Inspiring writing reminder

“I wonder how old we are when we stop thinking like kids?”  – This Kid Reviews Books  (Quote used with permission. Thanks, Erik!)

Vote on your favourite story!

This morning I woke before dawn, and since I was awake anyway I checked Susanna Hill’s blog. Yep! She’d posted the winning stories in her Valentiny contest. I admit that I was disappointed to see mine was not among them, but I voted on one of the stories listed.  Thank you, by the way, for reading my story that I posted here on my blog on February 14.

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Please go HERE to read the top twelve and place your vote. You have to scroll down a ways to do it, and I hope you’ll take the time to read what Susanna says before the vote widget comes up. The stories that made the cut are creative and appropriate for her contest.  Susanna will announce the winner  on Friday.

Do you enjoy entering writing contests? Have you ever won?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Book Review: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse – by Lila Hope-Simpson

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Book: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse
Author: Lila Hope-Simpson
Illustrator: Doretta Groenendyk
Publisher: DPG: Dery Publishing Group
Date: 2004
Genre: children's historical fiction; age 5-9, gr K-4
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95
My rating: historical event wonderfully-told for children

This is one of the beautiful books I purchased at the children’s book fair in 2016, although my copy has a different cover, as you see below. Apparently, the image above is the newer edition which includes more illustrations.

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Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse is written by Canadian author Lila Hope-Simpson, who, in fact, lives only a few miles from me. Illustrator Doretta Groenendyk is also a local artist.

First of all, look at this dedication – which seems very suited to the times we are living in – that she wrote in her book:  This book is dedicated to uprooted people from every place and time, whose spirits have proven that after adversity, life goes on.       And sometimes, there is even dancing.

Fiddles & Spoons is a historical fiction, fanciful for the child reader. This story is about a mouse family, the expulsion of the Acadians, and the will to survive.

In the small Acadian village of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, Canada, life was good. Families worked hard to keep their village functioning and to make a life they could be proud of. The men built sturdy dykes to hold back the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy, creating very fertile farmland along the coast – and those dykes are still there doing what they were intended to do.

Under the floorboards of the homestead of the hardworking Dubois family lived the Souris mouse family. They feasted on the crumbs that fell down through,  particularly enjoying Saturday nights when everyone danced and played their fiddles and spoons.

One night in 1755 it all changed. Soldiers marched in and separated the men from the women and children. Mama Souris was determined to not leave the Dubois family, so she and her family scurried along near the feet of all the people being forced onto boats. It was a long rugged trip until they finally arrived in a new land and were reunited with their loved ones. From there they had to start over. 

Lila Hope-Simpson told this story of an important historical event in a wonderful way, introducing children – and perhaps adult readers – to the Expulsion of the Acadians, which is a memorable part of local, and far-reaching, history. It is not heavy-handed so as to include lurid details of the atrocities committed against an honest, God-fearing people. On the other hand it is not overly gently told so that the drama cannot be felt and understood. 

Doretta Groenendyk‘s illustrations are colourful, playful, effective. I especially like the scenes of Minas Basin and Cape Blomidon which are very familiar to me.

You can find Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Maurice Sendak interview

Maurice Sendak – 

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winner of the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are.

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When I first read that book I wasn’t sure about it. Now I see it as an amazing story. What made the difference?

I was a very timid, sensitive child, so when I first read Where the Wild Things Are as an adult – having not known of it until then, although it was published in 1963 – I think I was concerned it would be scary for children. It really speaks to imagination, to the selfishness of childhood and the resulting escape into imagination and dreaming. That I get.

I was glad to find THIS INTERVIEW from 2004 – Bill Moyers interviewing Maurice Sendak. I hope you will take the time to listen to it. It’s in two parts, and the bonus is that the transcript is under it so you can read along while listening.

What does this stir within you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: The Rescuing Day – by Christine Goodnough

The Rescuing Day















Book: The Rescuing Day
Author: Christine Goodnough
Illustrator: Wendy Siemens
Publisher: PrairieView Press
Date: 2015
Genre: children's; Christian; grades 1-3
Pages: 48; paperback
Price: $7.75
My rating: an easy pleasant read for children

The Rescuing Day is a chapter book by Canadian author Christine Goodnough, sketched illustrations by Canadian illustrator Wendy Siemens.

