Friday, March 30, 2012

Me...Jane - Perfect Picture Book Friday

It's Friday!!!

While I have a busy day ahead, I'm excited about today's perfect picture book.  Not only does it tie in to Africa...a continent I've fallen in love with, but it showcases one woman's potential to change the world.  And, it has animals!  (Not crocodiles...but if you want to see me with crocs, click here.)

Today's Perfect Picture Book Is...

Me. . . Jane

Author/Illustrator:  Patrick McDonnell
Category:  Picture Book (Non-fiction)
Ages: All
Subjects:  Nonfiction, Biography, Nature, Animals, Primates, Dreams

Description: Award-winning picture book author Patrick McDonnell tells the inspiring story of the young girl who would grow up to be Dr. Jane Goodall–primatologist, environmentalist, humanitarian, and United Nations Messenger of Peace.

First Lines:  "Jane had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee.  She cherished Jubilee and took him everywhere she went.  And Jane loved to be outside."

Why I chose this book:  Me...Jane is such a well-written biography for kids in that it's not a timeline of facts.  It's poetic, and above all it's written as a story.  My daughter was captivated as it begins with a young girl about her age who is curious about where eggs come from, and how a wish/dream Jane has comes true.  Unlike other biographies and non-fiction books, the soft language and wistful drawings inspire the reader to dream bigger and believe anything is possible (my daughter, for example, is working on making her dream of becoming a mermaid and a fairy true now). 

Resources:  In the book, Jane Goodall herself writes a note at the end, plus there is a link to her Roots & Shoots program (www.rootsandshoots.org).  You can also learn more and see photos of Jane at www.janegoodall.org.

Comments are open, and in case you missed my awesome interviews earlier in the week, scroll down to see interviews with YA multicultural author Ruth Tenzer-Feldman and picture book author/illustrator Eric VanRaepenbusch!  You can also see my interview with picture book author Lisa Wheeler over at Rate Your Story.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Worldly Wednesday: BLUE THREAD Author Ruth Tenzer-Feldman

It's Worldly Wednesday!  Normally, it's my favorite day of the week because I love all things global.  But this week is extra special because I got to read an Advanced Copy of Ruth Tenzer-Feldman's debut novel BLUE THREAD while I was in Gambia–and today, she's "here!"

BLUE THREAD is published by Ooligan Press
BLUE THREAD tells the story of Miriam Josefsohn, a sixteen-year old Jewish girl living in 1912 Portland–who is thrust even further back in history to biblical times thanks to a fantastical prayer shawl that her father and uncle kept hidden from her. 

That's right folks, BLUE THREAD in a nutshell is historical fiction of the women's suffrage era meets Exodus, with a romantic plot twist and plenty of feminine perspective (my kind of story!).  Just a few chapters in, the pacing quickens as the plot thickens and I found myself unable to put it down for the latter half of the book.  It's one of those quotable books with several amazing lines, and for me, reading it in an arid Sub-Saharan climate with the "lingering smell of goats" constantly wafting,  the book seemed to come alive (plus in Gambia I'm known as "Mariama Sibo" so I kept getting interrupted with "Mariam! Mariam!").  The depth of Tenzer-Feldman's knowledge of the historical subjects combined with her clever imagination and good character dialogue makes for a fantastic read that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in history, fantasy, religion, and other cultures.  Oh–and antique hats (which I used to collect, ironically enough).  Five stars, five stars, five stars.

Now that I've told you about her fantastic historical fiction/fantasy novel...welcome, 

RUTH TENZER FELDMAN!

Photo courtesy Ruth Tenzer-Feldman

About Ruth Tenzer-Feldman
Ruth is an award-winning author of books and articles, mainly for children and young adults. She has been an attorney, editor, research analyst, ticket seller, and keypunch operator. Her 10 nonfiction books focus on history and biography, while her articles range from leeches to Einstein’s refrigerator.  Blue Thread, her debut novel, entwines the struggles of two teen girls across the millennia. Ruth lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, dog, and innumerable dust mites.

Miranda:  Welcome, Ruth!  So nice of you to agree to do an interview.  As it's Worldly Wednesday, I'll start by focusing on 'place.' Your novel is set in two distinct and very different places. Where did you get the idea for each? What was it like to write a story with two different settings?

