Book Review, Books, Children's Books, Picture Books

A Christmas Picture Book Review

I love the Christmas season. The decorations, the songs, the food, the family traditions, and all the Christmas picture books!

I keep a little collection of them. The Christmas picture books were one of my favorite things to bring out at Christmas time and read with my kids when they were little. Even though they aren’t so little anymore I’ve kept my collection. And every once in a while I still add to it! I’m so happy I received a new book to add to the collection this year, Mouse’s Christmas Gift by Mindy Baker.

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Mouse’s Christmas Gift draws you in with the heart and warmth of Christmas through story and beautiful illustrations. The spot varnish with glitter on the cover is gorgeous and sparkles like all things Christmas, making you want to gently open the cover like a treasured Christmas present and peek inside. This story of a little church mouse, who has a gift to bring community together in an unexpected way, reminds little readers how important it is to share the joy and hope of Christmas with those around us.

Mindy Baker and I met through twitter. She asked if I would like to review a copy of her new release and I’m so happy she did. I hope you love her new book as much as I do!

I love the idea of building a Christmas book library at home. Use each one for story time together as a type of book advent calendar –Read one special Christmas story each night until Christmas! Mouse’s Christmas Gift would make a great addition to your own collection or even a special Christmas present for your little one this season.

 

 

 

 

Books, Review

Brave Beauty Review and Giveaway!

A Book Review and Giveaway!

*Winner Robin H. –Congratulations!

“Lord, I’m looking for something good.”

This was my short prayer offered up a few weeks ago. When I came home late that afternoon a little package of something good was there, just like that, waiting on the doorstep.

In it was Lynn Cowell’s book Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You

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In recent weeks, our family has faced trials and storms. My little girl, my brave beauty, has weathered them right along with me –My big brother passed away and fourteen days later we lost a close family friend. In the midst of the grieving, school stopped for a week as we prepared our home to evacuate hurricane Irma. It seemed as though the storms just kept coming.

And so, my prayer for something good…

What a gift of love to receive Lynn’s beautiful book of devotions. A call for daughters to be brave in this world, no matter what trials may come or what questions they face in life and in faith.

Brave Beauty is 100 mini chapters broken up into three sections:

  •             Section: 1 I Am Loved
  •             Section: 2 I Am Brave
  •             Section: 3 I Am Confident

Lynn’s mini chapters are comfortable and inviting. I like how she describes these as “100 moments”. She talks to young readers in an easy conversational style with real life stories and examples. At the end of each chapter she has a space for your daughter to engage her thoughts with what she’s read. There are getting to know you quizzes, scriptures and prayers, an action to take called Becoming Brave, and space for your daughter to journal her thoughts.

This is a book just for her.

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I love the topics Lynn chooses. She breaks down her sections in the book even further with topics like, I Can Do Scary Things, I Can Stand Up For Others, My Purpose, I Am Loved… There is so much to choose from. Your daughter can read straight through, do one chapter each week, or pick a topic section she might want some encouragement in. There are no dates written on the page, so your daughter can go through the book how she likes.

This is an excellent resource for young girls navigating life and learning to be confident in who God made them to be.

Here’s to Lynn and brave girls becoming brave women!

 

THE GIVEAWAY! HOORAY!

A GIFT for Your Daughters! I received one beautiful book for review and one for a giveaway!

  • Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy for your daughter, niece, or granddaughter. The contest will run Saturday, October 14th at 12pm through Saturday, October 21st at 12pm. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook for an extra entry! I’ll announce the winner here next Saturday.

 

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Books, Inspiration, Time for Art, Writing

Why Write?

Thoughts On Writing, Fear, and Time | Part 2

“Don’t you find it strange that we have these ideas we dream up? We write and create and go to conferences and critique groups. No one has asked us to write, but we do.”

I was at a conference a few years ago when I asked one of my friends and fellow writers my question about writing. The process and the idea of writing started to feel strange and surreal.  Why do I seem to find inspiration for new books all around? I jot down the ideas in my notebook, on receipts in my purse, or on the back of a bulletin in church. Some of these ideas stick with me and their little voice is strong. I feel this desire to put my thoughts and words and art together. I create little book dummies of how I see these books in my mind.

