New Release – Freshly Baked Pie

Playful. Mischievous. Impatient.

Meet Emily, the unforgettable star
of the new picture book
Freshly Baked Pie

Released May 13, 2017 by Words Publishing


Freshly Baked Pie is a whimsical tale about five year-old Emily who struggles to do the right thing when she is told to stay away from a cooling pie. Cleverly written by Lora Rozler and beautifully illustrated by Daniela Vasquez, Freshly Baked Pie invites readers along Emily’s imaginary battle with a mischievous pie. Never has examining rules and consequences been so much fun!


AVAILABLE MAY 13, 2017 AT VARIOUS ONLINE AND IN-STORE RETAILERS 


FREE Parent and Teacher Resource Kit NOW AVAILABLE

Feel free to use the templates and activities in the Resource Kit for your personal use at home or in the classroom.

Click on the image below to download.

fig_19_full_color

Freshly Baked Pie Resource Kit

Thank you for stopping by! Stay tuned for Book Signing and Reading Events in the Greater Toronto Area!

– Lora


 

Advertisements

Words on a Limb Interviews Maureen Fergus

543233The air is crisp and chilly in Winnipeg as fall descends on us. We had a unique opportunity to sit and talk to one of our favourite picture book authors, accomplished writer and mom, Maureen Fergus.

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan and raised in Winnipeg, she has lived quite a journey to arrive at her dream of creating multiple picture books, several young adult novels, including a wildly popular fantasy trilogy. She admits, that in spite of all her achievements, the one thing she values is most is the recognition of her many readers and fans.

554186_549768961772012_1199902782_n

Maureen spoke to us over the phone from her beautiful home, apparently full of treasures (more on that below), in Winnipeg where she lives with her husband, three children, a hedgehog and the family dog Buddy, affectionately known as Sir Barksalot – handsome fella, no?

Here is her story. If you are a young writer, there is plenty of gold in this river.


Welcome Maureen, it’s a privilege to speak with you today. What kind of kid were you , how much of it has stayed with you?
Maureen at 4I’ve never been asked that, that is an interesting question. I was very studious, I liked school, I was a perfectionist. I loved a good laugh, I thought I was hilarious, that certainly hasn’t changed. The perfectionist thing mellowed a lot once I had kids. You sort of have 2 choices when you have 3 kids in 3.5 years. You can continue to try to be a perfectionist and go off the deep end, or you just relax a little and except that not everything can be in its place all the time.

But in terms of the way I think and I approach situations I think a big part of that has stayed with me. In fact, I can go back and have a very clear memory of who I was at 4, how it felt to be 4, how I saw the world at 4. I can see that vividly, even at the ages of 7 or 11. This really helps me as a writer because, when writing picture books or books for middle grades or for older teens, I’m not thinking from the outside looking in, I’m thinking what a kid would do or think. I really try to put myself back in that place to write.

Do you have any creations from when you were a child?
I actually have one story that I wrote when I was 10 or 11. It was about a super pickle that goes to Ottawa and becomes a member of parliament. I was just a rambling sort of story. As a young girl, I never really wanted to be a writer, it was never my objective. I was always much more interested in science and math. I did love reading – I would keep a journal, keep up with out-of-town friends through snail mail.

I remember one other story from grade 7. I had a perfectionist teacher. Every week we had to write a story and my goal was write one that would get a 10/10. So, I wrote a story making fun of how strict she was. I wrote about me turning over the table, kicking the garbage can and how Miss Shanks got really upset. Funny enough it was a piece of writing that most closely resembles what I’m writing 20 years after. I got 10/10 for that one – the only 10/10 she gave out that year, it appealed to the perfectionist in me. Fortunately, she pushed me to get in touch with the voice of the writer I was going to become. It wasn’t a moment where I suddenly recognized I was going to be a writer, but looking back now, I realized it was the first moment when I really tapped into what that voice was going to be. I would like to go back and let her know that, even though I did not know it at the time, she had a pretty profound impact on my 20 years down the road. Continue reading

Words on a Limb Interviews Eric Litwin

EricWe were ever so fortunate to spend a moment with the entertaining storyteller, musician, teacher and prolific author of the first four Pete the Cat picturebooks, Eric Litwin … Mr. Eric. He is also the author of the new musical series The Nuts.

