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**Check out my pages**

"If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good!" -- Dr. Suess
“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.” ― Shel Silverstein
"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." --E.B. White
"Suffering passes, while love is eternal. That's a gift you have received from God. Don't waste it." --Laura Ingalls Wilder
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."--Annie Dillard

Share an act of random kindness

Just wanted to share this with you. My mom gave me this card yesterday. They were giving it out to mark the beginning of Lent at her church.

Writing can be isolating. For me, I know that I need to get out into the world and do something kind for another human-especially in February when the gray sludge can become overwhelming.

If I am holed up in front of my computer too long, racking my brain to find the perfect words for my character to say, I sometimes feel like I am turning into a monster! I have to keep this little card next to my laptop to keep the monsters in check. Thanks Mom.

Share an act of random kindness with someone.

0215161904

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Attention Children’s book writers: The Wild Wild Midwest Conference registration opens today.

Registration opens today for the SCBWI conference in Naperville. I’ve attached the details below.

If you love children’s books and have always wanted to write for kids there are great authors and editors teaching at the conference. You can get your manuscript critiqued too. Plus there’s a costume party!

 

In Illinois:2016 Wild, Wild Midwest Conference

Date/Time
Date(s) – 04/30/2016 – 05/01/2016
12:00 am

Location
Chicago Marriott Naperville
1801 N. Naper Blvd. – Naperville, IL 60563
Plans are underway. It’s going to be the bees knees!

Theme: Roaring 20s
Registration: Online registration OPENS February 1st for SCBWI members (Not-yet-members February 8th)

Program & Faculty:
• 40 faculty members!
• 7 different intensives – (three hour in-depth sessions on Friday afternoon)
• Newcomers to the Industry Session for Beginners
• 35-40 different sessions on topics related to Picture Books, Novels, Nonfiction, All-Genres, Business, Illustration, and Publishing Independently
• First Pages Panels, First Looks Panels, and onsite Art Show included in registration
• Written critiques; Onsite portfolio reviews; a manuscript contest (with four categories):prize–full manuscript submission!
• Autograph party and Costume Party and Prize for best costume!

 Bookstore:  Sponsored by Anderson’s Books. Registered attendees who are either traditionally or independently published will be able to sell one title. Faculty’s books will be available, too.

Save the date for the Wild Wild Midwest Regional Conference in 2016: April 29-May1. Plans are underway. It's going to be the bees knees!    

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Children’s Literature Event

There is a children’s literature breakfast coming up at Anderson’s Bookstore in Woodridge. See the information below. It looks like fun!

Children’s Literature Breakfast

ANDERSON’S BOOKSHOPS’ 14th ANNUAL CHILDREN’S LITERATURE BREAKFAST

TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE AT WWW.ANDERSONSCHILDRENSBREAKFAST.BROWNPAPERTICKETS.COM.

Saturday, February 20, 2016 – 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Autograph Session to follow)
Bobak’s Signature Events
6440 Double Eagle Drive, Woodridge, IL 60517

This morning will feature a full breakfast, over 50 Illinois authors and illustrators, new award-winning and notable books, a book talk, continuing education hours, raffles, door prizes, giveaways, book sales and keynote speakers.

Featured Speakers:
Chris Grabenstein, Barney Saltzberg, Sara Pennypacker, Lauren Tarshis and Loren Long!!! 

For more information please call (630) 820-2802 or email angie.gaul@andersonsbookshop.net. For the most recent updates and to purchase tickets visit andersonsbookshop.com. Don’t miss the Annual Illustrated Chair Raffle.  This year’s Chair Raffle will have two illustrated chairs; one by Loren Long and one by Barney Saltzberg!

LAST YEAR’S EVENT SOLD OUT EARLY • PLEASE RSVP QUICKLY!

TICKETS $59 (tickets are non-refundable) Doors open at 7:30 AM for book browsing and registration. Purchase tickets online HERE – available now!  To register with a school p.o. or check, please call (630) 820-2802.

Please reserve your spot by February 17th.


 

Event date:
Saturday, February 20, 2016 – 8:00am to 12:00pm
Event address:
Bobak’s Signature Events
6440 Double Eagle Drive
Woodridge, IL 60517

Welcome guest blogger Lisa Palasek, beloved librarian at St. Michael School in Wheaton

lisaKR-How long have you been a librarian?

