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??????????You know I love lists. I’m a listophile. This blog features t a list of 500+ Things that Kids Like, Things They DON’T Like, and a list of over 200 fun, cool and interesting words. List-o-mania! List-o-rama! The lister! (Pretend I’m talking in Rob Schneider’s SNL “annoying office guy” voice.)

Today I invited debut author Darlene Beck Jacobson to the blog to share the Top 10 Toys and Candies of the early 1900’s, the time when times, well, they were a-changin’. It was also the time during her new middle grade novel, WHEELS OF CHANGE! (Don’t you just LOVE that cover?)

TOP TEN TOYS OF 1900-1920

  1. Teddy Bear (1902)—in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who, on a hunting trip, had an opportunity to kill a bear and didn’t.
  2. Erector Set—invented by AC Gilbert, a gold medal Olympian in the 1908 Pole Vault.
  3. Lionel Trains (1901)
  4. Lincoln Logs (1916)
  5. Raggedy Ann Doll
  6. Radio Flyer Wagon (1917)
  7. Tinker Toys (1914)
  8. Crayola Crayons 8 pack (1903)
  9. Tin Toys
  10. Tiddlywinks

Other popular toys of the time  included: Baseball Cards (1900), Ping Pong (1901), Jigsaw Puzzle (1909), Snap Card Game, playing cards, marbles, checkers, chess, yo-yos, wooden tops and (of course) dolls.

Let’s see, what would the top 10 toys of today be? I think Teddy Bears might still have a shot at it. Maybe Crayola crayons, too. But I bet no one back then could envision an app being the most popular toy. (An app? they might say. You mean a tiny apple?)

Now let’s devour the top tasty treats of the era!

POPULAR CANDY FROM 1900-1920

  1. Candy Corn (1880-s)
  2. Juicy Fruit Gum, Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum (1893)
  3. Tootsie Rolls (1896)
  4. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (1900) with Almonds (1908)
  5. Necco Wafers (1901)
  6. Conversation Hearts (1902)
  7. Brach Wrapped Caramels (1904)
  8. Hershey Milk Chocolate Kisses (1906)
  9. Peppermint Lifesavers (1912)

Hmm, I think Hershey would still rank pretty high today. But my kids love Sour Patch and Fun Dip and AirHeads and all kinds of gross things now. Give me a Hershey’s any day (although make it a Cookies-n-Cream bar).

Last night was back-to-school night at my daughter’s elementary, and I’m astounded every year when the principal says, “Our children will be working in fields  that haven’t even been invented yet.” That’s how fast things are moving. I’m sure in another hundred years the top toys will be time machines and molecular transporters that will bring the catchphrase “Beam me up, Scotty” back in style.

Today’s world is moving fast, and that tempo is paralleled in WHEELS OF CHANGE with racial intolerance, social change and sweeping progress. It is a turbulent time growing up in 1908. For twelve year old EMILY SOPER, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic. Emily is more at homehearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer, than trying to conform to the proper expectations of females. Many prominent people own Papa’s carriages. He receives an order to make one for President Theodore Roosevelt. Papa’s livelihood becomes threatened by racist neighbors, and horsepower of a different sort. Emily is determined to save Papa’s business even if she has to go all the way to the President.

Sounds exciting, right? IT IS!

And guess what, you have yet another chance to win another book! Leave a comment stating what YOU think the #1 toy and #1 candy is right now, in 2014. You have until the last seconds of September 29th to enter. The winner receives WHEELS OF CHANGE.

To learn more about Darlene Beck Jacobsen and WHEELS OF CHANGE, visit DarleneBeckJacobson.com.

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Tara and Darlene at NJ-SCBWI 2013!

 

chieuby author Chieu Urban

Thank you Tara, for inviting me to spread awareness of Books and Smiles for Haiti to this talented group of authors, illustrators, agents, editors, and children’s book enthusiasts.

For the past few summers, I have shared my books with the children of Haiti, and the pictures and smiles and thankful notes I’ve received remind me of why I enjoy creating books for kids. I think that it would be fantastic if they were to receive even more books from our community.

