Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ten Things a School Visit Will Teach You (if you don't already know)

I did my first author visit this week! That involved reading WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? 18 times to kids in preschool on up to 5th grade. I talked about my "author's toolbox," summarized the "idea to finished book" process, passed out bookmarks and coloring pages, and played a team building game with groups of energetic 3rd through 5th graders.

Doing my first school visit taught me a few things, and reminded me of a few others. Whether you are an author like me, an illustrator, or have some other job that could lead to you sharing with a classroom full of elementary students, here are ten things the experience may teach you:

1. Kids are the best kinds of people.

2. Even "big kids" like fifth graders enjoy picture books.

3. Kids always laugh at the word "butt."

4. In the course of your visit, some child is likely to hiccup, burp, fart, or all of the above (expect laughter for that last one).

5. Kindergarteners seem to have small bladders.

6. Props are your friends! Because of the building aspect of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, I brought along a tool box and a hard hat. The kids especially loved the hard hat, possibly because I let them knock me on the head while I wore it.

7. Schools can be cold. Bring a sweater!

8. Kids love word searches! And coloring! And mazes! So, provide a packet with a variety of activities to go along with your book.

9. To an eight-year-old, two years is a very long time. During my time with a class of third graders, I explained that it took two years for WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? to be published once it was accepted. Overheard as the kids were leaving: "Two years! I can't even imagine. I would be six!"

10. You don't have to work hard to be impressive. The fact that you wrote a book makes you a hero in the eyes of a child. They want to hear about it! And they may even ask for your autograph.

And a bonus:

11. If you have an unexpected coughing fit during your reading, just tell the kids you accidentally inhaled a gnat. They'll be grossed out and amused just enough to buy you some time.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

End of Summer, again

My goofy family
It's Wednesday. It's the last week of summer vacation. And I am feeling a little odd about that. Normally I get to this point in the year and I'm all excited about making the last week of summer lots of fun for my kids.

But this year is different.

This year nobody wants to go swimming or biking or hiking or picnicking at the park. Because it's too hot. Or they haven't shaved their legs. Or they made plans to join their friends online to play Call of Duty.

It's all another symptom of having kids who are nearly grown up.

It isn't that we haven't had a good summer. We drove to Kansas City. We rode roller coasters, shopped at Ikea, and visited a tree house. We had a tea party with friends. We went to see Jurassic World and Ant Man. We stayed at a cabin with relatives and toasted marshmallows and talked around the campfire until 2:00 a.m.

We even launched WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, which was a new and exciting experience for all of us!

But the last week of summer vacation is here, and I have spent most of my time working on a new picture book while my kids busy themselves with their own thing.

And I don't feel bad about that at all.

Just odd.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Eight Picture Books for Your Little Builder

Do you have a little handyman (or woman) in your house? A little guy or girl who can't seem to get enough of that toy work bench? Some kids really love their tool toys, maybe even more than they love books! (gasp!) If that is the case for you, or if you are simply looking for books that will appeal to your child's fix-it or build-it nature, then these eight books might be just right for you and your little builder.

WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez
Illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

Of course I would have to include my own book on this list! Tools and building are front and center in this book about a group of friends building a tree house.

TOOLS RULE! by Aaron Meshon

This bright and colorful book is about a team of tools pitching in to build a shed.

TAP TAP BANG BANG by Emma Garcia

The littlest builders will enjoy learning about what tools do and the sounds they make in this simple, colorful companion to TIP TIP DIG DIG and TOOT TOOT BEEP BEEP.

Illustrated by Meg Hunt

This is a terrific re-imagining of the classic Cinderella story, with a sassy heroine who's great with tools, especially when it comes to building spaceships!


The name says it all here! What little tinkerer wouldn't want to read about a monkey who works his way out of a problem with his very own tools?


For the slightly older builders. They'll enjoy reading about a little girl and her family building their very own house.

Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

Fans of the FROGGY books will enjoy this story about Froggy and his friends (with some help from dad) building a tree house.


Based on the T.V. show, this is an interactive book that comes with its own little movable tool.

Do you or your child have any favorite books that feature tools? I'd love to hear about them. In the mean time, happy reading. And building!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Poetry Friday: The Storm

For Poetry Friday today, I thought I would dig into my own poetry archives, and share something fitting for this summer season. Thunderstorms are a common occurrence in my part of the world, and one of my favorite things about summer. This poem was inspired by an especially vigorous, especially colorful storm several summers ago.

Photo by daughter #2
The Storm

The storm wars on
in gray and black
with jagged, silver lightning cracks.
Then, when done
the thunder sun
breaks through in greenish gold
and casts a rainbow in the sky,
arching wide
and bright
and high.
Then clouds ignite in firelight,
a wonder to behold!

(c) Rebecca J. Gomez

For more of today's Poetry Friday posts, visit Reflections on the Teche. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

On Children Growing Up (too fast)

As I write this, my youngest child (and only son) is outside mowing the back yard. It is a completely cliché parenting moment for me, as I look outside and wonder how the heck my kids are growing up so fast!

So much has changed over the past year. Not only is my youngest child now mowing the lawn on a semi-regular basis, but he is also only a few weeks away from starting high school. He has stopped wearing graphic T-shirts, has rebelled against books and reading, and will barely tolerate me kissing him on the forehead. He is truly a teenage boy.

As for his older sisters, all I can say is, "Whoa!" Last Thursday my middle daughter turned in her provisional driving permit for an actual license, registered to vote, and signed a petition. She will be starting college in the fall, at the same school her older sister (and my oldest child) has been attending for the past two years.

Usually at this time of year, we start thinking about shopping for new clothes and school supplies. We make sure the backpacks are in good shape, fill out piles of back-to-school paperwork, and make sure vaccinations are all up-to-date. Some of that we'll still be doing, of course. We can't send our kids off to high school or college without some new duds, after all! But the school supplies look a little different. College textbooks, external CD drives, twin XL sheet sets. What a change from crayons and colored folders.

And yet, when I look at my taller, nearly grown-up children, I see that they haven't changed so much as developed. They are still every bit the individuals they were when they were small. I hear it in their laughter, see it in their eyes when they smile or frown, and feel it every time they need their mother.

They may be growing up too fast, but they'll never outgrow being my babies.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Poetry Friday: Monster Goose

One of my current projects is a rhyming picture book inspired by various nursery rhymes. So I thought it would be fitting to choose a poem from Judy Sierra's MONSTER GOOSE for today's Poetry Friday post.

Children's poetry is, I think, the perfect format to explore all things slimy, spooky, or strange. It's a
safe way for kids (and adults) to get a little sense of something uncomfortable without actually getting their fingers gooey or their toes bitten off! And very often, it brings on the giggles!

Here is my favorite poem from MONSTER GOOSE. Enjoy, and then be sure to check out today's Poetry Friday round-up over at The Logonauts.

Cannibal Horner 
Cannibal Horner
Sat in the corner
Eating a people potpie.
He bit his own thumb
And cried, "Oh, yum, yum,
A tasty young morsel am I"!

Hungry for more? Check out MONSTER GOOSE at your local library, or oder it online today!

Do you have a favorite monster-themed poem or poetry book?