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!  🙂

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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!

Book Review: The Princess and the Frogs – by Veronica Bartles

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Book: The Princess and the Frogs
Author: Veronica Bartles
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Publisher: Balzer + Bray of HarperCollins Publishers
Date: November 15, 2016
Genre: picture book; 4-8 yr, preschool to gr 3 
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99
My rating: such a great example of "girl power"

You know the saying, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Well, this little princess just wanted the frog.

The Princess and the Frogs, written by Veronica Bartles, is a clever twist on the Princess and the Frog fairy tale. This little princess wanted a pet that would be her best  friend. It was hard for the Royal Pet Handler to find one to match her specifications – one that liked to swim and play and jump all day, one that would match her green dress and at night would sit on her pillow and sing to her. Finally it was decided that a frog would be the perfect pet.

Princess Cassandra was so happy and everything was fantastic until, in her delight, she kissed the frog. Well, you know what happens in fairy tales when the princess kisses the frog. Yep! She had herself a prince. That was NOT what Princess Cassandra wanted! She put the prince to work in her castle and the Royal Pet Handler had to find another frog for her. Alas, the same thing happened! Several times.

This story is beautifully illustrated by Sara Palacios. The little princess either wears her running shoes or goes barefoot and is always in her tiara and eyeglasses. She is a determined and smart little girl, making the Princess and the Frogs a delightfully funny story with an empowered female main character.

You can find The Princess and the Frogs on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

Book Review: How Smudge Came – by Nan Gregory

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Book: How Smudge Came
Author: Nan Gregory
Illustrator: Ron Lightburn
Publisher: Red Deer Press
Date: December 12, 1995
Genre: Children's picture book
Pages: 32, hardcover and paperback
Price: may have to find used copies, so price varies from 
less than $1 used, to up to $19.50 in very good condition
My rating: Such a sweet story with fabulous illustrations

 

How Smudge Came is a gorgeous hardcover book I purchased (unused) at the children’s book fair last year. The author wasn’t there, but I met the illustrator again, Ron Lightburn, whose work is fabulous. I reviewed his picture book here.

Look at the cover illustration of How Smudge Came. That immediately drew my attention to this book. The illustrations throughout are soft and beautiful, created with coloured pencils.

While walking home from her work at the hospice one cold rainy day, Cindy finds a little puppy and tucks him into her bag. She knows she’s not allowed pets so she sneaks him into her room at the group home, and the next day she hides him in the large pocket of her cleaning apron so he can stay with her while she works.

Residents at the hospice enjoy the puppy, but things turn sour for Cindy when he is found. The puppy, whom Cindy named Smudge, is taken away from her and given to the SPCA so a good home can be found for him. Cindy is very upset and determined to get him back, so with help finds where they took him. Things don’t go quite the way Cindy had in mind, though.

At first the reader will not pick up on the fact that Cindy is a young adult with Down Syndrome. She has a cleaning job and is able to travel by bus alone, and has the respect and appreciation of the people around her. The way Cindy is portrayed through how she speaks and the illustrations of her, children will understand how she feels. It’s easy to care about Cindy and Smudge.

This story is sad, but hopeful, and is told by Nan Gregory in such a gentle way with soothing illustrations by Ron Lightburn. The ending is very satisfying.

How Smudge Came won Mr. Christie’s Book Award for Best Canadian Children’s Book, won a B.C. Book Prize, was honoured as an “Our Choice” selection of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and was on the American Bookseller’s Pick of the Lists.

You can find How Smudge Came on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Shared article: What God says about getting older

I was going to save this for when my birthday rolls around. However, since it doesn’t come until November, I thought someone might appreciate some encouragement before then. The following was posted on DaySpring.com and offered as an article to be shared.

What God Says About Getting Older  —    

Imagine celebrating your birthday like you’re 10 years old again. Full of joy, excited for the year ahead, doing something you love with the ones who make you smile.

Why do so many of us stop celebrating as the years pass? Birthdays come and go – maybe there’s a dinner involved, a few cards, some well wishes online. We move up one number, and it’s business as usual.

What would it look like to really celebrate our years again – to begin shifting our focus from the fear of aging, to the rich, full lives God is calling us into as the years pass?

This is not an easy task in a culture that fears growing old. Every day we’re bombarded with anti-aging messages. Remember this popular skincare commercial from the 80’s?

“Why grow old gracefully?” Says a beautiful, wrinkle-free woman, ”I intend to fight it every step of the way!”

But what does God say about it all? If we listen to the One Who created us, we will hear all about grace and goodness; not fear and resistance.

He reminds us more than once in His Word that growing older is an honor. “Gray hair is a crown of splendor…” (Proverbs 16:31 NIV). The more years we live, the more experiences we’re given to learn from, and the more wisdom and perspective we gain to see life in new and beautiful ways. When we see someone in their later years (or when we look in the mirror and it’s us!) lets remember what a gift that is.

And while the media leads us to believe that youth somehow has more value, the truth is, we are treasured by God at every age. Not only that, but He gives us specific gifts to share with the world in every season of our lives. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul reminds the older women of their great purpose – that by living reverent lives of love, self-control, purity and kindness, they will bless and nurture the hearts of the younger women and their families. The generations to come depend on our willingness to share what God has given us.

