Friday, December 27, 2013

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story

Yesterday, families across the country began Kwanzaa celebrations. My son, who is in preschool now, had the opportunity to make Kwanzaa candles this year. Although we aren't celebrating the full holiday here at home this year (we have another short trip planned), my husband and I have taken plenty of opportunities throughout the year to introduce our children to the principles of Kwanzaa.  

We are also keen on introducing other parts of our lives that are rooted in our culture and traditions—which, at this time of year, tend to be both exciting and exhausting. 

This year, we took another trip to visit Grandma, Grandpa, cousins, and family abroad in the Caribbean.


We visited the rainforest and had a waterfall to ourselves for an entire afternoon. 


Our son and daughter also spent countless hours playing hide and seek with nieces and nephews (I think I have 34 on that side of the family—so there were always companions willing and ready to play!)

For the kids, swimming in Uncle's rooftop pool highlighted the trip. 
(The high winds up there made Mom a little nervous.)


(Addendum: there were flooding rains in St. Lucia on Christmas Eve; please pray for everyone and all St. Lucians!)

We braved a nearly 100-degree temperature drop as we headed back to the Upper Midwest for Christmas. We also made the children dress up, try all kinds of foods, and patiently wait for hours before giving and opening gifts at family gatherings. To their credit, our childrens' behavior was impressive through all the holiday hustle and bustle this year. See how angelic they look?


But I digress. 

I'll now get back to the tradition of Kwanzaa, which is a beautiful holiday for a number of reasons. Regardless of whether your family celebrates it or not, there's a book I'd like to share with you. It's not a new book, but it is one I've been recommending for nearly a decade since I first read it and shared it with students. So, today's Perfect Picture Book is...

SEVEN SPOOLS OF THREAD by Angela Shelf Medearis



Title: Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
Author: Angela Shelf Medearis
Illustrator: Daniel Minter
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company, 2000
Category: Picture Book
Ages: 5-10
Genre: Folk Tale
Topics: Kwanzaa, Holiday, Values, Working Together, Ghana, Africa, Siblings, Kente Cloth, Grief/Loss, Multicultural
Summary: In an Ghanian village, seven brothers make life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread or they will become beggars.

Why I chose this book: The colors and art in the book are stunning—Minter uses a very unique woodblock technique that isn't used often in children's books today. I'm also huge fan of folk tales and of studying values that affect our lives and communities. Most importantly, though, is that I've read it to groups of children again and again—and they get into it. (I think most of them relate easily to quarreling with siblings!) One group of children once turned the book into a short skit for their classmates, which was fun to see.

Resources: This book comes with an activity and resources at the end. I'll admit, the activity isn't the easiest for young children (or inept mothers!). But this year's hottest Christmas present in our family was the Rainbow Loom, which would make a perfect companion to this book if you're looking for a craft activity. 

This book, and celebrating Kwanzaa in general, is also a way to begin introducing some of the many new and amazing nonfiction picture books that narrate American history and African American heroes and previously "under-told" stories. 

And here are some more sites about Ghana, Kwanzaa, and kente cloth:


About Kwanzaa (with tons of activity ideas): http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/kwanzaa

About kente cloth (from an actual Ghanaian weaver): http://www.asantemankente.com/native.shtml

Paper kente cloth activity (easier than the activity in the book): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL6QTVvDTgc

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you've had (or are having) a joyous season, however you and your family are celebrating this year. Oh, and if you'd like to see more Perfect Picture Books, head on over to Susanna Hill's blog!

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!!
(I still love saying that.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug! by Mem Fox - PPBF

Later today I'll be sitting on a #kidlit panel on Ethics in literature at The Reader's Loft Bookstore. As part of the Ethics Day events, I was asked to compile a list of books for kids that deal with moral/ethical issues and share with parents.

Of course, as I was compiling the list, something struck me. While there are so many amazing and great books out there that get kids thinking about ethics and goodness and values and all, there are also so many other functions of books.

Like......fun? 
Enjoyment? 
Entertainment?

And books for kids should be for kids, right?
(Pondering this reminds me a recent Rate Your Story post, where Joan Donaldson writes about shoving the parents aside in your own story to make it child-centric.)

