On My Shelf BLOG

14 Tips–Choosing and Sharing Books with Young Children

Margaret Welwood on Writing Children's Books

When she was little, one of our girls had a foolproof way for postponing bedtime—she’d plunk herself on my knee with a book. In her honor,  I present Mom/Grandma’s top tips for raising eager readers. (Here I’m using your child to mean your child, grandchild, niece, neighbor. . . .).

grandma reading

  1. Black and White for Tiny Babies

Is that new to you, too? Two-year-old May, recently adopted by our daughter and son-in-law, has enjoyed books for much of her long life. (Credit goes to the foster mom here.) May really liked Baby Animals Black and White, and her profound comments on that wordless little volume ushered in an illustrious career as my most junior book review assistant.

Perhaps May had done her research and was hearkening back to her early infancy. According to Gary Heiting, OD, she could only see in black, white and shades of gray for the…

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DADDY DEPOT

Daddy Depot was written by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Andy Snair. It was published in 2017 by Fiewel and Friends (of Macmillan Publishing Group).

518ygqhkbml-_ac_us327_ql65_Daddy Depot is a sweet and silly celebration of the love between a little girl and her dad. He has these irritating habits that drive her crazy. So crazy that she goes to DADDY DEPOT to trade him in on a better model.

After several unsuccessful tryouts our little girl finally finds the perfect dad for her.

If your kids want a chuckle or two about their dad’s silly ways they’ll enjoy Daddy Depot for sure.

I think this picture book fits the definition of quirky pretty well.

Destination Publication

Jean Sign 02In 2004 I retired from my full time job as a school principal. Within a few months I was convinced that God wanted me to write books for children.

It has been a long thirteen years of learning, writing, waiting, and then doing it all again and again. As a matter of fact, I’m still doing it.

When I started this journey I had no idea there was so much to learn about writing for publication. I remembered all of those As on high school writing assignments. And I thought I was a pretty good writer.

I laugh now at the visions of book deals and royalty checks that danced in my head the first few years.

I also remember the months of discouragement and frustration that came and went year after year.

I appreciate now the lessons of persistence, patience and practice that kept me going.

  • Persistence because I had a sure conviction that this is what God wanted me to do, and that He had a plan for me. Deep down I believed I could do it—someday.
  • Patience because of the encouragement of friends, family, and other writers and editors that said I had something worth cultivating.
  • Practice (and practice and practice) because I could see small steps of growth and improvement in my skills myself. I saw small successes that made me hungry for whatever blessings God had ahead for me.

Signing my first contract with a traditional publisher is rewarding. I’m excited to dig into the work ahead of revising and compromising, marketing and even the world of social networking.

I know that “success” (aka publication) is never insured. It will come one book at a time. One story at a time. One idea at a time. I pray God will continue to polish the creativity and communication skills He blessed me with, and continue to encourage me as I try to honor Him with the small gifts He has shared with me.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. I hope you enjoy my occasional updates on the progress of the first two books in the Thank You, God series.

Thank you, Little Lamb Books, for believing in these books and giving me this opportunity.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROGS

51xvwh2qtbl-_ac_us327_ql65_As the jacket flap says, “Once upon a time there was a princess named Cassandra, who had everything she could ever wish for… except a pet frog to be her best friend.”

The Princess and the Frogs by Veronica Bartles (illustrated by Sara Palacios) is a silly upside-down rendition of the classic princess and frog/prince story. The events are almost too silly for words and the illustrations are adorable.

You’ve never read a princess story like this one. So grab it and share it with the little princesses at your house. Actually, your little princes will love it, too.

But after you read it be careful who you kiss.

Vacation Story Ideas

 

I spent the last two weeks on vacation. I drove 800 miles to visit family in Florida. It was good to visit with my sisters and my in-laws. I took care of a little business, picked up one of my sisters and then headed 400 miles north to visit my daughter and grandchildren.

Spending a week with them was delightful – crazy, noisy, taxing and exhausting – but delightful.

A week later my sister and I drove 500 miles to my home. It sure was good to sleep in my own bed, though I do miss being snuggled by six or eight little arms and legs.

Along the drive to vacation I reminded myself that I was going to be on the lookout for “story ideas.” Surely all that time with kids five to twelve years of age would give me lots of ideas. But I never took the time to write them down so, out the window of my mind they flew.

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We went to The Two X Two Petting Zoo out in the country. All four kids were ecstatic to see and touch and even smell the animals. Some were domesticated ones like burros, peacocks, chickens and goats and goats and goats.

Some animals were sort of exotic like foxes, camels (Boy! Are they big!), ostriches and zebras (Did you know they bite?) We also fed most of the animals. And we met a cute, tiny, squealing pink piglet, and a one-week-old llama. Of course the kids wanted to adopt the piglet. Wouldn’t their mom have loved that!!

Back to story ideas…

As I’m reading over this post I see some ideas emerging.

Pigs and zebras and goats are rising off the page and circling my head.

Strutting peacocks and rumbling game cocks appear.

Kids stretching and reaching for a touch of that squealing piglet—named Pinky, we’ll say.

Ostriches fighting over food.

