Adventures in Working from Home and Congratulations!

It’s been another week in my adventures of working from home. Wait! You’re a writer. Isn’t that’s what you normally do? Oh right! I mean another week in my adventures of working at home with my husband, son, and three dogs. WOOHOO! Love, love, love family time.

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My furry officemates, Mathilde, Madeleine and Cupcake

Here’s an excerpt from this past week’s adventure.

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The boy in his den

“Pancake!”

“What Noah?”

“Me want pancake!”

“Will do. Just need to finish composing an e-mail to my editor. . . .“

“Mom, me want pancake!”

“Got it, caveboy! Don’t caveboys make their own pancakes? Or at least hunt for their own

food?”

“You make the best pancakes, Mom.”

I’m not falling for that line.

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Noah and Mathilde

“And can you make the silver dollar pancakes? You make the best silver dollar

pancakes.” Noah flashes his big cheesy smile.

“Got it! Pancakes! Coming up.”

Now, back to work. Until . . . .

“Honey, we may have a small puddle in the basement. But I’ve got it all under control.”

A quick run down the stairs and I see what my husband calls a puddle.

“That’s not a puddle. That’s a flood! Why didn’t you mop it up?”

“I want the repairman to see it.”

“Right.”

“Everything is under control.”

“Uh-huh! Love, love, LOVE family time.”

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One of my hard-working officemates. 

****

This week’s adventures of working at home have held up my post a tad. Apologies. But here’s the news everyone’s been waiting for. Drum roll, please!

The winner of The Case of the Bad Apples is . . .

RUCHI SHAH

Congratulations! I so hope you enjoy the book.

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Happy reading!

Picture Book Scribblers and a Giveway!

Adorable Art by AnneLouise Mahoney

I recently joined the Picture Book Scribblers, an AWESOME group of authors and illustrators with books releasing in 2021. And do you want to know a secret?

WE CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE OUR BOOKS WITH YOUR CHILDREN!

I know we’re a ways away from 2021, but there’s no better time than the present to get this party started. Right?

 

PARTY!

And if we’re having a party, might as well have a giveaway!

Seriously! Check it out!

Just click HERE to enter.  

But wait! There’s more!

More? Come on. I don’t have all day! 

Good luck! 

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PIG-DIC-U-LOUS-LY SWEET NEWS!

Detective Wilcox, Captain Griswold, and I are thrilled to share our first review of The Case of the Bad Apples. Let’s just say it’s PIG-DIC-U-LOUS-LY AWESOME!!!!! Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say: 

More hard-boiled hilarity, this time with a side of apples.

In their third case, mice Detective Wilcox and Capt. Griswold, esteemed Missing Food Investigators, look into the latest “bad apple” on the farm. The action starts with a call from a doctor at Whole Hog Emergency Care. It seems Porcini “pigged out” on a basket of apples that may have been deliberately poisoned! For the MFIs, that’s a Code 22—better known as “attempted hamslaughter.” The detectives rush to the scene of the crime to get the 411 and “save [Porcini’s] bacon.” At the pig’s pen, they find the basket (with four remaining apples) and a series of hoof, claw, and paw prints. The MFIs quickly narrow down the suspects to fellow farm animals Sweet Pea (another pig), Herman the Vermin (a rat), and Hot Dog (a dog, natch). But whodunit? Forensics will reveal the truth. With a successful formula established in earlier series entries, this one’s par for the course. The five chapters range in text complexity, reaching 23 lines at most per page. Full-color cartoon spot illustrations provide contextual clues and break up the text. Though yellow sticky notes define slangy terms like “tox screen” and “perp,” the abundant wordplay is perhaps best deciphered by more confident readers.

