Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chicago Tribune Young Readers Book Reviews -- March 21

Mary Harris Russell reviews three books in this week's Saturday Chicago Tribune. All are for children seven or under.

Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle, $16.99 Ages 4-7

Little Chick By Amy Hest Illustrated by Anita Jeram Candlewick, $17.99 Ages 3-5

All In A Day By Cynthia Rylant Illustrated by Nikki McClure Abrams, $17.95 Ages 4-7

Kristin Kloberdanz does one-minute reads on two books for teens.

Becoming Billie Holiday By Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper Wordsong, $19.95; Ages 12 and up

Marcello in the Real World By Francisco X. Stork; Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99; Ages 14 and up

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2 More Things I'm Learning After Darcy (Pattison Retreat)

1) Shrunken manuscripts can be good for searching for where things occur in the manuscript. I have a lot of ghosts that pop in to give my main character clues to solve a mystery. I picked all eleven out what would normally be a 120 page mss. in a 25 minute train commute, took notes and made a family tree. (I'd still be fumbling with the full 120 pages!)

2) I have a breakfast scene with no taste or smell sensory detail! Sure, there's conversation saying it's a special breakfast, but sensory detail. It was obvious in about 2 minutes when I started using five color highlighters to mark the different kinds of sensory detail. (I'm definitely a visual person.)

There are other things I've been doing, but these two struck me as interesting.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Links to Chicago Tribune

This week Mary Harris Russell reviews three:

Lucky Breaks By Susan Patron Atheneum Ages 8-12

Bob's Best Ever Friend By Simon Bartram Templar Books Ages 5-8

Crocodile Safari By Jim Arnosky Scholastic Ages 9-12

As an added bonus, Kristin Kloberdanz reviews JUMPED by Rita Williams-Garcia and WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson. I think Wintergirls is due out right around now, but I won an ARC at the Anderson's Breakfast three weeks ago. I'm only a short way into it, but it is a strong story dealing with anorexia. Both of these books are for ages 12 and up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Poetry Friday - Robins

Well, I saw snowflakes and subfreezing temps today, but....

IT IS SPRING!!!!!!! I know this because I saw two robins in my yard when I came home tonight. So for poetry friday tomorrow I offer an original young children's poem:


by James Danielson

Mother robin
On the nest.
Warm blue eggs
Beneath your chest.

Baby robins
Hatch, hatch, hatch.
Call for food
Dad goes to catch.

Father robin
Brings food back.
Open beaks
Stretch for their snack.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. THANKS!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Contests, Contests, Contests!!!

March is the season of contests! There are books and gift cards to be won and I'll share the links with all of you.

Contest #1: Deadline is Thursday, March 12. Win a copy of UNDERCOVER by Beth Kephart from HipWriterMama by drawing of those commenting on her blog.

Contest #2: Enter a Snarfy Subtitle Contest to win a $25.00 gift card from Carrie Harris at The Wonder That is my Blog. Click on the link for details, but deadline is Noon EST on Thursday, March 12. Note: Multiple entries encouraged! This is a chance to show how clever you can be with a few words.

Contest #3: Win a copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan from Tabitha at Writer Musings by posting a comment by Saturday, March 28.

Good Luck!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Post Retreat Darcy Pattison Advice and Chicago Trib Link

Darcy Pattison posted an additional piece of advice about revision -- it takes time. Although in the back of my mind I know, seeing it on her blog allows me to take that necessary revision time guilt free. Darcy, thanks once more for sharing your wisdom.

A couple weeks ago PJ Hoover talked about the trend to have butterflies on the covers of books. Among the three reviews by Mary Harris Russell we have another one. Well, I guess PJ was talking fiction, but let's face it -- the world loves butterflies.

Butterflies and Moths By Nic Bishop
Scholastic, Ages 8-10

Claudette Colvin Twice Toward Justice By Phillip Hoose
Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 10-15

Living Sunlight How Plants Bring the Earth to Life By Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
The Blue Sky Press, Ages 5-8

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Darcy Pattison Revision Retreat -- Shrunken Manuscripts

I had the great fortune to attend a novel revision retreat instructed by Darcy Pattison and organized by the Illinois-SCBWI people from central Illinois. First of all, hats off to all who planned the retreat!

One of the things I've always kept in mind when reporting on conferences and retreats is that the information taught is not mine to reteach. Reporting on Darcy's retreat will be easy -- I can point you straight to sections of her blog.

The above link will give you insight into shrinking your own manuscript and how it can be helpful. The basic idea is condense it into 30 or less page and use highlighters to mark different aspects of the book (a different color for each aspect). These might be strong chapters, conflict, interaction between two certain characters and so on. You then lay out the pages and can get an overall view of your work.

I encourage you to try this. Shrinking the manuscript is really easy, too. (I think it took me about 3 minutes.)

Here are a few of my plans (which will use multiple shrunken manuscripts):

1. Track when five of my supporting characters are in the book. (Mom, Dad, best friend, brother and the young guy-ghost. My MC is a girl.) I'll also track conflict here.

Problems to check: Dad, I believe got lost for a while -- little brother too. Looking for more Mom in early section and conflict with her.

2. Check overall strong chapters and conflict (internal and external).

Problems to check: Sagging middle (or Chapters 2-6 of 25). Story arch.

3. And similarly with small sections (scenes and probably individually as opposed to a shrunken manuscripts) highlight sensory details, color coded by type.

Problem to check: Making each scene strong with varied sensory details -- not just sight.

The multicolor highlighting and shrunken manuscripts are tools that can be applied to meet our own needs. Make sure you click on the link to Darcy's blog/website for infinitely more free information.

Fun moment #1 from retreat -- We did charades of a few manuscript titles as an ice breaker:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Chicago Tribune Young Readers Book Reviews -- Feb 28 (a bit late)

I'm a little late posting the link to the Chicago Tribune book reviews this week -- I was out of town at a revision retreat given by Darcy Pattison. I'll be posting more on that later (including lighter moments such as pirates, purple hair and letting go of the condom chapter).

This week Mary Harris Russell reviewed three books:

Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude By Jonah Winter Illustrated by Calef Brown
Atheneum Ages 8-11

Lexi By L.S. Matthews Delacorte Press Ages 9-12

The One and Only Marigold By Florence Parry Heide Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Schwartz & Wade Ages 4-8