Monday, January 11, 2016

January Flurries

The past few months here in Ohio have been a little out of the ordinary. November and December usually find us knee deep in snow and cold, but this winter has been exceptionally warm. January, however, is about to bring us some cold weather and flurries, so I am  breaking out the woolly socks. January also brings a flurry of activity since we have lots of family birthdays including my daughter Emily's. Through the years I have hosted themed birthday parties for her as well as having made a parcel of fun cakes. January, it turns out is also a great time to take a trip down memory lane.

For her first birthday I used a picture from a coloring book to copy for the cake.

Then There was the Dora The Explorer year where I glued wiggly eyes on star candles I found and used a little cut out of Dora that came off of something we must have purchased Emily.

The Strawberry Shortcake year. Where as you can see my cake is a little lopsided because my writing skills are much better then my cake cutting skills.

The Jungle Theme which turned out to be my most ambitious year. The hubby brought me home lots of large cardboard and paper from work and I transformed out living room into the jungle/savanna. It's amazing what you can do with a little paint, paper, and cardboard. I hid fake diamond rings in the diamond mine and I gave the kids flashlights to find them. They also had to dig for crocodiles in the stream at the bottom of the waterfall. And of course we can forget the little red bean bags I made to feed the lion.

Next came the Barbie year followed by the spring themed year where I again made use of cardboard and paint.

The dog year was more fun with cardboard. Now that I look back, I think I have a thing for using cardboard.

And then there was the beach party year. 

Birthday number nine was a Lisa Frank Birthday, and by birthday number nine I was starting to get a little tired and I__ dare I say it? I purchase cupcakes.

Last year we didn't have a party because Bobby had to travel to Japan for work. Instead, Emily and I had a birthday celebration at her favorite restaurant, The Olive Garden. 

So many great birthday celebrations, but I'm not sure how ambitious I will be this year. Time will tell.

January also brought me a new book to review called Little Miss Grubby Toes Steps On A Bee. I received a copy of this book for my honest and unbiased review, and I had mixed feelings about it. I love the illustrations by Mark Wayne Adams who happens to be one of my favorite illustrators, I love the concept of letting children know that parents make rules to keep their children safe and not to spoil their fun, and I love the character who has been nick-named by her father. But what I'm not sure about is the way the author "breaks the fourth wall". I have always been told by my editors that breaking the fourth wall (otherwise known as speaking directly to the reader or audience) is to be avoided. Not everyone in the industry shares this opinion, so I guess it boils down to how well it is done and if the reader thinks the story flows smoothly or not. For me personally, when the author asked the reader things like do we think Little Miss Grubby Toes should take her shoes off when her feet are hot, seems pushy. Messages in children's books are wonderful, but they should be subtle allowing the child reading to think about what is going on in the story and to form an opinion.

Little Miss Grubby Toes

Despite the breaking of the fourth wall, I was happy to see the author generate excitement at the end of the story where he gives a clue about Little Miss Grubby Toes' real name which is never mentioned in the book. How he leaves the reader with one letter of the name and promises a new clue and new letter in each forthcoming book in the series is brilliant marketing and gives the reader something to look forward to.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequels, Return To Fern Valley,  and Cooking In Fern Valley, along with my very first picture book, Quack and Daisy! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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