Book Review!!

Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

Written by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Published by Little Bee Books (January 28, 2020)

Ages 4-8

Themes: Friendship, overcoming hardships, diversity

From the back of the book:  

Ella and Marilyn: On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike –  full of hopes and dreams, and plans of what might be.

MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE is not only a rags-to-riches story of how these two iconic women were discovered, but how they helped one another find their voices  at a time when both faced discrimination. It’s a tale of how two of the most iconic women of the 20th century forged a friendship that broke barriers and lasted a lifetime.

My favorite line:  “On the outside,these two stars couldn’t have looked more different. But on the inside, they both understood that sometimes even stars need a little help to shine.” 

This book is not only good for ages 4-8, but it should be read by people of ANY age.  I read this book to both my 7th and 8th graders. We discussed discrimination in the 50’s and 60’s, how women were viewed, friendship and helping others.  The discussions were deep and thoughtful. Books like MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD make it easier for older students to open up. They don’t feel like they are being talked AT. Instead the format of a picture book puts them at ease and they are more likely to respond, even those who are reluctant to find their voice.

Classroom Activity:  I had my students cut out stars (to go with my favorite line!) and write a kind note to someone who is different than they are..  For example, my classroom is close to the structured learning classroom. Several of my students wrote stars to a child with Down Syndrome, telling her that they look forward to seeing her everyday because she gives them high fives as they come to my room. Others wrote to students in another grade, and a few wrote to teachers.  This exercise let them see the light that shines inside others. I hope that they continue to search for that light in everyone they meet.

Surprise!

I wanted to share a wonderful surprise I got in the mail…

MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD by Vivian Kirkfield

Watch for a review of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD and an interview with Vivian Kirkfield!

Where to find Vivian Kirkfield and 2020 Vision Picture Books:

Vivian Kirkfield:

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2020 Vision Picture Books:

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Top 10 (or more) Awesome Resources for Writers

“On my desk is a stack of books. Some people call them mentor texts; I call them guardian angels. These are the books that guide me with a whisper of words, inspiring me to find my own voice as I write. They give me the knowledge and wisdom of what good-quality writing sounds and feels like.”

– Georgia Heard,

Finding the Heart of Nonfiction

Books

There is a plethora of books on the craft of writing, but these are my guardian angels. The books I go to time and time again.

WRITING PICTURE BOOKS-A HANDS-ON GUIDE FROM STORY CREATION TO PUBLICATION, by Ann Whitford Paul is the bible of writing for children.  The author writing for childrenhelps you to develop the skills needed to create a well written picture book.  Ms.Paul walks your through generating ideas, creating characters, identifying your point of view, crafting attention grabbing beginnings, plot, word count and tackling rhyme.  At the end of each chapter, you have an assignment that will help build your story layer by layer.  This is a MUST HAVE if you want to write picture books.

ANATOMY OF NONFICTION – WRITING TRUE STORIES FOR CHILDREN, Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas and FINDING THE HEART OF NONFICTION – TEACHING 7 ESSENTIAL CRAFT TOOLS WITH MENTOR TEXTS, Georgia Heard.

Anatomy of NFThese two books are my nonfiction go to advisors.  ANATOMY OF NONFICTION delves into the nuts and bolts of research, and finding the voice of your story (Extremely important!). The authors also walk you step-by-step through submission and different avenues to pursue for publication.

NF nutshellLike the Georgia Heard quote above, FINDING THE HEART teaches you how to use mentor texts as a “guardian angel” to guide your writing so that your topic reads like a traditional story book, not a dry emotionless book report.

 

Several other books that guide me are Martha Alderson’s WRITING BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS and SAVE THE CAT , Blake Snyder, and SAVE THE CAT WRITES A NOVEL by Jessica Brody.

Next topic? How about my favorite websites?  One thing about the kidlit community is that they are the most generous and kindest people around.  Most of these author/writer websites or blogs offer contests, advice, and writing challenges.  If you find anything helpful on these sites, please let them know by either writing a review or purchase their books.

In no particular order-

  1.  SCBWI.org  If you want to be a kidlit author, joining SCBWI is the best money you will ever spend.
  2. Kidlit411  your one stop information shop for children’s writers and illustrators. They also list upcoming contests, information of writing query letters, marketing, courses, and the list goes on.  You’ve got to visit to see everything!
  3. Susanna Hill – offers fun contests, critiques and the Art of Arc courses
  4. Manuscripts & Magnolias – great interviews with debut authors a year after their books are released.  You get some great insight from newly published authors.
  5. Vivian Kirkfield  #50precious words contest, critique services, author interviews, giveaways
  6. Julie Hedlund founder of the 12X12 Challenge (awesome writing community!), Complete Picture Book System and Picture Book Summit

There are hundreds of other great websites out there.  The more you connect with the kidlit community, the more you find!

