Friday, February 10, 2012

Contest Winner & Poetry & Perfect Picture Book Friday!

What a morning!  First, it was a 'practice run' for Africa as a snowstorm knocked out power in our neighborhood.  So sorry I'm late to post the winner of my contest!

I must say, I thought all three entries were very creative and well done. Each had originality and were completely different (which is the kind of diversity I was aiming for!).  But, you've chosen your winner, and it is...


Congratulations, Rena!  You've won $20 to as well as a copy of Tales From China: World Favorite Fables! promised...there's a second-place prize, too.  With the second-highest total of votes, congratulations goes to Nessa Morris for "Punch-Out!"  Woo hoo!  You've won a copy of Tales From China: World Favorite Fables.

But that's not all, folks (I sound like an infomercial...) - Damon Dean's "As It Really Was" is going in the record books as an honorable mention.  And, for that, you're also getting a copy of Tales from China: World Favorite Fables!

Congratulations, winners - and remember to contact me with your address so I can mail out prizes.  Hope you all - and many others - will enter my next contest...details coming in late March.

Now, in the interest of time...two birds with one stone today:

Poetry Friday & Perfect Picture Books
(please visit Susanna Hill's Website for more info about Perfect Picture Book Friday)

And, surprise – they have to do with Africa.

Today's Perfect Picture Book is:

(And Other Talking Drum Rhymes)
by Uzo Unobagha
Illustrated by Julia Cairns

Author: Uzo Unobagha
Illustrator: Julia Cairns
Publisher:  Chronicle Books, 2000
Genre:  Poetry, Multicultural
 Ages:  2-8
Topics: Nursery Rhymes, Songs, Kids, Play, Africa
About the book:  Off to the Sweet Shores of Africa is a colorful collection of original, African-inspired rhymes is accompanied by exquisitely detailed illustrations.
 Why I chose it:  Well, I'm heading to the Sweet Shores of Africa (The Gambia) very soon.  But I also LOVE the original rhymes that bring in cultural and natural references in a totally whimsical and sing-song way.  This book is really a "bridge" linking many shores.  The illustrations are beautiful as well.
Resources:  I didn't find any for the book...but if you've never heard the sound of a talking drum, check out this YouTube video to see one of the most amazing players I've seen.  There's a glossary in the back of the book, too, and you may want to Google other terms such as baobab, calabash, etc.

Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012



I'm announcing the finalists for my Mix-it-Up Contest. Since the entries were few (but lovely) I'm letting all three be finalists!  This is so exciting - my first ever contest winners will be announced soon!

Please read them and vote below. 
Voting closes on FRIDAY, FEB. 10th. 

Remember, the winner gets actual prizes! $20 in B&aN gift cards and a copy of Tales from China: World Favorite Fables. Runner up will get a book copy, too! 

Voting and commenting is OPEN below.  I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did!!

By Nessa Morris
For the Beginning Player
On Nintendo Wii

First, turn on the Wii.
Press Wii-mote power button.
Attach the nunchuk.

Next, aim the Wii-mote.
Hover on Punch-Out! icon.
Push the "A" button.

Hold up your Wii-mote.
Pretend to hit your brother,
while punching Glass Joe.

Continue to fight.
Soon you will face King Hippo.
Punch his big belly.

You will fight many.
Punch high. Punch low. You will win.
Donkey Kong is last.

If you can beat him,
you've played too long. Turn it off.
Go read a good book.
A Mix-It-Up Tale by Damon Dean

Red-Hood took Granny a sack of food,
walking down a dark lane in the wood
till she came to the ledge
of a wide river’s edge
and she wondered, “What next?” as she stood.

As she stood there a fox of some guile
licking gingerbread crumbs from his smile,
said “Don’t fret…take your sack,
climb right up on my back,
and I’ll swim you across in grand style.”

In grand style they stepped into the river,
but a Troll (whose breath smelled like goat liver)
boating by screamed “Who splashed?”
as his sharp teeth he gnashed,
and his hungry green eyes made them shiver.

As they shivered their fear turned them round
and they swam back to dry and high ground.
As they climbed up the bank
they heard “clink” and then “clank”
and they wondered what made the odd sound.

