockroach, rooster, pig, lizard, mouse. [Disclaimer (hee-hee): This is the second book I've chosen recently for READ-4-LUCK that has cockroaches in it. I promise I don't have roaches in my home, or a secret love for them. Although, Martina IS beautiful.] Does anyone know "who" is the one marrying (performing the ceremony) Martina to her chosen suitor? My kids say it's a praying mantis. I said maybe a grasshopper. Son said maybe it was Martina's dad? Any guesses?

PARENTS:  The illustrations are WONDERFUL! I hope my books will be illustrated this beautifully some day. Full of awesome puns, too. My seven year old is learning the art of puns.

TEACHERS: 
 Great for teaching a lesson on puns, whether for reading OR writing. Also has a great character development component to it about acceptance, kindness, and understanding. Also great to include in a folktale unit.

WRITERS:  
Did I mention I love puns? What a great retelling of a Cuban folktale! The author of this book is one of my favorites. Carmen Agra Deedy also wrote Library Dragon, which I LOVE, and 14 Cows for America, which is very touching.

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roller Coaster Writers

This week's READ-4-LUCK pick is Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.
"Twelve people set aside their fears and ride a roller coaster, including one who has never done so before."
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Year: 2003
Word Count: 238
Book Level: 1.8

RATINGS
CHILDREN: 
 This is definitely a book for picture looking. The people's faces are a hoot! SO much fun to read and LOOK at! We've read it several times.

PARENTS:  Easy book to spark conversation. So much fun to talk about people's feelings. I'm telling you, you won't get tired of reading this one.

TEACHERS: 
 A great book for a writing lesson. Or even a reading lesson. Do a picture walk. Talk about what you think will happen next. Have your students write about something they did for the first time.

WRITERS:  A great book with very low word count. If you aim for the same, study this one. Read it slowly, see what phrases strike you, and pay attention to pacing and page turns. You could even write about something YOU did for the first time. Who cares if it's never published, when you write, you are honing your craft.

What's your favorite roller coaster? (Mine is the one at Ghost Town in Maggie Valley, NC. When I rode it, there were no lines and I did it 4-5 times in a row. Laughed the whole time!)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Helps Prepare for PiBoIdMo


With all the Fall festivities and Trick-or-Treating galore, I find the scheduling of parties and events preparing me for the rigors of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). Not for the ability to receive creativity, but for the daily assignments of reading, writing, thinking, planning, and creating. Good thing PiBoIdMo is in November. See ya'll there!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dumpster Divers Are Environmentalists: Teach Your Kids How to Recycle by Reading

Remember to add to the skunk adventure story with Jared and his younger sister. They're trying to get to school. Jared has a big test. He's all pumped up from his coffee that sis says stinks like skunk. What happens next? It's all up to you!

This week's Read-4-Luck pick is (the feature that acts as a recommendation, review, teaching tip, and writing lessonis The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by David Roberts.
Steve, the electrician, dons special gear, and with the help of youngsters who live in his building, dives into a dumpster seeking useful objects that they can transform into imaginative new ones.
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Year: 2007
Word Count: 559
Book Level: 3.9

RATINGS
CHILDREN: 
 Roaches? You betcha! Kid-friendly creations? You betcha! The illustrations really bring this one alive!

PARENTS: 
 Roaches? No thank you. And who wants their child digging through the trash? No thank you. But, recycling? Yes, yes, YES!!!

TEACHERS: 
 Could definitely use in a recycling unit or to introduce a unit on inventions. Character-building lessons included too!

WRITERS: 
 Just a fun read. Illustrations too fun. Great opening line: Anyone knows you can dive for treasure in the ocean, but our neighbor Steve the Electrician dives for buried treasure RIGHT SMACK HERE in our backstreet alley. Great verbs: slink, dive, splash, measured, drilled. Favorite page? The diving team. Funniest page? The rules page. Favorite invention? An old blender turned into a lava lamp. Best page to read with kids? The inventions pages. Favorite phrase? "Steve says, 'Junk is GOOD!'" The "So, ha!" page? It's in the illustration at the very end when the kids do something sweet.

YOUR TURN: Not that we can all run out and write a Steve story of our own, but perhaps you could sharpen your writing skills by writing a list of things you wished you'd invented, or things you could invent with the trash in your "dumpster" right now. Now choose one item from your list and put it in a story. Use lots of action words. It's okay if it's stupid, just write for fun and if you get a few great phrases, then you have succeeded in today's writing lesson!



Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where, oh, where has my little dog gone? (Talent vs. Skill)

Okay, so not really my little dog, but how about my motivation? I skipped TWO posts last week! What's wrong with me? Alas, today is the beginning of a fresh new week. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes:
"Talent is way down on the list of things you need to write; it comes in a distant fourth, after motivation, discipline, and persistence. And the reason is that "talent" is as common as mud; what's rare is the motivation to sit down and actually do something with it, the discipline to do it regularly, and the persistence to stick with it until it's finished." ~ Patricia Wrede
And another motivational quote:

"Stories are the collective wisdom of everyone who has ever lived. Your job as a storyteller is not simply to entertain. Nor is it to be noticed for the way you turn a phrase. You have a very important job - one of the most important. Your job is to let people know that everyone shares their feelings - and that these feelings bind us. Your job is a healing art, and like all healers, you have a responsibility. Let people know they are not alone. You must make people understand that we are all the same.~ Brian McDonald, The Golden Theme: How to Make Your Writing Appeal to the Highest Common Denominator

The purpose of my blog is two-fold:

  1. To get me to write more, to study more picture books more often, and to have fun by connecting with readers.
  2. To educate, inform, and inspire my readers to learn, grow, and connect. 
One more quote:
Talent alone doesn't get you anywhere - you need hard work, perseverance and patience. Talent without the work is a missed opportunity. Wasted potential. But that's what talent is - potential. ~ Ava Jae
You can read more about that quote in the blog post titled Talent is Overrated at the blog Writeability.

So have a good day, a GREAT week, and fulfill your potential. Go write!

Keep on keepin' on... 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Winner's Circle Saturday: Summer 2011 Winner

JUNGLE ANIMALS Royalty Free Stock Vector Art Illustration
istockphotos
The Lucky Clover Picture Book Writing Contest is announcing its winner for the Summer 2011 contest. Thank you to everyone who entered. It was a tough decision and lots of fun. You can now enter the Fall 2011 contest (click above for details). The deadline is December 24, 2011.

Congratulations to...

Caterina Malerba!

Her book, Jungle Jam, is cute, funny, and clever. Jungle friends are trying to jam out to music in the jungle, but the conductor is unhappy with the results of each practice. When monkey interrupts with a startling discovery, the results aren't what you think.

Your critique should arrive in your e-mail within a couple of weeks.    

Hope to see more entries for the Fall 2011 contest throughout the coming weeks.

Keep on keepin' on...