Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Serpentine or Elephantine?

are always a little...

Big, big, big.
And lumbering.
They chomp bamboo like toothpicks.
Stomp and shove and shoulder.
Elephants do tricks
and live to a ripe old age.


Bigger than monsters, 
are they afraid of much?
Huge as giants, do they roar?
Elephants trumpet and harrumph into their trunks
But do elephants snore?

in their wrinkled grandeur
make me feel 
small, small, small.


If I were a snake,
I would sob 
into my thin second skin,
"Why don't I have arms?
Or friends?
Legs would be so nice."
"At least I can eat mice."   

How do you move through life? 
or face-first?

For a lovely poem about elephants and other majestic animals, you simply must read A.A.Milne's The Four Friends, (found in the book When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne).

And here's a fun book:
Chameleon's Colors by Chisato Tashiro

Friday, May 20, 2011

Writing, Part III: Adventures in Sun and Sin

The sun is out!

Birdy is crawling!

Our adventures begin.

Or do they?

Why do fictional characters need flaws?

Author Roseanne Parry expounded on this at my SCBWI writing conference last month.
She said that children's book writers are generally nice, decent people
who write about nice, decent kids.

But stories are about ADVENTURES,
and nice, decent kids don't have ADVENTURES.

ADVENTURES happen to characters who are familiar with the


To get a better idea of how this works in fiction, we looked at well-known literary characters and tried to pin down their outstanding sins: Harry Potter, Ian Falconer's OliviaHamlet, The Three Little Pigs, The Little Red Hen.  

Think about a favorite book. Which sins most tempt its main characters?

How nice, decent kids say "KEEP OUT!":

Before hearing Roseanne Parry speak, I didn't allow my main characters to deal with real, flesh and blood sins. I wanted them to be good role models. 

Now I get it. 

We don't love Harry Potter because he obeys the rules 
and keeps his temper and makes everybody happy.

We love him because he's flawed. Like us. 
Tempted by anger and vanity, envy and sloth. Like us. 
 What sins do your main characters struggle with?

Books by Roseanne Parry:


Enjoy your adventures, my friends! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Get in Touch With Your Feltings

Time to Make Gifts for our Lovelies.
Teacher Clips:

We folded felt over paper clips, added felt shapes, used spots of glue to hold. 

Sewing time: a little whipstitch around the edge 

We have a bloom of flowers and bugs for our favorite kinder-"Gardener"!

Felt Flower Clips and Corsages:

Cut scallops in a strip of felt,
gather and pinch each scallop into a petal
Fasten with a quick tacking stitch or two.
Continue to gather, pinch and stitch remaining petals together.

To make into a hair clip: sew or glue the flower to a clip.

Even Easier Felt Flowers:
Cut a flower or butterfly shape from felt.
Bunch it together in the center. 
Sew the bunchy part with several tacking stitches. 

We layered two flowers,
stitched them to a safety pin

added a button.

A non-wilting corsage!

A great making-things book:

Fanny, by Holly Hobbie

The Frugal Girls

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writing, Part Two: Science, Snails and Santats

"Oh No! How My Science Project Destroyed the World" 
by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat.

Ah, Science Fairs. This book says it all.
Pip and Winnie can relate.

First Science Fair.

Yes, we did have a pet snail for 3 days.

And our pet snail did not Destroy the World or anything in it.
That slimy mollusk hid the entire three days we had him. 
So we let him go.
Hey, I'm a writer, not a scientist. 
I didn't want to accidentally kill him off.
We made snail paper dolls instead.

We had sweet plans for next year's Science Fair
until OH NO! came along!
They're done for.
So much for gastropods and homemade lava lamps.
They want to make a ROBOT that destroys the world.

Thank you, Dan Santat.

This is Mr. Santat after signing miles of books at the SCBWI Western Washington conference.

Advice from the author/illustrator: 
  • Find out what you LOVE and then take baby steps to get there  
  • Give one hundred fifty percent in your work
  • If the choice presents itself to have a lot of money or do what you love, stay faithful to what you love (for Dan, this is making children's books and being with his family. Yay, Santat!)
  • Be a self-promoter
Stay tuned next week for more conference gleanings - wise words from Deborah Wiles, Holly Black and Roseanne Parry!

More books with Dan Santat's gigantic skills:

I'm still waking up before the rooster crows to do NaPiBoWriWee.
Give it a try if you feel brave! It's much easier than swimming with polar bears.


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