Ruth:  Blue Thread grew in part out of the photograph of a banner in a woman suffrage parade in Boone, Iowa, in 1908. The banner reads: LIKE THE DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD WE ASK FOR OUR INHERITANCE. The daughters mentioned on that banner come from a story in the Bible set near the Jordan River at the time of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. The parade was in early twentieth-century America. Two distinct times and places. I knew little about Boone, Iowa, in 1908, but I did know about the successful 1912 campaign to give Oregon's women the right to vote. So Iowa 1908 became Oregon 1912.
            Writing the story in two distinct times and places required more mental gymnastics than I had for my other nonfiction books. I found it easiest to take a writing break (at least an hour) between settings. 

Miranda:  Mental gymnastics!  I bet!   Did you travel anywhere to get a sense of place while writing this story, too? Or had you traveled somewhere in the past? 
 
Ruth:  I live in Portland, in virtually the same neighborhood as my protagonist. Years ago my family and I traveled to Israel/Palestine, with a trip to Petra in Jordan. That was extremely helpful to get a sense of place.

Miranda:  I see.  Now let's talk 'character.' Your main character is a bit rebellious. Were you like that as a teen?
 
Ruth:  I was the opposite of rebellious, at least outwardly. If my mother told me to put on a sweater when I went outside, I did. And then, when she wasn't looking, I'd take it off. I usually tried to stay under the radar screen. I am much more rebellious now than I used to be!

Miranda:  Aren't we all?  Too funny.  On the more serious, grown-up side of things,  let's talk research.  Did you know all that about Hebrew before you wrote the book? How about printing presses? 1912 Oregon? Tell our readers (many of whom are writers) what the research process was like.

Ruth: Research. Oh, my, did I do research! Before I started Blue Thread, my Hebrew was rudimentary, and my knowledge of printing presses was nonexistent. I had a handful of facts about Oregon in 1912, and knew practically nothing about the 1912 campaign. 

I devoured books and tapped into the expertise of others via the Internet.  And I found two gems along the way. The first was Edmund Gress's 1910 typography book, which Miriam refers to in Blue Thread. [http://bluethreadbook.com/2011/12/29/1910-typography-book/]. The second is the letterpress print shop not far from me. One of the printers who works there has an old [small insertion] press of her own, and I spent a couple hours at her studio doing some hands-on research. [http://bluethreadbook.com/2012/01/20/pepper-the-press/]

I was also lucky enough to look through Portland's city directory for 1912, as well as insurance maps form about that time. Just to make sure I'd gotten everything correct, I sent relevant portions of the draft manuscript to a professor of women's studies in Oregon, a professor of Jewish studies, and my professional printer.

Miranda:  And it shows in the book you've done your homework as the facts and setting are integrated seamlessly into the plot.  Which brings me to wonder something... If you had a prayer shawl with a blue thread, and got to CHOOSE exactly which place and time, to where/when would you travel and why?
 
Ruth:  Yikes!  This is the most difficult question any interviewer has asked about Blue Thread. My first thought is that I'm quite happy to be where I am right here and right now. But there is another time and place that haunts me. I am named for my Jewish great-grandmother, who was very much alive in Poland or Hungary in 1936, but was not heard from since then. By the time I was born after World War II, it was assumed that she was dead, and it is a custom among some Jews to name a child for a loved one who has died. I would use my blue thread to locate my great-grandmother, to find out the true circumstances of her death, and to tell her that she has not been forgotten.

Miranda:  Amazing and chilling - wow, wow, wow.  I have goosebumps right now!  Quick, can you tell us something fun or silly so we can end on a lighter note?  Like random things about yourself?

Ruth:
1. When I go into hat stores, I put on the zaniest hats I can find, and then pretend to be the person who would wear them.
2. I adore Daddy Long-Legs "spiders" (they are technically arachnids but not spiders).
3. I learned to knit when I was eight years old and haven't stopped since.
4. I love the smell of coffee, but I don't drink it.
5. A food parody I wrote to the French national anthem was once aired on National Public Radio.
 
 Miranda:  Great!  You're such an interesting and inspiring person, Ruth.  Thanks for stopping by.  And if my readers want to meet you and learn more about BLUE THREAD and your other books, where can they 'find' you?

Ruth:
www.bluethreadbook.com (has a reader's guide in the blog)
Twitter: @ScrivaRuth
FB: Blue Thread

Comments are open!  Please feel free to leave a question or message for Ruth Tenzer-Feldman.

BLUE THREAD is published by Ooligan Press

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mommy Monday: Meet Eric VanRaepenbusch

It's spring break here in the Paul household, which means time with the kiddos, seasonal changes, and new arrivals.

