Monday, April 22, 2019

Joy Sometimes Looks Like A Stripy Sock

This past week seemed to fly by, but probably not fast enough for Emily who had to take a state algebra test. However, she is glad to be done with all major testing for the year. And of course we joyously celebrated Easter with my brother, his family, and my sister.


For Christians, Easter is a celebration of joy. The book I read this week was also a celebration of joy. And through the simple story of a grey rat on a grey day, one comes to realize as my sister is fond of saying, "Joy is a choice"!

In this book, A Rat In A Stripy Sock, written by Frances Watts and illustrated by David Francis, we follow the story of a grey rat sitting in the rain on a dreary day. However, his day turns completely around when he finds a stripy sock. That funny rainbow sock is all Rat needs to start dreaming. And Rat dreams big. Rat dreams of all the things one could do with a stripy sock.


It just goes to show, that it doesn't really take much in life to find joy. You simply have to look around you and take pleasure in what you find.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mouseling's Words

Last week I didn't post because I sprained my knee and it was an effort to hobble anywhere let alone to my computer. And on top of a temporary bum knee, I had to take Emily to Terra Nova State testing and to take the ACT test. And this week she has to take the state Algebra test. I'm pretty sure she'd rather go to the dentist.

So all of that means that this week I have lots to share. Back in January I participated in Tara Lazar's Story Storm and besides coming up with several ideas for possible stories, I also won two books from author Shutta Crum. In addition, Ariel Bernstein sent me her brand new chapter book, Warren and Dragon - Volcano Deluxe for review.

With all the testing and hobbling going on, I was only able to read Shutta's picture book titled Mouselings Words, but that means I still have two books to look forward to. Now most of you know by now that I love words. Words of every kind. So Ms. Shutta's book about Mouseling and his love of words is just right up my alley.


Mousling loves the words on bits of papers in his nest, the words his Aunt Tillie brings him from the restaurant. But when it comes time for Mouseling to leave his comfortable home and start a life of his own, he is most reluctant. He refuses to leave his comfortable world of words until his aunt tells him there are words without end outside of the nest and restaurant.

Ms. Shutta weaves a tale of delight and Ryan O'Rourke's beautiful illustrations bring Mouseling's words to life. So if you have yet to discover Ms. Shutta's work, run don't walk to your nearest book store.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Board Books For A Birthday!

I've had a lot of library related meetings over the past week, so it was nice to take it easy over the weekend. I leisurely ran errands, played Skipbo with the hubs and Emily, and attended our great niece's first birthday.



Little Ruby is so cute I cold have eaten her up instead of the cake, but I refrained. And the present I picked out for our family to give her will come as no surprise to any one. Yes, you have it_ books!

I found a beautiful board book by a company called  Little Hippo Books called I Need A Hug. And it was written by Susie Linn. The story begins in the early morning and bushbaby, Boo, needs a hug from his mom before he can go to sleep. But Boo's mom is nowhere to be found. During his search for her, he gets hugs from many other animals; but none of them are the just right kind of hug. Finally he finds his mom, gets his hug, and drifts off into dreamland.


I also bought a book put out by Sky Pony titled Bedtime For Little Bears. It was a story of a small bear who doesn't want to go to bed (anyone with children will find this familiar). So Mother bear takes him on a walk to see who else is getting ready for bed.


I love board books, but since we are way past that stage, it was fun to be able to share a few with family. So if  you have littles who need a gift, be sure to check these books out.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Rejections and Hope

This past week I received rejections from two separate agents and I felt hopeful. I know, you're probably wondering how in the world could  a pair of rejections cause a feeling of hope. Well_ both rejections were personal. Rather than sending the standard rejection form that makes every submitter wonder if their story has even been read, each agent sent me a personalized rejection letter with words of encouragement.


The first agent stated that she felt there were many things to enjoy in my manuscript but she just didn't feel the connection needed to take on a new client. The second agent called my submission charming but not the right project for her. And while this might seem disheartening to most people, I rejoiced in the thought that I must be getting close.

So I keep writing, keep polishing, and keep submitting. And in the meantime, I read and review books. Lots and lots of books. This time around I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of author Laura Gehl's upcoming book Juniper Kai: Super Spy which is available for pre-order right now.



