Happy Family Day!

Family cloudOur family is the proverbial egg that we were hatched from. Everything about who we are, both our nature and nurture stems from our early interaction with this group of people we call family.

There is no doubt that we all lead busy lives and the daily hustle and bustle make it difficult to stay connected with the ones we love. Special times like Family Day are opportunities to re-connect and re-evaluate those important relationships in our lives. As such, I will continue to focus on friendship and family with my students throughout the month of February.

Considering that many children no longer grow up in traditional nuclear families, the need for literature that is inclusive of varying experiences is of paramount importance in the classroom. I’d like to share a poem I wrote that can be used to springboard a discussion on what constitutes a family, moving away from a pre-defined understanding of what a family should look like and embracing what makes families unique.


My Family
Lora Rozler

She brings the sky within my reachgrandma
And bakes the best of brownies.
She tells me stories of long ago
And forgets about my bedtime.
Grandma Nia is the greatest – she is my family!

brotherHe piggy-backs me to my room
And makes monsters disappear.
He plays with me even when he’s tired
And let’s me win at checkers.
My stepdad is my superhero – he is my family!

They take me places all the timefamily
And buy me books and toys.
They care for me and teach me things
And help me with my homework.
My parents love me endlessly – they are my family!


Creative Commons License
My Family by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Below is a Family Day Resource package you can download for your personal use in the classroom. It contains the poem above and other fun activities for your students. The download link is found below the samples. Enjoy!

Poems

 ‘My family’ Poem, ‘my family is my treasure’ interactive poem,
‘love is…’ writing template


Creative Commons License
My Family is My Treasure by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Here is a fun activity I can’t wait to share with my class. Invite students to draw and colour a portrait of their family. Then have students cut the page along the faint lines to create puzzle pieces. Send the puzzle home in a zippy bag to share with families. It’s one I’m sure they’ll cherish.

Puzzle blank   Puzzle sample

‘we stick together’ Family puzzle


Students use the blank template rectangles to draw, colour and label their family members. They then cut and paste the images around their own on the family tree.

tree sample

my family tree


To download this family activity pack for your personal use in the classroom,
click on the family icon below.


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Words on a Limb Interviews A.S. Chung

Happy Family Day Everyone!


A.S. Chung jpgIf you are an author or avid reader, you are definitely familiar with Goodreads. If you are not, you are in for a treat, you should go ahead and visit goodreads.com. If you have visited our website often, you’ll know that we have often pointed you in that direction for further information. One of the joys of Goodreads is that we often meet terrific authors with special stories to tell.

One of those terrific authors is A.S. Chung. She reached out to us from her home in Melbourne Australia, to discuss doing a feature with her. After doing a little research, we realized that Amy (A.S.) was not only an author but she also conceived Pigeonhole Books as an avenue to create books that both empower and enrich families – especially non-traditional homes with blended, divorced, multiracial and same-sex families.

In general, mass market literature tends to shy away from books that do not depict mainstream family circumstances, understandably so if the goal of selling books is to bring as many people under the tent as possible. However, as Bob Dylan wrote, the times they are a changin’. Now, we see established authors delve into the non-traditional with titles such as Patricia Polacco’s In our Mother’s House and Leslea Newman’s Mommy, Mama and Me and of course I Wished For You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond.

This coming February 16th is Family Day in Canada. We are so encouraged that Amy does a great job gently introducing young readers to families that don’t necessarily look like everyone else’s, but are still overflowing with love. The stories are told with great energy and from a child’s perspective.

Author Teresa Villegas did a piece for us a while back, sharing with us neat ideas on how to talk to kids about being born into an egg or sperm donor family. Today, similarly, we feel inspired to share Amy’s story with you. Enjoy!


About writing …

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
Writing has always played a significant role in my life but it was always just something I did, be it for education, work or fun. I enjoy blogging and I have always loved putting pen to paper.

However, I first realized I wanted to become a bona fide writer when it became an outlet to express how I felt while going through my divorce. It was an excellent way to release all my feelings and thoughts and I was amazed how I felt afterwards. I haven’t been able to stop since then and I now write children’s picture books for kids from diverse family backgrounds.