Please join me in sharing your wonderful books for the sweet children of Haiti. Although their needs are much bigger, these gifts will bring smiles to their faces and joy to their day.

I am thankful to President Steven Mooser of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for kindly donating two boxes of books and jump starting the campaign! The amazing people of Life Connection Mission are dedicated to getting the books to the children. They are a non-profit organization serving the poorest children in the Western Hemisphere. A special thank you to the generous authors, illustrators, and children’s book community who have already contributed to this project.

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Photo courtesy of Life Connection Mission

We are collecting board books, picture books, beginning readers, and information books with pictures of animals, science, space, and more.

Our goal is to have a really great collection of books by the end of the school year, when they will be crated up and transported to Haiti. I am very excited about this project and look forward to partnering with our talented children’s book community.

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Photo courtesy of Life Connection Mission

If you would like to participate in Books and Smiles for Haiti, please email me at chieuurbanstudio (at) gmail (dot) com for the mailing address. Together, we will see our efforts grow. Please join our Facebook group page for updates.

Thank you, Chieu!

And now for the giveaway…

If you pledge to donate to Books and Smiles for Haiti, I will enter you into a drawing for a picture book critique from me, Tara Lazar. I will keep the comment thread open through the month of March. Just leave a comment stating you’ve donated in order to be eligible for the critique. And thank you for supporting this wonderful cause!

You know, picture book authors and teachers have oodles in common. We all love kids, we’re often underpaid, and we deal with constant parent criticism. Really, we could be twins. Except teachers must get groomed and dressed every morning while we authors get to lounge around in jammies all day. (Sorry, it’s one of the professional perks.)

I do Skype visits in my jammies--whichever kind the kids pick. This time it was ice skate jammies!

I do Skype visits in my jammies–whichever kind the kids pick. This time it was ice skate jammies!

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That’s why I was surprised when I spoke to a group of 50 teachers last week and not a single one had ever used Skype in the classroom. We’re not so twinsy after all?

I connect with a lot of teachers online, so I mistakenly assumed that a majority already took advantage of this technology. But I learned that lack of time and resources—plus occasional lack of the internet—means Skype doesn’t get utilized. Some schools even have privacy concerns and other rules preventing its use.

But that’s too bad! Why should it be?  If schools can’t afford to bring an author in to speak, Skype provides a free next-best-thing alternative. Author Kate Messner maintains a list of authors who offer free 15-minute Skypes, and a searchable database of Skype-able authors is available at skypeanauthor.wikifoundry.com. With World Read Aloud Day approaching on March 5, think of how excited students will be to hear an author read their own book. It’s magical. Kids consider authors the “rock stars” of the written word.

shannonmmillerJust ask Shannon McClintock Miller’s students. She’s District Teacher Librarian at Van Meter Community School in Van Meter, Iowa and has invited authors/illustrators into her library via Skype for the last six years!

I asked Shannon a few questions to help other teachers get started with their own Skype program…

Shannon, what can a teacher do if their administration is skeptical about Skype?

If the administration is resistant, teachers need to show examples, show the importance, show the impact it can have on the students. They also need to reassure them that the kids are safe, that they know what they are doing…that they understand the “digital citizenship” impact.

When we started out, we practiced Skyping into each others’ rooms. I would read from my library office to the kids down the hall over Skype. We were then able to teach them about Skype, how to behave, that it was just an “extension” of their classroom. All those silly behaviors that we see at first when kids are put in front of a camera can be talked about and addressed. Make sure your administraion knows this.

The impact of bringing in not just authors, but other experts and professionals, takes the library or classroom outside of the four walls and into the world. It brings the children experiences that they might not have otherwise.

skypeWhat is your Skype set-up like?

We have a computer with a camera and that is what I use. I have it connected to a projector so the kids can see the author or visitor. You don’t have to have a fancy set up to make this work. It can be simple. And kids can also gather around the laptop on the table, which is what we usually do because they like to be close to the author. Also, it’s very important to have speakers set up. Have the kids be able to come up easily and ask questions, too.