The odd sound was Troll clanging two sabres.
which inspired the friends get-away labors.
And with grime in his grin
and green stains on his chin
Troll cried, “Don’t go off now, my good neighbors!”

As the neighbors ran, Troll made a plan,
to hide ‘neath his wide old bridge’s span,
where he’d jump from a rafter
to grab Fox and Red after
they crossed to escape to Red’s Gran.

Red’s Gran taught her a wise thing or two:
one was–never trust Trolls, green OR blue!
So with Fox she devised
a quite clever disguise
using goat skins they found, and some glue.

With the glue they put on the gray furs,
Fox put his on and then Red put hers.
Then they tripped and  they trapped
and Troll’s nerves nearly snapped
as he screamed, “Goats are bothersome curs!”

As the curs on his bridge began nearing,
with his old eyes Troll squinted, and sneering
he saw Fox and saw Red
as gray blurs, and he said,
“I think more dinner now is appearing.”

Appearing first Red-Hood said “Don’t mind me,
there’s a much fatter goat just behind me.”
So the Troll let her flee;
his old eyes could not see
as he stared at the next goat so blindly.

On the bridge, Fox came on, getting near him,
so the old Troll’s poor ears could best hear him.
Fox cried “We’ve got your goat!”
as he flung off his coat.
Enraged Troll drew his sword so to spear him.

The spear missing, Fox dodged and Troll stumbled,
which made Troll spit and growl, then he grumbled.
Fox, with no more words said,
cast the coat on Troll’s head,
and then into the river Troll tumbled.

The tale tumbled too, down through the ages,
told to children by authors and sages,
but the story, oft told,
changed much as it got old,
and became more tales on many pages.
by Rena J. Traxel
Totenkinder: sweet old lady or cold hearted murder? 
Totenkinder, once thought a harmless old lady, took the stand today in her own defense. She claims that the two German kids, she is accused of trying to kill, came to her in rags. “I was busy baking a batch of gingerbread when I heard an awful crunching sound outside my kitchen window. Two children, covered in head to toe filth, were busy munching on my candy cane railing. I had to take them in. I had too!” She cried. She went on explain that soon after taking the kids in they took advantage of her. They ate up everything in her house including her gingerbread door. “But still I let them stay. They had nowhere else to go.” She shook her head explaining how the kids’ parents had abandoned them in the forest in hopes they would be eaten up by The Wolf. “I tried to assign them chores, but all that did was enrage them.” The old lady sobbed then held up her scarred hands for the court to see. “And...they...they shoved me into a oven.” Gasps could be heard all around the court.
Closing remarks are set for tomorrow.
Totkenkinder was arrested last fall, on charges of attempted murder, after Detective Boss received a tip from Totkenkinder’s neighbor The Wolf. 
If you liked this post please let others know. To read about Totenkinder’s arrest click here. Come back next Tuesday to find out the verdict.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Last Call for Contest Entries! Enter by Midnight

Just a reminder that you've got until midnight tonight under my extended deadline for the Mix-it-Up contest.  Basically, take any two styles/genres of writing and make a story or poem (500 words or less).

Good luck!

And, because I'm exhausted today, and home with a sick child, I'm taking it easy and only posting photos from my wonderful School Visit on Friday.  What a joy!

Students had fun learning about storytelling in West Africa and playing the Djembe

Students wrote letters to kids in The Gambia (which I will deliver soon!)

And everyone got in on some traditional African dancing fun!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Focus Friday: Packing (and Perfect Picture Books)

One week from now, I'll begin packing. 

And don't worry, I'll announce contest finalists before then, and winners before I go!  In fact, I extended the deadline so you can still submit until Monday.  I hope you do, three entries is embarrassing and I will look so mean having to award two people and not the other.  That's just not fair.  So enter.

Anyway, back to packing for my trip - which I will begin next week.

Some people hate packing, but I love it.  (It's unpacking I loathe).  There's something about the preparation, getting ready, and the feeling that your life is about to get exciting when you fill a suitcase–even if you're filling it with toilet paper, mosquito repellent, and hand sanitizer.  