He has spent the better part of his career championing literacy through music and movement, particularly impacting new and emerging readers. Eric has travelled across the US, Canada and abroad spreading the message of building creative communities where children feel confident tackling their first reading experience, and having a fun time along the way.

He spoke to us from his home in Atlanta, where he is busy dreaming up the further adventures of the Nut Family. Here is his story:


Where did you grow up? What were you like as a kid? What still holds true for you?
I grew up in Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson, a small town in the Hudson River Valley. It’s very beautiful there. As a kid I would say I was creative and quiet. I loved to read.

This is an interesting question, I give about 300 performances every year, where I entertain in front of a group, it’s hard to claim that I’m introverted and shy, but I will say that it’s been a long time since I’ve felt shy.

You have been a teacher. What were your influences encouraging you towards writing?
Wonderful question! I was a special needs teacher. I have a masters degree in both education and administration. My main interest in education was to get my students engaged and interested in reading, and feel empowered about reading. I was also a musician at night, focusing on getting my audience involved with a lot of folk type of music with interactivity. So I started using music and movement along with interactive techniques. My influences were folk tales and songs – the whole American oral tradition of music and stories.

Tell us the story about the first turning point of your career?
I taught for 3 years – I found my favourite part of teaching was creating the content and writing the story. I realized this was where my greatest gift was, so I left the classroom to create content and performances. I became a very popular performer, doing 200-300 performances every year for almost 10 years. I would perform in schools, libraries – during assemblies. Believe it or not, it was during these performances that I started to develop a writing style, which I now call interactive literacy, because I don’t have a better name for it. It basically means stories told with sing-alongs and move-alongs. There’s call-response and repetition. These techniques engage the audience and they engage the reader. It not only makes a great performance piece, but it also makes it a great early reader. That was the key to the first four Pete the Cat books.

So during those ten years I guess I did what Malcolm Gladwell calls putting in your 10,000 hours. I wrote the story of a little girl and her white shoes. It was the best story I’d ever written, I knew it was special. It was a story that would work with different characters so I would swap her out for a cool cat or cool dog. Some time after, I saw Pete the Cat at an art festival, he was a folk art character created by illustrator James Dean. I felt that this cat and the story of the girl with her white shoes were a good fit. I had a vision to blend early literacy, folk art and music together.

Continue reading

Words on a Limb Interviews Eileen Spinelli

GravatarIt was about four years ago that I brought home a book that, to this day, remains one of my children’s favourite. Baby Loves You So Much was an instant hit with my daughter, who was five years old at the time and easily related to the main character. After all, she also happened to have a baby brother whose theatrics were less than amusing. And so, for the next several months (and years), we read the book over and over – and still, over and over again (I’m not even exaggerating).

With pure admiration for Eileen Spinelli’s work and ability to engage my children with her words, I began to fill my library with more of her great stories. When I contacted her recently, she was kind enough to share her story with us.


What were you like in school – I read you started with a simple typewriter?
I was a fairly good student in school. In kindergarten I ‘composed songs’ – notes scribbled on a page which my teacher, Miss Sinclair, played on the piano. It wasn’t till a few years later I realized I hadn’t really written music. I was six when I fell in love with words and books and decided to become a writer. My father gave me his old manual typewriter and I taught myself two-fingered typing. It’s still how I type. Just faster. The first thing I remember writing was a poem about a sailboat. In High School I won a poetry prize. I used the money to buy a new typewriter and a pair of red high heels.

