Tag Archives: Tara Lazar

Book Review: Little Red Gliding Hood – by Tara Lazar

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Little Red Gliding Hood
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Troy Cummings
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date: October 27, 2015
Genre: Children's picture book; 2 - 10 yrs;  Preschool - 4
Pages: 40; hardcover
Price: $16.99
My rating: a skating contest like no other; funny

Little Red Gliding Hood is a fractured fairy tale written by Tara Lazar. It begins with the introduction before the title page, and we’re taken immediately into the story by Troy Cummings‘ clever illustrations.

A fractured fairy tale is a mix-up of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, bringing in characters from different ones to fit in the new story. Tara has the sense of humour to pull this off easily.

Little Red Gliding Hood loved to skate and she was very good at it. She would skate to her grandmother’s every Sunday for a visit. The problem was that her old skates were in bad shape and getting to be too snug a fit. She soon wouldn’t be able to skate to Grandma’s.

Conveniently, a pairs skating competition was announced with the prize being a pair of new skates! Little Red Gliding Hood had to win! Inconveniently, she didn’t have a skating partner. Little Red’s grandmother suggested asking the Gingerbread Man. Little Red said he’s too fast and she can’t catch him. Grandma suggested Baby Bear would be a good partner, but Little Red said Goldilocks thought so first. When Little Red went to ask the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf showed up. Little Red skated away, frightened, with Wolf skating after her.

The day of the competition Little Red showed up to skate. When the Big Bad Wolf showed up, too, he scared Little Miss Muffet away and Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. It was chaos. The illustrations by Troy Cummings are funny and enjoyable.

The end of the story of Little Red Gliding Hood is fun and very cleverly done, making it a book that’s delightful to read over and over.

You can find Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and on Chapters.Indigo if available there.

Please encourage an author and illustrator by leaving a comment. Thank you.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Advertisements

Book Review: Normal Norman – by Tara Lazar

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Normal Norman
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: S.britt
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
Genre: children's picture book; age 4 & up; Preschool & up 
Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 40
Price: $14.95
My rating: Funny with lots of encouragement to love 
your differences 

Normal Norman by Tara Lazar is a book about defining the word normal, and in a very funny way.

The narrator of this story is a junior scientist who is narrating for the first time. She wants it to go well, so she introduces Norman. Norman is an orangutan, an average, ordinary, common creature – or so she thinks.

The junior scientist measures him and finds he is normal in size. Then she discovers Norman eating a snack, but he doesn’t eat bananas, he’s eating pizza. When she peels a banana for him he freaks out! He thinks it’s cruel! It gets more and more abnormal from there.

This is a funny story. Children will love that Norman is a purple orangutan who wears eyeglasses, which should have been the first clues to the narrator that Norman is far from being a normal orangutan. Norman also doesn’t want to sleep in a pile of leaves and branches like orangutans do, and he has a favourite stuffed toy.

The junior scientist narrator is distraught. Nothing is going as planned. Then Norman has an idea.

Children will love Tara Lazar‘s ending for Normal Norman. It’s funny and unexpected. The illustrations by S. Britt are fun and fabulous, making Norman a memorable character.

You can find Normal Norman by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Would you like to leave a comment for me, or for the author and/or illustrator?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: I Thought This was a Bear Book – by Tara Lazar

 

I Thought This Was a Bear Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: I Thought This Was a Bear Book
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Benji Davies
Publisher: Aladdin
Date: August 2015
Genre: children's; picture book; pre-school - 2; age 4-7 yrs
Pages: 32; hardcover
Price: $17.99 (varies)
My rating: a fun, creative change-up of a familiar fairytale

Tara Lazar is a prolific children’s author with an imagination that is intriguing and humorous. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is her second of five books so far, with another one coming out this spring and one in 2018.

In I Thought This Was a Bear Book we meet the bear family – Papa, Mama, and Baby – out berry-picking. Overhead there is an alien spacecraft obviously in trouble and coming in for a landing. Only Baby seems to notice at first.

On those first two pages of the story the words are “Once upon a time there were three bears.” From then on those words are the only ones that are not conversation between the characters in the story, aside from onomatopoeia, such as WHOOSH and THUNK! Also, those two pages are illustrated by Benji Davies to look like the pages of an open book.