Completely “pig-dic-u-lous”—and a whole lot of fun. (recipe) (Early reader. 7-9)

I’d like to shout out a SUPER HUGE THANK YOU to Marissa Moss (editor and publisher extraordinaire), Deborah Zemke (illustrator genius), Simon Stahl (designer rock star), Mollie Katzen (cookbook author superstar), Liza Fleissig and Ginger Harris-Dontzin (my very special agents), and EVERYONE who read, reread, and REREAD this manuscript that went through revisions of biblical proportions, including but not limited to, The Bank Street Writers LabJill DavisSudipta Bardhan-QuallenMarcelino de Santos, and Sarah Longstaff. And wait! I’m not done.

We interrupt this post to bring you an adorable hammy eating.

A super HUGE THANK YOU to Julie GribbleDoreen CroninNick Bruel, and JoEllen McCarthy for the kind words on the back of the book. And of course, thank you to Kirkus Reviews for the lovely review.

Excuse, Me? Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?

Apology readers for being a tad M.I.A. from the blog but I finally have something to post. And it’s good news! Actually, it’s AWESOME news! But not just any kind of AWESOME news. It’s book news!!!! Drumroll, please.

SesameStI would like to shout out a BEHEMOTH THANK YOU to Jess Riordan, Julie Matysik, Running Press Kids, Sesame Street, Liza Fleissig, and last, but certainly not least, Elmo.

This is the second time Elmo and I have had the chance to work together. We first collaborated on the picture-book adaptation of Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas, script by Geri Cole and illustrated by Tom Brannon (Running Press Kids) in 2017.

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I often get asked, “What’s it like working with Elmo?” It’s gloriously happy and red. Very red! You find yourself constantly humming “LA LA LA LA . . . Elmo’s World!”

And strangely, you develop this interesting habit of talking to folks in the third person. Like the last time I spoke with my editor, I think I may have uttered the words, “Robin no like rewrites. Robin like ice cream!”

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Here’s me and Elmo on vacation at Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos.

I cannot wait to share this latest project with readers.

There are many sunny days ahead!

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Happy International Carrot Day!

Oh, happy, hoppy day! I can’t believe it’s finally International Carrot Day.

And of course, you know what this means?

To celebrate the greatest root vegetable in the universe and beyond, there must be a party.

And if there’s a party, you know what that means?

There must be cake.

But not just any cake.

carrotcake.pngCarrot cake, of course! And if you’re interested in making the absolute BEST carrot cake ever, here’s Mollie Katzen’s carrot-tas-tic recipe from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.

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Wait! There’s more.

While enjoying a slice or two of carrot cake, be sure to watch the AWESOME Wanda Sykes read The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake for the SAG-Aftra Foundation’s Storyline Online.

Not so fast! I’m not done yet.

While eating and watching, you can also color and make your own detective badge by clicking on GriswoldWilcoxbadges. Really? Yes, really!

Now, I’m done.

Happy International Carrot Day! 

 

Guest Post by Darlene Beck Jacobson: Be Careful What You Wish For

Greetings, readers! I hope everyone reading this post is in excellent health and continues to stay in excellent health. Sending heartfelt best wishes to one and all.

Now, I have an extra special treat for you. The amazing Darlene Beck Jacobson is stopping by on her worldwide web tour to talk about her AWESOME new middle-grade novel in verse, Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully. So, without further ado, Darlene take it away.

Darlene: Thanks for having me on the blog today, Robin!

Have you ever made a wish hoping and praying that it will come true? Did it? Was it a good wish or a bad wish? What happened after you made the wish? Did you feel good about it, or not so good?

It seems there are lots of books about wishes. Here are some recent favorites of mine:

My new book, Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully, talks about both good and bad wishes.

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Briefly, eleven-year-old Jack misses his Dad who is MIA in Vietnam. It’s been months since he and his family had word of his whereabouts. The last thing Jack wants to do is spend the summer with his grandparents. Mom believes it will be good for all of them – meaning, Jack, his sister Katy, Mom, Gran and Pops – to be together while they wait for word about Dad. Keeping busy will keep them out of trouble and help them think of other things. Jack expects the worst summer of his life. The first summer without.  Without Dad, without friends, without his room and all the things that remind him of Dad. When Jack meets Jill, a girl with a brother who makes trouble for both of them, things they believe are turned upside down. Welcome to a summer of fishing, camping, bullies, and a fish who grants wishes. A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem. But when Jill makes wishes of her own, things don’t turn out the way they expected. Every wish has a consequence. Will the fish grant Jack’s biggest wish? Will Jack be brave enough to ask?