I want to leave you with one more resources that has helped my writing tremendously.  The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas, offers on-site and online courses.  I completed a course in the fall with award winning, nonfiction author Nancy Churnin. The course was about breathing life into your nonfiction work.  The classes were small and we met online once a week.  It was almost like having a one -on-one mentorship with her.  It was, hands down, THE best writing course I have taken.

I hope that these resources will help you as much as they have helped me.  I’d love to hear your favorite resources, so please leave me a comment and share my blog so that it may help others on their journey to publication. Also, Don’t forget to subscribe so that you can be notified of my next post which is  all about a really fun, free and informational crash course in writing nonfiction!

 

“An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift.”

-Anne Lamont, Bird by Bird

 

Mentor Monday

So sorry to have been absent for so long! 2018 has not gotten off to a great start.  Between traveling to Houston twice for my father’s surgery, an ice storm  trapping in us in the hospital and the flu/strep/pneumonia hitting everyone in my household it’s been one heck of a ride!

But, I’m jumping back on the wagon and working on revisions and researching a new nonfiction topic that I think will be quite fun. I’ve got several debut authors lined up for some interviews and giveaways, so make sure you subscribe to the blog!. You can also be on the lookout for my #50PreciousWords challenge (you can se my previous entry here) entry over at author Vivian Kirkfield’s web site.  If you aren’t familiar with Vivian, please go visit her blog. She not only writes fabulous books but has tons of activities for kids and writers alike.

I’ve been trying to find more nonfiction books to evaluate since I prefer to write nonfiction, but today’s book is  fiction with a twist. Wilma Rudolph was the fastest woman in the world in 1960. This lovely story of friendship revolves quickestkidinclarksvillearound two girls who think they are the quickest girls in Clarksville, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph’s hometown.

So, I present, Pat Zietlow Miller’s The Quickest Kid in Clarksville.

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville  Mentor Study Worksheet

Remember, you can find a blank copy of the Mentor Study Worksheet here.

Also, do an author a favor, if you read a book, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

Till next time!

J

 

Master Study Monday – Mighty Mac the Bridge That Michigan Built

Back on January 10, I was lucky enough to help author Jacquie Sewell celebrate the debut of her nonfiction picture book Mighty Mac the Bridge That Michigan Built. coverfinal_2_origIf you missed my interview with her, please hop over and learn about her process and how Mighty Mac came to be.  It’s a great story!

Today, I am using Might Mac for our Master Study Monday.  I haven’t’ used the  form on a nonfiction story before and I’m thinking I may need to create one specifically for the elements of nonfiction. More on that at a later date!

At first glance, Might Mac is a traditional nonfiction story. It tells us about how the idea for the bridge grew, to bridge construction, the people involved in its construction and types of bridges.  Jacquie covers it all in an interesting and well-researched manner.

The photographs of the construction are interesting and show the readers what bridge construction was like during the time period.  And can I just say that those guys were fearless! No safety harnesses, or any type of safety measures are visible!

At the top of each page, is a fun play on “The House That Jack Built” nursery rhyme.  The first page begins with,

“This is the man, daring and wise, who said, “Yes we can!” and believed in the bridge that Michigan built.”

This is a creative way for readers to learn about an important event in Michigan history.

 

Mighty Mac Master Study Worksheet

Master Studies Blank Form

 

If you read Might Mac, please help Jacquie out and leave your review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. You can learn more about Jacquie at her website jacquiesewell.com  .

If you have any books you would like to see mapped out for a MSM, please leave me a comment.

If you or someone you know will have a debut book in 2018, please let them know about my offer to help promote their book.

Much love,

Julie

 

Mentor Monday-After the Fall

Welcome to another Mentor Monday! I am very excited to review and study this week’s book AFTER THE FALL:HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN by Dan Santat.

This well crafted picture book quickly became my favorite of 2017. Dan Santat took a well loved nursery rhyme, difficult subjects (depression, fear and overcoming obstacles) and made it kid friendly. His accompanying artwork not only adds to the story but TELLS part of the story.

Told in first person, Humpty explains what happens to him after his great fall. What makes this story so poignant is that he wrote this in response to something he was personally going through with his wife. He tells about it in a podcast interview on All The Wonders.

This book is the perfect choice as a mentor. The page turns are impeccable, the plot is perfectly crafted and the ending is a beautiful conclusion to Humpty’s tale. This book is due to become a classic! If you don’t already have a copy, I urge you to get one for your shelves!

Now, here is the breakdown on  Humpty Dumpty After the Fall.

Remember, you can download your copy of a blank worksheet here.

Till next time,

Julie