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Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Books’

Yes, Winnie-the-Pooh fans, today is the birthday of Alan Alexander Milne, the author of the two original books about Pooh Bear and his friends. Born on January 18, 1882 in London, England, AA Milne based his most famous books on the adventures (real or imaginary) of his son, Christopher Robin Milne and his stuffed animal playmates.

As a child, mom, and granny, I’ve always loved the characters who inhabit the Thousand Acre Wood. Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo, and of course, Christopher Robin, each bring a smile to the millions of readers who’ve spent some time in their presence.

Winnie-the-Pooh, published in 1926, and The House at Pooh Corner, published in 1928, are gifts to the children of the past, present, and future. Like all writers, I hope some of my stories will positively impact a few readers – so I guess, in a way, I aspire to be like AA Milne!

Want to learn more about AA Milne and his writing? Check out this link.

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JenniferReed Thanks to children’s book author, Jennifer Reed, for stopping by and answering a few questions.

VWC: How did you find a publisher for your first book?
JR: My very first book was for Chelsea House Publishers, an educational publisher. I queried them about doing work for hire books and they accepted, offering me a chance to write/publish a book on the Love Canal in upstate New York.

VWC: How did you find a publisher for “The Falling Flowers”?
JR: I submitted many query letters and proposals to various publishers for several years. Because The Falling Flowers takes place in Japan, where I lived for three years, my focus was on multicultural publishers or publishers that produced multicultural books. Shen’s Books, now part of Lee and Low accepted my story.

Flowers-cover VWC: What book that you’ve written is your favorite, and why?
JR: The Falling Flowers because it was based on an experience I witnessed while in Japan. It’s about the love between a grandmother and her granddaughter and I had such a close bond with both my grandmothers. Also, it’s my first published picture book.

VWC: You’ve written many non-fiction books, do you enjoy research?
JR: I love research. It’s not only fun but I learn so much about my topic and other topics as well. My passion is American history.

VWC: Are any of the magazines you mention in your website bio still being published (Wee Ones and Crinkle)?
JR: Crinkles is still in publications, and so is Highlights, Boys’ Life, Hopscotch – all the magazines with the exception of Wee Ones, which was my own publication for 8 years, are in publication today.

VWC: What advice do you have for writers trying to get a children’s book published?
JR: Read tons of children’s books, know the markets, write from your heart and not what is trendy and seek out as much information as you can on the children’s publishing industry. I got my Master’s in children’s writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and realized the caliber of people I was working with and competing with in the industry. There are many talented people writing for children and young adults, but only a few ever get published. It is not easy writing for children!

leonardocover VWC: Any advice for non-fiction book writers?
JR: Start with magazines first and try to get your nonfiction published there. Many book publishers want to see that you’ve written and published nonfiction in magazines before hiring you to write a book. Know how to cite your research properly and don’t think that a subject written about before is outdated. My book on Leonardo DaVinci published by Enslow is popular and well-read book.

VWC: What projects are you working on now?
JR: I am working on two middle grade historical fiction novels, and several picture books.

VWC: Who was your favorite author as a child?
JR: Laura Ingalls of course. I grew up in very old homes in Massachusetts and loved history, so I loved her books about her life as a pioneer girl.

VWC: Who is your favorite author now?
JR: I don’t really have a favorite author. I’ve worked with many well-known authors through my Master’s program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and I love different authors for different reasons. But I can’t say I really have a favorite.

VWC: When is your favorite time of day to write?
JR: Morning usually because that’s the only time I have to write. I work part time as a teacher and nights are usually dedicated to family. I am awake, refreshed and ready to write in the mornings!

VWC: What was the most valuable piece of advice given to you?
JR: Never give up on your dream to write and publish! It’s easy to quit and most people do, especially when they see rejection letter after rejection letter. I’ve wanted to quit a lot too and at times, really doubted my ability to write. But nearly thirty books later, well, I just know perseverance is key to success in this business.

VWC: And now, the final and most important question – What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
JR: Chocolate Chip with Walnuts.

For more information on Jennifer Reed and her books: www.jennifer-reed.com
And you can find her books on Amazon.

Thanks, Jennifer, for stopping by. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and occasional weekend, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a marvelous Monday – Vonnie

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On Easter, most readers are thinking of Beatrix Potter’s rabbits, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, Peter, and their cousin Benjamin Bunny. Instead, I thought of CS Lewis today. Why? For starters, a writer friend sent me a video featuring a pair of beavers repairing their home during a warm spell.

It is still winter, and ice remains. A warm wind has caused a bit of a thaw, so the beavers are out and about. They ignore the photographer, and go about their beaver business. Which would be interesting enough, but about 2 minutes into the video – one of the beavers stands on his hind feet and carries a load of sticks.

This wild beaver suddenly reminded me of Mr. Beaver and his wife from CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many of you will recall the first encounter with Mr. Beaver from the movie – how he startles Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy by speaking, and seeming quite comfortable standing on 2 legs.

In the book, after staying at Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s home for a bit, the three children and the Beavers rush into the night and try to keep ahead of the White Queen and her forces who are in pursuit. As they trudge through the winter woods, Lucy becomes tired.

CS Lewis writes: “And she stopped looking at the dazzling brightness of the frozen river with all its waterfalls of ice and at the white masses of the tree-tops and the great glaring moon and the countless stars and could only watch the little short legs of Mr. Beaver going pad-pad-pad-pad through the snow in front of her as if they were never going to stop. Then the moon disappeared and the snow began to fall once more…”

But CS Lewis fans know that spring and Aslan are on their way. Most CS Lewis fans also know Aslan will sacrifice himself for Edmund’s bad behavior, be killed by the witch and her followers, then, be reborn.

