Monday, September 19, 2016

Birds and Books

This week at Farmers' Market, one of my new vendors brought a feathered friend. It was  six month old Green Cheeked Conure, and he was the sweetest, calmest bird I have ever seen. Of course, all the kids had to take turns holding him, and loving on him, and petting him, especially Emily.


And while I don't choose books for my review pile based on what goes on in my week, once again, something a book in the stack did. The book was Memoirs of a Parrot and it was truly a hilarious take on a parrot's life from his point of view. Every day Brock tells his friend and only other parrot in the pet shop how annoying the kids are, how aggravating constantly being called Polly is, and how he really doesn't want a cracker. And, one day, much to his dismay, an annoying m an named Todd takes him home and expects him to speak human. The days that follow are torturous for both Todd and  Brock, but in the end, they finally develop an understanding!
 
Memoirs of a Parrot


Since I started with a bird book, I figured I might as well end with a bird book called Henny and Penny. Henny and Penny is a few years old, but it is a beautifully illustrated book about sharing and caring. Henny and Penny find out that working together is the best way to protect their eggs from egg eating snake. And when their eggs hatch, two watchful moms are better then one.

Henny and Penny

Well,that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Something Familiar In A New Situation




For many years my best friend, who my family basically adopted like a daughter, canned fruit and home made jams which she gifted to us each Christmas. Peaches, pears, apple butter, and peach jam were eagerly anticipated each December and enjoyed throughout each new year. But about six years ago, she passed away. The loss was difficult because we did practically everything together from taking vacations to attending auctions, but when the last jar of homemade goodness was consumed, the loss was once again keenly felt.

Not a stranger to grief, having lost my first husband early in life, I knew that it's not your circumstance in life but your attitude toward your circumstance that counts. At least that's what my  mom always says. So, since I inherited my friends steam canner, I set about to learn something new__ how to can. I started with peaches and pears and have gotten pretty adept at those. Lat year I tried my hand at making crock pot apple butter which my husband requested again this year. And finally, just this past week, I attempted peach jam. I think it might be a bit on the too thin side; I will see when it has cooled, and I open a jar. If it is, I will try again until I get it just right.


All of this seemed to coincidentally tie in to the book I read this week. A Piece of Home, by Jeri Watts, is all about finding something familiar in a new situation. A young boy and his family make a move from Korea to the United States where they go from ordinary and everyday to un-ordinary and different. They don't know the language, no one understands them, and a feeling of despair begins to set in. That is until they start to gently adapt to their surrounds. That is__ until they find something familiar in their new home that reminds them of their old home.


I don't want to give too much away, but this is an excellent story of hope. It is also a wonderful reminder for us to be kind to those who are different or in a new situation because it must be harder then we can imagine to be in such a situation.
 
Well,that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Authors Are People Too!

This week was Emily's and My first week back to school, and it went beautifully. There was no arguing over doing math. There was no complaining about various subjects. There wasn't even a peep when I told her we had to work a half an hour longer per day to get everything accomplished. It was a wonderful, beautiful, miracle!

One of her assignments this week was to write a letter to author Lois Sepahban. Back in April when I attended the Southern Kentucky Book Festival, Emily was told she could purchase one book, and she chose Lois's Paper Wishes. She happily read it over the summer, and wanted to let the author know how much she enjoyed it. I felt this was important for several reasons, one being that authors are people too. And by that, I mean that everyone, no matter who they are, likes to be complimented, likes to be told when they do a good job, and likes to know that what they do matters to some other person in this large and very populated world.
 

Paper Wishes is a historical fiction work that tells the story of ten year old Manami after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Manami and her family, being of Japanese descent, were summarily rousted from their homes and sent to internment camps. Forced to leave behind all that was familiar and all that she held dear including her small dog, Manami tries to make sense of her frightening new world. Emily loved many things about this story but what she loved most was that it was told from Manami's ten year old point of view. Although a horrific part of our American history, this story shares the truly courageous and enduring spirit of a people wrongly accused.


Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Recently, author Shana Gorian showed me a great kindness by hosting me for a question and answer session on her website. These paying it forward moments, fellow author support, or just plain kindnesses are a huge part in keeping an author on the literary track. You can only imagine how many times an author feels like throwing in the towel. And in honor of the pay it forward spirit, I am happy to be able to do the same for her.

Shana is the author of The Roscoe The Rascal Series, but she recently updated, Rosco the Rascal Visits the Pumpkin Patch, by giving it a fresh and inviting cover. Apparently there are also fresh new illustrations by Josh Addessi as well. Rosco the Rascal series for kids, consist of chapter books in which a sometimes rascally German shepherd uses his true heroic nature to help his pals, James and Mandy, find adventure and overcome obstacles. Although I have not yet read any of Shana's works, they do look and sound appealing!