Tonight, as I share my selections at the kidlit panel, I will be sure to highlight many books that children will find enjoyable and engaging, showing the parents how books with good values don't have to be outright "about" ethics or overly didactic or written with an imperative tone. And I'll be sure to remind them that if we don't give our kids some strictly "fun" books in addition to "learning moment" books, we risk turning them off to reading. And that's an ethical dilemma in and of itself.

So today's Perfect Picture Book is one that is super enjoyable. It's not on my Ethics Day list, but it is one that reminds me of the importance to share all kinds of books with all kinds of kids. My own children beg to read this one again and again, just for fun. It is...

YOO-HOO, LADYBUG!


Title: Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug!
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Laura Ljungkvist
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2013
Genre/Category: Fiction, picture book
Age: 2-6
Synopsis (taken from jacketflap): Ladybug loves to hide. Can you find her?

First page: Ladybug loves to hide.

Why I chose this book: It's just pure fun! The rhyme is splendid! The colors are bright and hold kids' attention!

Resources: I don't want to be a spoil-sport, but sometimes I think we should just read a book with our kids and not extend it with all kinds of other learning activities. Just read it again. Maybe sing it! Memorize it! Write their own verses/pages. Or, read another book. JUST. FOR. FUN.

(P.S. See Susanna Leonard Hill's blog if you're not familiar with Perfect Picture Book Fridays.)


If you live in Wisconsin and want to attend tonight's storytime and Ethics Day panel session (11/15) at the Reader's Loft, it's at 6:30 p.m. Visit www.readersloft.com for directions. And don't forget, local SCBWI-Wisconsin writers, tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. at The Reader's Loft is our fall meet-up with three guest speakers!

Have a great weekend (reading just for fun)!


Friday, November 8, 2013

The Cloud Spinner - Perfect Picture Book Friday

Last weekend, after my usually-mild-mannered daughter had an "episode" in the car over something she NEEDED SO BAD and RIGHT NOW, I responded like this:

"Young lady, we need to have a talk about needs and wants."

She replied something to the effect of [**sigh**] "I know the difference, Mom."

"How do you know the difference?" I asked.

"Well, no one has ever told me directly," (yes, she really speaks that way), "but you hear teachers and grown-ups saying stuff like that all the time."

Good, I thought to myself. But I gave her a direct lecture about needs and wants anyway, just to be sure.

Little did I know, my 4-year-old son was quietly absorbing it all from the car seat behind me. (He was probably stunned and speechless that he wasn't being the one lectured for once.)

The next morning at breakfast, when his sister grabbed for extra pieces of bacon while singing a sort of a makeshift ode to bacon, my son felt the need to speak up.

"You know, bacon isn't a need. Nobody needs bacon to live."

And then his sister responded, cleverly, as always.

"Yeah? But without bacon, what kind of life is that?"

My 4-year-old was rendered speechless for the second time in 24 hours, thinking about what a life without bacon might really be like. Within a minute, he reached for another piece of bacon and they both began singing the love of bacon song. I stared at my plate, wondering what to make of the whole situation.
4 snapshots from this year's Mother's Day gift;
glad my love and kindness got in there somewhere.
As I reflected on the weekend, my thoughts brought a picture book to mind—one we had really fallen in love with a few months ago. It was the perfect story to re-read and continue our little "needs vs. wants" discussion in a beautiful, engaging, and non-lectury way.

So that brings me to today's PERFECT PICTURE BOOK selection:




Title: The Cloud Spinner

Author: Michael Catchpool

Illustrator: Alison Jay

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012 (originally published in slightly different form in Great Britain as Cloth from the Clouds by Gullane Children's Books, London, 2012)

Genre: Folk Tale / Myth, Fiction, Picture Book

Age: 4-8

Topics: Needs vs. Wants, Cautionary Tale, Nature, Folk Tale, Conscience, Conservation

Sypnosis (I took this from the jacketflap)—"A magical tale about the beauty and fragility of our natural world, and the wisdom and courage needed to protect it."

Opening line: "There once was a boy who could weave cloth from the clouds."

Why I chose this book: Besides what I shared in the post above, this book is an instant classic. It has all of the wisdom and truth and magic of any great story, and despite it's obvious "lesson" or "moral," it doesn't seem heavy handed because of the fact that Catchpool makes the adult characters less wise than the children, who end up saving the day. Anyone who has children or pays attention to them closely knows that most often, they are much wiser, more honest, and more open than the rest of us.

