Friday, February 17, 2012

A REALLY good book, and Why it's a REALLY good book.

So I keep seeing that one of the series of books my publisher published (and I sell) keeps getting awards. Big awards! Like the Boston Globe Horn Book Award Honor. And the CCBC Choices. And the Horn Book Fanfare. And honored by The Brown Bookshelf. I know there are more.

I had read a chapter when the first Anna Hibiscus came out, and thought it was cute. But I didn't "study" it. Finally, I picked up the fourth one, "Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus," by Antinuke. And I read it. And I smiled. And I wanted to read more. And then I knew why it had won so many awards, with many more to come, I'm sure.

Voice. Antinuke has an amazing voice. Anna Hibiscus is found in this writing. You know who she is by the first page. The first sentence introduces that she is from Africa. "Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa." I have always plugged these books as a great peak into another country and another culture. Every book begins the same, and then tells us what is going to happen. "But now Anna Hibiscus is going far overseas."

All of the sentences are simple, or they read that way. She doesn't use fancy language, or extra descriptors. She makes every word count (which is advice my editor gave me).  This is great for struggling readers and comprehension. Yet the story is real.

In this book, Anna Hibiscus is going to Canada to visit her grandma who she has never met. The reader gets to experience so many first with her, and this is what makes it magical.

  • Her first time leaving her family.
  • Her first time meeting her grandma.
  • Her first time feeling cold and seeing snow.
  • Her first time eating chocolate cereal.
  • Her first time being in a new culture.
  • Her first time with a pet dog.
  • Her first time making new friends.
You get the idea. And what is so wonderful is that every child gets to experience firsts as well, and they can relate to Anna.

I smiled. I laughed aloud. I even cringed, and then applauded.

What makes this book so amazing? It's a story, told with a unique voice.  When I read that the author, Atinuke is a storyteller, I knew why it was amazing. Her training comes from natural story telling. If you have ever heard a story teller, it's amazing to listen to them. I brought in Susan Arnold two years ago to present to our school, and I could have listened to her all day. The kids were enthralled.

The story is simple, not forced. There are no aliens, no toilets, no violence, or magic. It's believable. And it's precious.  It is one that should be read aloud, and introduced into classrooms as a chance for kids to travel somewhere new.

If you are an author, I highly recommend reading this as it is a great example of something that works.

Buy Anna Hibiscus Now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

“What is Valentine’s Day?” asked Bear to his brother

“It has to do with red and pink, hiding from girls, and a party,” said his brother

“What is Valentine’s Day?” asked Bear to his teacher.

“A day to tell others how special they are,” said his teacher.

“What is Valentine’s Day?” asked Bear to his grandma.

“A time I can tell you how much I love you and spoil you,” said his grandma.

 “What is Valentine’s Day?” asked Bear to his mother.

“A time I can rejoice that I found love, and love gave me you.” Said his mother.

by Debbie Bernstein LaCroix

"What is Valentine's Day?" you ask me.
Valentine's Day is a purification and fertility holiday! But was later adopted as a Day of Romance, though romance always existed in some form.
For me, it represents one of my best friend's birthdays. I have memories of heart shaped pizza and parties at her house, changing records and dancing.
It represents my first date with my now-husband, back in high school. Our date happened to be at my best friend's birthday. I remember a walk in a soft snow, where the street lamps had a special glow as the light reflected off the snowflakes. I remember laughing, and talking, and hearing his voice, wanting to know everything I could about him. I remember the linger of his lips from our first kiss.
It represents the day my Bubbie became an angel. I remember the phone call at college, and the car ride from campus home. My uncle, who I rarely ever saw, drove with my cousin. They picked me up late at night, and I sat in the back cuddled to my big teddy bear of an uncle with his eye patch, remembering my Bubbie.
It represents the first predicted birth date of my oldest son. He was born on February 11, but the first estimate told us February 14.
Valentine's Day is more then just a holiday.
What is Valentine's Day to you?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why do you write?