What is your favourite character from your books? Why?
It’s difficult to choose one favorite character. A few favorites: Sophie from Sophie’s Masterpiece because she has a good heart and wants to make her world a sweeter place. Grace, the homeless woman in The Dancing Pancake because she is kind and brave. Parker in Another Day As Emily because he makes me laugh. And the narrator of When No One Is Watching because she’s shy and so am I.

Do you write an outline before you begin writing or do you let it come to you?
Sometimes I write an outline midway through a book. I seldom start with an outline.

What is the least amount of time it has taken you to complete a book? Longest?
I wrote When Mama Comes Home Tonight, a picture book, in a couple hours – revisions took longer. The novels I’ve done generally took about a year.

Who do you partner with during the editing phase?
My husband, Jerry, and I share each other’s work as we go along. We think of each other as “first editor”.

How important do you feel the book cover is for children’s picture books?
I think book covers–for children as well as adults—are quite important. I have often picked up a book because of its cover.

How do you typically market your books?
I try to keep my best energy for the writing, rather than the marketing process. But when I do approach marketing I try to give a very personal touch. An example: for my book Tea Party Today I mailed personal notes to teashops across the country as well as to tea magazines etc.

Which of your marketing strategies do you find had the most immediate impact?
I don’t keep track of which marketing strategies make the most impact. Very often interesting things happen which I’ve had no part in (except to write the book) My book Do You Have A Hat was featured in boxes of Cheerios. Friends asked how I managed that. It all happily happened without me.

Who do you picture as your reader when you write?
When I’m writing I think more of the story than of a reader. It’s only when I finish a piece I think: who would be interested in reading this.

How do you use book reviews, if at all?
I don’t know that I use book reviews. I think the publisher is more apt to use them. But it’s lovely to get a good review, something to celebrate, with a cupcake or a cookie.

Why do you think well-written books sometimes just don’t sell?
There is an element of luck, serendipity, to getting a book published. Many wonderful stories don’t sell. I would encourage unpublished writers to keep at it. That gentle bit of luck could be just around the corner.

Do you do book signings, tell us about a funny story?
Yes, I do book signings when I can. But I have to balance those with family, housework, yard work and of course my writing. So I can’t accept every invitation. A funny story: I was at a conference with a dear friend Paula Danziger. The conference was winding down and she and I didn’t have anyone at our signing table, so Paula pulled out sparkly purple nail polish and proceeded to give me a manicure.

How did you and Jerry meet?
Jerry and I met when we both worked for Chilton Publishing Company. We worked for the same magazine: Department Store Economist. He was an editor there. I was a file clerk who wrote poetry in her spare time and dumped the poems in his lap.

What do you enjoy to do on weekends beside writing?
I love ordinary days – writing in the morning, puttering in my herb garden, reading on the side porch, baking cookies, watching old movies, hanging out with the grandkids and beating Jerry at Scrabble.

What is your favourite film/book?
I have lots of favorite movies. I’m a big movie buff. One of my favorite recent films: Argo. An old film I can watch over and over: Meet Me in St. Louis.

My favorite author as a kid was Marguerite de Angeli. A neighbor gave me her beautiful book: Thee, Hannah! for my 12th birthday. It was a treasure then…and now. I still have it. I had the privilege of meeting Ms. de Angeli years ago. She signed that copy for me over lunch.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Advice to my younger self: Allow more of life to unfold. Someone wiser than I put it this way: “Don’t push the river.”

Tell us about your most recent work.
My most recent book: Another Day As Emily. I’ve always loved Emily Dickinson and looked for a way to fold her into a book. Besides writing books I write for Highlights Magazine and their other two publications: High Five and Hello.
Great fun!


