On My Shelf BLOG

WAITING

WAITING by Kevin Henkes was published by Greenwillow Books in 2015.

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This picture book is a fantastic example of seeing the world as a children’s author. Henke took something ordinary—five small toys on a window sill—and turned it into something totally unexpected.

I think WAITING, like WHEN SPRING COMES, is about surprise and anticipation. It shows me that life is filled with unexpected joys if I am looking for them.

I call them “bedazzles.”

ENCOURAGEMENT for Parents

read-1710011_1280Twenty years ago my middle school daughter gave me a sweet book for Mother’s Day. She already knew that books were among my favorite gifts to receive!

Over the years the words of Songs from a Mother’s Heart—Meditations on the Psalms by Pamela J. Kennedy have brought me comfort, guidance, courage and sympathy as I have mothered, and grand-mothered, the children God has blessed me with.

For months I’ve been praying about adding a page to ON MY SHELF for parents.

  • I thought about a “Dear Granny” column. No. I’m no expert on child-rearing.
  • I thought about providing online resources for parents. Then I realized just how MANY practical parenting websites and blogs there are. Do you really need another one?
  • I thought about recommending books to help with parenting questions and concerns. Hmmm. Do I have time to read even more books and do them justice?
  • Then I asked God what do young parents really need from me? What can I offer you that isn’t just adding to the noise of cyberspace?

8271350710_43e529234f_kSearching for His answer I went to my bookcase—of course!

And my copy of Songs from a Mother’s Heart—Meditations on the Psalms jumped out at me.

Using this book, God’s Word, articles from magazines and online resources that I trust, and some good old home-spun wisdom I can offer parents what I do best—encouragement.

Too often I see and hear from parents who just aren’t sure they are doing the parent thing right! Too often they lack the courage or the confidence to go with their hearts when trying to raise godly, loving, thinking kids so they’ll become godly, loving, thinking men and women.

So, every Saturday beginning January 6, 2018, ON MY SHELF I plan to serve up some encouraging words to parents of babies, toddlers, preschoolers, maybe even some of those precious school-aged angels and high schoolers.

Parenting takes wisdom. And wisdom takes experience. Experience takes mistakes. And making mistakes takes doing something, trying something, even when you’re not positive it is right. Even when you’re terrified.

I hope to encourage you to trust yourself and do that something as you trust God to make up for your mistakes along the way.

So, I’ll see you in January. On Saturday the 6th. Will you help me spread the word on FaceBook?

I’ll be praying for you. So, will you please be praying for me, too?

Blessings, Meme Jean

HOLIDAY CONTEST My Entry

I’m entering the following flash story in Susanna Leonard Hill‘s 7th Annual Holiday Contest. I hope you and your kiddos enjoy it!

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Jacci’s Surprise

             “Will Papa be here soon?”

“Aunt Bria is at the airport waiting for him,” Mom answered.

“Why does Papa live so far away?”

“Papa is a marine biologist. He lives on an island so he can study the animals in the sea, Jacci. Remember?”

Jacci stared out the window.

When Papa and Aunt Bria pulled in the driveway Jacci ran out the door and jumped into Papa’s arms!

“I missed you so much,” Papa said.

“Me, too!”

The next morning Jacci found a surprise. “It’s snowing! Papa, it’s snowing!”

Jacci and Papa made snow angels and snow cream. They had snowball fights and made a snowman with a big straw hat and sunglasses! “That’s what a snowman would wear on my island!” Papa said.

Soon it was time for Papa to leave. Jacci hugged him and kissed him a hundred times. “I’ll see you in the summer,” Papa said as he waved good-bye.

Christmas Eve the weather turned warm. “Oh, no, Papa’s snowman will melt!”

And he did. Christmas Day Jacci went outside to check. The snowman was a puddle of slush. Jacci stirred the slush with a stick. She saw a small box. When she opened it a note popped out.

Dear Jacci, remember that I don’t love you just at Christmas. My heart and your heart are always joined together.  Love, Papa.

Under the note was a shiny necklace with two hearts linked together! It was the best Christmas surprise ever!

WHEN SPRING COMES by Kevin Henkes

whenspringcomes-carouselWhen Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes was illustrated by Laura Dronzek. It was published in 2016. Which is unusual that Henkes didn’t illustrate it himself. The illustrations are bright and colorful, happy and kitteny and reminiscent of spring for sure.

When Spring Comes IS about spring. It’s full of flowers and trees and green grass, birds and bees and new kittens, budding trees, sprouting gardens and bunnies. Yes, all the things we associate with spring. But When Spring Comes is about something more. It’s also about waiting. Waiting for things to happen in their time.

One thing about the book that is particularly noticeable to me is that Henkes uses the rule of threes repeatedly in the text. AND that the illustrations uses it all the way through the book. Three kittens, three bunnies, three birds, three sprouts, three umbrellas, three children, on and on.

When you read it why not try to count the number of times threes are used. Can you share here or on my Face Book page how many times? Thanks.