In the spirit of all of these things, my Mommy Monday is following suit.  I spent some time with the kiddos over the weekend checking out two new apps.  Then I decided, with a seasonal change, that today's Mommy Monday will actually be a Daddy day--featuring author Eric VanRaepenbusch, who just welcomed the new arrival of his first two iBooks for kids...AND (drum roll) his lovely new baby, Kate!

About Eric's New Arrivals:  While his new baby girl really takes the cake in terms of cuteness, his digital iPad stories come close.  The first one, Three Ghost Friends - Learn About Colors was an instant hit with my just-turned-three-year-old (who took over the iPad and delayed my games of Words with Friends).  What's really fun about this iBook is the fact that it's got some unexpected surprises, and young children won't instantly understand everything the first time...so it's a book that will get read over and over, and truly has learning potential. The second book, Three Ghost Friends - Learn About Opposites, was just as simple as the first.  But an image of ghosts eating pizza is, apparently, hilarious to kids and keeps attention perfectly!


About Eric VanRaepenbusch (yes, he takes second to his books and babies): Eric is a stay-at-home dad of four children, a blogger (Happy Birthday, Author), and a self-proclaimed read-aloud extraordinaire. 

Miranda:  Thanks for agreeing to interview, Eric.  You're one busy daddy these days with kiddo #5 in tow!  So, let's talk about colors since your first Three Ghost Friends iBook is about colors.  How did you learn about colors?

Eric: Colors were a breeze.  Learning to spell my last name was problematic.

Miranda:  Too funny.  I guess I don't have that problem (and my maiden name was just as easy). It seems pretty interesting that a book about three white ghosts becomes a book about colors.  Where did your idea come from?

Eric: My 1 year old son loves ghosts. He frequently asks me to draw them for him — happy ghosts, sad ghosts, nice ghosts, mean ghosts.  One day I was fumbling into the house after celebrating Kate McMullan’s birthday at my oldest son’s preschool.  I got my 1 year old son into the house.  Then, I was  bringing in all the materials from the lesson when the markers, paper, glue bottles, and scissors spilled all over the floor. He saw the markers and the paper and asked me to draw ghosts.  Instead of getting mad about the mess, I started drawing ghosts using the markers that fell on the floor. This got me thinking about colored ghosts.

Miranda:  So you're not scared of ghosts?

Eric: Ghosts, not so much.  Monsters and aliens... A little bit!  Zombies though, freak me out!

Miranda: You self-published this book for the iBookstore.  I know a lot of Moms and Dads who want to do that.  Can you tell us about the process, and what you wished another author would have told you first? 

Eric: I used iDraw on my Mac to make the illustrations. Then, those illustrations were imported into Book Creator on my iPad.  Book Creator is where the pages were arranged and text is added.  Meanwhile, I set up an account to publish the book with Apple, which was very simple. Then, I needed to purchase an ISBN number for my book, which is required by Apple.  I chose to buy 10 numbers for $250 which was better than paying over $100 for just one number.   Once the book was finished, I sent the .epub file that is generated by Book Creator to Apple for approval.  My first book took over two months to get published, but was hung up with a technical error on my part. 

Miranda:  Sounds like a process!  Now let's pretend that parenting and writing kids' books didn't suck all of your time.  In this ideal world, how would you spend your time (i.e. what else are your hobbies or ventures)?  

Eric: I always have to feel productive.  I also like to try new things.  And being outside is important.  You put all those things together and you get something like beekeeping.  I am trying it for the first time this Spring.  

Miranda:  Oooh!  Send me some honey if you do!  And you are one of the busiest bloggers I know - tell us more about your birthday blog?

Eric: Happy Birthday Author is a blog I started over two years.  My children and I celebrate the birthdays of children’s authors and illustrators.  We read as many books as we can find for an author and then do an activity based on the books together.  I put these experiences, along with a little information about the author, into each post.  We have celebrated over 130 children’s authors and illustrator birthdays.  I have even received over 50 birthday memories from the authors and illustrators too! 
Miranda:  So...when is YOUR birthday? And who gives you shout-outs?
Eric: My birthday is March 29th! This year we will be celebrating my birthday on my blog! My friend Colleen Kessler, a fellow 12 x 12er, has volunteered to guest post on my birthday which should be fun.
Miranda:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUTHOR!!! What a timely interview.  Wouldn't it be a nice birthday present if we all bought them?  Where can we get your books?
Eric:  Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Colors is available for iPad, iPhone, iPodTouch at the iBookstore  -- http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/three-ghost-friends/id497295527?mt=11

On Wednesday Night, my second book Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Opposites became available -- http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/three-ghost-friends/id503951138?mt=11


Miranda:  Great!  And where can we stalk you?