The language and art are beautiful, and this book gives me hope that there's still room in the trade market for quiet books with poetic language and a timely message for our world.

Additional Resources:

In the book, the clouds are depicted in all sorts of colors, depending on how the sunlight is reflecting off of them. This might be a great way for a science teacher to introduce what clouds are really made of, or an art teacher to begin a unit on imitating nature in watercolor. Here are some cloud resource pages for kids:

For scientific info and activities on real clouds:
http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-clouds.htm (scroll to bottom for activities!)

For creative art projects featuring different ways to "make" clouds:
http://www.atozkidsstuff.com/clouds.html

This book is also an obvious segue to discussions about environmental conversation. National Geographic has a character named Zippy who will give your kids a few tips on being green:

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/spacescience/green-tips/

Of course, don't forget the possible tie-ins to actual spinning. Since I live just a few miles away from an amazing living history museum called Heritage Hill, my children have gotten to card wool and watch artisans spin, knit, and crochet. But if your children haven't gotten the chance to see it, here's a 2-minute video!



And then, if you want to "spin" something more creative than yarn, there's always cotton candy—sure to be a hit with any classroom. Here's how to make it without a machine:




Have a great weekend! Comments are open!



Friday, October 25, 2013

Illustrator Reveal! and Perfect Picture Book Friday

I've been sitting on this news for awhile, and finally have been given the green light to announce it publicly:

One Plastic Bag will be illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon!

Those of you who know the story of One Plastic Bag and are familiar with Ms. Zunon's work already know how perfect this illustrator choice is for my book about a West African environmental leader. But if you don't know her work—don't worry! Today's Perfect Picture Book review will introduce you to Elizabeth Zunon's amazing talent and artistry.

Today's Perfect Picture Book selection is. . .

LALA SALAMA: A Tanzanian Lullaby


Title: Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby

Author: Patricia Maclachlan (Newbery-award winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall)

Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator of My Hands Sing the Blues and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind)

Publisher: Candlewick, 2011

Genre: Picture Book

Ages: 3-7

Topics: Lullaby, Bedtime, Africa (Tanzania), Love, Culture/Multicultural

Opening Page:

Long ago, this morning,
the sun rose
above the hill
above our house,
spilling light over the hills of the Congo
and the lake with the beautiful name,
Tanganyika,
like a song.

Lala salama, little one.

Why I chose this book: 

Apart from the absolutely stunning illustrations and soft, poetic text, this book presents a slice of life in an African country (Tanzania) that is safe, calm, warm, and loving. It focuses on the progression of a day and the relationship of a family. While infused with words and experiences different from those of many of its readers, the book focuses on some of the universal human experiences and emotions that unite us all. Plus—it's a great "wind down" bedtime story (what mother doesn't love having a few of those around?).

If you're not familiar with Perfect Picture Book Fridays, by the way, visit Susanna Hill's blog here.

Additional Activities:

The book's title is a Swahili phrase for "sleep well." TIME magazine for kids has a website where you can learn some more Swahili phrases with your children or students here:

http://www.timeforkids.com/destination/kenya/native-lingo


In the book, the baby is carried on Mother's back. One activity to try with students, (using dolls), is to take a large cloth or sheet and try carrying a baby doll around on the back! Watch this two-minute video for pictures and a video at the end so you can see how to lay out the cloth and tie knots at the top and bottom:




Lake Tanganyika is also one of the worlds largest, longest, and deepest freshwater lakes. You can use this book as an opportunity to open up a unit on water around the world. Here's an article with a little more information on this great African lake:

http://kids.britannica.com/elementary/article-435760/Tanganyika-Lake

And here's a fact sheet with a chart about the largest lakes of the world (by volume):

http://iaglr.org/docs/llotw-factsheet.pdf

Have fun reading and learning. I can't wait to see the art that Elizabeth Zunon will create for my book. Today is such a thrilling day! Thanks for stopping by!



Friday, October 11, 2013

We Stand Up for Girls!

Last February, on one of my first nights of the library project in Gambia with Isatou Ceesay, our colleague got a phone call. His wife was in labor! 