Look at what I mean; this is one page, not several.

i-thought-this-was-a-bear-book-page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that neat? 🙂

Apparently, the alien somehow fell out of his book and landed in theirs! Such a conundrum. He was quite bewildered and when face-to-face with the bear family he was indignant at being called a martian. “I am Prince Zilch from Planet Zero!” he informed them. They set out to try to find a way to send him back to his own book in time for him to save the planet from giant planet-eating numbers.  See what I mean about Tara’s amazing imagination? I would never have come up with an idea like that. 

This story is quite funny with the prince saying zark, zoot, zinder when he is feeling overwhelmed. A tour bus stops for tourists to take pictures of the bears and the alien, while Prince Zilch and the bears are trying to find a way to get him back to page 27 in his book. Goldilocks even makes her appearance, much to the bears’ dismay. 

There are many ideas they come up with, all the while Baby Bear is trying to get their attention so he can share his idea on how to help. Benji Davies‘ illustrations add so much to the story, some being really funny, and all bright and interesting. As you read you must pay attention to the extra activities going on in the story through the illustrations – just because it’s so much fun.

Tara even includes the reader in helping to solve the prince’s problem, making it an interactive book in that way. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is an entertaining read for which you might want to have a little extra time to enjoy and share with a young reader or pre-reader. There is so much entertainment in the story.

You can find I Thought This Was a Bear Book by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR! What are your goals for 2017?

happy-new-year-stars

It is already day three of 2017! I must still be recovering from the busyness of Christmas to make me so late writing here. (Unfortunately, we all know that doesn’t have to be the case.)

christmas-bells

Briefly … we got all our shopping, mailing of ‘away’ gifts, baking, and preparations finished on time – Yay! – minus mail-out cards that I didn’t do. On Christmas Eve we had six family members come by, then on Christmas day seventeen of us met around Dad’s dining-room tables (two tables end-t0-end) and enjoyed a delicious dinner to which all eight households had contributed. Gifts, desserts, and clean-up followed that. Afterward, my sister and family went home to enjoy their own time together, and my daughters and families and my dad all came to our house where my husband and I hosted another round of gift exchanges, snacks and an enjoyable evening get-together. It was a busy family day. Dad and I then went back to his house for sleep and the start of my week there. On New Year’s Eve nine of us got together at Dad’s for games, snacks, and fireworks. Now this week I’m home where I have so much to do!

new_year_icon_55464The rest of this post is about my goals for 2017, decluttering what remains of past creative interests being one major project. I love to sew but rarely get to do that anymore, so I will pack up the huge collection of beautiful fabric to sell – what I know I’ll not use myself. Most was part of the online retail business I had for a while that had to be set aside. Now I need to sell off the greater part of it to reclaim my space. Know that feeling? 

lots-of-fabric

Along with that I have lovely sewing embellishments and crafting supplies to liquidate. Life circumstances can change one’s plans a great deal. I had hoped to sell most things through my business; now I’ll let them go at even lower prices. 

craft-suppliesAs yet I have not managed to repurpose the room I had for my publishing. That room is planned to be my writing room; however, there is much to pack up and get rid of first, including the antiquated duplicating machine I used. It will be set out by the road during Spring cleanup and hauled away if I can’t sell it cheap. 

writer

I have started 2017 with several goals involving decluttering and selling off things, thereby reclaiming and repurposing space for writing and living. It means I have to get busy! There is so much to do here it can overwhelm me in short order, so I have to focus really hard on one little thing at a time. I don’t want to be paralyzed by the hugeness of my goal to free myself from things I no longer need or use. It’s going to take serious effort as I can become exhausted simply by the enormity of the project. Months ago my daughter introduced me to a minimalist website to help me simplify my life, which I’ve yet to take on because it seems like even more to do. 🙂 I think minimalizing is a great idea, though; who of us needs to have all the things we accumulate! Here’s the link if you are interested in looking at what is offered. http://my.becomingminimalist.com/  

My underlying goal for which all the aforementioned is aimed is to write, write, write. I’ve signed up for Storystorm (the new name for Picture Book Idea Month) hosted by Tara Lazar for the whole month of January. It’s no longer only for picture book writers. Next week I will be renewing my membership in the year long 12×12, hosted by Julie Hedlund. I still have manuscripts to bring as close to perfection as I can, and then start the process of submitting them. The one I sent out late in 2016 has not seemed to hit the mark (the publisher will contact me by the end of January if interested), so after January I will have to revisit that manuscript and find other places to send it. (I could do it now but, obviously I have other things to do.) I’d love to have an agent, so in order to be ready for that search I have to prepare several other of my stories to completed as-good-as-they-can-be manuscripts. 