Miranda:  Thank you so much for stopping by!  Congrats on all the new arrivals.  I'm sure this is going to be a great spring for you, Author Dad!
Comments are open!  And don't forget to stop by on Wednesday when Ruth Tenzer-Feldman, author of the newly released YA novel BLUE THREAD is here for Worldly Wednesday on the blog!
  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Worldly Wednesday: Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  It's going to be 81 degrees here in Green Bay, WI -- breaking the record of 67 degrees set back in 1911.  The weather has me convinced that I really never left Africa at all...

Anyway, as I delve into revisions of two cultural picture books and my novel (set in West Africa, about 200 years in the future), I wanted to share with you a workshop for writers that looks to be a great help to those of us whose characters live or are influenced heavily by a particular culture.

That workshop, coming up next month, is run by the Highlights Foundation -- called "Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice."  It's going to be led by Donna Jo Napoli and Mitali Perkins, and will address questions such as "who has the right to write multiculturally" and "does the term 'multicultural literature' match the needs of today's book market?"  Additionally, you can get manuscript critiques from an impressive faculty!

I had planned on attending this, but my husband booked a trip to his home country on the same dates (ok, ok, it really is his turn to travel).  So, I wanted to share with all of you this wonderful workshop, because there's still a window of opportunity to sign up!  Please let me know if you plan to attend, I'd love a wrap-up guest post from someone who attended as I really wanted to go to this one...

Anyway, if you want to learn more about the April 26-29 workshop entitled "Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice," check out the details from the Highlights Foundation here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Focus Friday and Perfect Picture Books

My first Friday back at work in about a month...so there's plenty of need for focus.  But how does one do that with 800 emails to be read and a stack of to-dos higher than ever?

Prioritize.

Many of you who read this blog know what it's like to be super-busy, even if you haven't taken a month out of your life to go trekking in West Africa.  You're signed up for 12 x 12 in '12 or the March Madness of Poetry or you've just formed a Critique Group or you recently finished the Picture Book Marathon Month or you're doing a blog tour.

And during all that, when are you revising?  Submitting?  Meeting deadlines?  Getting your work published?

I made the decision to read emails NOT in the order they were sent.  And, after about 50 important ones -- I marked the rest as read (sorry, but I had to prioritize).  Then, I began my work day with important things:

Contracts that needed to be signed (yay!)
Following up with an editor
Turning in articles with upcoming deadlines
Revising a cover letter for a piece I plan to submit soon
Writing 2,000 words on my novel

These things are important.  My blog came next.  Paid writing work will fill the rest of my day and clear my priorities so that I am free to choose what will follow.  Sorry, I'll not be reading blogs today, checking Twitter, or beginning Facebook conversations. 

Sorry, this is something my kids actually taught me.

My children are perfect examples of knowing how to prioritize.  For example, if I say "we're only reading four books tonight," they prioritize.  Which books do they really want to hear first?  Which books will they forego (we have more than 300 to choose from here, plus there's always a stack of library books in rotation).  If I say, "one treat in the picnic basket," I watch them weigh their options  and choose one.  Although the decisions I have to make are a bit more complex, applying a simple strategy of prioritizing helps me actually get things done.

And, that brings us to today's Perfect Picture Book - a major "priority" at bedtime for the last five years in our household.  This book has been chosen many times over award-winning classics, my favorites, and even longer books that would stretch out the bedtime routine (yes, every kid knows that trick).  So, what is this favorite book of my kids?

Today's Perfect Picture Book is:

Baby Bill and Little Lil 
by Sue Heap

Title:  Baby Bill and Little Lil

Author and Illustrator:  Sue Heap

Publisher:  Kingfisher, 1999

Genre/Age: Picture Book, Ages 0-6

About (from Jacketflap copy): Baby Bill's expedition to catch a pet fishy looks doomed when he drops his pail into the sea...but Little Lill–and some moonlit magic–may yet save the day.

Why I like it:  It's a good example of all of the elements that make a picture book kids love, the illustrations are bright, it's short and simple, and the wacky characters are delightful.  Also, it's not a rhyming book, but Sue Heap has really paid attention to rhythm and word choice and the book reads so well aloud!  This was her second picture book, and it shows that she knows how to prioritize!
Additional Resources:  You might want to discuss high tide and low tide with kids, and here's a page that covers that subject well!