The other day I volunteered in my son's classroom. While there, the teacher talked about books, and asked the question:

"Why does a writer write?"

It was fun listening to the kids responses.

"Authors write to give information."
"Authors write to teach you something."
"They want to tell a story."

The teacher had one word she was looking for, but none of the kids picked it.

She held up books like "Nate the Great," "Fly Guy," and some other FUN books!

She was looking for, "Writer's write to entertain."

I write because I have a story inside I have to share. I want to share an experience, make people laugh, make them cry. But I want to bring them into this world that exists in my head.

So this leaves me with two questions:

Why do you write?
And of course, why do you read?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Liebster Award!

Thank you to Brenda Harris for awarding me the Liebster Blog Award! Be sure to visit her blog!

This award goes to those blogs worth following who have less then 200 Followers.

As a requirement, I have to share 5 facts about me. Here goes:

  1. I'm under 5 foot tall. But more then 4 foot tall. ;-)
  2. I've got adult ADD, self diagnosed, SHINY! (But it's really helped me stay driven and accomplish a lot!)
  3. My two wonderful boys are named after very important people in my life. My oldest is named after my Zaddie and my FIL, and my youngest is named after my favorite great uncle.
  4. I was in the original Children of the Corn
  5. I love old and autographed books
Now I get to pass the award on!

  1. My first award goes to Pat Miller at, who I highly admire.
  2. Next is Diane, Patient Dreamer:
  3. Beth Stillborn has a lot to share at
  4. Frolicking Through CyberSpace is a great resource:
  5. The Write Routine is another one I enjoy:
More about the Liebster Award:

"Liebster is a German word, meaning dearest or beloved, but it can also mean favorite. The idea behind the Liebster Blog Award is that it is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers in order to create new connections and bring attention to these wonderful blogs!"

Add the award to your blog. Thank the giver with a link back to them.
List your top 5 picks and let them know they've been given an award by leaving a comment on their blog.
Hope that your followers will spread the love to the blogs you've spotlighted.
How Selling Books Makes Me a Stronger Writer

Many of you already know that I am a consultant with Usborne Books and More. I love it. My passions are reading books, writing books, and selling books! When I can include my children into the mix, I'm in heaven. :-)  Shameless Plug:

I started selling Usborne 5 years ago because I wanted all the books. The discount was a huge incentive. Before I knew it, I was promoting to leadership and earning a trip to Alaska. At this time, I was not doing a ton of writing because of the kids. I loved that I could involve them in my business. I didn't really think it would make me a stronger writer, or lead to my first published book.

Being surrounded by books and wanting to know my product, I've read, and read and read! Many of the books are award winners, so I've been able to see what works. Reading in classrooms to kick-off book fairs let me see how kids respond to books, what they like, and what goes flat.

Even helping customers find books for their children, and especially helping children find books, has been invaluable. I get to see how they interact with the books. What makes them say "yes!" and what makes them say, "no..." I also learned that finding the perfect book is a very personal process. What one person loves, another is not so interested in. There are certain traits you see in kids that makes them want certain books. Covers are very important, as is word count. For some kids, the thicker the better. I am seeing that as a trend.

It's very interesting to see how parents often steer a child towards, or away, from a book. Very rarely do you see a parent anymore who says, "Whatever you want!" Though you do see some, and I love them. And there are times I want to strangle new moms who say, "My child is too young for books." 

And then there are the moms who say, "My child is too old for books. They don't have time to read with sports and video games."  grrrrrrrrr

I also learn what's missing in the bookfield. That has led to some great manuscripts, including the one that was published.

Usborne Books is offering a $29 Sign On Special during February. You get 8 Usborne and Kane Miller Books, plus office supplies. You can find out more here if you are interested:
Usborne Books Opportunity

I am also doing an informational call about what Usborne is, and what is involved tonight. If you are interested, let me know.

I realize not everyone wants to sell books, or has the time. If you don't, spend a day at a local bookstore watching kids shop. You will learn so much about what they want, what appeals to them, and why.

What do your kids look for in a book?

Happy Book Loving!