You can read more about Eileen:

 email-icon-png-blue-9vzn7mz2 amazon Goodreads wordpress-logo-circle 


Another Day as Emily
by Eileen Spinelli
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Amazon | Chapters | Barnes & Nobel

“Taut, fast-paced, economical, devoid of sham, Spinelli’s book echoes Dickinson’s own deceptive simplicity.”—The New York Times Book Review

Eleven-year-old Suzy just can’t win. Her brother is a local hero for calling 911 after seeing their elderly neighbor collapse, and only her best friend was able to win a role in the play they both auditioned for. Feeling cast aside from all angles, Suzy sees a kindred spirit in Emily Dickinson, the subject of her summer project. Suzy decides to escape from her disappointments by emulating the poet’s life of solitude: no visitors or phone calls (only letters delivered through her window), no friends (except her goldfish, Ottilie), and no outings (except church, but only if she can wear her long white Emily dress).

But being a recluse is harder than Suzy predicted. Will she find a way to fold Emily into her life while also remaining true to herself?


Eileen has been an amazingly prolific author with 97 works. We feel privileged to have spent a moment with her. Take a look at a small sample of her vast body of work (books below published since 2010)

                


Inspirational video about Eileen and Jerry’s special connection with writing:


Untitled-1Words on a Limb would like to extend a warm hug to Eileen. In my conversations with this accomplished author, I’ve felt nothing but kindness and genuine affability. It was a pleasure connecting with her. Eileen Spinelli’s stories have spread over 30 years in books, magazines, publications and anywhere a child is willing to hear a wonderful story. Our family will be enjoying your work for years to come.

We wish you continued success, Eileen and Jerry; your careers are an inspiration!

Lora

My Favourites – June 2014

GravatarHello again everyone. Summer is always a good time to discover new books to add to my home and classroom libraries. Here are some of my recent favourite additions.

 


Bella's Blessings

Bella’s Blessings
Brenda Stokes, Trisha DesRosiers (Illustrations)
Simply Read Books

When Bella Beaver is born, Grandma Beaver gives her a special gift, a blessing stone. Each year Bella receives a new blessing stone, and each stone guides Bella through the difficult situations she faces as she grows up. But can the last blessing stone help Bella face the biggest challenge of her life?


Anna May's CloakAnna May’s Cloak
Christiane Cicioli
Simply Read Books

When Anna May is young, her grandmother makes her a beautiful blue cloak. When she wears it, Anna May feels like a queen. Soon the cloak is too small for her–but Anna May never forgets her favorite piece of clothing. Snip, snip, snip…see how Anna May’s cloak is transformed as her family grows.


Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High JumperTouch The Sky
Ann Malaspina, Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)
Albert Whitman & Company

A biography of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, from her childhood in segregated Albany, Georgia, in the 1930s, through her recognition at the 1996 Olympics as one of the hundred best athletes in Olympic history. Includes bibliographical references.


The Short GiraffeThe Short Giraffe
Neil Flory, Mark Cleary
Albert Whitman & Company

Geri is the shortest giraffe in the herd, which causes all kinds of problems when Bobo the baboon tries to take a photo. Can Geri stretch up tall enough to be in the picture? Or are the other giraffes looking at things from the wrong perspective? A very sweet story for pre-schoolers about difference and acceptance.


Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!
Kyle Mewburn (Writer), Ali Teo (Illustrator), John O’Reilly (Illustrator)
Peachtree Publishers

Every time Auntie Elsie comes to visit she gives Andy two big sloppy kisses. Kiss! Kiss! on the left cheek. Kiss! Kiss! on the right cheek. Yuck! Yuck! Andy says to himself.

Andy is a fast runner. But not fast enough to outrun Auntie Elsie. Andy is good at hiding. But Auntie Elsie always finds him. When he ducks down in a pig pen, she climbs right over the fence. When he climbs a tree, she follows right after him.

But then Auntie Elsie breaks her leg and stops coming to visit. Andy realizes he misses Aunt Elsie and her sloppy kisses. One day, a taxi pulls by the gate and out come two crutches. Now it s Andy s turn to get Aunt Elsie. Kiss! Kiss! Hug! Hug!

Kyle Mewburn s funny story of an overly affectionate aunt and her long-suffering nephew will resonate with readers, who will instantly recognize the bond of love that unites the two characters. Ali Teo and John O Reilly s colorful and quirky multimedia illustrations, which combine freehand drawing and photographic collage, exaggerate the humor of the story.