First of all, look at the pretty red cover! Between the red covers are short chapters just right for a young reader.

It’s summertime. The story starts with Mom suggesting to her two young daughters that they get their room cleaned up quickly, their Saturday rule, so that they can be in the strawberry patch early – before it gets too hot in the sun. Megan has trouble being neat like her older sister so in her hurry she shoves everything out of sight. When she gets back she can’t find her favourite doll. This is a major crisis for a little girl, and the author depicts her feelings well.

In each chapter is an adventure for some members of the family. They have a mischievous little puppy, a younger brother who gets into his own trouble, and somebody is in need of rescuing in one way or another. There is an incident where the children are in need and they think to pray about it. It’s nicely done by Christine Goodnough, in a natural, non-preachy way.

Table of Contents:

Chapters:

  1. Trip to the Strawberry Patch
  2. Damien’s Equipment Gets New Paint
  3. Callista is Lost
  4. Callista to the Rescue
  5. The Naughty Student
  6. Megan Rescues Shaggy
  7. The Wasps’ Nest
  8. Shaggy to the Rescue

You can find The Rescuing Day on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

My entry into Susanna Hill’s Valentiny contest & a snowy Valentine’s Day

Wow! It is Valentine’s Day already and we are buried in snow here in Nova Scotia, thanks to the blizzard that hit us Sunday night and all day Monday, not ending until sometime during Monday night.

In lieu of a book review today, let’s ignore the snow for now and get on to some fun WRITING NEWS:

Since it’s Valentine’s Day HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, everybody!  – I finally got up the courage to participate in Susanna Hill’s Valentiny contest this year. I had entered a story in her Holiday contest in December 2014; however, I never felt I had anything to contribute for her following ones. This time I’m giving it a try. Nervously, as per my usual.

Stories are to be no more than 214 words (for Feb 14 = 2nd month, 14th day), have to be Valentine stories in which someone is confused, and Susanna also says the following:

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using confusion and success in making us feel the confusion!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

As a participant, I am required to post my story here and then link to it on her blog by midnight tonight. She and her assistants will read through them all – and there are many of them – to narrow it down to 6-10 entries. Yike! Their selections will be posted on her blog February 20 for public viewing and voting. I’ll post a link to her blog then, so I hope you will go there and cast your vote for the one you like the best. After the voting period she will announce the winner(s) February 24. 

I wrote my entry a few days ago, then spent some time tweaking it and changing things a bit. This morning I worked at it some more and … here it is.

Valentine’s Day Surprises

Timmy finished painting the vase.

“Mum likes red. When it’s dry I’ll tie this around it.” He pulled out of his pocket a pretty ribbon with a tag on it that said,

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mum. Love, Timmy

Timmy set the vase to dry beside the mailbox. He picked the prettiest wildflowers he could find and stuck them in. When he was carefully tying the ribbon on he heard his mother’s voice. He ran to see what she wanted.

“Did you call me?”

“Yes. I saw the mailwoman coming. Please watch the baby while I see if we got mail today.”

“Do I have to?” He sat with his sister, then jumped up. “NO! Wait! I’ll get it for you!”

“That’s okay, Timmy, it’s my turn.”

Timmy sucked in his breath and scuffed his toe in the dirt. He watched his mother walk to the mailbox.

She came back with only a letter! Timmy raced to where he’d left the surprise. It was gone! Where could it be? His heart sank. “What do I do now?”

At that moment the mailwoman returned. “I took this by mistake.”

Timmy ran and set the special present beside his mother. She hugged him. “It’s beautiful!”

Down the road, the puzzled mailwoman was staring at her red fingertips.

 

I don’t know how my story will rate alongside all the others, but I can hope. 🙂  It’s a good experience anyway.

