Thursday, April 30, 2009
Registration is now open! Teachers just need to go to
http://www.learninga-z.com/TeacherAppreciation to sign up and receive a full schedule of our Open House events.
Please help us spread the word about this once-a-year opportunity. Tell your teachers, principals, colleagues, friends, neighbors, or even put a posting on your website about Teacher Appreciation Week at www.LearningA-Z.com.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
"Animals have no feelings, no sense of love or compassion."
If you are one of those people who agree with this statement, then you might not want to read the following story.
Jasmine, a female greyhound, was found abandoned in a locked garden shed in Warwickshire, England. When the police found her, she was dirty, distressed, and starving. They took her to the nearby Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Geoff Grewcock and other dedicated staff members. This team of good-hearted individuals immediately went to work to restore her to perfect health and win back her trust. Even though it took several weeks, both of these feats were finally accomplished, and it was now time to find Jasmine a "forever-home."
But Jasmine had other plans. No one at the Wildlife Sanctuary recalls how it all began, but Jasmine quickly became their very own self-appointed welcome wagon, a role she continues to relish today. Whether it be a puppy, fox, cub, or rabbit, Jasmine is always one of the first to peek into the box or cage and give a friendly, comforting lick.
Is it sympathy? Perhaps some sort of an animal "pay-it-forward?" Or maybe it's just plain love . . . Jasmine's love.
Geoff explains, "We had two puppies that had been abandoned. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another Jack Russel/Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."
With her unique sense of compassion, Jasmine redefines the stereotype of inter-species relations. She has been a surrogate mother to many types of homeless animals, doing everything from caring for badgers, rabbits, and guinea pigs to letting birds perch on her nose. Geoff says that "she takes all the stress out of [the orphans] and it helps them to not only feel close to her, but to settle into their new surroundings."
Perhaps the most touching example of "Jasmine's Love" is baby Bramble. This tiny 11-week-old Roe deer fawn was found in a field, close to death. When she was brought back to the sanctuary, Jasmine immediately cuddled up beside her in an attempt to keep her warm. Geoff says, "They are inseparable. They walk together around the sanctuary with Bramble between her [Jasmine's] legs. And they keep kissing each other . . . it's a real treat to see." And like all good moms, Jasmine keeps her fawn clean with regular grooming.
If this isn't love and dedication from one animal to another, I don't know what is. If you want to check out more of "Jasmine's Love" and her life at the sanctuary, please visit them at http://www.warwickshirewildlifesanctuary.co.uk/index.htm.
Monday, April 20, 2009
SFC: Families Matter Mother’s Day Contest
Spring is busting out all over and Mother’s Day is right around the corner. These days, there is so much going on with SFC that I don't know where to begin. So I'll just jump right in about the Mother's Day Contest we’re doing for our SFC: Families Matter Readers.
It's time to begin thinking about how we can celebrate your wonderful mothers this year. This year you can give something different. Show your mother, grandmother, or any mother in your life what she means to you by writing an inspirational story about them for all to see. And the best part is . . . this is a contest with prizes involved!
Submissions are due: April 20, 2009 through May 4, 2009
Who can enter? Anyone
Contest Fees: FREE
1st place MOM Forever Crystal Infinity Circle Necklace - Gift Boxed
2nd place She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood
3rd place Gifts from a Jar: Cookies & Muffins recipe book
Post your story about your mom in the comments section of this blog post. Do not exceed 650 words. Winners will be selected based on quality and appeal.
§ No mail-in or email entries will be accepted.
As spring continues to unfold in its full glory, we will continue to make improvements to the new SFC: Families Matter blog and continue to offer cool new stuff to the SFC community. So we hope you'll stay tuned, visit the site often, and tell your friends.
All the best,
The SFC Team
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Monsters vs Aliens is a fun, fast-paced adventure that's sure to have the kids hanging on to the edge of their seats and laughing in the aisles. But don't worry Mom and Dad, this animated flik is also sophisticated enough to keep you entertained as well. Monsters vs Aliens is a tribute to the old B-movies of the fifties and sixties, poking fun at a similar cast of characters.
Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a radioactive meteor on the day she's to get married. She absorbs a vast amount of "quantonium" and begins to grow. She grows so big that she not only busts through the roof of the church, but the Army in called in to capture her. She's then put into a 'top-secret' facility and renamed Ginormica. Here she meets the other monsters. B.O.B (Seth Rogan) is a gelatinous, one-eyed, not-too-smart, blue blob. Dr Cockroach Ph.D (Hugh Laurie) is the stereo-typical 'mad scientist.' The Missing Link, played by Will Arnett is a half fish, half ape, big hearted character. And for all those dinosaur loving kids, there's even Insectosaurus, a huge, over grown slug.
Doomed to be a prisoner, Susan as no other choice but to get to know her cell mates. Little does she know, her body is emanating huge amounts of the quantonium radiation, which triggers an alert to Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), a power hungry, four-eyed, tentacled, alien being, with a short temper. Gallaxhar deploys a huge robot to invade earth to find the source of the quantonium. But when the bumbling President of the United States (Stephen Collin) makes first contact with the alien robot, his humorous attempt at friendship backfires. With no other choice left, the monsters are released and this misunderstood motley crew must fight to save the city and their very own lives.
Sound like fun? Want more? You can also see this movie in 3D with the new and improved 3D glasses. Just like the animation, even these have come a long way. Remember the old 3D glasses- those flimsy cardboard things, with a red "lens"on one side and green on the other? Well no more. These are actually made of sturdy, black plastic and look more like sunglasses. However, be prepared, as our local theatre is asking for them back and I imagine due to the cost of making these jazzy-glasses, all movie outlets will be doing the same.
As fun as this movie is, it tends to be a bit scary and intense in places, so I wouldn't recommend it for kids under five. But all and all it was a hilarious and enjoyable picture.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5
See you next week...Sandie Lee :)
Friday, April 17, 2009
Make your dreamscape come alive and write about a wacky dream you or one of your characters has had and can’t stop talking about it. It’s all about the wackiest dream, but make sure it is appropriate for children ages 12 and under.
Submissions accepted: March 1, 2009 thru May 30, 2009
Who can enter? Two categories: one for adults and one for children (17 and under)
Contest Fees: Adults $10 / children FREE
The Top Three stories for both categories will be published in the following months:
1st place—July 2009
2nd place—August 2009
3rd place—September 2009
On top of being published in Stories for Children Magazine, our top three winners in both categories will also receive a Winner’s Certificate and-
For Adults -
A year’s subscription to Writer’s Digest and Children's Writers put out by The Institute of Children’s Literature.
Writer's Little Instruction Book: Craft & Technique by Paul Raymond Martin, published by Writer's Digest
Writer's Little Instruction Book: Getting Published by Paul Raymond Martin, published by Writer's Digest
For Youth (17 and under)-
The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters autographed by James Dashner, Dream Share autographed by Rita Milios, and a $10 gift card to a store of their choice
A 13th Reality poster autographed by James Dashner, a Dream Share button, and $10 gift card to a store of their choice.
A Dream Share button and $10 gift card to a store of their choice.
Judges: The SFC Team
Specifications: Short stories for children ages 12 and under. Any original, unpublished piece not accepted by any publisher at the time of entry is eligible. Entries can take on any form of wackiness. Maximum word count is 1,200 words. (This is not including your title or byline.) NO sexual, violent, or drug related content. Winners will be selected based on quality and appeal to our readership at Stories for Children Magazine.
All entries must follow Stories for Children Magazine’s submission guidelines at: http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/WackyDreamStoryContest.aspx
All submissions must be emailed as an attachment to: SFCcontests@StoriesForChildrenMagazine.org by midnight May 30, 2009. In the subject line, write “Wacky Dream Story Contest” and indicate adult or youth category.
No mail-in entries will be accepted! No acknowledgement of the receipt of entries will be sent. Multiple entries are allowed, but must be sent separately.
FOR ADULT WRITERS: An invoice will be sent via PayPal for the contest fee of $10.
FOR YOUNG WRITERS (17 and under): Please follow the submission guidelines above. Plus attach the Minor Release form, which can be found at: http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/Documents/SFC%20Minor%20Release%20Form.doc
SEND ONLY ONE SUBMISSION PER EMAIL.
Be sure to check out the April 2009 issue of Stories for Children Magazine for the magnificent articles, stories, and Featured Guest Kevin Scott Collier’s interview.
Learn more about Stories for Children Magazine at: http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org
Voting for the finalists is now open. Children and teens are able to cast their vote for their favorite books, author, and illustrator at bookstores, school libraries, and online until Sunday, May 3, 2009. Close to 15,000 children and teens from around the US spent months reading and evaluating books submitted by publishers.