Roscoe the Rascal
Shana wanted me to let all my readers know that she is offering a free giveaway of the first two chapters of this book in PDF format to all new subscribers. You can join her at www.shanagorian.com where you can subscribe to her VIP email list. Or if you are a Kindle Unlimited Subscriber, you can download the Kindle version for free or for a mere $1.99 for a regular Kindle copy. It is also available in paperback for those "I love to hold the book" people!

I was interested to learn that Shana grew up in Western Pennsylvania and currently lives in California. The opposite is true for  me. I was born in Oakland, California and now reside in Ohio. It seems she is a jack-of-all trades as well. She has worked as a part-time nanny, a reporter, a camp counselor, a web designer, a waitress, a newspaper and pizza delivery gal, and a mother of two. She has gathered her wealth of material for fun and unusual stories by watching her real life German shepherd, but admits that most of the trouble that Roscoe and his gang get into is entirely fictitious.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
 



Monday, August 29, 2016

Back to School and Other Fun Stuff

Most schools in our area started back again this past week.  Emily also started her Independent Studies choir this past week as well as her a few home school classes (we officially start this week). She made a make and bake craft. She pondered life skill choices in health class. She studied a little American history. And, she started reading a chapter book called The Secret Tree which from her description so far sounds really interesting. I let you all know what her final thoughts are when she's finished.

Emily has also been on a Star Wars kick with her bestie Rachel which means her sketch book is filling up with Star Wars characters. I'm probably a bit partial, but I think her drawing skills are pretty good for an eleven year old. For the new school year, we ordered a new sketch book and some real drawing pencils, and I can hardly wait to see what she fills it with. 






I finished up canning peaches, baked for farmers' market, and read a little myself. Since it was back to school time, I thought a fun back to school book was in order. The book I chose was I Will Never Get A Star On Mrs. Benson's Blackboard. This book is so sweet and encouraging for kids. Although Rose isn't the best student, or the neatest student, she really wants to get a star on the teacher's blackboard. However, she despairs that she will never accomplish the task. Rose puts her fears aside and enjoys a presentation by a special artist guest because she loves art too. And in the end, much to Rose's surprise, she does indeed get a star.


I also read a book with few words, fabulous pictures, and a fun story of Hare and his friend, Bear who loves to fish. It was called Bear and Hare Go Fishing by Emily Gravitt. Bear and Hare go fishing and Hare patiently waits as bear catches everything but a fish. Will Bear ever catch a fish or will Hare have to take a disappointed Bear home? 


And finally, I read Miss Mary Mack which would be perfect for homeschoolers and would meet both reading and music requirements! It is based on the old clapping song that I remember learning as a child, but interestingly, there was a second chorus about Mary's friend Betty Lou which I had never heard before. There is a cd included which makes this book even more worthwhile.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Peaches, People, and Passion

Summer is drawing to an end, at least as far as time off from school goes, but we are still pretty busy. Emily starts choir practice on Tuesday, I'm getting lessons ready for when we officially start back to home schooling the week after, and peaches are ready for canning. 

I love the different seasons for fresh fruits and vegetables. In mid June the zucchini abounds and I make quick breads with it. In July we enjoy fresh melons and tomatoes. And in August come the peaches. I always can peaches for my family as Christmas gifts, but I also eat them on my cereal, eat them with my lunch, and make a pie or two. This year I'm feeling extra ambitious, so I might even try my hand at jelly.


The end of summer is also the time when I have gotten to know most of my market vendors by name and personality. It's the time when I start thinking about how we are going to celebrate the final market day. And it's the time when I start planning and arranging my fall speaking and travel schedule. The time where I turn form my baking passion back to my kidlit passion. 


And speaking of passions, one of the books I'm reviewing this week, Mr. McGinty's Monarchs, is all about passion. Mr. McGinty has a passion for caterpillars, especially those which eventually turn into beautiful Monarch Butterflies. He takes his dog on walks and they enjoy the caterpillars making their way ip the milkweed stalks, that is, until one day they show up and all the milkweed has been mowed down. Mr. McGinty thinks fast and works to save the caterpillars from certain death. He even enlists a local school to help him take care of the caterpillars as the metaphorically change. In the end, they all have a glorious butterfly release. This book is a beautiful way to add a little science to the literary mix.


The other book I read this week, You're Here for a Reason, was a wonderfully rhymed story about how each and everyone of us is important and alive for a reason. Now I don't know about you, but that is something I like to believe and it's probably one of the reasons I love It's a Wonderful Life so much. You know the idea that we touch people's lives in ways we might never even know. Who knows how a kindness or a smile can change someone's day!


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

What's Your Job?

I remember when Emily graduated from pre-k many years ago and the teachers had asked all the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. There were the usual responses like fireman, mom, dad, police man, veterinarian, etc...  All the parents laughed because we knew that the dreams of children, although sweet, frequently change from week to week, month to month, and year to year.