LP-I have been a librarian for almost 9 years – all at St. Michael School.

KR-What books are our kids reading? Can you tell us some of their favorites?

LP-Our students read a wide variety of books.  Non-fiction books on animals, history, sports, and science are among their favorites.  The younger children enjoy series such as Magic Tree House, Henry and Mudge, and A to Z Mysteries.  Picture books by Jan Brett, Mo Willems, and Dr. Seuss are very popular as well.  The older students love all genres!  Fantasy, historical fiction, non-fiction,  mysteries – they love them all!   The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and I Survived series and are always in demand.  They also enjoy graphic novels.

 KR-In your opinion, what makes a good children’s book? What are your favorites?

LP-To me, a good children’s book captures the reader’s attention.  It touches the reader on some level, either by appealing to their emotions, teaching a lesson, or engaging the reader to think more deeply.  A good book takes the reader to another time or place.  Some of my favorite children’s books are Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling,  The Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy,  Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak,The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, and Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.

KR-Thank you Lisa for your opinion and for running a fabulous library!

 

New Beginnings

write

A gift from my beautiful friend Julie Klink. Can you see? It says: Write

 

Our Geneva writer’s group had a great turn out last night. We talked about some of the upcoming Society Of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conferences. If you are interested in writing for children there are some fabulous events coming up. Here in the Midwest we have the Wild Wild Midwest conference in April. Next month is also the big conference in New York. The information for those is below. There are still lots of openings for sessions in New York and registration for Illinois is February 1st. I am super excited to attend both, make new friends and soak up the energy.

As I look back on 2015 I am blessed to have come across SCBWI in my search for a writer’s group. There is nothing like sharing your writing with others who have the same passion for books as you do.  I am also blessed to have a supportive family and friends and this cool blog!  Goals for this year: consult God first, cherish family and friends, forgive, and revise until the cows come home.

In New York:

registration

Venue:

Grand Hyatt New York
109 East 42nd Street (at Grand Central Terminal)
New York, NY 10017
(212) 883-1234
Special SCBWI Room Rate: $259 per night. There are limited rooms available at this rate so book early!

CLICK HERE TO BOOK HOTEL ONLINE

 

CONFERENCE TUITION:

Includes all programming on Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14 as well as the Gala Party on Saturday Evening

Note: There will be no part-time or walk in registration. There is no cancellation allowed after January 10, 2016.

 

Conference Early Registration (up to and including December 11)

SCBWI Member Registration:  $425

Non-Member Registration: $525       

 

Conference Regular Registration (December 12 and thereafter)

SCBWI Members Registration: $460

Non-Members Registration: $560    

                              

Optional Pre-Conference Activities (members only):

Please note that you must sign up for the conference to sign up for any of these with the exception of the Professional Authors’ Forum.

Writers’ Round Table: $225

Writers’ Intensive: Revisions:   $225

Illustrators’ Intensive:  $225

Professional Authors’ Forum: $75 if you register for the whole conference. $150 if you are just coming for the day. PAL members only.    

Portfolio Showcase (SCBWI members only):

Open to full-time conference attendees only.

Portfolio showcase participation is included in illustrator intensive registration. For those not enrolled, if room is available, there is a $75 fee.

The Art Browse takes place at 5:00 PM on Saturday, February 13. All conference attendees may show their portfolio at the Art Browse. Table space is provided, and participating attendees pick a spot to put their portfolio. No registration is required specifically for the Art Browse, and there are no specific portfolio guidelines. The event will be attended by faculty, conference attendees, and invited industry members.

In Illinois:2016 Wild, Wild Midwest Conference

Date/Time
Date(s) – 04/30/2016 – 05/01/2016
12:00 am

Location
Chicago Marriott Naperville
1801 N. Naper Blvd. – Naperville, IL 60563
Plans are underway. It’s going to be the bees knees!