The five favorite books published in 2008 in each of these categories are open for a nation-wide vote in each of four grade categories: K-2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, and Teen as well as Favorite Author, and Favorite Illustrator.
The winner in each category will be named at a gala during Children's Book Week on May 12th, 2009 in New York City as part of Children's Book Week (May 11-17, 2009), the oldest national literacy event in the United States.
Please spread the word to children so they can vote. Remember, voting ends May 3, 2009!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
SFC: Families Matters is excited to have Children’s Author Kathryn Lay as our guest. We know you’ll enjoy learning more about Kathryn and her fun chapter books and wonderful, yet lively picture book. Getting children reading and finding their way into the World of Ink is what SFC is all about and Kathryn Lay knows how to open a child's imagination so their journey can begin.
Thank you Kathryn for joining us today on SFC: Families Matter. I know our reviewers at Stories for Children Magazine (http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org) have had the wonderful opportunity to read your picture book, Josh’s Halloween Pumpkin a few months back. But you have also written a novel and six chapter books due out soon. Can you tell us when you start writing?
I started writing when I was in 3rd grade and never stopped. But I started marketing my writing in 1990.
Kathryn can you tell us a little about your most recent published book, Josh's Halloween Pumpkin? I know the Stories for Children Magazine reviewers gave it five stars.
JOSH’S HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN is a non-scary Halloween story (more of a Fall story) about a boy and girl who visit their Grandpa's pumpkin farm to help sell them. Josh finds a huge pumpkin and declares it as his. He hides it, but when his sister is lost in the woods, he finds a way to use the pumpkin to rescue her. The illustrations, done by Katy Bratun, are amazing!
How do you create your characters?
I create my characters in different ways. Sometimes the character comes first and the story follows. But for me, it's generally the plot first and I have to find and understand my characters. Sometimes I write out a bio of them. Often I let them arrive and pull me into the story. Sometimes I pattern them a little after people I know.
I usually love my characters, but I sometimes struggle at making them as real as I try to make my plot. Some writer's are better with plot and struggle with characterization, while others are the opposite and create amazing characters.
Kathryn, what inspires you to write?
Everything inspires me to write. I can't imagine NOT writing. My two big areas of writing are personal experience pieces for adults and fiction for kids. I am inspired by things that happen to and around me for the nonfiction. My other inspiration comes from my love for children's writing, my interests in stories that I hope kids will also be interested in, and sometimes by questions I want to answer in my own mind.
Can you tell us a funny story about writing your books?
Hmm, a funny story about my book. Well, my first children's book is CROWN ME!, a humorous middle-grade novel about a boy who loves politics (which is not my personal area of interest) and is thrown into being 'king' of his 5th grade class. One of the things I sometime do to figure out a scene is act it out in my head.
One of the scenes in CROWN ME! is when the main character and the class bully have a bicycle joust. They wrap themselves in foil and pillows and wear football helmets and such. For a lance, they use bathroom plungers. When I was first working on this scene, I went into the backyard with a bowl on my head and a bathroom plunger in my hand to try to simulate the moves I wanted, then write them down.
As I did my 'invisible' jousting, I didn't realize a neighbor kid was watching at the fence. When I finished, he clapped. I hoped no one else was watching from back windows or the street that backs up to our fence.
I know many writers who would like to escape into a story from time to time. If you could live in any book, which one would you choose? This can be one of yours or another author's book.
Wow, that's an interesting question. I think it would be in one of Gordon Korman's books. He cracks me up! I'd like to be a teacher watching some of this stuff happen.
Kathryn, what are some of your favorite books to read? This can be from your childhood to present.
My favorite books to read are almost always kids books. Mostly middle-grade novels. Mostly humor and fantasy. I love Scott Westerfield's books in the Uglies series. Bruce Coville. Rick Riordon's Percy Jackson series, all of Gordon Korman's humor novels, Ray Bradbury, Madeline 'L Engle, Jane Yolen, and way too many books and authors to mention here.
If you had to pick a character in your books that is most like you in personality, which would you choose?
I've had kids at school visits ask me this. When they do, it surprises me to realize that I don't think many of my characters are like me at all. If they were, they'd need to be shy, a bit insecure, writerly, loyal to their friends, and deathly afraid of spiders and snakes and high places. Which makes me think of a character I had in a short story who probably was myself as a teenager. She had to do a routine on uneven bars in PE and was scared to death. I have also had a boy in a short story who had to climb a rope in gym class and was also terrified.