Let me introduce you to the four main characters as seen through the eyes of the narrator, eleven-year-old Jack.

JACK

I jiggle the rod, trying

to interest a fish.

Pops expects some level of

ENTHUSIASM!!!

He gave up his day

to bring me here.

 

I wish the fish were biting

like last summer, he says.

We’d have caught a dozen by now.

In our bucket,

one sorry fish stares out.

If it was a fish that granted a wish

I’d ask it to bring

DAD home.

 

I wouldn’t waste my wish on

another fish.

 

KATY

My sister makes me laugh,

even when I feel like crying.

She spins in a circle,

pigtails swinging around,

and around, until she falls drunk with dizziness,

a pile of laughter in the grass.

This time do it with me, Jack.

She grabs my hand. We twirl and spin.

 

Katy remembers Dad

in a little kid kind of way.

Not the staying up late to talk and sneak ice cream

when everyone else sleeps way.

If he came home,

he would be like a stranger.

Katy wouldn’t grab

a stranger’s hand and take him for a spin.

When we land in the grass,

a thought pokes me

like Katy does with her elbow

when I try to ignore her being a pest.

Will Dad someday seem like

a stranger to me, too?

 

How many spins does

it take to make

bad thoughts go away?

 

JILL

Here’s what I know about Jill.

She’s eleven like me.

Crazy about bugs,

naming them like the scientists do.

Isn’t afraid of putting a worm on a hook.

Her favorite color is pink.

She can make lemonade come out of her nose.

We never run out of things to talk about.

 

She makes me forget about Dad.

Almost

not really

but

she makes me laugh.

 

I catch a fish with one eye missing.

Jill says, Throw it back.

Why?

If it can survive like that,

it must have a special purpose,

don’t you think?

 

I stare at the fish that doesn’t look special,

wondering what happened to the other eye.

I’m naming it Fred, I say

before I throw it back.

 

Special things should have a name,

don’t you think?

 

CODY

I hear them and then

I see them coming across the field,

Cody and Brad, shouting and

hurling insults at

each other, until they find us,

sitting, waiting for a fish

our fish

the fish

waiting for Fred.

 

You losers can’t even catch a fish. Cody

flings the net into the water.

Jill stares at the spot, lips clamped shut as

a ripple spreads out toward us, the net

floating across the pond,

like an empty raft.

 

I keep my eyes on

Cody, who grabs grapes,

shoves them into his

mouth, daring me to stop him.

He reaches for the can of worms.

 

Jill stares so hard at the water,

trying to keep her promise to

not talk to Cody,

trying so hard to ignore the

loudest thing.

I jump up and snatch the can

of worms before he does.

 

He stops, stares frozen for a minute,

long enough for me to

collect my courage.

When Jack discovers the fish he and Jill caught might actually grant wishes, he wants to learn more about how this wish thing works:

TALE

I go to the library and ask for stories about

wishing, and if wishes in the stories

come true.

 

The librarian shows me a tale called

The Fisherman and His Wife,

a story where a fish grants wishes.

Even though the wife made the fisherman

ask for things, he had to do the asking and

only had three wishes. The wishes

didn’t make them happy, because

they didn’t turn out the way they thought.

 

The wishes backfired because you have to make

the wish using the

right

careful

exact words.

My wish isn’t for

power

fame

fortune.

It’s a wish to bring Dad home.

What could be more right than

that wish?

 

My whole body tingles with excitement, ready

to make my wish. The only wish

worth making.

Until

I read the second tale called

The Monkey’s Paw.

 

A man and woman ask

the monkey’s paw for some money.

The next day their only son

has an accident,

gets mangled in a machine and

dies.

They receive his life insurance money,

the exact amount they asked for.