More Online Resources

beautiful-15728_1280Over the past few weeks I’ve discovered some online resources that are new to me. They are proving helpful to me as a writer, so I’ve added them to my Favorites. Please pop in and check them out. You never know when one might be exactly what you’ve been needing.

The Character Therapist                     http://charactertherapist.com/

Writers Helping Writers                                      http://writershelpingwriters.net/resources-for-writers/

Grammarly                                          https://grammarly.com/

Quick and Dirty Tips                          http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/writing

Scribophile                                         https://www.scribophile.com/

Christian Writers Institute                 https://christianwritersinstitute.com/

Serious Writer Academy                    http://www.seriouswriteracademy.com/

Shutta Crum (click Writers)              http://blog.shutta.com/

EGG by Kevin Henkes

egg-carouselEgg by Kevin Henkes was published in 2017 by Greenwillow B—as pretty much all of his picture books in the last ten years have been.

Egg is told 90% or more by the illustrations. And isn’t that what we expect from an illustrator? I counted 65 words and lots of adorable pictures.

Egg is an endearing story about friendship, persistence and surprise! It might even open a conversation about differences and taking a chance on unexpected friendships.

I think every small child in your life will love it. And will want to read it aloud to you 100 times, at least.

I think that’s one of the marks of a great picture book. What do you think?

CHRISTMAS LETTERS

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You know those Christmas letters that many people write and send to their family and friends? Do you do that?

I tried it a couple of years long ago. But, by the time I got them in the mail it was mid-January. I wasn’t very good at staying on Christmas-schedule.

For many years I sent Christmas cards to 40 or 50 people–family and friends. Then postage went up, email blossomed and my time shriveled. Text messages became part of my Christmas traditions. I fell into the convenience trap.

I still think writing those yearly letters to relatives and distanced friends is a great idea. What about you? What would be the highlights of the year that you would include?

For 2017 I would share the news about my newest grand-angel, Dylan. Photos included, of course.

And the news about Mama’s passing into eternity.

I would mention how happy I am in Louisville, and how much I enjoy my little condo. I couldn’t forget the nice neighbors and friends I’ve made this year. And what a blessing Southeast Christian Church has been to me.

I would have to include a few photos of the gorgeous fall trees we had.

I would brag about how much I’m enjoying attending Christmas concerts: the JCPS orchestras, the Louisville Winds concert, the Christian Academy of Louisville & Indiana’s wonderful ensenbles, symphony and choral Christmas presentation. The music was both festive and lovely.

Of course I would tell how much I miss my NC daughter and grandchildren and their wonderful, noisy life! And how blessed I am to be near my Louisville family.

And I could not forget to celebrate the signing of my first book contract. I’m so looking forward to seeing the books in print.

During this Season of Blessings I have so much to thank God for. People, events, situations that God orchestrated, and that God controls.

Hmmm…maybe I will send out a Christmas Letter this year. Will you? What news do you have to share?

 

PICTURE BOOK: THE EASIER IT READS, THE HARDER IT WRITES

Great summary of writing picture books.

mblountchristian

November is Picture Book Month, and since we have nearly two full weeks left, it seems appropriate to acknowledge such an important contribution to children’s literature. Many aspiring writers are attracted to the genre because they mistakenly believe that the deceptively simple books are easy to write. Just stick a bowtie on a puppy, give it a cute name, and you can whip up a story on your coffee break. How hard could it be?

That’s fine if you want to read it to your grandchild. She’ll enjoy your grocery list and the attention. But if you want to write for publication, my motto is, “The easier it reads, the harder it writes.”

The first step is to know your audience. Children are neither Goody Two-Shoes nor the “bad seed,” or are miniature adults. They share the same needs as any of us: To love and be loved, to achieve…

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Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart

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Under the Snow was written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. It was published in 2009 by Peachtree Publishers.

Melissa Stewart has a wonderful way with nonfiction picture books. This little volume is no different. She introduces snow and the fun we all have with it. Then she turns her attention to what rodents, reptiles, amphibians and insects do buried beneath the snow and earth all winter long. Bergum’s illustrations are beautiful. Even the mounds of snow aren’t all the same shade of white. Silvery reflections of branches, tracks and stones decorate them.

Stewart’s sparse text tells young readers just enough about each animal’s winter to pique their interest. They might even get Mom or Dad to help them with an Internet search, or a trip to the library, to learn more about a particularly curious critter.

Reading Under the Snow with your kids or grandkids is a great way to spend some time together the next time your neighborhood is deep in snow.

Stewart has authored more than 130 science related nonfiction books. If your young kids want to know about anything “sciency” Stewart probably has a book about it. Check it out!

 

 

My Guest Post

christmas09 025One of our Christmas traditions in our family is the reading of a picture book pointing us to the real meaning of Christmas – the birth of Christ.

Today I posted a list of my favorite Christmas Picture Books   at Almost An Author.  They also make handy Christmas gifts. Please check it out!

A very HAPPY THANKSGIVING  to you all!