The rush to find a vehicle began. We needed to get her to the clinic ASAP. We hurried and arrived as soon as we could, but it took us so long that she ended up walking 2/3 of the way to the clinic while in labor. 

An amazingly short time later, we welcomed a baby girl into the world. And an even amazingly shorter time after that, Mom and baby rode home with us that night and we bathed the little baby girl by candlelight in the living room.

Isatou Miranda on the night she was born, with her older sister.

One week later, at the naming Ceremony, Isatou and I found out that the baby would be named Isatou Miranda. What an honor!

But these are mostly the joyous parts of the story.

 Since Isatou Miranda isn't old enough to speak for herself yet, we're standing up to tell the harder part of her story for her today, October 11, which is International Day of the Girl.

Isatou Miranda's family is under pressure to submit the baby to a circumcision camp where she will undergo a process called FGM. The way it is performed in rural Gambia, it is extremely hazardous to the immediate and long-term health and wellness of girls. Isatou Ceesay, Isatou Miranda's family, and I are making the pledge to keep her safe and the right to be able to make her own choice when she's grown. We know that this girl will face a lot of adversity in the form of teasing, taunting, and feeling outcast because of the decision not to undergo this practice. But we will be there to support her as she grows old enough to make her own choices for herself and her health.

So, my son and I STAND UP FOR GIRLS! Here's the video we made to show the world that we're joining forces with LitWorld's campaign today. Thank you for sharing Isatou Miranda's story.




Sunday, September 1, 2013

Storytime at the East Branch Library - September 11, 2013

Hey local kids + parents!

If you live in Brown County, WI, come and spend the morning of September 11 with me and Molly Senechal, one of Green Bay's most enthusiastic children's librarians!

Here are the details:

Who: Author Miranda Paul & the Notorious, Hilarious Children's Librarian Miss Molly!
What: Local children’s author Miranda Paul will share her original stories, talk a bit about what it’s like to be a writer and lead some energizing action rhymes. Don’t miss it!
When: Tuesday, September 11, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: Brown County Library, East Branch, 2255 Main St., Green Bay, WI
Why: Because everyone loves to rhyme and get moving!
How: With clothes on? Energetically? (not sure how to answer this one)

Don't forget to check out all of my upcoming events, too! Miranda will be traveling a bunch of places this fall! See this page for more information about where she'll be next.

Here is also a snapshot of the fall events for the East Library:


Happy back to school, everyone! I hope to see you in the hallways at some point. Remind your teachers to invite me in (and I promise not to make TOO much of a mess!).

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

1) What is the working title of your next book?
   I have two books coming out in 2015. One Plastic Bag and Water is Water.

 2) Where did the idea come from?
One Plastic Bag is based upon the story of a real woman I've had the pleasure of meeting. The story is inspired by her efforts as one of the first women in her country (The Gambia, Africa) to undertake a grassroots recycling project and beautify her village.

The idea for Water is Water literally popped into my head one day. I'm a big science/nature fan. I grew up minutes away from Lake Michigan, and originally entered college to study aquatic biology.


 3) What genre does your book fall under?

Both fall under the picture book category with a non-fiction component (something akin to faction, perhaps?). OPB is probably for a little older audience (5-12), while WIW's text appeals to the very young (3-7).

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm not sure if my books really would ever be animated or turned into films. However, my agent did retain film rights just in case :). I really have no idea who would play the parts, though. I'll pass on this one...

 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One Plastic Bag: A narrative story inspired by Isatou Ceesay and the recycling women of Njau, Gambia.

Water is Water: A backyard, year-round water journey as seen through the eyes (and hands) of a group of children.

6) Who is publishing your book?
OPB - Millbrook Press (Lerner Publishing Group)
WIW - Neal Porter Books (Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan)

 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

OPB - I wrote the very first draft within a week or so. Mind you, the story had been stewing in my head for nearly six years prior to actually writing it, and I'd interviewed more than 30 women from the recycling co-op in the years leading up to this. I revised it and began submitting it about three months later.