I have 12 on a spreadsheet facing me now. Three in book dummy form.

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Family, school, kids, and work pop in and demand some love and inspiration too. Shouldn’t I put my ideas aside and focus on what’s in front of me? And yet these little books speak to me. They compel me to take them to critique group and attend writer’s conferences.

The question I asked my friend about writing has stayed with me. It pops up when I doubt what I’m trying. It’s easier to listen to the voice that says, ‘focus on what’s in front of you’.

But what if all writers listened to a voice that told them to stop writing?

What if all artists listened to the voice of doubt or fear and stopped making art?

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The question remained: Why write?

And then I met Nikki Grimes. I was invited to hear her read from her book Words With Wings at the Upper Room Art Gallery. She is talented and gracious and humble. She talked with me afterword about her writing, her children’s books, and poetry, and new projects.

We took a walk with our host Robin Merrill from the Upper Room to see a piece of art in the making. We stood in front of a large log being hand cut into a canoe by a Seminole Indian from the tradition of generations before. A story in its own way, told and passed down.

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I asked Nikki the same thing I had asked my other friend, “Don’t you find it strange to write sometimes? To put these ideas and thoughts down on paper and publish them? No one has asked us to write what we write but we do it anyway.”

She answered me quickly,

“If I waited for permission, I would never write.”

Wow! I had never considered that I was waiting for permission.

As we looked at the canoe in raw form and Robin told us about the artwork, she showed us a pile of wood chips on the ground that had been cut from the log. Chunks and layers of shavings discarded for the canoe to takes its form. She gave us a little brown paper bag and told us to take some shavings and create our own piece of art from them.

Here is mine, a bird with Nikki’s winged words for me…

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I dont’ have an answer as to why I write, but it doesn’t have to be because someone asked me to.

I have a goal now for my little board books.

That’s what they are. No permission needed.

 

If you’re the curious sort, one who wonders about why we do the things we do, here’s an amazing book I found one evening at Barnes & Noble, Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature.

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Happy reading, writing and creating! ~LAM

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Books, Children's Books, Writing

World Blog Book Tour

Thank you, Elizabeth Van Liere, for inviting me to participate in the World Blog Book Tour.

Elizabeth Van Liere is the author of Dare to Live: Devotions for Those Over the Hill, But Not Under It! Elizabeth’s articles, poems, children’s stories and devotions have appeared in periodicals for some sixty years. Dare to Live is her first book. Her second book, Laugh. I Dare You., will be out in 2015.

She is not only an inspiring author, she’s my Grandma. She has been an encouragement to me throughout my life to pursue art, photography, and now writing children’s books combining those elements I love so much. I am thankful God has blessed me with an amazing woman to look up to. I’m proud of the legacy she is leaving, for myself and others,  through her writing.

You can enter to win a copy of Dare to Live over at Good Reads up until September  25, 2014. If you aren’t over the hill yet this would make a great gift for a grandparent on Grandparents Day (Sunday, September 7, 2014).

 

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Now it’s my turn to answer a few questions about my writing process.

After I answer the questions you can follow other authors on World Blog Book Tour and see what they’re up to.

What am I working on?

I have a few little books swirling about my imagination. The one that has demanded the most attention is a little book about birds. I envision this as a little board book and e-book. I’ve written the words, now I’m busy trying to capture just the right photographs to go along with those words. I love this part!

My first four books for children are also board books. I See the Me God Made, I See the Creatures God Made, I See the Colors God Made, and I See the World God Made from Standard Publishing came out in 2008. These cute little books of photographs and scripture are out of print now, but my husband and I are exploring turning these into e-book form or app form. I love the printed book and I think it provides a valuable role in the cognitive development of children, but I also think digital media is a growing force in education. I’d love to explore this area more.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre? 