What Do Parents Do? (When You're Not Home)What Do Parents Do? (When You’re Not Home)
Jeanie Franz Ransom
Peachtree Publishers

Two children set off to spend the night at their grandparents. Throughout the course of the day, the young boys imagination runs wild as he imagines what his parents are doing while hes away. Jumping on beds, he thinks, or sledding down the stairs on pillows. Watching hours and hours of television, playing ball in the house, dressing up the dog, eating junk food, playing video games, and in general making one VERY BIG mess! The next morning when the kids come home the house looks tidy. It was pretty quiet, says Dad… but was it? Mom is hiding something behind her back. And those socks hanging from the ceiling fan. They werent there yesterday. Cyd Moores antic illustrations contrast the wild adventures at home with the more wholesome fun at their grandparents house. Jeanie Ransoms clever tale will keep young readers laughing long after the story has ended.


A Sack Full of FeathersA Sack Full of Feathers
Debby Waldman, Cindy Revell (Illustrator)
Orca Book Publishers

Yankel loves to tell stories, as long as they are someone else’s. He does not see the hurt that his stories cause, the way they spread and change. Then the rabbi hands him a bag of feathers and tells him to place one on every doorstep in the village. Yankel is changed by what happens and finds himself with his best story yet, one of his very own.


AlphabetterAlphabetter
Dan Bar-el
Orca Book Publishers

Did you ever try to use an egg in place of a football? Or dress up a live quail in doll’s clothes when you didn’t have a doll? Or strap rag-dolls onto your feet in place of slippers? In Alphabetter, twenty-six boys and girls find themselves in twenty-six different predicaments when the alphabet refuses to cooperate with them. In the end, the solution turns out to be right on the next page, if only they can find it…
Did you find all the letters hidden in the pictures in Alphabetter? Some of them are very hard to find! These are the ones that we know about. Maybe you found others as well. Happy searching!


Must-Have Marvin!Must-Have Marvin!
Christy Ziglar, Luanne Marten (Illustrations)
Ideals Children’s Books

The second title in the Shine Bright Kids series, Must-Have Marvin! teaches children that people are more important than things. Marvin loves new thingshe especially loves finding the latest, greatest, most awesome new things! Soon Marvin finds himself focusing on a new robot that he wants, to the exclusion of his friends. He lets them down when they need his help and nearly loses their friendship. Through a chat with a wise neighbor and a second chance to help, Marvin learns the important life lesson that people are more important than things.


How to Clean Your RoomHow to Clean Your Room
Eileen Spinelli, David Leonard (Illustrator)
Ideals Children’s Books

A delightful adventure emerges as each little boy and girl goes about the task of cleaning his or her room–a chore no child likes! Eileen Spinelli spins a glorious tale as she inspires children to clean their rooms–not in a rush, but with the wildest imaginings and a tender touch. For the bedroom is where you laugh and cry, dream big dreams, and store your precious memories. This book could start a whole movement of children asking to clean their rooms!


Amber WaitingAmber Waiting
Nan Gregory, Kady MacDonald Denton (Illustrations)
Red Deer Press

“Amber makes a bid to catch her father’s attention.” Amber lo-o-o-v-e-s Kindergarten — painting, looking at books, tying her shoes, sliding when it snows. But the one thing she can’t control is being picked up on time. Her father is frequently late, so she must wait and wait and wait in the secretary’s office after everyone else has left. It’s so embarrassing.

To deal with her frustration, Amber concocts a world in which she sends her dad to wait for her — on the moon — while she has all kinds of wonderful adventures. This, she knows, would teach Dad a lesson he’d never forget, and all the dads from around the world would, like him, turn up on time to collect their children and embrace them. Back in the real world, Dad at last shows up and Amber makes a bid to catch his attention, to let him know what it feels like to be left alone in school — and finally, maybe, he gets the point.