What book(s) has most influenced your writing?
I read widely as a child. I read all the classics every child should and in most cases, the resounding style I enjoyed the most was anything which stretched the imagination. The likes of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis resonate with me, even until today. While my stories are less fictional and far from fantasy, these authors provided me with the courage to push past the boundaries and write what I wanted to, simply because I could.

When and where do you prefer to write?
Anytime is a good time! Ideas always seem to pop into my head at the most inopportune times. I’m often in situations where the concept and words flow faster than I can write because sometimes they come to me while I’m standing in a middle of an aisle in the supermarket! Most times, however, I do love to write in the comfort of my own home, in front of the computer with a cup of tea, as I lounge in my pyjamas.

What was your biggest challenge in writing your book?
Reducing the length of the manuscript. I could have gone on forever!

While going through my divorce, with a 4-year-old in tow, I was constantly worried about my daughter’s state of mind. There were plenty of resources at my disposal to deal with this life challenge, however, I felt that I needed to find an alternative way to communicate with her, to tell her that life is beautiful and that everything will be ok. I felt that telling and reassuring her was simply not adequate. So, I decided I would further highlight the good in what we currently have through loving words and beautiful illustrations. The message of the book is to hone in on the positives because at the end of the day, she has no choice. So let’s not wallow on the challenges and difficulties.

I also wanted a gentle resource for close family and friends. Divorce also affects the people around us and changes social dynamics. It makes for a difficult conversation to have with children when they’re not in this position themselves.

Based on this premise, my first attempt was a jumble of feelings on paper. There was no structure or body to the story. I simply wanted to write. When I finally finished everything I wanted to say, I had to peel it back and segment my thoughts. The result was an additional three manuscripts in the series that are currently being worked on.

What advice do you have for other writers?
Write all the time! Write about anything and have a great time doing it.

Believe in your words and your message. Don’t sway too far away from your initial goal as you may not like the finished product. Stay true to yourself.

About you …

What do you like to do when you are not writing (other than reading, of course)?
My most favorite thing in the world to do is spending time with my daughter and partner and we’re extremely active and social. Travel and photography take on a natural second and third place.

Travel continues to educate my heart and soul. I love discovering things about places I had visited before that I had never noticed in the first instance. Age, wisdom and maturity changes one’s perspective. I also love travelling with my new partner. He sees things I otherwise wouldn’t have and travelling with a child is even more exhilarating. Looking at the world through their eyes is always filled with wonder.

The camera (next to the laptop!) is my one prized materialistic possession. I love creating stories through pictures. My subjects are always people and I love being able to capture precious moments, when it was least expected.

Do you have any unique talents besides writing?
For a writer, I lead an extremely normal, left brain life. I’m afraid I don’t have any other special talents that would be deemed extraordinary.

What can we expect from you in the future?
A Brand New Day is but the first of many books in the divorce series to be published. However, I am currently working on the first book of the Pocketful of Pride series, entitled A Wishful Wedding, which delves into stories about same-sex families.

Quick Hits …

Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
I would love to have met David Eddings, an American fantasy writer. He was my “first love” and I was so engrossed and enthralled in his five book series The Belgariad as it introduced me into a wonderful world of fantasy. Much like J.R.R. Tolkien, he created an entire world, generations of characters and a language of its own. I have read all his subsequent books and feel like I have grown up with this fictional royal family! I wished I could have thanked him for immersing me into the kind of reading where I locked myself away for days and only left the room because I was hungry.

What book are you currently reading (eBook or paper)?
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and Adultery by Paulo Coehlo. Adultery was released while I was reading Annie Proulx and I am an avid fan of Paulo Coehlo. I turned to Paulo Coelho’s spiritual words to get me through the difficult phase of divorce and in many ways allowed the slow minutes become beautiful days.

Who designed your latest book cover?
The most amazing illustrator I know, Paula Bossio. She is so incredibly talented and she has a remarkable knack of translating my words into art.