WIW - I actually had four first draft versions of this book, which each took months from idea to something that resembled a complete first draft. Then I had to choose which version I liked best and wanted to continue working on. I chose, and did more revisions on that version. Then, my agent loved it, but asked for a few tweaks. Then, my editor loved it, but had some ideas for it. . .then. . .you're starting to get the point, right? The real question is not how long it takes to get the first draft done, but to get the actual book done.

 8) What other books would you compare these stories to within your genre?
I'm not entirely sure what to compare WIW to yet, but OPB is comparable to THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (picture book version).

 9) Who or what inspired you to write these books?

I think I already answered this!

 10) What else about the book(s) might pique the reader's interest?

Water is Water is going to be illustrated by Jason Chin.

Just In: I've also learned who will illustrate One Plastic Bag and I am SUPER THRILLED. But....I can't announce it yet. I know, I know.  I will announce who as soon as I get the go-ahead from the publisher (doesn't the suspense kill you??). Connect with me via Facebook or Twitter so you can share in the exciting news as soon as I post it.

Next up on the Next Big Thing Blog Tour is Jacque Duffy, all the way over in Australia! She'll be posting soon about her exciting new book that's coming out soon.

Thanks for stopping by!


   

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Standing Up for Girls

Those of you who know me know I've never been much of a "girly" girl. But that doesn't mean I don't value being female.

On the contrary, I've been pretty outspoken throughout my life on standing up for girls' and women's rights. I also believe in helping re-define an inaccurate role or image that has been placed upon many women and girls throughout history and across borders. 

Those of you who know about the subject of my forthcoming book (One Plastic Bag, 2015) and my involvement with Books for Africa may understand some of the avenues through which I've advocated for women's groups.
Miranda Paul & Isatou Ceesay with namesake, "Isatou-Miranda"

So when I saw that LitWorld was inviting children's authors (and anyone, anywhere) to "Stand Up on 10.11.13 for every girl's right to build a fierce, fearless future, lit from within," I knew I was in.


Over the course of the coming weeks, I'm going to be working on crafting one girl's story to share with the world as I pledge to stand up for her on October 11th, the International Day of the Girl. I hope you'll come back to visit my blog that day, and maybe even share a story on your own site. Read more to find out how you can #standup4girls!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What Every Aspiring Writer Should Know About "The Writing Life"

I've learned a lot about the writing life over the past decade. And there's still so much I discover as my path bends and diverges with each new assignment, manuscript, or phase of my journey. Next month, I'll be speaking about that journey to a room full of new and published authors and illustrators.

But as I share my inspiring, humorous, and even painful stories with writers, I realize that my path is only one path. So I turn to you, fellow writers, and ask you to share with me a little bit about your journey. Specifically, I want to know what you might tell a new or aspiring writer (young or old) about the realities of being a writer? Here's the call I posted on Facebook earlier:


WRITERS: I am working on my keynote speech for the Wisconsin Writers Association conference for the fall and would love your input. My speech is about the realities of "The Writing Life". If you were to share one tip or surprising aspect about the journey toward making writing your career, what would you say to aspiring writers of all ages? (And let me know if I may share/credit any of your words of wisdom in my speech)?


Feel free to e-mail responses if you have something to add. I'm not sure what I'll be able to incorporate into my speech, but my intention is to make sure I speak to every type of writer in the room at the conference, including those who self-publish, those who are older than me, those who write in different genres or for different markets, etc. Thank you for your help!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Road Trip Recap!

You may have been wondering where I have been.

I will tell you.

In the month of June, our family packed up the car and traveled 2,450 miles.

Here are some of the highlights:


ROAD TRIP RECAP - June 2013
Let's pack up and go!
First official stop: Fishing outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin! We caught (and released) several blue gill.

Second official stop: The Candy Factory! (Indiana)

(The Candy Factory was a hit.)
Third Official Stop: Cincinnati

While in Cincinnati, the kids tagged along as Baptiste & I did some research at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Looks whose books we saw in the gift shop!


A family shot near the eternal flame on the roof at the UNRFC.

Words to live by!

Fourth Official Stop: Kentucky
Nice little park where we fed the birds on the other side of the Ohio River in KY

Fifth Stop: Penns Cave, PA




Sixth Stop: Philadelphia, PA
Visiting the Fairmont Water Works in Philly was an awesome way to envision new back matter for my forthcoming book, WATER IS WATER. (I love when research and brainstorming feels like vacation.)