On another note:

Take a look at the following pictures. The ones on the left and in the middle are of a cherry tree behind my house, the first taken during the beginning of the blizzard, the second at the end of it. Can you tell there’s much deeper snow around it? The third is our back door from which my husband dug out a narrow path to our driveway until he could get more cleared. Yes, it’s a lot of snow, but still not as much as our record-breaking snowfall of winter 2014/15.

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Any comments – positive or negative – about my story? Do you think it passes all the criteria? I’m open to hear.

How are you managing this winter, much snow yet?

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! ♥♥ I send you calorie-free love and hugs. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

13 Weird And Wonderful Facts About Your Favorite Books As A Kid

Today I’m sharing with you something I think is very interesting. I found this list on BuzzFeed, posted by Nora Whelan – BuzzFeed staff, and, in case you haven’t already seen it, I thought you might like to read it, too. As my title indicates, it’s a list of thirteen “weird and wonderful” facts about books you likely read as a child, or have read to children in your life. The only one I knew is number 2 on the list.  

 

1. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was inspired to write The Little Prince while stuck in the desert post-plane crash.

In the mid-1930s, Saint-Exupéry, who had intended to fly from Paris to Saigon, crashed in the Sahara. His experiences while waiting to be rescued, including hallucinations, became fodder for the beloved book.

2. Green Eggs and Ham was the result of a bet.

Publisher Bennett Cerf bet Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) that Geisel couldn’t write a book using only 50 words. Geisel did, and won $50, which is a pretty solid per-word rate.

3. The Giving Tree almost wasn’t published, as editors didn’t believe it would resonate with readers of any age.

“The trouble with this ‘Giving Tree’ of yours,” Simon & Schuster editor William Cole told Silverstein, “is that … it’s not a kid’s book — too sad, and it isn’t for adults — too simple.” Needless to say, Cole was wrong.

4. Where the Wild Things Are was almost about horses.

“[My editor Ursula Nordstrom] gave me a contract based on ‘Where the Wild Horses Are,’” author Maurice Sendak said in a 2004 interview. “And then, it turned out after some very few months to her chagrin and anger, I couldn’t draw horses.”

As for the “wild things”? Sendak said he based the creatures on his hairy, lovable relatives.

5. Similarly, Goodnight Moon’s characters were almost humans. Almost.

Turns out, illustrator Clement Hurd was just better at drawing rabbits.

6. H.A. Rey and his wife Margret fled Paris on bicycles with the first manuscript of Curious George in 1940, shortly before the city was taken by Nazis.

The manuscript was nearly seized by an official who suspected the Reys were spies, but upon seeing its content, released it back to the couple.

7. The idea for Charlotte’s Web came from E.B. White’s fascination with the (many!) spiders in his own home.

White brought a spider egg sac from his farm in Maine to his apartment in New York. He then allowed the hatched baby spiders free reign of his pad, until his cleaner complained.

8. Eric Carle got the idea for The Very Hungry Caterpillar from … playing with a hole punch.

“One day I was punching holes with a hole puncher into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm,” Carle has said of the book’s unexpected origins. As such, he originally named the story A Week With Willi the Worm, before his editor suggested a caterpillar instead.

9. The steps taken by Alice in Alice: Through the Looking Glass make up a playable game of chess (though not necessarily an efficient one).

“At two points the White Queen passes up a chance to checkmate and on another occasion she flees from the Red Knight when she could have captured him,” The Annotated Alice author Martin Gardner has said of the moves/plot. “Both oversights, however, are in keeping with her absent-mindedness.”

10. Everything you thought you knew about Madeline’s characters is apparently untrue.

John Bemelmans Marciano, grandson of Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans and the author and illustrator of recent titles in the series, says most people have the story all wrong.

“It’s not an orphanage; [Miss Clavel is] not a nun; and Madeline is not French,” Marciano told NPR in 2013. “I used to get almost indignant over it, but these things take on a life of their own and sometimes misperceptions are the stuff of legends.”

11. In the Australian version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander wants to move to Timbuktu.

Alexander’s seeming belief that bad days don’t happen in Australia is a running gag in the original book. But what about the printing for Australians, who know better than that? Turns out, Timbuktu was the answer.