This delightful picture book combines the work of two extraordinary talents.


179061How Smudge Came
Nan Gregory, Ron Lightburn (Illustrator)
Red Deer Press

Cindy is developmentally challenged and no pets are allowed in the home where she lives, so she must hide her new-found puppy in her room until she can find someone to care for him.


I hope you enjoy these new additions as much as I have. I would love to hear your new book discoveries. Please feel free to share them in the Reply box below. Thanks as always!

Lora

Words on a Limb Interviews Peter H. Reynolds

peter_reynoldsWhether he is busy at FableVision inventing new ways to inspire children to just start, or enlightening people at his Reynolds Centre for Teaching, Learning and Creativity, or building a community center with his Blue Bunny bookstore, Peter Reynolds is doing what he does best, CREATING.

A couple of months back, my son came home with a request from his kindergarten teacher to capture the colours of the sky at various times of the day. She had read the story Sky Colour by Peter Reynolds and wanted to help her students experience a bit of the story. I thought this was a clever idea. Not having heard the story before, I quickly went out to my neighbourhood bookstore get my own copy. It was a unique pleasure to read his work and begin a poetry project of our own as a result of his inspiring words. Peter Reynolds is truly an ambassador for creativity.

We invited Peter to tell us more about where it all started and where he feels it is all going. Here is what we discovered.


Thinking back to when you were five years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? When did that change to story-teller?
I was asked by Major Mudd, a television show broadcast in Boston when I was a kid, what I wanted to be and I responded, “A firetruck.”
Fortunately, I broadened my horizons and started a newspaper with my twin brother, Paul in first grade.
That lit the publishing fuse for me.

Continue reading

Words on a Limb Feature: Renée Heiss & Gary A. Stewart

Words on a Limb feature with the creators of the EnteleTrons®
Entelechy Education, LLC is the brainchild of two forward-thinking partners who came together in 2012 to develop a company that would advance children’s knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) topics while helping them to understand vital character education concepts. They accomplish this by producing books that teachers can use in the literacy curriculum and parents can strategically place in the home bookshelf for further discussion of the topics. By offering children fun EnteleTrons® characters, learning becomes enjoyable.

Renée Heiss, the corporate literary officer, is an award-winning children’s author and retired teacher of child development. She was the 1997 New Jersey Family Consumer Sciences Teacher of the Year. In 2008, she was honored as a Baldwin Fellow at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for a Nanotechnology Meets Biotechnology Symposium. She is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature and a member of R-NEA, R-NJEA, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Visit her website at www.reneeheiss.com and contact her at renee@entelechyed.com.

Gary A. Stewart, the corporate business officer, has a unique record of accomplishment in the areas of strategic planning, domestic and global business development, marketing and sales, and operational management. Gary has been actively involved in all major facets of the pharmaceutical industry, leveraging his scientific and business background to promote entrepreneurship, strategic and critical thinking, innovation and creativity. Gary is a successful inventor and active educator. Visit his website at www.semperprotinus.com and contact him at gary@entelechyed.com


What was the impetus that drove you to co-found Entelechy Education, LLC?RH: When Gary posted an ad on the SCBWI bulletin board for an author to help produce a science series with a character education component, I felt that the position was mine. While teaching, I had been a founding member of The Human Relations Council at my school. To me, character education is as important as intellectual education in the growth of the whole child. As an author, I knew I could develop the complex scientific topics on a level young readers could understand.

GS: Years ago, watching my own children grow-up, I was always struck by the “standard” plot of good-versus-evil in children’s cartoons and entertainment. As one with a scientific background, I often thought about ways in which we could teach young people basic STEM concepts earlier in a child’s life and how these concepts could also be presented with character development themes. So the idea emerged from asking the fundamental question, “What if?”…and it occurred to me, what if we were able to create a new set of scientifically-based “action figures” to teach real scientific lessons to children? At that moment, I knew at a minimum that I’d need a creative writer to get started! Continue reading