For me, the idea of packing is akin to the idea of polishing up a manuscript and writing a query letter, then sliding it in a brown envelope and and sealing the clasp.  As much as each process is a tedious task, it's also exhilarating, right?

And, another parallel between the submission process and the place to which I'll be traveling–The Gambia–is that the pace is pretty much the same: as slow as it gets.  While the world whizzes by in 140-character tweets and a bazillion Facebook conversations every second, the Gambia's most famous phrase (in Wolof) is: 

Ndanka, Ndanka.

Slowly, Slowly.

While I'm away, I won't have access to Internet for the vast majority of my trip.  I'll be forced to slow down.  In fact, my last blog post will be next week Friday, and it's a special farewell one, so I really hope you all will visit next week too to wish me goodbye while I go and build school libraries in The Gambia.  And, thank you everyone who has made sure to pile a lot of last-minute submissions for me to dole out at Rate Your Story (which will also be closed to submissions while I'm away).

So you can see I'm inviting the spirit of Ndanka, Ndanka.  I can't wait to hurry up and slow down.

So, here's my writing advice for this week.

Pick a time of day each day where you unplug.  Slow down, write, don't check Facebook or Twitter.  Yes, I said every day.  And during that time, look up at the sun - or the moon - or the clouds - and know that somewhere, in a tiny village in West Africa, there's a writer who is being inspired by the very same sky (yes, me).  I promise to send as much inspiration as I can, and I'll be taking a lot from that sky, which looks completely different in a place where there is no electricity at all.  Breathtaking.

So look to the sky when you unplug and remember, the best stories aren't things that were invented by people.  They were all there before we got here.
Now, in the spirit of packing - and the fast flurry we're all in to "get there," I've chosen a quiet, slow picture book.  It's a reminder to us, as writers, to stop worrying about where we're going and enjoy exactly where are lives (or careers) are at.  Enjoy the excited thoughts of your dreams coming true as a published writer, but also take joy in your life, here and now, as it is today.  Publishers will be there tomorrow.  So, even more often than not, remember to live here

Then look at the sky and ask big, fat questions.

Just Like:
THERE by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Title:  There
Author/Illustrator:  Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2009
Genre: Poetry, Picture Book, Art
Ages: 4-7 (Preschool through Grade 1)
Themes: Philosophy, Journey, Leaving Home, Questions, Dreams
First Page: When will I get there?

More: (From the McMillan site)  A little girl ponders what the future holds, steadfast in her determination to find out for herself. Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick's gorgeous landscapes and the briefest of text speak to the power of imagination. Readers of all ages will find reassurance in this simple, beautiful book of ruminations about a lifelong journey toward tomorrow.
Why I chose it:  It's about as slow and quiet as picture books get.  And I think there are a lot of households that can do with a bit more slow and a bit more quiet.  It's a great bedtime book, or an early morning book :)  It's a snuggle book.
Resources:  View this page for interiors of the book, View this page for more about Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, and view this page called Philosophy for Kids for some nuggets and story starters to begin discussing big ideas with little people.
What is Perfect Picture Book Friday?  Read more at Susanna Hill's Blog.
 Comments Welcome: What is great about Here?  What do you dream is There?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Contest Extended!

Sorry for Missing Worldly Wednesday yesterday, guys, but I've been a bit under the weather.  When I logged on to check the contest entries I saw three lovely ones...but how am I supposed to choose two winners out of three?  That would be horribly unfair, cruel, and I just won't do it.

So...for all those of you who have been lingering but didn't enter on's your second chance!  

MIRANDA'S MIX IT UP CONTEST ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED UNTIL MONDAY, FEB 6th at Midnight.  I'll probably extend voting, too - check back for updates.

So, how do you enter?  

Write anything that mixes at least 2 styles or genres.  Then post on your blog/website and link back here.  Comment to let me know and add your blog link to the original post in the form. 
All the contest details are here.  (Ignore the due date.)

Questions?  Email me at mirandapaulbooks at gmail dot com.

Now write!

(And if you feel stupid for not getting your entry in on time...give your spirits a lift by visiting BANANA PEEL THURSDAYS.  That's where published authors and illustrators share their oops! moments with the world.  Brave, brave souls.  Go check it out!)

Artwork by:

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