I love how mobile my set-up makes me. I can go anywhere with my laptop…and make connections happen naturally. I also use my phone and iPad with Skype, too. Last year took my phone to our pasture for a class of Kindergarteners to see our horse. It works—the connection, the relationships are what is important.

Also, it’s important to have the author’s book available. We have even read the book along on our iPad if the book is an eBook, too. Or I have printed off papers from the Skype visitors to have for the kids.

We are renovating our library and this is a very important part of the new design. But I want people to know—you can have it be very simple, too.

What have been some of your most memorable Skype author/illustrator experiences?

We have had so many wonderful Skype visits.

  • Mercer Mayer was very special because being one of the favorite of all kids (and teachers)… And my cousin (with whom I teach) asked me for her kindergarteners.
  • Michael Buckley led an hour-long discussion as a culminating event with our 5th graders and also had fun with us on the last day of school last year.
  • Tom Angelberger has Skyped with us several times to create Origami Yodas.
  • Robert Forbes and Mrs. P read poetry together for our Poetry Summit with five other schools around the world.
  • Peter Reynolds Skyped from his home studio. Being an artist and friend of Peter’s, this was very special.
  • Loren Long Skyped for Read Across America Day 
  • This fall we have been Skyping with Capstone Publishing Art Studio. And LOVED this one
  • I know I am leaving out so many of my favorite friends and visits…I could go on and on.

vanmeterHow do you feel these visits have impacted your students?

I feel that these visits bring great experiences and connections to our students. By Skyping with authors, they can discuss writing, publishing, reading, brainstorming, etc. By Skyping with illustrators, they can discuss being an artist for books, for authors, how they got involved and the process.

A lot of times the authors talk about writing when they were younger—how they went to school, where they trained and how they got better at writing.

We have Skyped with publishers to understand the process of writing and publishing a book.

We get to bring the world to our children through these virtual visits.

Thank you, Shannon! It’s interesting to hear from a school system that has been utilizing Skype to its full advantage!

So, how about YOU?

Are you a teacher, educator or librarian eager to try Skype? I’m offering free 15-minute Skype sessions for World Read Aloud Day on March 5th!

monstorefrontcover

I will read my book THE MONSTORE, tell students a SECRET about the book and then answer their questions. (I also perform a magic trick made possible only by this amazing technology and the warping of the space-time continuum.)

Just email me at tarawrites (at) yahoo (dot you-know-what-else) and we can set up a time slot!

Happy Skyping to all!

Ryan_headshotby Ryan Sias

I met Tara a few years ago at an SCBWI event; her enthusiasm for books is infectious. What I love about picture books is how they spark children’s imaginations. In between working on books, I do these free weekly creative projects for kids under the name Sias Studios.

SiasStudio_logo_smallSias Studios‘ free weekly emails are designed to promote creative thinking and foster children’s imaginations. Our original art projects encourage kids to invent their own stories and make art without boundaries. We provide a springboard for you child to dive into artistic discovery!

Our silly and fun material engages children to create a positive art experience. Suggested for ages four to eleven—or anyone who is a kid at heart! Just print and color!

skunkchef

Ostrich_p02

Hound_p03_BIG

When you sign up to the mailing list at SiasStudios.com, we will email you our free weekly art projects. The emails will contain a downloadable PDF—just hit the button and print from your home computer. It’s easy, creative, and fun!

Click here to see our most recent project.

We suggest you do these activities along with your child. Show them how fun it is to brainstorm and create their own stories, and encourage them to keep asking questions.

ZebraT_p02

Ryan, what gave you the idea to start this fun program?

The concept came from a combination of ideas. First, I love drawing with my nieces and nephews, it’s always silly and crazy. They live in other states so I don’t get to do it as often as I like. Next was the fact schools are always cutting art classes, and I worry that kids are not developing their creativity. I wanted to do something for every kid that was super-wacky fun, something that encourages art brainstorming.

Then while on a walk the idea hit me. I should combine these ideas into one project!