Juniper Kai knows she was born to be a spy, and she has opportunity to put her skills to the test when her parents seem to be keeping a secret. But her sleuthing  doesn't work until she sees her father hiding something in the shed. What she finds in its depths suddenly causes everything strange her parents have been doing to make sense. I don't want to give away too much, but I will say Juniper's life is about to change, and the super spy is super happy about the situation! 


This isn't the first book by Laura I've enjoyed. Last May I read and reviewed My Pillow Keeps Moving, her delightful story about a dog and a cat that creatively find a new home and get out of the cold. So if you want to learn more about Laura and all of her books, be sure to check out her website.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Follow Your Dreams

Not a whole lot went on this past week, just Cook Book Club. Our theme was breakfast, and Emily made a blueberry coffee cake while I made breakfast burritos. I forgot to take pictures, but since I made Cranberry Salad later in the week I thought I'd share that recipe. In the fall I generally buy bagged cranberries and freeze them so I can enjoy this salad year round.

Cranberry Salad is super easy and all you need is a bag of cranberries fresh or frozen, 2 stalks of celery, 2 apples seeded and chopped, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1/2 cup sugar. In a food processor chop the cranberries. A little hint if they are frozen is to chop them this way so they don't turn to mush. You might need ear plugs, though, because it is loud. Next chop celery and apples in the processor and add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl. Add  pecans, juice, and sugar before stirring. And lastly, you  need to let this marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so the sugar dissolves and makes a lovely bit of juice.



And of course I read. The first book I read was a beginning-to-read book called Astro the Alien Visits Forest Animals. It begins with a brother, sister, and an alien in their backyard. I wondered why an alien seemed to be part of the family, but hey this is fiction. Next they decided to play hide-and-seek in the forest and along the way they keep identifying animals in what seems like a forced way. I'm sure this book is great for introducing vocabulary with its simple sentences, I'm not sure why, but this story just didn't seem quite as enjoyable as the beginning reader books I read with Emily when she was small.


The next book, Dogs Don't Do Ballet, left me smiling. A touching story of a dog that wants nothing more than to practice ballet, Dogs Don't Do Ballet contains a universal message about following your dreams no matter who tells you otherwise. Beautifully told and colorfully illustrated, this story is a must read for children five to eight.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Spring Is Almost Here!

As we head into the second week of March, Spring is just around the corner. Here in Shelby, the temperatures  have hit the 40's (a welcome change), the snow has melted away, and tiny hyacinth and crocus buds are poking their heads out in several areas around my yard.

I must have internally sensed spring's nearness because I spent the weekend spring cleaning and  dusting everything. So now that my house is tidy, I eagerly await the arrival of my flowers.



And while I wait, I read. And what I read are picture books like The Milkmaid And Her Pail which has the added bonus of containing a sing-a-long cd. The Milkmaid And Her Pail is a retelling of an old Aesop Fable whose moral is don't count  your chickens before they're hatched. Or in simpler terms, don't make plans that depend on something good happening before it actually happens. As with any good lesson, it goes down better with music and colorful illustrations!


I also read Bigger Than You which contained a much subtler message about getting along. The dinosaur illustrations are fun, but my favorite part of the book had to be the prehistoric timeline with varying forms of the word "big" and the page on simple mechanical tools like levers and slide planes. It's always a plus when the author sneaks a little extra learning into the story.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


Monday, March 4, 2019

Potatoes, Sheep That Need Sleep, and Illustrations by a Friend

This past week seemed to slip by quickly, but it was a good week. Emily took pictures for her photography class, and some of them were extremely good.










I submitted a manuscript to a few agents (so wish me well)!


And I found a pile of books from my local library to read and review. What makes finding books even more exciting is finding books written, illustrated, or both by friends. This week my library offered up a book illustrated by the fabulous Don Tate. Now I have to admit, I have a tiny bit of a jelly streak when it comes to illustrators. I mean how do they make all those fabulous pictures.

The book Don illustrated that I snatched up is titled, No Small Potatoes. It tells the story of Junius G. Groves  and his potato kingdom in Kansas. I happen to love picture biographies and this one is no exception. Having never heard of Mr. Groves before, it was quite interesting to learn how he started life as a slave, but after gaining freedom, he headed west. Through hard work and determination, he managed to work his way up to landowner, and through even more hard work, he grew his potato venture into the largest around. And like any good illustrator, Don creates beautiful pictures that help tell the story and make it complete.