My niece and son learned a lot about "where water goes when you flush"!


Seventh Stop: Washington, D.C. - visiting a friend who works for National Geographic!

Eighth Stop: Library of Congress! I can't believe my books are going to be here soon.  *wow*

Look whose book I found in the Library of Congress YRC!

Ninth Stop: ALA Convention in Chicago, IL - I got to meet Wendy Henrichs!



And Lori Degman and I chatted RYS and more. . .

Where else would I see a Schmidt/Rohmann duo so ready to pose but in my publisher's booth?

Laura Vaccaro Seeger! Caldecott Honor Medalist! She called me her "housemate". :)

Who doesn't LOVE Candace Fleming? Had to get her latest one signed for my daughter.

I love my editor.

So glad to finally meet another "housemate" (at my other house) - Laura Purdie Salas!

Yes, that is Jon Klassen shaking editor Sharon Verbeten's hand.

Kadir Nelson needs no caption for greatness, I assure you!

Doesn't it look like Peter Brown and I are up to something in this photo.....?

Chris Myers graciously poses with me at the Caldecott/Newberry/Ingalls Award Banquet.

Suzanne Walker with Sammy the Interviewing Toucan!

Katherine Patterson accepting the Laura Ingalls Wilder award. AMAZING!!

Tenth and final stop: The beach by our house in Wisconsin!


Are we home yet??

Thanks for visiting! Now, I've got a lot of writing to catch up on......

Friday, June 7, 2013

How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans - Perfect Picture Book Friday

Well, summer is now officially here for my kids, and all the freedom (and rebelliousness) that comes of three months without school took about. . .3 1/2 minutes to take hold of their attitudes.

Take Wednesday night at the dinner table, for instance. It was green bean night, and green beans are quite possibly the least-favored vegetable among my children. Nonetheless, I am an Unwavering Supermom, and Junior would be sitting at the table until midnight if that's what it came down to.

"I will never eat those beans!" my little one swore.

"And this is my mad face to prove it," he added.

While some parents might find this tiresome and annoying, I took pictures and found it humorous.

Guess what?

I won.
OK, so I didn't win the "eat with your fork, not your hands" battle, but the beans got eaten nonetheless.
The funny thing is that the next day, he actually REQUESTED green beans for lunch. Turns out, there are two tricks to getting kids to eat their beans:

1. Salt
2. HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS, by David LaRochelle

And that brings us nicely to today's "Perfect Picture Book" —

How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans

Author: David LaRochelle
Illustrator: Mark Fearing
Publisher: Dial, 2013
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 4-8
Topics: Picky Eaters, Food, Vegetables, Action/Adventure

First Pages: 
"Every Tuesday evening Martha's family had green beans for dinner."

"Every Tuesday night Martha was left alone at the table, staring at a plate of green beans that she wouldn't eat."

Why I Chose This Book:
Well, it's obvious from my post above that the green bean issue strikes a chord in our household. I imagine many children who will be able to relate to Martha. But what I really loved about this book is that as didactic as the idea of getting kids to eat vegetables is, this book does not appear didactic to children (or, as I might say, it's focused on the story rather than the lesson). The humor in having cowboy/pirate/bandit green beans "swagger" into town is so far-fetched it's completely fresh and engaging. I'm not sure I've ever seen my four-year-old sit so still! 

The writer-side in me also saw this as a very strong book for many reasons: the verbs are strong, the pacing is perfect, the dialogue is done well, the character is developed, the child solves her own problem, and everything is resolved PLUS there's a twist at the end. And David LaRochelle broke the rule about not making inanimate objects (especially fruits and vegetables) talk. Fearing's illustrations are also spot-on. The book is well-thought out and executed, and I'm glad that it was face-out at our local bookstore or I might have missed it.

Resources:
Here's a Green Bean Fact Sheet from my state's Department of Public Instruction.

This Australian website also tries to get kids jazzed up about beans: http://www.freshforkids.com.au/veg_pages/bean/bean.html

If you want to cook or make raw green bean dishes, there are some kid-friendly recipes here: 

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to stop by Susanna Hill's blog to see more Perfect Picture Books! I'm going to go check on my bean plant in the garden!



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