And so, Easter is indeed a perfect time to not only think of  Beatrix Potter and her Tale of Peter Rabbit, but also to think of CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

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Rudyard Kipling English author, Rudyard Kipling, was England’s first Nobel Prize winner in literature (1907). He was best-known for his children’s books, Just So Stories and The Jungle Book. One of my favorite quotes from him: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

Since I believe in the power of story to not only preserve the past and enrich the present, but to change the future – to me, this is a wonderful quote.

 

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On July 28, 1866, English author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, was born in London, England. Most of us read (or had read to us) The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which Beatrix self-published in 1901. In 1902, Frederick Warne & Co. published a 3-color edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Miss Potter’s charming vision of English country life and animals would soon become childhood favorites. Though I must mention, her second book, The Tailor of Gloucester, was also initially self-published!

We don’t usually think of Beatrix Potter as a fantasy writer, yet she is one. Her careful study and sketching of her pets, including mice, rabbits, kittens, and frogs, and vivid imagination helped her build a magical world of talking animals rendered in soft watercolors. But even the children who read and love her stories know that Peter, Benjamin, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Jemina Puddle-duck, Squirrel Nutkin, and their friends don’t really wander about England’s Lake District dressed in tiny jackets and shoes. Such foolishness is mere fantasy!

So Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter! Thank you for your delightful books that introduced so many of us to a magical world where bunnies drink chamomile tea for stomach aches and farmers make scarecrows out of tiny rabbit clothes. And for those of you who haven’t seen Miss Potter, I recommend this movie about Beatrix’s life.

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Skean copy The book world has changed enormously since my children’s book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, was published. Yes, I had to do school visits and storytellings, but most of the promoting was done by my small press publisher. The Vegetarian Resource Group secured reviews and in-person interviews, placed ads in print publications, and listed the book in their printed catalog. Brick and mortar stores, both independents and chains, carried the paperback and royalty checks were issued when sales were good.

Nowadays, authors with small press publishers are often responsible for securing their own interviews and reviews. And those interviews are usually done via the internet, whether later published on a blog or offered as a podcast. Advertisements in print publications have been replaced by book trailers on YouTube, online ads, and excerpts read on a computer screen. Online book stores have grabbed a huge share of the book market, and if profits are realized, an online deposit is made in an author’s electronic account.

So what’s an author to do? I say, “Embrace the changes and learn the new world of books!” And that’s what I’m trying to do with The Enchanted Skean, my just-released fantasy novel from Mockingbird Lane Press. For better or worse, the book world is changing, and this writer is trying her best to take advantage of the new technologies and the wide support network offered by the internet.

So please check out the following, and let me know what you think.

Alesha Escobar’s Blog Interview of Vonnie: http://www.aleshaescobar.com/feature-friday-the-enchanted-skean/

Larry Matthew’s Podcast Interview of Vonnie: https://soundcloud.com/larry-matthews/vonnie-winslow-crist-talks

Book Trailer for The Enchanted Skean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU

Online 3-chapter excerpt of The Enchanted Skean: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/the_enchanted_skean_excerpt

And giving credit where credit is do, thanks to Alesha and Larry for doing the interviews, Jamie at Mockingbird Lane Press for the book trailer, and the readers who’ve bought the book. It takes lots of support to become a successful author, and I appreciate all the support I’ve received.

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 As I sit with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit open on my lap, I’m thankful for the wonderful speculative fiction that I read as a child. It was those books from long ago that stirred my imagination and inspired me to write stories.

I still have a stack of 10-page fairytale booklets, published by The Platt & Munk Co., Inc. in the early 1930s, given to me 1 at a time for “something to look at” when my parents visited with an elderly friend on the other side of Baltimore.

Before I entered kindergarten, I’d taught myself to read during those visits using Cinderella, Chicken Little, Dick Whittington, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Tom Thumb. And who knows, maybe the seed for the precocious opossum in Assassins formed as I read Platt & Munk’s Puss in Boots.

Three of my favorite books when I was a second grader were Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon series. In her tales, right under the noses of people in the “real world” lived a family of blue and yellow dragons. I had such vivid memories of the beautifully-colored dragons. I didn’t realize until I bought a copy of the books years later as an adult that the pictures were rendered in pencil. The stunning hues of the dragon family had been imagined by me. And dragons remain one of my favorite things to draw and write about.

Perhaps the most serendipitous introduction I had as a preteen student to the world of magic and folklore came from the librarian at Perry Hall Elementary. In the fifth grade, I’d rush through my regular classwork, and then, ask to go to the library to help put books back on the shelves. By the end of the year, not only did I know the Dewey Decimal System quite well, but the librarian gifted me with 2 slightly damaged books.

The first gift book was Lupe de Osma’s The Witches’ Ride and Other Tales from Costa Rica. I was immediately infatuated with the ghosts, witches, fairies, and other magical beings written about in that book. The beginnings of Bells? The second gift book was about prehistoric creatures that never existed. Among the critters written about were mermaids. The beginnings of Sideshow by the Sea?

Writers tend to write about what they know. What I’ve known since toddlerhood was fairy tales, folktales, myths, legends, and magical creatures introduced to me by books.

Still an avid reader, I gravitate to work by Neil Gaiman, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles de Lint. It’s the fantastical and sometimes dark worlds created by these writers that draws me in. And as a writer, I strive to create my own darkly magical worlds for my readers to enjoy.

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