Theme: Roaring 20s
Registration: Online registration OPENS February 1st for SCBWI members (Not-yet-members February 8th)

Program & Faculty:
• 40 faculty members!
• 7 different intensives – (three hour in-depth sessions on Friday afternoon)
• Newcomers to the Industry Session for Beginners
• 35-40 different sessions on topics related to Picture Books, Novels, Nonfiction, All-Genres, Business, Illustration, and Publishing Independently
• First Pages Panels, First Looks Panels, and onsite Art Show included in registration
• Written critiques; Onsite portfolio reviews; a manuscript contest (with four categories):prize–full manuscript submission!
• Autograph party and Costume Party and Prize for best costume!

 Bookstore:  Sponsored by Anderson’s Books. Registered attendees who are either traditionally or independently published will be able to sell one title. Faculty’s books will be available, too.

Save the date for the Wild Wild Midwest Regional Conference in 2016: April 29-May1. Plans are underway. It's going to be the bees knees!    

Great First Lines in Children’s Books

You only get one chance at a first impression, and never is this truer than with the opening lines of books. Ciara Murphy compiles some of her favourites, from The Catcher in the Rye to Twilight, and The Hobbit to Harry Potter

What are yours? Email us at childrens.books@theguardian.com or get in touch on Twitter @GdnChildrensBks and we’ll add them to this blog!

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey
Bilbo Baggins in his hobbit hole in The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey – but would the first line of the book make you read as far as he has? Photograph: New Line Cinema/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

As the first thing you lay eyes upon when opening up a new book, the first line needs to be impactful, enticing, and enough to get us hooked. In an age where we have more books to choose from than ever before, what are the best examples of opening lines in children’s and young adult fiction that make sure we’re tempted to keep reading right from the first page?

It was a dark and stormy night.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A truly classic opening line, L’Engle presents us with what can be described (if we put our essay hats on for a minute here!) as ‘pathetic fallacy’, where the author uses a description of nature to hint at the tone of the novel or the emotions of a character. By beginning with this, L’Engle perfectly sets the scene for the remainder of this mysterious science-fiction novel in which Meg Murry must travel to a dark planet to free her father from the Black Thing.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Holden Caulfield is up there as one of the coolest teenage narrators in fiction. This sentence gives us a pretty good impression of Holden’s attitude – straight to the point and just dripping with razor-sharp irony.

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

If ever we needed confirmation that Mr and Mrs Dursley were, in fact, not normal at all, this line is it! But by emphasising so strongly the Dursleys’ pride in their supposed normality, Rowling also hints at the existence of other, perhaps more “abnormal” dimensions to reality, setting us up perfectly for a book filled with witches, wizards and dark forces that Muggles can barely dream of…

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

In just ten words, Tolkien’s opening line is so simple and yet leaves the reader with so many questions. What is a hobbit? Why does he live in a hole? And why is this particular hobbit so important that an entire novel is going to be centred on him?

It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I’m sure many of us can sympathise with the actions of the president and the Consortium in this respect – they don’t call it lovesick for no reason. But a cure? From the first line of her novel, Oliver welcomes us into a world very much unlike our own, with a unique twist on the dystopian theme, and promises us a love story quite unlike any we’ve ever read before.

I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Love it or hate it, Twilight has what I consider to be one of the best opening lines in YA fiction. We’re immediately thrust into the action, with a whole backstory to catch up on and a heroine who (assuming she’s going to narrate the entire book) needs to execute an escape Houdini would be proud of. This is what I call a hook.

I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Rarely do we start novels already rooting for a character from the very first sentence, but Orson Scott Card makes sure we do just that by immediately introducing us to ‘the one’. This line, uttered by an unnamed character, signals the importance of whoever ‘he’ is (spoiler: it’s Ender) – but how have they watched and listened through his eyes and ears…?

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis

For fans of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, it’s not hard to automatically want to read a book with CS Lewis’s name on the cover. But the opening line of Voyage of the Dawn Treader is particularly intriguing, partly due to the character’s name (how can you possibly like a character called Eustace Clarence Scrubb?), and partly because we’re left with an insatiable desire to find out what, exactly, it was that he ‘almost deserved’.

Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

A what? Is Percy Jackson secretly related to Severus Snape? Well, no, since Riordan published his novel two years before we were introduced to JK Rowling’s Half-Blood Prince, but the term ‘half-blood’ is enough to get anyone to want to read on to find out what it means. This line – opening a chapter entitled ‘I accidentally vaporise my pre-Algebra teacher’ – makes sure that Riordan hooks us right from the get-go.