That afternoon I sent some art projects to my nieces and then thought why not open this up to everyone?!

What has been your favorite project thus far?

The newest project is always my favorite because its new. I love creating wacky characters, so the trill of that is exciting. My favorite one is Waffle Dude; the idea just tickles me.

waffledude

waffledudejoey

biggerwaffledude

Ryan Sias has been making kids laugh and helping them learn for over two decades. A twenty-year veteran of animation, film, and television, he has directed projects for Barney and Chuck E. Cheese, and created story art for Sesame Street, Pinky Dinky Doo for Nick Jr., and Maya & Miguel for PBS.

Ryan’s illustrated picture book “Are You Eating Something Red?” was selected by the Museum of Modern Art  to be included in the MOMA Store’s children’s catalogue. His latest book “Zoe & Robot: Let’s Pretend” is available on Amazon. Ryan’s comics have appeared in Nickelodeon Magazine and Mad Magazine.

Ryan also makes appearances at schools and libraries. His “Story Laboratory” workshop teaches drawing and storytelling in an entertaining and collaborative presentation. Contact Sias Studios for information on booking your own “Story Laboratory“!

While my daughters were home from school last week, we got inspired by illustrator Aaron Zenz and his creative children who blog at Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. The Z-Family recently collected rocks and sticks, painted them, and planted them around their town to brighten the day of unsuspecting locals.

We decided to do the same—give rocks some smiles and let a neighbor stumble across a fine-lookin’ paper weight. Or new pet. Or objet d’art.

While the Z-Family collected beach pebbles, we live on a mountain (those from the Rockies would call this a hill), so we collected small boulders. My littlest child picked the largest rocks and had to drag her bag home.

Here’s the family of rocks we painted, each with its own unique personality. (Yes, we named them.) Later this week, we’ll stash them in nooks and crannies around town and see if any lucky folks decide to adopt them. Stay tuned!

Materials: rocks, acrylic paint, multi-purpose sealer, imagination!

There are many things I wish I had known about writing picture books when I began pursuing my dream of becoming a published author. Word count. Page turns. Linear storytelling. Building tension. The “twist” ending. Instead, I had to learn these things through trial and error, attending industry conferences, reading books and blogs, and networking with professionals.

On November 6 in Madison, NJ, I’ll be sharing all I’ve learned to those who also have a dream of becoming a picture book author. Are you in the area? I’d love to see you!


So You Want To Be a Picture Book Author
November 6, 2011, 2-4pm
Sages Pages, Madison, NJ

Many people believe writing for the young is easy.  After all, “they’re just kids!” But writing for children is one of the most difficult genres in publishing to break into.

Picture book author Tara Lazar (“The Monstore”, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster 2013) will teach you all the things she wished she knew when she began her career, from story length to page turns, how to leave room for illustrations and create irresistible, age-appropriate, relatable characters.

You’ll learn the little-known “rules” of kidlit (and that rules are made to be broken!), plus how to fine-tune your ideas into sellable manuscripts. Participants can even submit a first page of their children’s picture book or novel for an anonymous critique. Tara will answer your questions and help you form an action plan for breaking into the kidlit business armed with knowledge, inspiration and encouragement.

Visit The Writer’s Circle to sign up. Only $25 for 2 hours chock full of what took me years to learn!

What kind of monsters do Mrs. Mozer’s 3rd graders have for us today? Well, they envision small, furry, cute monsters…except for Nick. I wouldn’t want to mess with Nick’s creature–he’s fierce!

So what do you prefer: a monster you can cuddle, or one who will protect you from evil-doers? I’d like a little of both!

Thanks again to these creative kids for sharing their Monstore merchandise with us. This is the last installment of Monster Monday…until I visit YOUR CLASS NEXT!

Does your class wanna Skype with me? I’ll visit any classroom via Skype in June. All you have to do is ask! I’ll give an advance reading of THE MONSTORE, lead you in a creative writing exercise, and of course, ask you what monster you’d like to buy at the Monstore!