A bashful wallaby who wouldn’t come out of his shed to visit.

Goats clambering and climbing on top of each other for the next little handful of food.

The camel who snatched one child’s bucket of food, tipped it up and gulped every granule, then threw the bucket at us. (Yes, he did!)

Okay! My imagination is rolling now.

How about yours?

Pull out the photos from last year’s vacation and see what memories and story ideas you can whip up.

But right now I have to go. These story are clambering to escape my head and strut across some pages.

Hey! What would YOU name a camel with an attitude?

 

 

 

THE LONELY BOOK

I’m a sucker for books about books. So, I fell in love with The Lonely Book before I even cracked the cover. Kate Bernheimer shows us a lovely, sweet story about a little girl who, like me, falls in love with certain books. Chris Sheban’s soft and gentle artwork makes me long for the library of my elementary school, and the smell of paper, ink and glue.

512s6j7amal-_sx260_The Book was loved by many children. It was checked out and read thousands of times. And, as happens with people and books, it aged. It ripped. It faded a little. One day The Book found itself discarded.

Until a little girl found it on the floor. She caressed its tattered pages and absorbed its lovely words. But, as little girls do, she grew older and The Book again found itself discarded.

I don’t want to give away the tender ending of the story. But, I think I’m going to have to order a copy of The Lonely Book to keep ON MY SHELF so it will never be sad like The Lonely Book. I have just the spot to keep it safe and happy.

Here I come again, Amazon.

 

 

Contract with Little Lamb Books

Can you tell I’m excited? I’m trying NOT to be giddy. But twirling is definitely an option right now.

princess-869722_1920I am eager to see the four books I envision come to life over the next two years. Thank You, God, It’s Fall is the first. Another of the four book series is scheduled to follow every six months if each book sells well.

I’m looking forward to this next step in writing for children. I know I’ll learn a lot about editing and revising, the art-text ballet, the publishing process and the marketing!

Let’s hope I learn a lot, anyway.

I need to shout “THANK YOU!” to a few more people.

  • Little Lamb Books
  • My agent Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency
  • My ferocious and generous writing friends who have added ba-koodles to these manuscripts and to everything I write. Where would I be without the Mudskippers, Short Stuff, Write2Ignite!, Word Weavers Page 17, and the King’s E-Liners? Thanks, ya’ll!

I promise NOT to make every blog post about the contract and the Four Seasons Series. I’m trying to get all of this pent up enthusiasm out as quickly as I can! I promise.

OH! And it would be fantastically wonderful to hear from some of you in the comments below. And, if you would share my good news on FaceBook and Twitter I’d be so happy.

Thanks.

 

MY BEDTIME MONSTER

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My Bedtime Monster is an interesting picture book. It was originally published in German in 1990. The English translation was published by minedition  in 2014. It was written by Annelies Schwarz.

This book doesn’t quite fit into my understanding of a picture book. It has text. It has illustrations. They work together somewhat to tell the events of the story, so I guess that part of the definition is satisfied.

It has a protagonist, a little girl named Rikki. She has a problem – she wants a pet that can be small and large, soft and cuddly and quick and strong. She wants it to run, fly, swim and dive beneath the waves.

The rest of the book tells about such a pet coming to her in the night. Was this a dream? The adult in me says it must be. But that is neither affirmed nor denied in the book. The next day Rikki awakes, talks to her mother and begins her day. The End.

I don’t see where Rikki grows, learns or changes through the events of the book. It’s simply a series of events to me.

 

Now for the art.

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The dust jacket says about “Celebrated artist Kvĕta Pacovská” that “her bold colors and stunning use of strong geometric shapes are instantly recognizable.” During her 60 years career her art has won many prestigious awards.

Obviously I’m not a sophisticated appreciator of fine art, but, I don’t like her art. At all. But I’ve never appreciated a collection of bold, colorful unrelated objects on a canvas.

The art IS bold. It IS geometric. It has little rectangles of shiny foil (they are gray in the photo above) sprinkled throughout it. And it has bits and pieces (like a collage) of calendar pages and small pieces of what appear to be a newspaper or maybe a telephone directory. I don’t see the significance of any of these.

I’m sure My Bedtime Monster is wildly popular. I hope it’s a smashing success.

But I won’t be sharing it with my grandchildren.

My First Book Contract-Yipeeee!

I am simply too excited to talk about someone else’s book today.

“Why?” I’m sure you are wondering.

Be-Cause…

I have signed my first book contract!

With a Christian publisher!

For FOUR picture books!

I’m doing a happy-dance! (I know, I’m over-using these !!!! But I can’t stop myself!)

I’LL SHARE MORE DETAILS LATER.

Right now I’m heading for the freezer. My son bought me a cheesecake to celebrate!

I need to say thank you, Lord Jesus, for this opportunity to add encouragement and joy to young children and their parents.

I also need to say thank you to my husband, Jerry. He’s in Heaven now. But he always believed that God and I could, and would, arrive at this point. He invested a lot of prayer into this day. I am grateful for his support.

And I must thank my children (including my daughter-in-love), and my beautiful grandchildren who have believed in me and cheered me on for the past ten years. They are some of the biggest reasons I write for children.

Amen.