If you want to learn more about Perfect Picture Book Friday, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill's website for more info.  Comments are open below...leave a brief one and then GET TO WORK! :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Worldly Wednesday: Miranda's Adventures in Africa

Let me hope that today's post is worth the wait for all of you!  I know you've all been begging to see photos and hear stories of my 21-day trip to Africa (mostly spent in The Gambia) while I volunteered with Books for Africa and Hand in Health on their 1 Million Books for Gambia project. 

So, here it is.  21 days, 21 adventures is what I'm sharing here.  If you want to hear or see more...you'll have to host me on your blog!  Please email me (mirandapaulbooks at gmail dot com) if you'd love me to guest post, do an interview, or share more about how your readers can get involved in such an exciting cause promoting literacy and providing books for kids in Africa.

Adventure #1
Meeting my travel companion, Cookie the Bunny

Cookie is on the left...That's a mommy pigeon and her babies on the right.

Cookie is a fun pal of a local Girl Scout troop and Cookie travels around the world.  I documented photos and captions in Cookie's Travel Journal and the girls back home learn all about the world this way!  Though Cookie has traveled extensively, this was Cookie's first time in Africa!

Adventure #2
Navigating the streets of Casablanca, Morocco

The merchant was so excited I was from America, he wouldn't even let me pay for the handful of strawberries I ate.
I speak about five words of Arabic and know only a handful of French, so this was certainly a challenge.  But...I did manage to find the world's tastiest strawberries in a local souk market and they melted my fears nicely.

Adventure #3
Assisting with the delivery of a new baby...Isatou-Miranda Sallah!
I wish I could describe to you what it feels like to hold a baby that's named for you.  What a joyous honor!

To sum up this story in a few sentences is tough...what an adventure!  Kudos to women who give birth here in Gambia.  We bathed the new baby by candlelight and a week later, at the traditional Fula naming ceremony, my best friend Isatou and I were honored when the baby girl's name was revealed:  Isatou-Miranda!

Adventure #4
Walking the entire country of Gambia on foot
And after the trip...only 4 blisters!  Must be a world record.

When Tom Warth and Megan Meyer from Books for Africa & Hand in Health first informed me that we'd be walking the entire country (North to South), I was wary...but over the course of two days, we completed the African Bookwalk promoting literacy and distributing books along the way with so many breathtaking sights...and so many stories!

Adventure #5
Walking the country of Gambia...with GREAT company!
Want to see all 3,000 at once?  Friend me on Facebook to see the amazing pic posted on my wall!!

At one point along our walk, we were joined by more than 3,000 Gambian students excited that new books were coming to their school libraries (some for the first time).  Some of them even walked with us for miles in the dry season heat - what troopers!

Adventure #6
Delivering more than 40,000 books to 31 schools and community libraries
Yes, a big truck.  Filled and unloaded many times over!  Thanks, donors!

To show you a photo of one truck loaded with books doesn't even do our mission justice.  The books couldn't fit in a single truck if we tried.  But it's amazing to know that statistically, we've changed the ratio of books to Gambians in a dramatic way just in this one trip...and 1 Million Books for Gambia is only getting started!!

Adventure #7
Finding a copy of Harry Potter in a Gambian Library
Wish I would have had Potter glasses for this shot at the first library built in Bwiam.

I couldn't believe it wasn't already checked out...but it was fun to see that Harry Potter really has made his way to this tiny corner of the world, too.

Adventure #8
Meeting the fantastic mayor of Banjul, Gambia
Gambian Library volunteer Isatou Ceesay poses with Mayor Samba fall for a brief moment before getting back to work delivering books!

Mayor Samba Faal was a huge help in logistics to our book distribution project.  Thank you to all Banjul City Council members and those connected with the Ministry of Education who partnered with Books for Africa and Hand in Health on the 1 Million Books project!

Adventure #9
Being constantly surrounded by kids!
The night before our Bookwalk, dozens of kids and women danced and celebrated our arrival.  Pure fun!

I took 1,587 photos during my trip.  I'm willing to wager that more than 60% of them have at least one Gambian child in it.  As a children's author and mother, I felt right at home with a baby in my arms or a hand holding mine while I was away from my own kids.

Adventure #10
Crashing a wedding...sort of...

If you've never experienced living directly across from a Mosque...let me inform you that the morning call for prayer happens in the hour before the "wee hours" of the morning.  So when I was kept awake late one night with the thumping bass of a neighbor's lively music...I ventured out to politely ask them to turn it down.  But when I discovered it was a wedding party...well, I just partied right along!  Congrats to Ansu and his new bride.  (sorry, no pic of the wedding - but here's a photo of the mosque & loudspeaker that woke me up before sunrise daily).