Another of my goals is to set up much better records of submissions, rejections and all that fun stuff. Oh, and I must not forget the many books I want to read!

So, my goals are:

  1.  declutter and reclaim space through selling and getting rid of things
  2.  set up a writing room – through decluttering and getting rid of things
  3.  write, write, write – which includes submissions, and well-written manuscripts to prepare me for an agent
  4.  set up organized records for my writing
  5. read, read, read

Yikes! Although that seems like a short list, for me it’s a HUGE undertaking. Can I do it this year? I can try. There are twelve months in which to make my best effort. I didn’t even mention that I have specific plans for my blog this year, and I still want to learn to draw much better. Whew! (now I need a nap)

pooh-nap

It’s your turn. Tell me … what are YOUR goals for 2017?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Baby steps toward CHANGE

2016, my year of change.

I’ve stated it publicly. I am determined to achieve it. I am committed to accepting it.  (Thanks, Darlene, for that last point.)

For me, change means stepping beyond myself, my comfort zone, my place of safety.  Even if that step is only a baby step, it is a step forward to my goal.

I am not saying I want to change everything about myself, or that I want to make drastic changes in my life. What I mean is I am working on my attitude and beliefs about my God-given abilities, talents, gifts, creativity. And fear – I am making baby steps away from the fear and toward the reality of who I am as a creative and what I am capable of doing.

“The key to change … is to let go of fear.”  – Rosanne Cash

 

My goal, which I’m sure you all know by now, is to write children’s books for publication. The changes have begun for me to achieve this:

  1. I have my own writing coach as of September 2015;
  2. I’m ending my publishing of a newsletter I (very sadly) haven’t had the focus and leading to do anymore; after many years it’s hard to let go. I have the final issue to complete and loose ends to tidy up;
  3. my publishing room will become my writing room, my creative space, which I’m excited to prepare;
  4. I’ve continued with Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo each November, keeping the ideas coming. To take those ideas further, Friday I signed on for a year of *12×12, making that huge (for me) leap in commitment when I’m not sure how I’m going to manage the challenge. Having said that, I signed on because I need what is being offered through it in order to reach my goal. (I did 12×12 in 2012, Julie Hedlund’s first year offering 12×12; now it’s much advanced from those beginnings.)

The biggest change for me is my private outlook, my self-talk, what I believe about myself. Change in those will bring about the most change in me and how I approach my writing.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli

Yes, 2016 is my year of CHANGE, the follow-up to and continuation of POSITIVITY – my word in 2015.

I am determined.     I will need reminders. And energy. And focus and refocus. (That’s not a negative already, I know how it’s been and I’m needing to not go there.)

My life as caregiver will continue as it has been, with the change being in me, in how I use my other time. There’s no progress in wishing things were different.

“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.” – Thegoodvibe.co

This could be an exciting year, a challenging year, a surprising year.

2016.

My year of change.

* If YOU are interested in writing children’s books, it is not too late to sign up for 12×12. Just follow the link I provided above in my point #4.

Can you relate to the struggle of staying the course? What are your goals and determinations that you know will make a remarkable change for you? (Or put that in past tense, what were your goals … and how did you manage to meet them?)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

PiBoIdMo — I won the challenge!

It’s December 1 already –

twenty-four days to Christmas.

December 1 –

the day after PiBoIdMo ended, and …

the first day of Post-PiBo.

Post-PiBo is the week after the inspirational Picture Book Idea Month (brain child of Tara Lazar), the week when daily guests post encouraging and helpful advice on how to proceed with all our ideas gleaned in thirty days.

Yesterday, November 30, was the last day of the 30-day challenge to write a picture book idea each day – any idea that could be used in creating a picture book. This was my fifth year of taking on PiBoIdMo and it is my most creative to date. I’ve completed (won) in the other four years I’ve done this, but this year? This year I surprised myself. On day 17 I already had 30 ideas! By the end of day 30, the final day of the challenge, I completed with 65 – yes! 65! – ideas. 