Things had been getting a little better until I got a letter from my dead sister.
Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters by Gail Giles

Mystery. Mayhem. Letters. If the title hadn’t already convinced you that Giles’ novel is sure to be a page-turner, the opening line certainly will: so dead girls don’t write letters, but yet here is one doing just that! Who wrote it? What did it say? What happened to Sunny’s sister? And why is this her laconic response: ‘That more or less ruined my day’.

Here is a small fact: You are going to die.”
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

OK, full disclosure: this is not, in fact, an opening line, but one of the first few lines of the book, so I thought I would include it as a special bonus. We might all know this fact to be true, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read! And when we find out these words are spoken by Death himself, well – it’s immediately apparent that this book is going to be something completely unprecedented.

There are so many great opening lines in children’s and young adult novels – what are some of your favourites? Share them by emailing childrens.books@theguardian.com or on Twitter @GdnChildrensBks and we’ll add them to this blog.

— John Dougherty (@JohnDougherty8) January 1, 2016

You can’t promise ‘the best opening lines’ and not mention Mortal Engines by @philipreeve1. It’s the law. https://t.co/HMwAEmNYyQ

— Sophie Cleverly (@Hapfairy) January 1, 2016

@GdnChildrensBks one of my faves is The Graveyard Book: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

— Sue Osborne (@LibraryMonitor) January 1, 2016

@GdnChildrensBks @Patrick_Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go. Also, More Than This by Ness. #genius #yamatters pic.twitter.com/Krg0MrO8Nn

— Christopher Edge (@edgechristopher) January 1, 2016

.@GdnChildrensBks I love the opening lines of Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World. Heartbreakingly simple. pic.twitter.com/VeXeajolGO

— Lou Kuenzler (@LouKuenzler) January 1, 2016

@GdnChildrensBks Hard to beat @PhilipArdagh hilarious opening to Awful End … pic.twitter.com/Jt3YmeXxZj



JEN VALENTINE GUEST POST

Good morning, friends. Hope your Thanksgiving was full of family, friends and good cheer. We have a wonderful guest today.

Jen Valentine

Jennifer Valentine is an attorney and mother of four children under eight (including triplets). Wow!                                               .                   tired frog

Here Jen shares her thoughts on what she’d like to see more and or less of in children’s literature.

K- As an attorney and mother of four young kids, what would you like to see more of in children’s literature?

J- I read a lot with my children and when they pick out specific books for us to read together, they have their favorites which are ALWAYS a story that makes them laugh.  Though our household inventory of children books is quite large and offers variety, so many wonderful books go ignored because they just aren’t funny.  Yes, it is important to read with them a story with a good lesson here and there, but at the end of the day, my kids want to laugh when it is time to relax with a story.  This is true for both my independent-reader 8 year old son and my read-to-them 6 year old mixed gender triplets.

K- Hey that’s true for my kids too. We especially enjoy cheesy joke books. What kinds of things would you like to see less of in the books you buy for your kids?

J-Perhaps my situation is unique with mixed-gender triplets all the same age at the relatively same reading level, but when my kids pick out books for me to read to them (as opposed to books they read/flip through on their own), they “compete” with each other in choosing “girl” books or “boy” books.  The cover is often the judgment criteria.  If the cover is pink or has a princess on it, my daughters will choose it simply because they deem it a “girl book.”  If the cover is blue or black and has a bad guy on it, my son chooses it in reaction to his sisters’ girl book choices.  I don’t necessarily believe they are only interested in hearing stories about a stereotypical girl or boy main character, rather, I think they are just competing with each other in their choices for mom to read.  While I understand this may be a unique situation in my house because of having mixed-gender kids all the same age, it could potentially mimic a preschool classroom environment when a teacher asks a student to select a book for story time.  Personally, I’d love some of the cover designs to show less gender stereotype colors and pictures, though, it remains perfectly acceptable for those actual stories to be about any character – boy or girl.  It’s just the cover design that seems to sway decision-making for some reason.

K-Thank you for your insight!

Jen helps nonprofit organizations achieve financial stability through grant funding. Visit her website at: http://www.writewordsgrants.com/

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