I know for me, I spend a great deal of my time at my computer, but I do like to do other things in my spare time. That’s when I get spare time. LOL. What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I'm not writing I love going to flea markets with my family, going to festivals such as Irish music festivals, Renaissance festivals. I love spending time with my friends and dates with my husband. I also enjoy watching movies and lately, gobbling up episodes of the old Dark Shadows gothic soap opera I was obsessed with when I was a kid.
If students from a school wanted to write you letters, will you respond?
Definitely. I always respond to emails and letters I've gotten from readers. It's one of my favorite things to do. Just did that last week in fact from a kid who emailed me after reading CROWN ME!
I saw you just completed another book not released yet. Can you tell us a little about this upcoming book?
Actually, the book I've just finished is 5 out of 6 books in a series. It is for an educational publisher and may or may not be sold retail, geared mostly for libraries. The series is titled WENDY'S WEATHER WARRIORS and about 3 kids who form a weather club and rescue, inform, and help their school and town during weather situations. First book is about tornadoes, then lightning, snow, hail, floods, and last will be hurricanes. They will be out in January, 2010 with ABDO books. I'm having a great time doing them.
I'm also working on several other book projects, one a science fiction/fantasy middle grade novel I hope to have completed by the end of this month and look for a home for it.
What advice would you give to new writers?
My advice to new writers is to read a lot in the area of writing you want to do. If it's children's, read both the classics AND what's coming out now. Read award winners as well as popular trade books. Read singles and series. Read for all ages. See what's been done, who's doing it, and what area you are interested in. Learn from other writers, take a class if necessary. Find a critique group and be honest with one another. Go to conferences and meet editors and agents and other writers.
Thank you Kathryn for chatting with us today. I know our readers, as I, have learned so much more about you and your writing. We hope you can stop by again on your journey into the World of Ink.
If you would like to know more about Kathryn Lay you can visit her website at http://www.kathrynlay.com/
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Willy says, "I got my first paycheck for singing when I was 15, singing Sunrise, Sunset for the ladies club at Temple Israel with Billy Finn." Willy admits he has always enjoyed writing and performing for people. Not sure if you’ve ever heard Mr. Willy’s work? If you’ve seen Barney, the big, purple dinosaur, than you’ve probably had more than one of Willy’s songs jaggling around in your head. That’s right, Mr. Willy has done over 35 songs for this ever popular show.
He says, "It was kind of flukey. A friend of my wife’s from college days was married to (the person) in charge of getting songwriters for the show. Jill heard I was writing and performing for kids and asked me to "audition" by writing a sample song for the show."
Mr. Willy is also doing the songs for the DVD series; ‘Boz the Green Bear Next Door.’ As well as writing songs, Mr. Willy has also penned three children’s books; "Playing Right Field," "Dancing With Daddy," and "Grumbling Bunnies." Along with children’s CD’s; ‘My Backyard,’ I Won’t Eat That,’ and ‘I Only Looked Away for a Minute.’That is a lot of writing, so I just had to know, where does all this inspiration come from?
"I never know," admits Willy. "It could be a phrase that pops out of a conversation. Or a snippet of something that starts whirling around in my head. Or something one of my kids says, a poem I read...I’m open to inspiration from anywhere."
It obviously works. Kids and adults alike love Mr Willy. Why? Because in his music they find things they can relate and respond to; "songs about everyday life, feelings, beauty and ethics." I’m very blessed to be able to do the kind of work I like to do," finishes Mr. Willy. However, I think it is we as the listeners and readers that are the truly blessed ones.
If you would like to see Mr. Willy in person, he will be performing this coming weekend (April 17 & 18) at the Dallas Public Library, part of the Dallas Children’s Book Fair, sponsored by the African-American Museum. He will also be at the Northpark Mall branch and the Central Library. You can look for Willy doing performances at other libraries all over Texas as well. Plus, he’ll even be in International Falls, Minnesota.
If you want to book Mr. Willy for your classroom or special occasion check out the details on his website at http://www.misterwilly.com/
See you next time...Sandie Lee
Mr. Willy's Songs and Books
Mr. Willy singing his own song through a montage of his work.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Jump into the World of Ink at Stories for Children Magazine and Enjoy Their 2nd Birthday Celebration
Marie Letourneau, Art Director of Stories for Children Magazine and author/illustrator of The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres to be featured on the Food Network, April 23, 2009 at 10 pm EST.