Here’s my badge to prove it.

piboidmo2015winner

Yessiree … I’m doing my happy dance! 

the-seinfeld-happy-dance

Not quite like that but you get my point.

Actually, if when even one of my ideas is developed into a picture book and makes it to being published, the above will be even less of the happy dance I’ll be doing. You can be sure of that.  🙂  Perhaps you will join me? 

One year I won one of the prizes given out at the end. It was a cute caricature of me, based on the illustrator’s insect characters. I may show you sometime what he sent me. I think it’s meant to be a combination of a firefly and a mosquito – or a misinterpretation of a firefly.

Tara Lazar does an amazing job of putting together six weeks of inspiration for writers of all skill levels and experience. She is a published picture book author herself, having written The Monstore which I reviewed hereLittle Red Gliding Hood, I Thought This Was a Bear Book, and Normal Norman.  She has two more picture books coming out in 2016. I urge you to buy, borrow, and for sure .. read and share .. her books.

Right now I am happy and feeling a little proud of myself for managing to go beyond what I’ve done before. This time I will complete manuscripts.

What or who inspires you? What challenges helped you to go beyond what you thought you could do?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

PiBoIdMo; writing through caregiving, loss & other things

November seems to be quickly disappearing; I’m having trouble keeping up!

I want to tell you about a few things, late, but here it is anyway.

Past years I’ve told you about PiBoIdMo. That’s Picture Book Idea Month created and super-efficiently managed by Tara Lazar every November 1-30 since she made it public in 2009. Check out her website HEREI participated for my first time when I learned of it in 2010, and every year since except for 2012. How many ideas have I come up with for picture book stories during those Novembers? Around 170. They aren’t all complete stories, of course. Some are names, some are titles, some are vague ideas, but a few … a few are almost the full story. (Gotta love when that happens.) Perhaps I will be able to combine some of the others to come up with interesting picture books.

This year I have taken on the PiBoIdMo challenge again. It’s fun and stimulates creativity. So far, by day 18, I’ve thought up 31 ideas. There’s one I like in particular having to do with Remembrance Day, known to many as Veterans Day.

As you may recall,  my word for 2015 is POSITIVITY

  • definition: noun: the state or quality of being positive; a quality or state characterized by certainty or acceptance or affirmation

– a tough one to maintain, I’ve discovered. For me, I see it as not giving up my dream … in whatever way that plays out with my writing aspirations. Although I seem to have made very little progress, I haven’t quit yet. I guess that’s worth something. I’m finding that, as we continue on with caregiving of our Dad who’s changing a little more each month, it’s getting harder to focus well on my writing and to do what I really want to do with it. This week I’ve made an effort to sign up for online courses that should give me a boost to learn more of what I need to know. PLUS, two months ago I received the blessing of a private writing coach! I am so excited about that! So although 2015 hasn’t been a productive year in writing, it perhaps has been beneficial in laying groundwork for 2016. What does it seem like to you?

Sad news: The lovely white-faced grey cockatiel my husband got me almost 21 years ago died this month.

PreciousPrecious was 21 years of age this month. In captivity cockatiels can live up to 25 years, so I think she did well. Even with my little Schnoodle, the house seems strangely empty without my exotic pet chirping and whistling to me when I come in the door. She used to answer my microwave and wall oven when I’d set them. 🙂 Precious also mimicked my beautiful old deaf cat, Scamper, several years ago when she’d go yowling around the house. Recently she’d begun mimicking my Meyya’s yip and whine. Yes, it’s sadly strange without her in our house anymore.

This evening I took special snacks to the Alzheimer’s Caregivers support group I’ve been attending for four years … (or is it a little longer? I’m not sure) … to celebrate with them. You see, Monday was my birthday – yes, I made it to another one. We caregivers have developed into a fun group as we support and encourage and inform one another while we make our way through difficult and emotionally painful situations. It’s fun because we all get along, we laugh a lot, and allow the tears that are necessary at times. Alzheimer’s is not fun but funny things happen, and we do have to keep our sense of humour. It’s a rough road. 

It’s been a busy time of late, with appointments, meetings, and trying to keep everything in order here at Dad’s. My writing? Well, there’s still hope! I’m not done yet. 🙂

How do you keep on writing midst the positive or negative stresses of life?

Do you have dreams or goals that keep you pressing onward?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