The man wants to get rid of the paw,

but the woman misses her son

so much, she uses a wish

asking to bring her dead son back.

 

When they hear a knock on the door,

the man knows it’s his dead son who is

probably messed up,

bloody

like a zombie

knocking and knocking.

Before his wife runs to open the door,

he uses his last wish to

send his son back to where he came from.

 

By the time I finish reading,

hairs on my arms and spine

are standing straight up, like soldiers.

I would scream! except

you’re supposed to be quiet

in a library.

 

What if that

or something else

bad

horrible

worse

happens

when I wish Dad home?

The words you use in a wish,

REALLY

ABSOLUTELY

POSITIVELY

have to be the right ones,

otherwise anything

something

the worst unthinkable thing

might happen.

I need to think about this wish, and

maybe see what Jill thinks about it too.

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Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl. She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining dusty closets and drawers in search of skeletons from her past. She enjoys adding these bits of her ancestry to stories such as her award-winning middle grade historical novel Wheels of Change (Creston Books, 2014), and Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully (Creston Books, 2020).

Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. She’s caught many fish, but has never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful for what she wishes.

Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators. To learn more about Darlene, please visit her website by clicking here.

Twitter: @DBeckJacobson

Email: darlenejacobson13@gmail.com

Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your favorite independent bookstore.

To follow Darlene on her web tour, please stop by Holly Schindler’s website on April 2, where she’ll talk about plotting a novel in verse by clicking here. And in case you missed Darlene’s previous stop on March 24th, please visit Roseanne Kurstedt’s website, where Darlene talked about three ways to stand up to bullying without using fists by clicking here.

 

Oh, What a Night! The First Biennial Best Spanish Language Picture Book Awards in Spanish

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Cynthia S. Weill

Director of The Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College of Education opening the program festivities. 

On March 10th, I had the privilege of attending the first biennial Best Spanish Language Picture Book Awards in Spanish given by The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education (CBC). The 2020 prizes were given to books that were published or translated in 2018 and 2019, and selected by the CBC’s Spanish Language Affiliate (SLA), Bank Street College faculty and alumni, professors from City University, and by librarians from the New York Public Library. The books were judged on “cultural authenticity, richness of language and illustration, appeal to children as well as other criteria.” (Source: Event Program)

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Shael Polakow-Suransky, President of Bank Street College of Education

Shael Polakow-Suransky, President of Bank Street College of Education, emphasized the importance of having high quality Spanish texts for children, noting that 41% of NYC Public School students are from Latinx ancestry; 15% are from Spanish-speaking families; and that thousands of NYC children are currently receiving bilingual education services in over 500 dual language programs.

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Keynote Yuyi Morales

The incredible, Yuyi Morales, six-time winner of the Pura Belpré Award for Illustration, gave a moving keynote about her migration to the United States from Mexico, which ultimately became her book, Dreamers (2019). Not able to speak or read in English when she arrived in the U.S., her mother-in-law one day dropped her and her infant son at the library. And it was at the library where she not only found her new home but also her family. It is where she read stories about people just like her, written by people just like her, and for people who were just like her—immigrants.

Now, without further ado, the winners of 2020 Best Spanish Language Picture Book Awards are:

Gold Medal

MI PAPI TIENE UNA MOTO / MY PAPI HAS A MOTORCYCLE

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by Isabel Quintero; Illustrated by Zeke Peña

Translator: Andrea Montejo

(Kokila, Penguin/Random House)

Silver Medals

¿DE DÓNDE ERES? / WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

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by Yamile Saied Méndez; Illustrated by Jaime Kim (Harper Collins Publishers)

SEMBRANDO HISTORIAS: PURA BELPRÉ: BIBLIOTECARIA Y NARRADORA DE CUENTOS / PLANTING STORIES: THE LIFE OF LIBRARIAN AND STORYTELLER PURA BELPRÉ

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by Anika Aldamuy Denise; Illustrated by Paola Escobar

Translated by Omayra Ortiz (Harper Collins Publishers)

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Anika Aldamuy Denise accepting her award. 