What is your favourite quote?
Your children need your presence more than your presents.” Jesse Jackson


Visit with Amy:

 12166559 Facebook Twitter Goodreads Pinterest


A Brand New Day – A Banana Split Story
by A.S. Chung, Paula Bossio (Illustrator)
Pigeonhole Books
Amazon | Chapters

Mondays and Tuesdays are fun, going on cooking adventures with Dad. We look forward to Wednesdays and Thursday too when we get to be a green thumb with Mum. Don’t forget the holidays! Spring breaks with Mum and hot summer camping with Dad. Each day is a truly special day!

A Banana Split Story is a series within the Pigeonhole Books collection that features stories about children from separated and divorced families.


Amy on Facebook:

Amy on Twitter:


lomo-photo-effectWhen you take a moment to get to know Amy through her books, publishing, blog, interviews and social media, you’ll discover a woman who has found a way to make a difference in people’s lives, one shared story at a time. She encompasses the true spirit of Family Day – a chance to celebrate everyone who feels their family around them, no matter what it might look like.

We congratulate Amy on her success and wish her continued good fortune in her bright future. Great to meet you Amy!


Words on a Limb would like to wish everyone a happy, warm, love-filled Family Day.

Lora

More of my favourite picture books …

Lora-Mauricio - 0018Here are some more of my favourite picture books.  In fact, you will find them all nestled in my kids’ book cases in their rooms.
Enjoy!


 

Back into Mommy's Tummy
Back into Mommy’s Tummy
Readers pick
by Thierry Robberecht
On her fifth birthday, a little girl has an unusual birthday wish. She wants to go back to being a baby in her mother’s tummy. That way she’d never have to go to bed early, and she’d always be close to her mommy. But when she realizes that babies in tummies can’t go to birthday parties or play with their friends, it suddenly doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Could the real reason for her wish be that there’s a new baby in Mommy’s tummy already?
Playfully exaggerated illustrations convey the child’s complex emotions about a new baby and capture the gentle humor of this fresh take on sibling rivalry.

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes
by Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as we steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are are, Pete keeps movin’ and groovin’ and singing his song…because it’s all good.

 
 


Bear's Loose ToothBear’s Loose Tooth
by Karma Wilson

Bear and his friends are munching on their lunch when, all of sudden, Bear feels something wiggling and wobbling in his mouth. Oh, no! What can it be? It’s Bear’s first loose tooth!

From a cave in the forest
came a MUNCH, MUNCH, CRUNCH!
as Bear and his friends
all nibbled on their lunch. 

Bear and his friends are munching on their lunch, when all of sudden Bear feels something wiggling and wobbling in his mouth. Oh, no! What can it be? It’s Bear’s first loose tooth!

In the first Bear book in three years, Bear’s friends ease his concerns about his wiggly, wobbly tooth and help him understand losing a baby tooth is perfectly natural. This funny and reassuring story will delight anyone who’s ever had a loose tooth.


Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him ‘Wild Thing’ and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max’s room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins. But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
by Patricia Polacco
There’s nothing worse than a rotten redheaded older brother who can do everything you can do better! Patricia’s brother Richard could run the fastest, climb the highest, and spit the farthest and still smile his extra-rotten, greeny-toothed, weasel-eyed grin. But when little Patricia wishes on a shooting star that she could do something — anything — to show him up, she finds out just what wishes — and rotten redheaded older brothers — can really do. Patricia Polacco’s boldly and exuberantly painted pictures tell a lively and warmhearted tale of comic one-upsmanship and brotherly love.

My Wild Sister and Me
My Wild Sister and Me
by Iris Wewer
Having a wild big sister—who can be a giraffe one day, a giant bear the next, and a racing rabbit the day after that—is just about the very best thing that can happen to little brother.  Iris Wewer’s rollicking illustrations perfectly match this playful story of imagination and adventure!