The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres has been named Book of the Year – by Foreword Magazine – Bronze Medal. To honor this fine achievement, Marie Letourneau and the powers that be held an out of this world celebration. To the surprise and pure delight of those in attendance Letourneau’s publisher added to the uniqueness of the evening, a cake from Charm City Cakes home of the “Ace of Cakes” Food Network program with Chef Duff.
About the book:
Every day, Chef Marcel and his sons recite the recipe for the famous cheese soup of the Bistrot des Sept Freres--the trendiest mouse cafe in all of Paris. But when a culinary judge is due to arrive and Chef Marcel has run out of his secret ingredient, it is Petite Michelle who saves the day. This adorable story and whimsical illustrations of Marie LeTourneau will delight children, while providing une petite lecon on the language and culture of France.
April continues to be a banner month:
Stories for Children Magazine Talks with Christian Youth Fiction Book and Illustrator Kevin Scott Collier
Writer and illustrator Kevin Scott Collier recently granted Stories for Children Magazine a wonderful and exhilarating opportunity to interview him about his illustrious career. A true child at heart, Collier’s writing and illustrating talents will leave you spellbound and inspired.
Kevin Scott Collier has been a professional artist for over 25 years and has illustrated more than 80 children's books. Topsy Turvy Land, written by Donna J. Shepherd and illustrated by Collier, was named one of the top 50 children's picture books of all time in the December 2006 issue of World Magazine. Also, Monty the Traveling Cat, written by Becky Moesner, illustrated by Collier, and published in 2008 won the New York Book Festival's First Place award for best children's book.
Read Collier’s interview at Stories for Children Magazine at http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/.
Learn more about Stories for Children Magazine at: http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/
Monday, April 6, 2009
Stories for Children Publishing, LLC New Parent Company of SFC Magazine and SFC Newsletter for Writers
New Parent Company of Stories for Children Magazine
and SFC Newsletter for Writers
Effective April 1, 2009, Stories for Children Publishing, LLC is the new parent company of Stories for Children Magazine and SFC Newsletter for Writers.
Rest assured that Stories for Children Magazine and SFC Newsletter for Writers will continue to run as in the past. Creating the parent company, Stories for Children Publishing, LCC, enables us to move toward our dream and continue on the path of becoming a print magazine.
Stay tuned for future exciting announcements in April 2009 and beyond.
Learn more about Stories for Children Magazine at: http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/
Sunday, April 5, 2009
First off remember…the Dollar Store is your best friend. From seasonal decorations, to fun little Easter trinkets for the kids, these inexpensive outlets have everything you could possibly need. However, if you don’t have a Dollar Store where you live, don’t despair, you can still make the season hip-hopping on a bunny’s budget. Here are a few tips...
One, don’t pay for Easter grass for the kid’s baskets, make your own. All it takes is a shredder and some colourful paper. If you don’t have a shredder, no biggie - use scissors. This method is also a good family fun project. Make a game of it. Let the kids choose their own colours and play “who can make the biggest pile.” To add a bit of glam and glitter, use coloured cello-paper or recycle bits of fabric, ribbon, string or tissue paper.
Another fun tradition is the colouring of Easter eggs. I still fondly remember those times with my mom. Sure you can buy these kits, but it’s just three simple steps to make your own.
1. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to ½ cup of boiling water.
2. Add 20-30 drops of food colouring per half cup of water.
3. Stir and cool.
The kids are now ready to turn all those ordinary hard-boiled eggs into Easter Egg-travaganza’s. I don’t know about you, but I find the pretty coloured eggs always taste better.
Now that you have the filler and the eggs, why not make your own Easter baskets to put them in? Small recycled cookie, cracker or microwave popcorn boxes are perfect to make a fun, one-of-a-kind basket. For the one pictured, I used a soda cracker box cut in half, one sheet of scrap book paper, ribbon, stickers, two brads and a glue stick, (all from the Dollar Store).
Tip: Undo the bottom of the box so it’s flat. This makes it a lot easier for the little ones to work with.
Once they have it painted or papered, just simply reassemble the box with tape or glue then add an extra bit of paper or paint to the bottom. Let the kids decorate their own boxes any way they want. The possibilities are endless. Once finished, add the handmade Easter grass, some home-baked cookies and these make a wonderful gift for grandparents or friends. You can bet they will cherish it for years to come. That is, if you can get your tike to part with it.
