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!)

Countdown to SPRING!

I love spring. Currently it’s like pining for a sweetheart who is due home soon.

Today an early morning fog was eating away some of our snow, rotting it so it breaks up and melts more easily. After our recent very cold temperatures the snow froze solid making it harder to move. It’s looking dirty now, but we can be sure there will be a fresh topping for it before our winter weather ends.

On the happy side, look at this:

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Wooo Hooo!    * happy dance *

Even if we do get buried in snow again before March 20, I don’t care! It’s going to get warm again, soon, and I look forward to that. In the meantime, I’m not wishing today away. I’m seeing the beauty of winter and enjoying the many robins that came out of the woods yesterday to forage. That’s the first real sign of spring for me. Robins. Probably the sign I love the most is when the peepers start their night song. (Peepers — tiny little frogs.) They make my heart sing. 

Wherever you are, what is your favourite sign of spring?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂  

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Book Review: One Plastic Bag – by Miranda Paul

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Book: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling 
Women of the Gambia
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Date: 2015
Genre: children's; age 6-9; gr 1-4
Pages: 32
Price: $19.99
My rating: True story superbly told for children to 
understand its importance

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia was written by Miranda Paul after hearing about this success story and doing extensive research to get it just right.

This is a true story, simplified for the sake of the genre. However, even simplified it is a dramatic and very impressive story of change.

In 1970 Isatou is born in Gambia. She grows up seeing, and then using, plastic bags that seem to be more convenient to use than the handmade baskets she used for carrying things. The problem is the plastic bags, when no longer useful, do not degrade and mix back into the earth like the baskets. They become an unmanageable, unhealthy, dangerous accumulation of garbage in the village and surrounding villages. The plastic bags make it hard for the villagers’ gardens to produce, they strangle the animals necessary to households, and they cause disease. No one knows what to do with the bags once they are no longer useful.

One day Isatou gathers up some of the smelly bags and takes them home. She and some other women wash them and, while they are drying on the line, Isatou watches her sister crocheting. She asks her sister to teach her, and then Isatou comes up with an idea. Secretly, she and a few other women get busy evolving the old plastic bags into useful things – until their impact is noticed over a year later and cannot remain a secret.

One Plastic Bag is a story about how Isatou and her friends make a difference in the world through their recycling efforts. It’s a remarkable accomplishment with very positive environmental results.

Elizabeth Zunon illustrated One Plastic Bag by using her skill of collage. Her work is stunning.

Actual photos are included of the women in the story.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul is a story that will help to bring awareness to young readers. One person CAN make a difference.

You can find One Plastic Bag on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

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!  🙂

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!  🙂