Ethan:

Jenna:

Matthew:

Meredith:

Nick:

Sophie:

“Oh, reading…what they did before fun was invented,” says Candace Flynn (on Disney’s Phineas & Ferb). Candace’s grandmother persuades her to read Sherlock Holmes but Candace scoffs. But the next morning, Grandma finds Candace bleary-eyed and hunched over the book. Candace hasn’t stayed up reading it–she’s stayed up reading the ENTIRE COLLECTION! “Before fun was invented, indeed,” snarks Grandma.

Plenty of kids know that reading is fun. And blogging, too! Like Erik the Great. (Great name, huh?) This nine-year-old bibliophile began a book blog to share his favorite titles with other kids. Erik the-story-loving-3rd-grader piqued my interest, so I invited him to talk about children’s lit and blogging.

Why did you want to start a blog?
I wanted to because I LOVE books. I read all the time (I even get into trouble in school sometimes for reading so much). My grandmother told me about a time when she was in a book store shopping for a book for me. She said she didn’t know what to buy for me and a kid in the store recommended that she get “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” by Tom Angleberger for me. He told her he was sure I would like it (and I did). So I thought that if she would take book advice from a kid, maybe other people would too. At first I wanted to write reviews for newspapers but my Dad suggested a website. I thought a blog was a good idea because I could talk to people all over the world about books and then people could also tell me what they think about the books I write about and suggest books for me to read.

How did you get started?
When I had the idea to make a blog, my Mom and I went on the computer to find the best place to make a blog and we liked WordPress. I looked at other book review blogs and websites to kind of get an idea of what I’d like my blog to look like. Then I just started writing. I started writing about some of my favorite books and then readers started suggesting books and then I started watching for new releases. My school let me pass out flyers about my site and I left flyers at books stores and libraries and that helped me get more readers. Then I started to read other book blogs (like yours) and commenting on the posts they have and the other bloggers started to visit my site. I really like to see what other people are reading and what they think about it.

What did you hope to accomplish with the blog?
I wanted to not just review books, but I also wanted to talk with other kids and adults about books. I just wanted to find people who love reading as much as I do. Then I started asking authors and illustrators if I could interview them about writing books and making pictures for books. It’s really interesting to talk to the people actually creating books.

Do you know what you want to do when you grow up? Do you want to be involved with books, or something totally different?
I really want to be an inventor when I grow up. I already have some ideas for inventions like a refrigerator that you don’t ever need to open the door so that you save energy (and it’s voice commanded, too). I think being an inventor, I will have to read (and write) a lot. My Mom is a scientist and she writes a lot of books and articles and is reading all the time. Right now I am actually writing my first book called “The Adventures of Tomato and Pea”. It’s about aliens getting stranded on Earth and trying to get back to their home planet (planet -Oarg).

Sounds like a fun story, Erik! Thanks for talking to me about blogging. And thanks for blogging about books!

You can find Erik at www.thiskidreviewsbooks.com, most recently reviewing MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool, to which he gives 4 out of 5 bookworms.

And check out the monster Erik wishes he could buy at The Monstore!

Well I was so excited about my Quentin Blake find that I forgot to post the awesome monsters from Mrs. Mozer’s third grade class! I asked them to imagine a monster they could buy at the Monstore–what would it look like? What special talents would it have? Their answers just prove that kids have more creativity than adults! I mean, who else but a kid would invent a bubble gum man? Chew on that! (Or gee, is that a bubble GUN man? Either way, these monsters are cool! Excuse me while I go play Wii with Ella Jr.)

Abby:

Christian:

Denise:

Ella:

This week, I’ll have to borrow the Katy Perry monster from Leah. How did she know that I love “Firework”?

I’m a little worried about Ear Wax Man getting loose, though. And I’m curious why his nickname is Elvis Presley…???

Another huge thanks to Mrs. Mozer’s third grade class for the creative monsters! I wish they were all available at The Monstore. I’d most certainly go broke snatching them up.

Alex:

Leah:

Pierson:

Tucker:

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Summer/Fall 2018

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