I think my writing is different from other little board books because I like to show what I see through writing and photography. I love art and I love story and those authors and illustrators who do that so well. I think my little books are more concept driven than story driven though. At least that’s where I’m at right now.

Why do I write what I do?

It started when my son was just a baby. I left the photo studio where I worked on commercial photography to become a stay at home mom. One of the first gifts I received was a Christmas book and a letter encouraging me to pray with my son read scripture aloud to him even though he couldn’t understand yet. I spent many days reading lots of different books to my cute little boy. I went to bed a night with silly rhymes floating through my head from all the different books we had read together. It made me think of that first gift and letter. I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could teach my little one all about the world and share little verses with him? It was an idea that became the begining of four little books about the wonders God has made.

My son jokes with me now about my book ideas, “Mom, is that another book for babies?”. I think he’d like me to write a grand adventure like his favorite, Treasure Island, but I’m not there yet.

I think the most incredible thing about infants is the fact the whole world has yet to be discovered. The whole world! What joy to be able to teach little ones about the world around them. As adults we’re in a hurry quite often, but you notice things when you have a baby. You share these wonders because they point you to them. They are explorers in a new land discovering beauty and wonder, a breeze, grass, a bird calling, airplanes overhead, beetles crawling on the ground, splashing water… It’s amazing to think about. Spending time with a little one forces you to slow down and notice things all over again.

How does my writing process work?

I’ll see something in nature or in the day-to-day with kiddos and a little idea starts. I write it down and kind of let it set. If the thought or idea doesn’t go away, I grab my sketchbook and write more. I’ll add a 16 page  spread of a book mock-up and place text so I can see the flow of the story. Because I’m a visual person I need to really see and feel the book in my hands my next step is to make a book dummy with text and photos. I write WAY too much for a board book and then I remember it’s a board book. A book for infants and toddlers. Then I cut out 75% of my text. This is terrifying at first and then it’s a relief. Something simple and beautiful shines through out of the excess. This is all amazing fun. The hard part comes in writing a book proposal and pitching the book to editors or agents at a writers conference. I’m still learning that part!

 

More authors on the tour:

Stop by to check out author and international speaker Karen Whiting. She is the author of several books, including Nature Girl: A Guide to Caring for God’s CreationThe One-Year My Princess Devotions, 2014 Christian Retailing Best Award, children’s nonfiction, and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front, Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal, faith category

I have several of Karen’s books and have had the joy of connecting with her at the Florida Christian Writers Conference over the years. She is a talented author and a great encouragement to me.

 

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Books, History, Inspiration, Photography, TBT, TBTPictureBooks

The Photograph Keeper

Grandpa

This post is about photographs and a dress and book I recently stumbled across.

The Photographs

My Grandma had to clean out her home of more than 50 years to move into a smaller apartment. There were boxes of photographs in the basement and albums on book shelves and photos on the walls. I had a chance to go through some of those photos with her before she moved. My Grandma told me details about the events and the people in the photos and scribbled names in pencil on the backs for me. What a mix of memories –Great great grandmothers and grandfathers, cousins and friends, birthdays and world wars.

I took a box of the photos home with me.

Then it was my mother in-law’s turn. She took on the task of packing up her childhood home and moving her dad from Buffalo to Florida to live with her. She brought back photographs as well. More life, more memories, more family history, all told through little square and rectangular pieces of paper.

The Dress

The dress was my mother in-law’s first communion dress. She gave the dress to my little girl. My daughter loved the dress. She wore it around the house playing dress up whenever she had the chance. It made me happy her dress up play had a bit of family history woven in.

When we took a trip to visit family in Buffalo I knew I had to take the dress. I carefully packed up the dress in the suitcase. When we arrived I asked my husband if he remembered where his mom’s old childhood house was located. He did and I told him my plans.  My daughter put her dress on and we headed out for the adventure. I didn’t think about the people who lived in the house currently and what they might think. A slight overlook in my plans! I started to think of what I would say as I knocked at the door. Thankfully it was the middle of the day on a weekday. The family and most of the neighbors were gone. My daughter hopped out of the car for our mini photo shoot and I grabbed a few quick shots. I knew these little photos of a dress returned to place would be a sweet gift.