 
 


The Gruffalo's Child
The Gruffalo’s Child
by Julia Donaldson
The Gruffalo said that no gruffalo should Ever set foot in the deep dark wood. But one wild and windy night the Gruffalo’s child ignores her father’s warning and tiptoes out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn’t really exist …does he? Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are on dazzling form in this captivating sequel to the classic picture book “The Gruffalo”.

 


The Keeping Quilt
The Keeping Quilt
by Patricia Polacco
“We will make a quilt to help us always remember home,” Anna’s mother said. “It will be like heaving the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night.And so it was. From a basket of old clothes, Anna’s babushka, Uncle Vladimir’s shirt, Aunt Havalah’s nightdress and an apron of Aunt Natasha’s become The Keeping Quilt, passed along from mother to daughter for almost a century. For four generations the quilt is a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket that welcomes babies warmly into the world.
In strongly moving pictures that are as heartwarming as they are real, Patricia Polacco tells the story of her own family, and the quilt that remains a symbol of their enduring love and faith.

Penelope and the Humongous Burp
Penelope and the Humongous Burp
by Sheri Radford 
Let’s face it… kids think bodily functions are hilarious. Enter our charming little heroine, Penelope, who literally brings down the house with her boisterous belching.
Summon the doctors! Phone the fire fighters! Call the police! Too thirsty to heed her mother’s warnings, Penelope soon learns the disastrous consequences of gulping a few glass of grape soda too quickly! This first misadventure in the Penelope series will win kids over from the very first page and teach them a thing or two about manners by the last.

Don't Forget to Come Back!
Don’t Forget to Come Back!
by Robie H. Harris

With warmth, empathy, and a healthy dose of hilarity, Robie H. Harris captures the many emotions children feel when parents go out and a babysitter comes in!

Guess what? The babysitter is coming!

That means:

1. Mommy and Daddy are going out
2. the feisty heroine of this book is not going out . . .
3. and she doesn’t like that one bit!

Parents, kids, and babysitters alike will relate to and laugh at this all-too-familiar tale, wisely and wittily penned by an expert in child development and brought wickedly to life with detailed illustrations by a noted New Yorker cartoonist.


Franny B. Kranny, There's a Bird in Your Hair!
Franny B. Kranny, There’s a Bird in Your Hair!
by Harriet Lerner

Franny B. Kranny’s long, frizzy hair is big trouble. It ties itself in knots on the buttons of her dress and gets stuck in the refrigerator door! But Franny B. Kranny loves her hair. She refuses to cut it and is furious when she has to get a fancy new hairdo for a family reunion. Then a bird decides to make Franny B. Kranny’s hair its home, and suddenly Franny B. Kranny starts to like her new hairdo….

Best-selling author and psychologist Harriet Lerner and her big sister, biologist Susan Goldhor, co-authored the children’s book What’s So Terrible About Swallowing an Apple Seed?. They team up again here with this hilarious and heartfelt story about daring to be different. World-renowned British illustrator Helen Oxenbury brings Franny B. Kranny, her wild hair, and her unique family delightfully to life.

Children’s Choice Award winner for 2002.


Penelope and the Monsters
Penelope and the Monsters
by Sheri Radford
Penelope won’t go to sleep. Never ever not in a million trillion gazillion years. Her father doesn’t believe her, but Penelope knows there are monsters lurking in the dark. How else can she explain the dancing drawers, creeeeaking closet, and bounce-bouncing bed? Will Penelope have the confidence to turn on the lights and call out the things that go bump in the night?
Our spunky heroine takes on gnomes and trolls and giants with the same comic flair that brought down the house in Penelope and the Humongous Burp.

Do Not Open

Do Not Open
Miss moody lived at land’s end with Captain Kidd. Captain Kidd wasn’t the famous pirate; he was a cat. One morning after a storm, Miss Moody found him washed up on the beach. He was nearly drowned. She nursed him until he was well, and he repaid her kindness by keeping her cottage free of mice.

  
 
 
 


John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat (Picture Puffin)
John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat
Rose lived with her dog, John Brown. `Just the two of us,’ said Rose, until the mysterious midnight cat came along, and things began to change.