So when I read a book this week simply titled, Mary Smith, I started thinking about jobs again. Mary's job as a knocker-up was to wake people up on time each morning before their were affordable and reliable alarm clocks. Mary went about doing this by blowing dried peas through her pea shooter at the windows of sleeping customers until they awoke. I guess we don't think much about jobs that people in days gone by might have held. Jobs like lamplighter, or whipping boy (a job I would not have wished to hold had I been a young boy). Of course, as good reading material is apt to do, it made me think about many other things.


It made me think about some of the jobs I do both paid and unpaid. Jobs like being a mom and wife, being a children's author, volunteering at my library, and running my local farmers market. And thinking about my job as the market manager made me think of the tasks of the job like taking pictures of vendors and products for our face book page. And as you have probably guessed by now I do love to take pictures, especially of food.

 




It also reminded me of my dad, who while he was still alive always told me, "You are only a failure if you don't try." The idea of trying new and possibly scary things was also the theme of the second book I read which was called, You Can Do It Bert. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't tell you what Bert, a cute little bird, was being encouraged to do, but I will say I was surprised when I reached the last page. 



Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days. 


Sunday, August 14, 2016

List of Book Festivals



List of Book Festivals


Nebraska Book Fest (Nebraska) (?)
Montana Book Festival (Montana) (?)
Bangor Book Festival (Maine) (?)
Connecticut Children’s Book Fair (Spring?)
Savannah Book Festival (Georgia) (Feb)
Amelia Island Book Festival (Florida) (Feb)
Virginia Festival of the Book (Virginia) (Mar)
Augusta Literary Festival (Georgia) (Mar)
Tucson Festival of Books (Arizona) (Mar)
Venice Book Fair and Writers Festival (Florida) (Mar)
Cape Author Fest (Maine) (Apr)
San Antonio Book Festival (Texas) (Apr)
High Country Festival of the Book (North Carolina) (Apr)
Newburyport Literary Festival (Massachusetts) (Apr)
Southern Kentucky Book Festival (Kentucky) (Apr)
Alabama Book Festival (Alabama) (Apr)
Hawaii Book and Music Festival (Hawaii) (Apr/May)
Kids Author Carnival (New York) (May)
Claire’s Day (Ohio) (May)
Children’s Festival of Reading (Tennessee) (May)
Hudson Children’s Book Festival (New York) (May)
Gaithersburg Book Festival (Maryland) (May)
Millbrook Book Festival (New York) (May?)
The Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival (Maryland) (Jun)
 Nantucket Book Festival (Massachusetts) (Jun)
Printers Row Lit Fest (Illinois) (Jun)
Wordstock (Oregon) (July)
Georgia Literary Festival (Georgia) (Aug)
Queens Book Festival (New York) (Aug)
Columbus Children’s Book Festival (Georgia) (Sep)
South Carolina Book Festival (South Carolina) (Sep)
Baltimore Book Festival (Maryland) (Sep)
Mid South Book Festival (Tennessee) (Sep)
Mansfield Book Festival (Texas) (Sep)
AJC Decatur Book Festival (Georgia) (Sep)
Brooklyn Book Festival (New York) (Sep)
National Book Festival (Washington D.C.) (Sep)
Fall For The Book Festival (Virginia) (Sep)
Kansas Book Festival (Kansas) (Sep)
South Dakota Festival of Books (South Dakota) (Sep)
Morristown Book Festival (New Jersy) (Sep/Oct)
Books by the Banks (Ohio) (Oct)
Warwick Children’s Book Festival (New York) (Oct)
Southern Festival of Books (Tennessee) (Oct)
West Virginia Book Festival (West Virginia) (Oct)
Warwick Children’s Book Festival (New York) (Oct)
Humbolt County Children’s Author Festival (California) (Oct)
Keene State Literary Children’s Festival (New Hampshire) (Oct)
Williamsburg Book Festival (Virginia) (Oct)
Louisiana Book Fair (Louisiana) (Oct)
Wisconsin Book Festival (Wisconsin) (Oct)
Wilmington Book Festival (California) (Oct)
Carolina Book Fest (North Carolina) (Oct)
Chippawa Valley Book Festival (Wisconsin) (Oct)
Vegas Valley Book Festival (Nevada) (Oct)
Utah Humanities Book Festival (Utah) (Oct)
Sheboygan Book Festival (Wisconsin) (Oct)
Northern Arizona Book Festival (Arizona) (Oct)
Buckeye Book Fair (Ohio) (Nov)
Kentucky Book Fair (Kentucky) (Nov)
Rochester Children’s Book Festival (New York) (Nov)
Texas Book Festival (Texas) (Nov)
Lititz Kid-Lit Festival (Pennylvania) (Nov)
WNY Book Expo (New York) (Nov)
Southwest Wisconsin Festival of Books (Wisconsin) (Nov)
Miami Book Fair (Florida) (Nov)