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The Book

I came across Girls Standing On Lawns by Maria Kalman and Daniel Handler in Anthropologie. Art by Maria Kalman, words by Daniel Handler and old photographs of girls on lawns. -I fell in love.

I immediately thought of the photos of my daughter standing in her grandmother’s dress on the lawn in Buffalo. I wondered about those photos my mother in-law had brought back from her childhood home…

 

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” One morning we found some photographs.

One morning these girls stood on lawns.

We  looked at the pictures, and we got to work.”

I think this is possibly my favorite compilation from the book-

“My whole life I have not known where to put my hands.”

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This seems like a brilliant solution to me. I think I would very much like to be photographed in exactly the same way.

 

I spent this past week at my mother in-law’s house. I asked my her about her old photos. I wondered if there were any of her in the dress on the lawn. I went through boxes full of photos. She asked if I wanted them. Of course! She said I was the only one who would be interested in those old photos.

I didn’t find one of her in the dress on the lawn, but I did find other photos. Here are a few of my favorites of my beautiful mother in-law, a girl standing on the lawn.

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I have a few old family photographs in frames. I think I would like to arrange the rest of my collection and put them together in a book from Blurb to pass down to my kids. I think this way they would be more easily viewed and enjoyed and not just stashed away in box somewhere.

What do you do with all of your old family photographs?

 

 

Books, Children's Books, Inspiration, Picture Books, TBT, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

Prayers for Children

Grandpa

 

A Little Golden Book

Prayers for Children

Pictures by Eloise Wilkin

Western Publishing Company 1974, 1952

Little Golden Book Classic published by Random House, Inc.

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It’s been a tough week for me and my family. One that certainly had us in our own time of prayer. It seemed fitting to share one of my favorite vintage children’s books this Thursday.

It turns out I liked this Little Golden Book so much I bought it twice at two different thrift stores. The first one was published in originally in 1952 and reprinted again in 1974. The second one is a Little Golden Book Classic, First Random House Edition 2002. The artwork is done by Eloise Wilkin. The covers are different, but her artwork and the prayers in the book are the same and in the same order. I think the only exception is the colors are more saturated in the newer printing. I’d love to be able to find the 1952 version to go along with these.

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“God, make my life a little staff

Whereon the weak may rest,

And so what health and strength I have

May serve my neighbors best.

God, Make my life a little hymn

of tenderness and praise;

Of faith, that never waxeth dim,

In all His wondrous ways.”

~ A portion from A Child’s Prayer by M. Betham-Edwards

 

These books offer sweet prayers to pray with your child through the day. From Morning Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, Evening Prayer to Good Night prayer, the book is full of sweet ways to talk to God. The last prayer, Evening Prayer surprised me when I saw it. It’s printed as a hymn, the words adapted by Miriam Drury. I said this one many nights through my childhood with my mom. I never knew it was meant to be sung.

” Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray Thee, Lord, Thy child to keep: Thy love guard me through the night, And wake me with the morning light.”

 

These sweet prayers are a reminder it’s good to spend time on my knees in prayer with my own children each and everyday, no matter what may come.

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I’m so thankful my Grandma passed on this photo of my own mom and her sis saying their prayers at bedtime.

 Do you have a special prayer you say with your children?

 

 

 

 

Books, Children's Books, History, Picture Books, TBT, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

I Can Read

Grandpa

 

Little Chick’s Story

1978

by Mary DeBall Kwitz

illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres

Published by Harper & Row

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I was drawn to Little Chick’s Story by the simple soft blue and brown color palette. I love the pencil lines of Cyndy Szekeres through the wash of pale colors and how in places she uses no color at all, only the pencil. It’s beautiful how well the simplicity of the two colors work in Little Chick’s Story.

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My favorite part of the story itself is that this is An Early I CAN READ Book, but Mary DeBall Kwitz still lets children read and learn from the rich detail in her text.

“She laid one egg in the meadow for the ring-tailed raccoon.