Adventure #11
Being in another kind of crash...
Go seat belts!

Definitely not the highlight of the trip...but I'm glad the new seat belt law was in place and no one was hurt in the accident.

Adventure #12
Delivering Dr. Seuss & other great picture books to a very rural village school...their first ever!

After delivering books to urban and semi-rural schools, the latter part of my trip was dedicated to getting books "up country."  Waaaaaay off the beaten path, I was so proud to bring books to communities that are so remote, I'm willing to wager almost no visitors to the country even know these villages exist.  But now, they have books and pieces of the outside world...and I took plenty of inspiration from them!

Adventure #13
Nearly stepping on a monitor lizard...

I was distracted by all the monkeys and birds...so of course I didn't notice a five foot lizard beneath my feet.  Afterwards, a field guide told me that its monstrous tail could have cut me very badly.  In that case, I'm really thankful I didn't catch him (yes...I tried).

Adventure #14
Meeting Babucarr, an inspirational 9-year-old

Born blind and locked in a room by parents who feared his condition, Babucarr is now attending GOVE school for the blind and has been taken in by my best friend, Isatou - another inspirational Gambian.  Babucarr is a remarkably happy, smart 9-year-old and I had the absolute pleasure of teaching him to play scales on the piano, take a digital photograph, and write a pen-pal letter -- things that only a few years ago no one believed he could do.  He's the definition of a champion!

Adventure #15
Being featured in Gambian newspapers and on TV
Spending a morning with the busy Editor-In-Chief reminded me of how much I don't miss being the editor of a newspaper!

With all the fuss about delivering two sea containers of books (about 44,000) to 31 locations, we certainly made headlines.  But the highlight was getting one of my photos published in The Daily Observer!  And, in second place was meeting one of The Point Newspaper's female journalists and touring the ink press room.

Adventure #16
Connecting 100 American students with 100 Gambian students
Quite convenient that Gambia's national language is English - no translations needed!


I love visiting schools, and before I left for the Gambia the students at Hillcrest Elementary penned letters which I delivered to students at Rose-Kali and Ming Daw schools in Gambia.  Next week, another visit to Hillcrest deliver the responses!

Adventure #17
Changing a flat in 30 minutes flat

Lamin & I rocked the tire change in the 95-degree afternoon sun...and on an incline! But as this was my fifth trip to Gambia, it wasn't a sweat - getting a flat tire is a frequent occurrence along unpaved roads full of "rock dodge" detours.

Adventure #18
Meeting the Nigerian Ambassador

What a thrill to meet representatives from the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, including H.E. Mrs. Esther John Audu.  Their huge financial pledge of support will allow us to send 100,000 more books to Gambia in the next round (who is joining me in 2013?)

Adventure #19
Figuring out how to cook pancakes over charcoal


Don't get me wrong...I love Gambian food.  But the kids at my house were begging for something American.  So after a search for baking powder and other ingredients was successful, we navigated our way through cooking pancakes over charcoal and flipping them with two spoons.

Adventure #20
Watching kids read new books for the first time!!


This was one adventure I got to live out over and over again during my three-week trip.  Watching kids read books is something I hope I'll never tire of.  And, to be perfectly honest, parents and teachers were just as into the children's books as the kids were!  Cheers to a culture of reading now being cultivated in The Gambia.

Adventure  #21 - TO BE CONTINUED...
Adventure #21 will be revealed on MARCH 26th at Renee LaTulippe's poetry website called NO WATER RIVER.  I'm not inclined to say more, only that it's EXOTIC and AMAZING.  Make sure to visit her site on 3/26 for the reveal (trust me, it kills me to keep this adventure a secret...but soon you'll see why!).

Want to hear more stories? See More Photos?
Please consider hosting me, children's author and international volunteer Miranda Paul on your website or blog for an interview or feature article.  I'd love to stop by and tell you more about these adventures and how to get involved with 1 Million Books for Gambia!  Email me at mirandapaulbooks at gmail dot com with your idea.  Thanks!

This could be you...let me know if you're interested in traveling to Africa in the future!

Comments are open below -- I'd love to know what you think of my adventures!  And, if you're interested in packing your things and heading to Gambia in 2013, let me know that too -- I'm willing to take a few stowaways with me.

Lastly - I'm getting back on track.  Rate Your Story is now open for submissions and I'll be posting Perfect Picture Books on Fridays again!  Yay!
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