I also read Woolly The Wide Awake Sheep which is a story about a tired sheep that can't get to sleep. In an effort to figure out something that will help him doze, he asks all his barnyard friends how they get to sleep. They all tell him the same thing_ they count sheep. I don't want to give away the super fun ending, so I will leave you to find a copy of this book and read it for yourselves.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Words of Interest

This past week was an ordinary week. I attended a levy meeting, I made bread and soup, Emily did her school work, and Bobby and I watched an episode of Border Patrol NZ on Netflix.The interesting thing about that particular episode was the use of the term busker.


Earlier in the week I had heard the term busker and had looked up the definition which turned out to be a street performer. So when the airport security guard identified a visitor as a busker, Bobby and I laughed. We went from having never heard of a busker to having heard the word twice in the same week. It's one of those instances when you learn about something and then you start noticing it everywhere.


So imagine my delight when I opened up my book for the week, Tabby McTat The Musical Cat, and the first line read, "Tabby McTat was a busker's cat." I read it to Bobby and we giggled at the coincidence.


Tabby and his busker, Fred, sing for a living. But one day when Fred is busy eating lunch, Tabby takes a walk around the block and meets a new friend, Sock. While he's visiting, something happens to Fred. When Tabby can't find Fred, he ends up moving in with Sock and her people. A part of Tabby's heart can't forget Fred, and so one day he goes looking all over town for his old friend. They eventually reunite, but Tabby is torn between his new home and life and his old life with Fred. All does end well, but in a surprising and unexpected way.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Balloons, A Drive-Thru, and A Book

This past week Valentine's Day fell on a Thursday. The night before, Wednesday, was youth church night. Now. So you understand the significance of these statements, I will give you a little background. Although a loving father and wonderful husband, Bobby doesn't usually give gifts on commercial holidays like Valentine's. But this Wednesday, he arrived a little later than usual bearing three balloons.

Since there are only Emily and I, she wondered if her father bought himself a balloon. Crazy child! The third balloon was for her bestie, Katie, who attends youth church with her every Wednesday. I almost cried. Katie lives with her single mom, who loves her very much; but she hasn't really had any father figure in her life since her Papaw passed away several years ago. This small act of kindness didn't go un-noticed either. Katie gave him a super squeezy hug before she left, something she's never really done before. And this small unexpected act of kindness reminded me why I love this guy so much.

I baked chocolate chip cookies for Bobby and Emily. Just the recipe off of the back of the Nestle Toll House Semi Sweet Chocolate Chip Bag, but boy were they tasty!


I also attended the Ohio North SCBWI Shop Talk Meeting this week. It was held at the Cuyahoga County Library Parma Branch. It was a great meeting, but the most interesting surprise for me was the Drive-thru window. I come from a small town with a small but excellent library, I have visited many other libraries, but never have I seen a library with a drive-thru. Apparently many libraries do. Who Knew?


And last but not least, I read In The Red Canoe.  In The Red Canoe tells the tale of a grandchild and a grandfather who spend an evening exploring the lake and surrounding grounds by canoe. But this story is more than a tale of exploration. It is the tale of quality time spent with a loved one. A story of discovering the world around. And a story of memories in the making.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Fourth Annual Valentiny Contest!

Hooray! February is well on its way and that means it's time for Susanna Leonard Hill's Fourth Annual Valentiny Contest. The object is to write a Valentine Story for children that is 214 words or less and has a character that feels guilty.

That's a brief amount of words in which to tell a story that has a beginning, a middle, and and end; but I persisted. So thank you Susanna for hosting this event and here's my story.

valentiny writing contest 2019!





One Valentine Short (206 words)

Tabby pranced into the room tightly clutching a bag. A bag containing one valentine for each classmate.

She slipped a card into each box until she came to Janna’s. Her fingers searched the bag but came up empty. She glanced inside to be sure. 

Butterflies danced in her stomach, and she gnawed her bottom lip as she wondered what to do.

She thought about telling Janna the simple truth, but the thought made her cringe.

She thought about saying it dropped from a hole in the bag, but she knew she couldn’t lie.

She thought about hiding in the coat closet, but she hated tiny dark spaces.

Suddenly, inspiration struck.

She raced to the closet to retrieve the sucker she’d been saving for lunch. Then she grabbed some construction paper and art supplies.

Snippets of paper floated to the floor and glitter clung to every surface including her hair. But in the end, Tabby held a stunning valentine in her hand.

“That’s beautiful,” someone whispered behind her shoulder.

Tabby whirled around and handed the paper creation to Janna. “It’s for you!”

A look of joy brightened Janna’s plain pale face.

And at that moment, Tabby knew she wanted to spend recess getting to know Janna better.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Black History Month

It's Black History month! I normally read and promote people of every color all year long, but when I looked through my stack of books for review, two of them had beautiful brown girls on the cover; so it seemed appropriate to share those particular books.

The first was a board book titled In the Snow which fits both Black History month and the season since we are still in the throws of winter. It is the story of a small girl who spends the day outside enjoying the snow and snow activities with her dog. One sentence per page allows the reader and their little to take ample time discovering the details of the illustrations which are delightful.


The second was a book titled It's Great to Keep Calm. As I checked this book out, one of the librarians I am friends with told me she had recently read the book and that Keep Calm was her new mantra. In this story, Carly and her classmates are making sock puppets, and everyone takes a direction page except for her. When her sock puppet doesn't turn out as planned, she gets upset and loses her temper. But a good friend gives her advice about how to calm down and helps her make a new and proper sock puppet. This book would be a great parent and teacher resource for helping very young children deal with situations that don't turn out as expected and angry or anxious feelings.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Survival

Well, we survived the blizzard and the polar vortex that followed. We burnt a lot of wood in the process, but we were toasty warm. Thankfully we now seem to be on our way to warmer temperatures. I just hope they arrive gradually so not to cause flooding.

All this indoor time has left plenty of room for reading. Emily has been reading the second book in a  dystopian series, The Girl Who Dared To Stand, which she is loving as much as the Maze Runner Series. Now for anyone who knows Emily, this is a lot of book love. All her friends who have never read Maze Runner, intimately know the characters thanks to her. And the best part, there are seven books in the series, so she will be happy for a while!



The big surprise, however, came last week when my husband, Bobby, asked me to get the old classic, Papillon, from he library. In the fifteen years we've been married, he's read the Bible, newspapers, magazines, and online articles, but he's never asked me to get him a book. I know he read books before we married, I've just never seen him read one since.


And last but not least, I read a beginning reader titled A Cub in the Tub and a beginning chapter book titled Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster. Don't you just love those funny, punny cat and dog names?

A Cub in the Tub is just what it sounds like, a sight word rhyming book like the kind I bought Emily when she was learning to read. So not only will your 3 to 5 year old enjoy seeing bear go from being dirty to clean, they will also be gaining those critical building blocks that will launch them into reading on their own.


And once they've started reading and want to move onto that I am so grown up chapter book reading phase, Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster will be a perfect place to start. I mean come on, who doesn't love dog and cat stories with happy endings and subtle messages about friendship! And the really fun thing is that there are multiple Houndsley and Catina books from which to choose.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Grass is Always Greener...


Hey, all. I hope everyone had a wonderful week gone by. We've continued to have snow and very cold temperatures here in Ohio, winters that remind me of those from my childhood. Since the school we associate with for our Independent Studies had four snow days, I allowed Emily to have a few extra days off and a lighter schedule than normal on the other days. She was thrilled and it allowed me to have a little play time with my camera.









In addition, my baby girl turned 14 this past week. I look at her and ask my self how did this happen? In a blink of an eye the years seemed to pass by. And although I am proud of the person she is becoming, I do miss the child she was from time to time.


And I read. Of course I read the newspaper, the mail, several recipes, my Bible, the back matter on the book I bought Emily for her birthday, and my emails; but there's something different about reading for pleasure be it a cozy mystery, a novel, poetry, or my favorite picture books. 

This week I read a beautiful book titled Giraffe Problems. A book with a subtle but wonderful message that we are wonderfully made and should appreciate who and what we are. Edward Giraffe bemoans his long neck and does everything in his power to hide it from others. Until one day when he meets, Cyrus Turtle who admires his long neck and despises his own short neck. In the end, they come to realize each neck is just right.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by 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 if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.