12. Bridge to Terabithia author Katherine Paterson didn’t realize at first that she’d kind of snatched the kingdom’s name from The Chronicles of Narnia.

“I thought I’d made up ‘Terabithia,’” Paterson says on her website. “I realized when the book was nearly done, that there is an island in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis called ‘Terebinthia.’ I’m sure I borrowed that unconsciously … [and] Lewis got Terebinthia from the Biblical terebinth tree, so it wasn’t original with him either.”

13. In 1929, J.M. Barrie gifted Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children his Peter Pan rights, which have benefited the organization ever since.

The London hospital receives royalties from Peter Pan book and product sales, as well as from performances of the play.

Next week, unless something else comes up, I will give you more information regarding number 4. Do you know of any book facts not listed here?

 Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

NaNoWriMo speaks out! “Stories know no borders”

My dear friends,
I deliberately avoid political discussion here, and anywhere online. Today I have to share something that I believe is really important. 
I am not a US citizen; I am happy to be a Canadian, although, of late, it’s beginning to look as if our nation also could be entering the arena of political stupidity. It’s disheartening to witness the fear, anxiety and grief of my US friends who are greatly affected by the turn of events of their 2016 election. In the writing world there is opportunity to make things better, one word, one page, one book at a time. So to those who are worried, I say WRITE ON! Be positive, be hopeful, take the high road and DO NOT allow yourself to be pulled into the mire. Avoid hate. Be sure your words are the best they can be because somebody needs you, and that somebody could be someone you will never meet in person but who will read your words and be encouraged.
Yesterday I received an email from the National Novel Writing Month desk. I’m sharing it with you because, as I said at the start, I believe it is really important. This letter came, addressed to Polilla-Lynn – my NaNoWriMo name , because I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 (and won!) and in 2011-2013 (adding to my novel of 2010).
Read it and be encouraged, my friends.   Love to you, Lynn

 

What we stand for, what we stand against.

Writing together

Dear Polilla-Lynn,

As a creative writing nonprofit, we’re not a political organization. We don’t endorse candidates or support any particular party. In an ideal world, we would focus only on empowering people to write.

Yet we find ourselves in a time where people’s ability to tell their stories—and even to safely exist—is at stake.

NaNoWriMo strives to be a gateway and sanctuary for people’s voices. Our guiding belief is that every person’s story matters, and we celebrate the inclusion of all religions, races, genders, sexualities, and countries of origin. We help people find a safe space to be who they are—creators, storytellers, and world changers.

Because of this core organizational value, we join the many voices standing against the presidential executive order that bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

For over 15 years, we’ve had the privilege of writing alongside a community from over 200 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. We don’t build walls. We strive to dissolve borders through stories, the vital human narratives that expand our worlds.

 

So while we are not a political organization, we feel moved to take action.

In response to the executive order, as well as any future government efforts that threaten people’s basic freedoms, we will:

  • Celebrate creativity over apathy, diversity over fear, and productivity over despair.
     
  • Welcome all stories and continue to make NaNoWriMo a safe space for all writers.
     
  • Advocate for the transformative power of storytelling to connect people and build a better world.
 

If you have concrete ideas for how we can work toward these goals (or if you have feedback about anything in this message), please share your thoughts.

Thank you for being part of NaNoWriMo. We are all individuals of different beliefs and backgrounds, but we come together through a shared passion. We pledge to remember that, and to look to our community as a model and inspiration, as we get to the work ahead.

With gratitude and optimism,

Grant Faulkner
Executive Director

 

Future Actions

We are also concerned about upcoming issues that may affect people’s self-expression, like the President’s desire to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEA is a crucial source of support for many nonprofit writing organizations, and has provided funding for NaNoWriMo in the past. The NEH has awarded $515 million to libraries, many of which provide local writing spaces through our Come Write In program.

If these cuts are proposed, National Novel Writing Month will respond and advocate.

Your thoughts? You have two places to share this time if you wish, here and on their form. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂  YOU CAN DO IT!