MARIO Y EL AGUJERO EN EL CIELO: CÓMO UN QUÍMICO SALVÓ NUESTRO PLANETA / MARIO AND THE HOLE IN THE SKY: HOW A CHEMIST SAVED OUR PLANET

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by Elizabeth Rusch; Illustrated by Teresa Martínez

Translated by Carlos E. Calvo (Charlesbridge Publishers)

2020 Honorable Mentions

SOÑADORES / DREAMERS by YuYi Morales (Holiday House)

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ALMA Y COMO OBTUVO SU NOMBRE / ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME

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by Juana Martinez Neal (Candlewick)

The program was recorded in its entirety by KidLit TV. 

Below are a few photographic highlights:

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The seal imprinted on the winning books was designed

twenty-five years ago and adapted by Lauren Linn. 

Muchas gracias to The Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature for una noche increible.

The 2020 Amelia Island Book Festival

 

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Readers, you have no idea how rough it is to leave New York in the middle of February to head to warm and sunny Amelia Island for a book festival. But somebody’s got to do it. And I’m so glad that somebody is me! 🙂

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Amelia Island at sunrise. 

I LOVE Amelia Island.

And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Amelia Island Book Festival!

So, it’s no surprise that the festival is held annually around Valentine’s Day! What can I say? There’s book love in the air.

This was my third Amelia Island Book Festival and it was nothing short of AWESOME! This year I was joined by many east-coast friends, including several members of the KidLit Authors Club, including Timothy Young, Nancy ViauJulie Gonzalez, and honorary member, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.

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Left to right: Timothy Young, Nancy Viau, moi, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen,

and Julie Gonzalez

It was also wonderful catching up with old friends at the festival, including Evelyne Holingue, Jessie Miller, and Eileen Meyer, and wonderful to meet new authors, including my tablemate, Eddie Price, MJ Hayes, and Jacques Pépin. Wait one book-festival second! Did she say, “Jacques Pépin?” Why, yes I did! I’ve been a HUGE fan of Jacques Pépin since he and Julia Child had their PBS show, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Homeand it was an incredible treat to finally meet him in person.

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Jacques Pépin et moi

One of the things that makes The Amelia Island Book Festival extraordinarily unique and special is the Authors in Schools Program.

“The Amelia Island Book Festival’s Authors in Schools program not only aims to put a book in the hand of every student in Nassau County, Florida, but also place the book’s author right in front of them in their own classroom or school auditorium.”

Through the Authors in Schools Program, thirty authors visited schools in Nassau County and 13,000 books (Yes, you read correctly. 13,000 books!) were purchased for students from pre-k through high school.

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This year I had the privilege of visiting with first and second grade students at Yulee Primary School. During my presentation, I spoke about how I became a writer; the writing, revision, and publishing process; fractured fairy tales (or twisted tales as Yulee students call them); and how they can use fairy tales to create their own twisted tales by changing the basic elements of a story—whether it’s the characters, conflict, setting, plot, and/or resolution. The students had fabulous questions and it warmed my heart to see many of them at the book festival the following day.

Below are a few photographic highlights from my festival weekend:

I’d like to shout out a super huge THANK YOU to Kelley MacCabe, Yulee Primary School Media Specialist extraordinaire for arranging my visit, and to the festival organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and community members who made the Authors in Schools Program and The Amelia Island Book Festival an incredible success. THANK YOU!

My bags are already packed for next year! I can’t wait!

 

Happy National Carrot Cake!

Detective Wilcox, Captain Griswold, and I would like to wish everyone an extraordinarily yummy Happy National Carrot Cake Day!

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On this wonderfully delicious holiday, we have a special treat to share with our readers: Mollie Katzen’s out-of-this world carrot cake recipe from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. recipe.jpgAnd I must tell you a secret. There’s no better way to enjoy a slice or two or three of carrot cake than by watching Wanda Sykes read The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.

Bon appétit! Et bien sur, let them eat cake.