Lastly, for an extra fun Easter morning try the Ribbon Maze. You’ll need about 25 yards of ribbon (curling or regular), one colour for each child. The night before Easter after the kids have gone to sleep, take one end of the ribbon and tie it to the basket. Now hide the basket where it can’t easily be seen and begin to wrap the ribbon in and around the furniture. After all the ribbon is used up, take the end and place a bead, plastic egg or even your child’s initial made from a sticker and secure it. Place this at your starting point, which could be a kitchen or dining room table, coffee table etc. Do this for each child intertwining the ribbon together. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture all the fun in the morning. Your kids are going to love the Ribbon Maze.
So you see…Easter doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. With a bit of imagination you can create lastly memories and traditions for years to come.
Until next time...Sandie Lee
Friday, April 3, 2009
--M.C. Kerr, Philadelphia, PA"
Or Purchase at:
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Children’s Writers and Illustrators are putting on their best attire in preparation for the Second Annual Stories for Children “Granny” Awards.
The Editorial Staff at Stories for Children Magazine has continued to have an award recognizing their "Personal Favorite Contributions" for 2008. The award is named after two of SFC’s editors since they are "Grannies".
“It’s been another year of growth,” states VS Grenier, Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Stories for Children Magazine. “Our readers have seen many changes and there are still more to come, but it’s our contributors I really need to thank. Without them, there would NOT BE a Stories for Children Magazine. They freely donate their talents each month and that is why the editorial staff and I are thrilled to continue with this award.”
Come visit the SFC Team and all their contributors in the World of Ink at Stories for Children Magazine!
Learn more about Stories for Children Magazine at: http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
“It felt like they were putting me into a box,” she says. “Everything was about ‘Is this going to sale?’ I was expected to write like everyone else, and I felt like I couldn’t please anyone.”
During her very first semester, Crystalee took a class called the Craft of Writing for Children and Adolescents. Writing for kids wasn’t an instant passion for her. In fact, it took a picture book writing class a year later to seal the deal. Crystalee picked up writing for children as one of her emphases, but also continued in the poetry program. Crystalee is now a graduate of Chatham University and the author of her first picture book, Angeline Jellybean. She is a full time Literacy*AmeriCorps member who teaches computer skills to job-seeking adults. She is currently working on two YA novels and a handful of picture books.
Where did you get the inspiration for Angeline Jellybean?
I don’t even remember how I came up with the story. I was taking a picture book writing class back in 2007. Our assignment was to write a picture book under 500 words, and that’s what I did. I wrote it in rhyme because I wanted to see if I could write a rhyming picture book. I didn’t even really expect to like it. That’s how Angeline was born. A few rounds of revisions and a submission later, here it is!
Is Angeline anything like you?
Oh yes. *laughs* Angeline loves jellybeans almost as much as I love chocolate. Of course, I have learned to limit my chocolate intake, and I didn’t have to go through the nasty side effects that Angeline did! Angeline is also very strong-willed and has a bit of a temper, which reminds me of a certain little redheaded girl I once knew.
When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I used to write short stories way back in first grade. I’ve been reading even longer, since before I started school, so I only felt it was natural for me to write. I wrote poetry for many years. It wasn’t until I went to grad school to get my MFA in Creative Writing that I discovered writing for children. That was in 2006. I ended up with a dual emphasis in poetry and writing for children and adolescents. I am amazed at how far I have come along with my writing since then.
How do you get the ideas for your picture books?
Well, I live and experience life, first of all. I get most of my ideas from things I’ve seen, experienced or heard. I also try to interact with children. I spent a year as a volunteer reading to children in daycares across Pittsburgh. In that year, I learned more about what children like than I had learned in my entire life. I also love to read children’s books. I’m always asking myself if I can write something better than or different than the kinds of books that are out there. I’m not interested in writing books that copy a current trend, unless I can put my own spin on that trend.
Do you experiment with other genres as well?
Yes, I do. I started out writing poetry. I have also experimented with flash fiction. But nothing makes me happier than writing for children. I’m really a big kid at heart, and I write the kinds of books I would have liked to read when I was younger. I have also recently completed a young adult novel in verse, and I’m very excited to break into the YA market was well.
To learn more about Crystalee’s career visit: