Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Book Review: The Elephants Come Home


The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People and One Extraordinary Friendship written by Kim Tomsic and published by Chronicle Books is a beautiful story about love and elephants. Seven wild, African elephants cause big problems until Lawrence Anthony and Francoise Malby-Anthony provide a solution. Hadley Hooper composes her bright and engaging illustrations using watercolor, ink, printmaking and software. The words and illustrations produce a touching story about conservation and humans. As always Ms. Tomsic includes a collection of sources, facts and photos in the end papers.

One Question Interview with Kim Tomsic:

You write both fiction and nonfiction books, which speakers were most helpful to your writing career?

Your question is fantastic. I have studied craft books and attended writing conferences and classes for 12 years now. I am certain that I will be a forever learner — in fact, I'm currently working on my Master's Degree in Children's Literature (a two-year program at Hamline University --I graduate in January 2022). That said, I love learning everything from structure, character arcs, turning a scene, the hero's journey, etc. down to the nitty gritty tips and tricks writers use. Some of the most influential lectures I've attended were given by:  Sara Pennypacker, Elana K. Arnold, Swati Avasthi, Richard Peck, Erin Entrada Kelly, Denise Vega, Sherri L. Smith, and Jean Reidy. The most influential audio lecture I listened to was given by the team of Michael Hague and Christopher Vogler. And the most influential books I read on craft were written by Lisa Cron (Wired for Story, and Story Genius), and Blake Snyder (Save the Cat).

… and “editor Melissa Manlove being a key one.”

Thank you for the answers and Congratulations on your upcoming graduation!

Previous posts about Kim Tomsic: Guitar Genius 

Visit Kim Tomsic 

Visit Hadley Hooper

Learn more about elephants here: San Diego Zoo 

Visit The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop

Monday, November 22, 2021

Book Review: Tad Lincoln's Restless Wriggle


Turkey pardons, began with Tad Lincoln. Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle: Pandemonium and Patience in the President’s House written by Beth Anderson and published by Calkins Creek covers this fact, learning disability, and love. S.D. Schindler’s ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations convey humor and delightful chaos while taking the reader back to 1863 and a much more rural President’s House as the White House was formerly known. As always Ms. Anderson includes a collection of facts, photos and primary and secondary sources in the end papers. This book brought a smile to my face.

One Question Interview with Beth Anderson:

Which workshops were most helpful to your writing career?

Workshops and retreats where you get to spend real time working on practical ideas and moving your works in progress forward are, to me, the best ways to spend professional development dollars. The decision to attend a retreat for nonfiction kid lit writers in 2016 made all the difference for me. I met so many writers I now call friends and rely on as critique partners. I also met professionals that generously shared the “how” that I desperately needed to push forward and break through. That’s where I heard Barb Rosenstock talk about her “so what?” concept, and I also learned from Jill Esbaum, Linda Skeers, Lisa Amstutz, and many more amazing writers, agents and editors. In 2019 I attended a retreat for nonfiction kid lit sponsored by Edit and Get It with Candace Fleming, Jen Swanson, Neal Porter, and again, so many more fantastic editors, agents, and creators. I had done some webinars with Candace Fleming previously, and had been trying to get my head around her “vital idea” concept for years. Every time I get to hear her, I soak up more, and my understanding goes deeper. Her workshops have been key to what I’ve been able to do, and I’m extremely grateful for her generosity and teaching. 

Previous posts about Beth Anderson:"Smelly Kelly" and His Super Senses and An Inconvenient Alphabet

Visit Beth Anderson 

Visit S.D. Schindler

Learn  more about the Presidents of the United States

The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop 


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Book Review: Lizzie Demands a Seat!



Lizzie Demands a Seat! Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights written by Beth Anderson and published by Calkins Creek is a seldom told, historic civil rights story.  Ms. Anderson describes Elizabeth Jennings fight, both physical and legal, for equal access to a streetcar in New York City. A young Chester Arthur, who became the 21st president of the United States, represented Elizabeth Jennings in court. E.B. Lewis paints with lavender and lilac watercolors to evoke beautiful albeit quite serious mid 1800’s scenes. As always Ms. Anderson includes a collection of facts, primary and additional sources as well as historic photos in this award-winning story.

One Question Interview with Beth Anderson:

Which speakers were most helpful to your writing career?

I have enjoyed so many inspirational speakers on writing for children over the past eight years that I can’t begin to name them all. The ones that stick in my mind are the ones that have provided valuable hands-on tips about writing. Two wonderful women I’ve followed for years are Barb Rosenstock and Candace Fleming. They always have great insights and have guided me in shaping a story to make it meaningful for kids. My editor for An Inconvenient Alphabet, Sylvie Frank, provided many fabulous sessions about the publishing process for SCBWI-RMC members when she lived here. I really value any opportunity to listen to editors and agents as they provide a view that may be difficult for authors and illustrators to see.

Previous Posts about Beth Anderson

Learn more about Beth Anderson 

Learn more about E.B. Lewis

Learn more about the New York Transit Museum

The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Book Review: I'm a Hare So There!



Julie Rowan-Zoch has written and illustrated a delightful romp through a North American desert with her picture book, I’m a Hare So There! published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The bold title does not disappoint; the hare spiritedly discusses identifying names and characteristics with his desert friend. A predator stalks the friends to a climax. Ms. Rowan-Zoch includes a collection of facts and a find and seek game in the end papers. The illustrations and language are so colorful and fun that one might not even notice that one is learning.

Learn more about Julie Rowan-Zoch

Learn more about Colorado lagomorphs, rabbits and hares, here: Colorado's Small Mammals

Support your local bookstore The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop

If the seek and find proves illusive, please contact Ms. Rowan-Zoch.

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