Some of us also fear growing older for physical reasons. Aging is often seen as a loss of control. Maybe our bodies aren’t able to do what they once could; our memories aren’t as sharp; we begin to need more help than we used to. As the years pass, our fear of the unknown may grow stronger.

But the truth is, we’ve never been in control anyway! From the moment we were created – whether we’ve realized it or not – we’ve relied on our Creator for every breath. Growing older helps us to shed that illusion of control more and more, and to rest in the promises of our loving God. Whether we’re 9 or 90, He vows to be with us every step of the way:

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4 NIV)

How can we lean into God as we age, trusting that every day matters, from our first to our last?

Claim His Promises – Sit with a journal and your Bible, and interview yourself about growing older.  Am I afraid of aging? And if so, why? Once you’ve recorded your thoughts, find specific promises in God’s Word that will help bring you peace and assurance.

Make Healthy Choices – While the human body is not intended to live forever, we can still honor our Creator by making choices that bring us health and strength each day.  We are here at this time for a reason – let’s not miss the opportunities to help guide and encourage those around us!

Celebrate Life Every Day – Whether you’re celebrating your birthday or that of someone you love, remember that every day in every life matters. Don’t wait for a milestone to make it extra special.  Look in the mirror and cherish your laugh lines; remember how they are created. Smile at the grays; God says they are splendid. Laugh at the future; remember Who’s holding it all.

Does this make you feel any better about getting older? What is your attitude – and do you have any tips – about aging?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: A Morning with Grandpa – by Sylvia Lui

a-morning-with-grandpa

Book: A Morning With Grandpa
Author: Sylvia Lui
Illustrator: Christina Forshay
Publisher: Lee & Low Books 
Date: May 1, 2016
Genre: picture book for 5-8 yr; pre-school - gr 3
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95 - $23.50
My rating: a lovely story about family differences 
and acceptance

 

In talking about A Morning With Grandpa, the first thing to mention is the beautiful cover illustration of a little girl doing tai chi with her grandfather. Next to note is the gold sticker as A Morning With Grandpa won the 2013 New Voices Award!

Sylvia Lui has created a sweet story about a little girl and her grandfather who discover they can’t do exactly the same things so they learn from each other.

Mei Mei, is watching her grandpa do tai chi, so he encourages her to do poses with him. Although she tries, she has so much energy she is more bouncy than calm and her youthful excitement takes her beyond the graceful flow of movement he can do. Mei Mei then offers to teach her grandpa yoga poses which he finds a little difficult to do because he is not as nimble as his granddaughter. Despite their differences, they demonstrate patience and love toward one another and enjoy their time together, modifying their poses to what they can manage. No judgement.

A Morning With Grandpa is a book that makes the reader smile. It is refreshing to see the appreciation and acceptance between such widespread generations. The illustrations by Christina Forshay are realistic and very clearly demonstrate the art of tai chi and yoga – and the difficulty and fun Mei Mei and her grandpa have in doing each other’s preferred exercise. In the back of the book, Sylvia Lui has explanations of the different poses mentioned so that children can try them, too.

You can find A Morning With Grandpa on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thank you for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

 

 

Book Review: The Stowaways – by Meghan Marentette

the-stowaways










Book: The Stowaways
Author: Meghan Marentette
Illustrator: Dean Griffiths
Publisher: Pajama Press
Date: Oct. 15, 2013
Genre: Children's chapter book; ages 8-12
Pages: 236
Price: $19.95
My rating: an adventure one does not want to leave 
until the end

Last year I had the privilege of meeting several authors at a local  children’s book fair, Meghan Marentette being one of them. Her table was directly beside Carolyn Mallory‘s whose book I reviewed HERE.

Here is a photo I took of them holding their books.

meghan-marentette-carolyn-mallory

The Stowaways is an exciting first novel by Meghan Marentette. The main character, a little mouse by the name of Rory Stowaway, has been compared to Stuart Little, and he does have that gutsy and daring personality.

Rory lives with his twin brother, his little sister, his parents, and his grandmother. Since Rory’s grandfather failed to return from a daring adventure to the World Beyond, his father won’t let anyone go very far. He is anxious and has put a stop to exploring, but Rory is restless and wants to go searching for his grandfather and bring him home. His father is firmly against such an idea and will not hear of it. 

The neighbours all believe Rory’s grandfather was killed in a trap, so they are standoffish with the family. They all are Weedle mice, and Weedle mice are normally not adventurous – the Stowaways being the exception for generations. Rory’s brother, Morgan, is a dreamer and wants to go on a sailing adventure, but when Rory learns his grandmother’s secret he is all the more determined to go on what he plans to be a rescue mission. 

Life for the Stowaway family gets turned upside down by a series of unexpected events, scary and dangerous situations including a hurricane, a girl who likes to catch and cage mice, a cranky cat who wants to do worse than that, and more adventure than even Rory imagined. 

The Stowaways by Meghan Marentette is a fast-paced tale consisting of eighteen chapters, lots of page-turning action, and Dean Griffiths’ wonderful illustrations that include maps on the end pages. It is not only young readers who will enjoy this book.

You can find The Stowaways on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