And she hid one egg in the violets for the Easter rabbit.”

I love her word choice, especially violets. She could have called them flowers, but she chose to teach children about a specific flower. Maybe there’s meaning in that for the author.

This book made me think of all the I Can Read books my children have checked out and read from the library and the ones we’ve bought and read together at home. It really is incredible to see your child grow and learn to make sense of letters and the sounds they make and then learn to put it all together and read all by themselves.

I wondered about the series of books and when it possibly started. I found out the first I Can Read book published was Little Bear in 1957, by Else Holmelund and illustrated Maurice Sendak.

You can read the history of how the I Can Read series began HERE.

 

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What’s your favorite I Can Read book?

 

 

 

 

 

Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, TBT, TBTPictureBooks

What Do You Say?

Grandpa

I found a new favorite picture book on this Throwback Thursday. This might be something I say about all of our picture books. Maybe I’ll just say this is my new favorite picture book about manners.

What Do You Say, Dear?

 

1958

By Sesyle Joslin

Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Published by Scholastic Book Services

3rd printing October 1965

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MannersIS

“single copy price 35¢”

 

When I found the book, I admit, I picked it up right away because I saw Maurice Sendak’s name on the cover as the illustrator. This made me quite happy. But when I read the book I loved the words also. This really is what a great picture book is all about isn’t it? Great words with great pictures. I love how fun Sesyle Joslin made practicing manners. There is no room left for ordinary. Her words bring full imagination and lots of laughter.

It’s hard to pick out one favorite spread. I think I like them all, but I do want to share one with you so I’ll pick one for now…

 

“You are a dangerous pirate and you have captured a fine lady to take on your ship. Every morning when you untie her so she can eat breakfast, she says, “Good morning. How are you?”

“What do you say, dear?”

 

ManersBC

“This is the funniest book about manners you ever read!”

 

 

 

 

Books, TBT, Thrift Shop

Personal Typing

Grandpa

This Throwback Thursday book is dedicated to my mom.

–Disclaimer: This one isn’t a picture book, but it does have fantastic illustrations and I couldn’t resist the fun of it when I found it at the thrift store.

Personal and Professional Typing

S. J. Wanous

1962

South-Western Publishing Company

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I think I grew up in a strange time of transition, sort of an in an in-between state. Old technology VS. new technology. A bit of time spent in darkrooms developing my own film and making prints, learning to type on a typewriter, and also learning how to use a computer and getting photos burned onto Kodak CDs.

I had the privilege of taking one class learning to type on an electric typewriter. I say it’s a privilege because I learned how to type on a keyboard well and it’s been something I’ve used ever since.

Technology is still changing, and it always will be, but for now  my son still has to sit down to type reports for school on our Mac and he doesn’t know the keyboard. He types essays one little letter at a time, click… click… click… It’s painful to watch sometimes.

I know the time he could save by learning to type. My fingers find the keys on their own, no scanning for the letters, no thinking involved.  I wish he had this skill.

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I wonder if my nostalgic find might be put to some good with my kiddos?

It might be fun to use this manual and see what happens.

Does anyone learn to type like this anymore?

 

 

 

 

Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, TBT, TBTPictureBooks

Chicka Chicka abc

Grandpa

 

Chicka Chicka abc

by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault

Illustrated by Lois Ehlert

1989

Today’s Throwback Thursday Picture Book is one of my favorite little board books. This was the first book I received as a baby gift when my son was born. We read this little ABC rhyme book over and over and it seemed quite the perfect first book for my little Florida baby. We’ve never been in short supply of coconut trees down here in the sunshine state.

This is our book, faded and lovingly worn around the edges, first read with my son and then again with my little girl.

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The best part about celebrating Chicka Chicka abc today is I have Lois Ehlert’s new book, The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life reserved and waiting for me to pick up at Barnes & Noble.

Julie Danielson of the impossibly wonderful blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, shares an interview with Lois Ehlert over at Book Page. You may just end up going to get a copy too after you read the interview.

 

What was your baby’s first book?